Homemade Pesto Recipe

Homemade pesto recipe

The Spruce

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
616 Calories
41g Fat
56g Carbs
28g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 616
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 41g 53%
Saturated Fat 9g 46%
Cholesterol 16mg 5%
Sodium 313mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 56g 20%
Dietary Fiber 35g 124%
Protein 28g
Calcium 2170mg 167%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Pesto—a paste of basil, garlic, pine nuts, cheese, and few other key players—is widely available pre-made. But no processed container of green stuff can hold a candle to homemade pesto. When the basil starts coming on strong in your garden or at the market, start making pesto. Once you have fabulous homemade pesto in the house, serve it on the pasta of your choice, use it as a dip, try it over fresh boiled potatoes, or drizzle it on grilled vegetables. See Ways to Use Pesto for more ideas.


  • 2 bunches basil (about 5 cups fresh basil leaves)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt (plus more to taste and salt for blanching water)
  • 1/2 cup water (lukewarm)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup cheese (shredded Parmesan or other aged cheese)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for homemade pesto
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  2. If you're blanching the basil, do it now.

    Blanch basil
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  3. Peel and roughly chop the garlic.

    Chop garlic
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  4. Put the basil, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt in a blender or food processor.

    Put ingredients into food processor
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  5. Whirl until completely pureed, scraping down the sides as necessary to keep the mixture uniform.

    Whirl until blended
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  6. Add up to 1/2 cup water to keep the mixture blending and smooth (adding more oil will just make the mixture oily and likely to separate when you serve it).

    Add water
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  7. Add the pine nuts and cheese and pulse until chopped and well incorporated.

    Add pine nuts
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  8. Serve with hot pasta or store, covered and chilled up to one week or frozen up to 6 months.

How to Blanche Basil

  1. Optional, but keeps the pesto green: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add enough salt so it tastes salty. 

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  2. Prepare a large bowl of ice water. 

    Prepare ice bowl
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  3. Put the basil leaves in the boiling water and cook for 30 seconds. 

    Put basil leaves in bowling water
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  4. Drain (or use a slotted spoon to scoop out if you're working in batches) and immediately put the basil in the ice water. Swish the basil leaves around until they're completely cooled off. 

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  5. Drain from the water bath and, using your hands, squeeze as much water as you can from the basil leaves. Be aggressive here and squeeze hard.

    Drain water
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  6. Use to make pesto!


  • Blanching the basil is completely optional, but ensures the pesto stays a bright, vivid green rather than turning black when refrigerated or frozen. Yep, pesto freezes very nicely, and is a real treat in the dead of winter. This would be the first step to do before you chop the garlic if you decide to blanche the basil.
  • Instead of using a food processor, you can get traditional, and use a mortar and pestle instead. Use a large one, work the garlic and salt together before adding the basil, working that into somewhat of a paste, and then adding the lemon juice and olive oil; as with the blender method, pine nuts and Parmesan go last.

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