This easy pesto recipe is the best! Simple ingredients, quick and easy process, BIG flavor, and so versatile. Instead mediocre store-bought products, I turn to this homemade pesto recipe for all my pesto needs—pasta, pizza, salmon, vinaigrettes, chicken, the list goes on. It’s a great go-to recipe, so be sure to bookmark it!
If you’re wondering what to do with all your mid-summer basil, you’ve just harvested the last of your basil plant, or you lucked out and found some gorgeous basil at the market, this basil pesto recipe is the ideal way to use up an abundance of basil!
If you love pesto like I do, you know that fresh is always best. And this recipe is a great go-to because it classic in flavor and incredibly versatile.
What goes into pesto?
There are a 5 basic ingredients that are needed for traditional pesto:
- good extra-virgin olive oil
- pine nuts (I like to use toasted pine nuts)
- fresh basil leaves
- Parmesan cheese
This recipe adds a few herbs that aren’t classic—parsley and chives. The added herbs offer a nice balance of flavors and helps make this pesto more versatile and adaptable.
I prefer chives in this recipe—but in a pinch scallions will also work nicely.
How to make an easy pesto
Traditionally, pesto is made using a mortar and pestle. And if you’ve never made it that way , I encourage you to do so at least one using high quality ingredients. The difference in process and quality can definitely be tasted.
But frankly, when it comes to getting dinner on the table on Tuesday night, you won’t find me pulling out the mortar and pestle. You will instead find me whirring up my food process because it’s an efficient way of doing things.
Using the food processor to make homemade best is SO convenient. The basics of it—add everything but the olive oil to the processor and pulse until everything is finely chopped but not minced. With the processor running, stream in the oil until emulsified.
As with anything and everything, give it a good taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. IT’S THAT EASY!
How to store pesto
Homemade pesto will keep for 1–2 weeks stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To avoid oxidation, I will often press a piece of plastic wrap over the surface of the pesto before securing the lid.
How to freeze pesto
I have found there to be two great ways to freeze homemade pesto. One way is to use ice cube trays—spoon the pesto into the wells of ice cube trays and freeze until solid. Once solid, pop the pesto cubes out and transfer to a zipper-lock freezer bag and store in the freezer.
Another way you can freeze homemade pesto is to use a muffin tin! Line each well of a muffin tin with paper liners, then scoop pesto into muffin liners. Freezer the pesto until solid then transfer to a zipper-lock freezer bag and store in the freezer.
If you would prefer to freeze pesto in larger batches, you can freeze the pesto in glass jars.
Pesto will keep for 9–12 months in the freezer.
11 ways to use pesto
This is the best pesto recipe to have up your sleeve for when a recipe simply calls for “pesto,” or when dinner needed to be on the table 10 minutes ago. This pesto is versatile and adaptable, perfect for throwing into existing recipes or for tossing with pasta and chicken for dinner in a flash.
- Pesto Pasta
Toss pesto with preferred cooked pasta (I like to do a combo of regular pasta and zucchini noodles, or bean-based pasta) plus 2–3 tablespoons pasta cooking water for a saucy consistency. Broil or roast some tomatoes until blistered to serve on the side and garnish with grated parmesan.
- Avocado-Pesto Zoodles
Mash some avocado until smooth then stir in a few spoonfuls of pesto. Briefly cook spiralized zucchini in a nonstick pan just until tender but still toothsome. Off heat, add avocado-pesto mixture and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and serve with grated Parmesan.
- Pesto Vinaigrette
Add about 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar to 2–3 tablespoons pesto. Whisk to incorporate and thin with additional lemon juice or water to desired consistency. Drizzle over salad.
- Charcuterie Board
Add a bowl of pesto to your favorite charcuterie spread. It’s great spread on crackers and bread.
- Crostini / Dipper
Toast thick-sliced good multi-grain bread until golden. Spread some pesto on one side of each slice, top with grated Parmesan and broil until golden brown and bubbly. Serve with soup, salad, or dip in olive oil.
- Soup Topper
Add a spoonful of pesto to homemade minestrone, creamy tomato, or vegetable bisque.
Combine a ¼ cup of pesto with a splash more olive oil and some lemon juice—add chicken breast or thighs and marinate for up to 4 hours. Grill or roast as desired.
- Grilled Cheese & Sandwiches in General
Use pesto as a spread on grilled cheese and sandwiches.
- Pesto Aioli
Add a spoonful of pesto to homemade mayonnaise for a fancy-feeling aioli perfect for serving with roasted potatoes.
- Pesto Salmon
Spread pesto over salmon filets and top with cheesy breadcrumbs. Broil the salmon until cooked through and topping is golden brown and crisp. Or follow this delicious recipe for the best pesto salmon!
Use pesto as pizza sauce!
More pesto recipes you may like…
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Easy, vibrant and versatile, this go-to homemade pesto recipe can (and should!) be used in a variety of different ways in everyday cooking.
- 1 ½ cups (lightly packed) basil leaves
- ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
- ½ cup grated Parmesan
- ¼ cup (packed) Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pulse basil, nuts, Parmesan, parsley, chives, garlic, and salt together in a food processor until finely chopped. With processor running, stream in oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
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