This Pistachio Pesto is full of vibrant flavor and is the perfect sauce for any time of the year. It’s a great condiment to meal prep for the week in just 10 minutes and with only 5 ingredients. Use it on pasta, chicken, fish—the options are endless!

Calling all of our pesto lovers! Trust us when we say, it’s one of our favorite condiments too. While traditional pesto uses pine nuts as the rich, nutty flavor in the recipe, we swapped them out for pistachios. We first tried Pistachio Pesto at restaurant in New York City, and it was just too delicious not to develop our own version of the recipe.

This easy sauce is ideal for any week of the year, it’s a great meal prep item to have in the fridge to jazz up any boring protein or dinner—we love it on pasta, chicken, drizzled over steak, and even whisked into a vinaigrette and drizzled over a salad!

When developing our pesto recipe, I consulted the restaurant about their version and asks for any tips and tricks they’d be willing to share. To make sure our pesto was restaurant-quality, we learned it really came down to toasting raw pistachios prior to blending in the food processor, and keeping the ingredient list short and simple. We found both tips, simple as they were, to be key.

With the shortest ingredient list of just 5 ingredients, we guarantee you’ll be making this basil pistachio pesto regularly. Some of our other favorite pesto recipes are Carrot Top Pesto, Triple Herb Pesto, and Radish Greens Pesto.

Why You’ll Love this Recipe

  • 5 Ingredient Sauce: With a short ingredient list of approachable ingredients, there’s no reason not to whip up a batch for the week to add a punch of flavor to any recipe.
  • Perfect for Meal Prep: This pesto with pistachios stores for about a week in the fridge and up to two months in freezer.
  • Customize to Your Liking: We use basil in this version, but you can use other greens like arugula, and herbs such as parsley, mint or chives.
  • Easy to make in the food processor. Just give this sauce a quick blend in the food processor (or blender if you don’t have one), and it’s basically hands-free cooking.

Lauren’s Tip

This is the BEST meal prep tip! We love to store our pesto in an ice cube tray in the freezer. This portions the pesto into individual servings for any recipe (and makes for quick thaw-time).

Grated Parmesan, toasted pistachios, olive oil, garlic and fresh basil set out on a counter.
Grated Parmesan, toasted pistachios, garlic, olive oil and basil.

Ingredients

The ingredient list is simple, which is why this is one of our favorite weeknight sauce recipes.

  • Fresh Basil Leaves: The base flavor of any pesto, make sure your leaves are fresh and pack them into the measuring cup to make sure the recipe is accurate.
  • Pistachios: Raw, unsalted pistachios are best here. We toast them in the recipe for a richer flavor.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil: Adds the buttery smooth texture to the pesto and a decadent underlying flavor.
  • Parmesan cheese: Gives a nice hint of cheesy flavor as well as a bit of saltiness to the sauce.
  • Garlic: just a few small garlic cloves to add flavor without overpowering the sauce.

How to Make Pistachio Pesto

With just two steps, this really is the easiest condiment to make at home! If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a blender. You may need to stir the mixture frequently to combine evenly.

Food processor bowl set on a counter next to a bowl of olive oil. In the food processor bowl is toasted pistachios, grated parmesan, basil, salt and garlic.
  1. Pulse the basil, pistachios, Parmesan, garlic, and salt together in a food processor until finely chopped, about 12 pulses.
Food processor bowl filled with minced herbs and nuts set on a counter next to a bowl of olive oil.
  1. With the processor running, stream in the oil until emulsified. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
Vibrant green pistachio pesto in a food processor bowl set on a counter.

Expert Recipe Tips

  • Pulse most ingredients first until finely chopped. This is so important for even mixing. Be sure to add all ingredients except the olive oil to the food processor first and pulse until finely chopped. Then stream in the olive oil after to combine.
  • Toast the pistachios and cool completely. By toasting the pistachios (on the stovetop in a pan or in the oven) prior to blending, you deepen their nutty flavor and make the sauce even more decadent.
  • When measuring basil leaves, pack them into the measuring cup. To make pesto correctly, be sure to pack the leaves into the cup. It will be a lot of basil, but that is right for a pesto recipe!
  • Customize the pesto. You can customize this sauce with other nuts or different greens and herbs. We also love baby arugula, mint, chives, parsley or even dill.
  • Make it dairy-free and vegan. Just omit the Parmesan cheese and it’s still so good! You can add vegan Parmesan if desired.

What to Serve with Pistachio Pesto

The options are truly endless, this pesto recipe goes well with so many things. It’s another reason why we love it so much! Some of our favorite recipe pairings are:

  • Tri-Tip Steak Sandwich is perfect for using up leftover steak or as a picnic main dish.
  • Pesto Chicken Tenders are a crowd-pleaser for a weeknight meal.
  • Zucchini Noodles: For a veggie-forward main or side dish, toss this pesto with a mix of angel hair pasta on zucchini noodles.
  • Salmon Pesto Pasta is one of my favorite weeknight dinners of all time. It’s easy and very fast—coming together in just 30 minutes.
Pesto-coated pasta in a shallow white bowl with a silver fork set in it and tiny basil leaves scattered over top.

Storage & Make Ahead Tips

  • For storing in the fridge, simply place the pesto into an airtight container. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap touching the surface of the pesto to prevent it from oxidizing. Seal with an airtight lid and refrigerate for up to one week.
  • When freezing pesto, place in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to two months. Thaw on the counter until soft and spreadable, a couple of hours.

FAQs

Can you substitute pistachios for pine nuts in pesto?

Yes! That’s what we did in this recipe. You can use any nut you desire in pesto to change the flavors.

What is pistachio pesto made of?

Similar to the traditional recipe, it uses basil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and olive oil.

What is the purpose of nuts in pesto?

They add a warm, rich flavor as well as natural fats that help to round out all of the fresh herb flavors.

Can you make pesto dairy-free?

Yes, just remove the Parmesan cheese and add vegan cheese if desired.

How long does pesto last?

Store it in the fridge for up to one week or freezer for up to two months.

More Easy Condiment Recipes

Pistachio Pesto

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Yield 1 ¼ cups
Category Sauce/Condiment
Cuisine American/Italian, Italian

Description

This Pistachio Pesto is full of vibrant flavor and is the perfect sauce for any time of the year. It's a great condiment to make-ahead for the week in just 10 minutes with 5 ingredients. Use it on pasta, chicken, fish, the options are endless!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups packed basil leaves
  • ¾ cup pistachios, toasted and cooled
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  • Pulse the basil, pistachios, Parmesan, garlic, and salt together in a food processor until finely chopped, about 12 pulses.
  • With the processor running, stream in the oil until emulsified. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Notes

Storage: Place in an airtight container with a piece of plastic touching the top to prevent oxidation. Seal with the lid on top and store in the fridge for up to one week. Freeze for up to 2 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 2tablespoonsCalories: 230kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 9gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 110mgFiber: 3.5gSugar: 2g
Like this? Leave a comment below!I love hearing from you and I want to hear how it went with this recipe! Leave a comment and rating below, then share on social media @zestfulkitchen and #zestfulkitchen!
Pistachio pesto with a few small basil leaves on top in a blue. white and black rimmed metal bowl.

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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