Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

Sun-dried tomato pesto

The Spruce / Laurel Randolph

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 10 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Take your pesto game up a notch with this flavor-packed sun-dried tomato pesto. It's just as easy to make as classic pesto, but with the added color and sweet, savory boost of sun-dried tomatoes. While this recipe makes a well-balanced sauce, it's easy to tweak based upon what you have and what your taste buds are feeling. Swap out the fresh basil or leave out the cheese—it's an easy recipe to play around with.

This recipe calls for sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil as they are softer and easier to blend. The sauce incorporates the oil for even more flavor, adding just enough olive oil to make a smooth mixture. If you're using tomatoes without the oil, soak them in half a cup of oil for at least a few days before using. For an extra special spread, use homemade sun-dried tomatoes.

Add sun-dried tomato pesto to pizzas, pasta, sandwiches, crostini, dips, salad dressings, and more. It'll liven up any dish with its umami-rich flavor.


  • 1 (8 or 8.5-ounce) jar sun-dried tomatoes in oil (about 1 cup drained and tightly packed)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts (roughly chopped)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (tightly packed)
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese (freshly grated)
  • 2 cloves garlic (peeled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (finely grated)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Drain the sun-dried tomatoes, reserving the oil in a liquid measuring cup. Add enough olive oil to the reserved sun-dried tomato oil to make 1/2 cup total.

  3. Add the walnuts to a food processor and pulse a few times until coarsely chopped.

  4. Add the sundried tomatoes, oil mixture, basil, Parmesan, garlic, lemon zest, salt, and red pepper flakes (if using).

  5. Process until the desired consistency is reached, stopping to scrape down the sides once or twice. If needed, add more olive oil in a slow stream (up to 1/4 cup more).

  6. Taste for seasoning and adjust, if necessary, Use immediately or store in the fridge.

How to Store and Freeze

  • Store sun-dried tomato pesto in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
  • For longer storage, freeze for up to three months. Defrost in the fridge before using.

How to Use Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

Sun-dried tomato pesto adds a punch of flavor to anything it touches. Try using it in these dishes:

  • Swap for the usual tomato sauce on a pizza for a more flavorful pie
  • Spread on a sandwich, panini, grilled cheese, or wrap
  • Toss with hot, cooked pasta for a quick and easy main dish
  • Use to top or stuff chicken breasts
  • Add a big dollop on top of hummus or a white bean dip
  • Mix with more oil and some lemon juice to make a dressing for pasta salad or Italian-inspired green salads
  • Toss with roasted vegetables

Recipe Variations

  • For a more traditional pesto, swap the walnuts for 1/3 cup pine nuts. Toasted almonds also work well (use a full 1/2 cup).
  • You can swap half or all of the basil for flat-leaf parsley for a slightly different but still delicious flavor.
  • You can use up to a full cup of basil for a stronger herbal flavor. If you don't have fresh herbs on hand, leave them out altogether.
  • Leave out the Parmesan for a dairy-free, vegan pesto, or swap for one or two teaspoons of nutritional yeast.