Skip to Content

Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe You Need In Your Life

Sharing is caring!

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more

A beloved staple of Italian cuisine, our basil pesto recipe brings bold, mouthwatering flavor to the foray, and it can be used in an incredible selection of different dishes.

While so many people opt for store-bought pesto, it is actually very straightforward to make your own basil pesto from scratch. If you want to wow your partner, family, or dinner guests with your very own serving of this beloved green sauce, you’ve come to the right place!

Basil Pesto in a mortar.

Basil Pesto Recipe

Basil Pesto in a mortar (photo from above).

Ingredients

To make this basil pesto recipe, you’ll need the following:

  • Pine Nuts – 1/3 cup
  • Garlic – 2 cloves
  • Fresh Basil Leaves – 2 cups
  • Freshly Grated Parmigiano Reggiano – 1/2 cup
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil – 1/2 cup
  • Salt – a pinch of salt
  • Black Pepper – 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Basil Pesto Recipe Ingredients.

Step-by-Step Instructions

To make authentic pesto, all of the above ingredients need to be combined together using a pestle and mortar. For an easier but less traditional way that requires far less physical exertion, you can use a food processor for the following steps.

We, however, have opted to honor tradition and do things the old-fashioned way using a mortar and pestle, as shown below.

How you make your pesto is entirely up to you. However, if using a mortar or pestle, be mindful of the size of your mortar, as you don’t want to fill it with so many ingredients that they spill out when grinding.

Step 1 – Start by giving your garlic cloves a good crush with the surface area of a knife, and add the crushed cloves to the mortar. Give them a good grind with the pestle.

Making basil pesto (crushing the garlic cloves).

Step 2 – Next, add your pine nuts, and continue to mash the two ingredients together.

Making basil pesto (crushing the pine nuts and garlic).

Aim to grind both of the ingredients together into a thick paste, as shown below.

Making basil pesto (garlic and pine nuts paste).

Step 3 – Add your basil leaves and a pinch of salt, and continue to grind all the ingredients together.

Making basil pesto (adding the basil leaves and pinch of salt).

Once the basil leaves start to break up, you’ll start to see your pesto slowly taking shape. The basil leaves will thicken the paste, adding moisture and that iconic green color to your pesto.

Making basil pesto (mashing the basil leaves).

Step 4 – Now add in the parmesan cheese, and continue to mash all the ingredients together.

Making basil pesto (adding the parmigiano).

With your garlic, parmesan cheese, and basil leaves all in play, now the various aromas will really start coming to the forefront.

Continue to mash until your pesto is thick and viscous. You do not need to completely break down all the ingredients.

Making basil pesto (before adding the olive oil).

Step 5 – Drizzle in the olive oil, giving the sauce a good mix as it is added.

Making basil pesto (drizzling in the olive oil).

It really is that simple. Once your olive oil has been added, your sauce is good to go.

Making basil pesto (final recipe).

Freshly made basil pesto can truly serenade the senses. Olive oil, parmesan cheese, and garlic are all renowned for their deep aromas and bound by the strong, sweet smell of the basil leaves, this is a green sauce your dinner guests will smell long before it reaches the table.

Then there’s the magic of the flavor. Fresh basil pesto has a strong, rich flavor, with nutty, earthy, and salty notes wrapped in a creamy texture.

Even just thinking about it is enough to make you salivate!

What to Serve with Basil Pesto

The possibilities really are endless when it comes to homemade pesto. Many iconic Italian dishes use it. I could be here all day talking through how to use this sauce in recipes.

No doubt, you already had a reason or dish in mind for making your own pesto. If you do want some ideas, however, consider some of the following:

Pasta – Naturally, pasta and pesto go hand-in-hand. Many popular Italian pasta dishes use it, and spaghetti, in particular, is a popular pairing. You can just mix basil pesto with pasta, with no other ingredients, for a hearty lunch or dinner.

Seafood – I find basil pesto is a great pairing for fried or grilled fish, especially white fish like basa or cod. It helps add a lot of flavor.

Chicken – Chicken needs no introduction to basil pesto, and these two are used in a variety of different dishes together.

Wraps and Sandwiches – Basil pesto is a delicious base for lots of wraps and sandwiches. You can start with a layer of pesto, then work other ingredients on top.

Bread – Want to keep things simple? Pesto and some fresh, crusty bread for dipping make for a wonderful snack when you’re feeling hungry.

These suggestions barely scratch the surface. Trust me, once you make your own basil pesto, you won’t want to go back for store-bought pesto!

Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed making it, and what dishes you decided to use it with. Hope you have fun!

Basil pesto in a mortar.

Basil Pesto Recipe Card

Basil Pesto

Basil Pesto
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Add the crushed garlic cloves to the mortar. Give them a good grind with the pestle.
  2. Next, add your pine nuts, and continue to mash the two ingredients together. The pine nuts will start releasing their oils. Aim to grind both of the ingredients together into a thick paste.
  3. Add the basil leaves and a pinch of salt and continue to grind all the ingredients together. Once the basil leaves start to break down, you’ll start to see your pesto slowly taking shape. The basil leaves will thicken the paste, adding moisture and that iconic green color to your pesto.
  4. Now add in the parmesan cheese, and continue to mash all the ingredients together.
  5. Continue to mash until your pesto is thick and viscous. You do not need to completely break down all the ingredients.
  6. Drizzle in the olive oil, giving the sauce a good mix as it is added.

Notes

You can make this in a food processor as well by adding all your ingredients (except the olive oil) to the food processor and mixing it all together until the paste is formed and then slowly drizzling in the olive oil.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

You Might Also Like to Read

Save and Pin for Later

Keep my homemade basil pesto recipe for safekeeping by saving it to one of your recipe boards.

close up top down view of homemade basil pesto in mortar

Author: Doina is a passionate home cook and content writer who loves to try new foods when traveling to different countries and use the new dishes and recipes she tries to inspire her own cooking.

Author

  • Hey there! We are Dale and Doina, the founders of Nomad Paradise. We traveled full-time for over three years, and while we now have a home base in the U.K., continue to take trips abroad to visit new places and try new cuisines and foods. Our food guides are curated with the guidance of local foodies, and their contribution is indicated under each article. We also cook the foods we try abroad, and you can discover how to make them in our 'recipes from around the world' category.

Sharing is caring!

Skip to Recipe