Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto in a glass bowl with a spoon

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 10 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Yield: 1 1/2 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
163 Calories
15g Fat
6g Carbs
3g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 163
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 20%
Saturated Fat 2g 12%
Cholesterol 2mg 1%
Sodium 156mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 21mg 105%
Calcium 40mg 3%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 344mg 7%
*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.)

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.

"This recipe is great and easy to follow. I ended up using it on every dish for the whole day! If you are tired of regular pesto, this is an amazing upgrade! The sun-dried tomato and lemon zest make it a bit sour. Overall, a great combination of flavors." —Tara Omidvar

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1/2 cup walnuts

  • 1 cup drained and packed sun-dried tomatoes in oil, oil reserved (from an 8 to 8.5-ounce jar)

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves

  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled

  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest 

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto ingredients in bowls

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  2. Heat an oven to 350 F. Spread out the walnuts on a small baking sheet and toast in the oven until fragrant, about 8 to 10 minutes; let cool completely.

    Walnuts on a small baking sheet

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  3. Pour the reserved sun-dried tomato oil into a liquid measuring cup. Add enough olive oil to the sun-dried tomato oil to make 1/2 cup total.

    Sun-dried tomato oil in a liquid measuring cup

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

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

    Walnuts in a food processor

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

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

    Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto ingredients in a food processor

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  6. 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). If the mixture is too thick, add a tablespoon or two of water to loosen the consistency.

    Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto in the food processor

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

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

    Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto in a glass jar

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

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.

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.