Basic Basil Pesto

Fresh Basil Pesto is the perfect addition to so many recipes or just enjoyed atop a piece of toast. It’s super easy to make too.

Basil Pesto is a favorite recipe of mine, not to mention, easy breezy. And it’s green, so it has to be sorta, kinda healthy, right? Please don’t let me know if it’s really bad for you, I’d just rather not know. When paired with bruschetta (garlic toast for you fellow rednecks) or pasta, pesto is favoloso! (That would be fabulous in Italian. No, I don’t speak Italian, I cheated and looked it up.) And when fresh basil is available, pesto is the way to go.

basil pesto recipe

You’ll need a few simple ingredients: basil (of course), garlic cloves, pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil, grated parmesan cheese, plus a little bit of salt and pepper to taste.

Begin by chopping the garlic and pine nuts first in a food processor. Pulse a few times. (I don’t think the order of chopping matters I just like to make sure the garlic and pine nuts are finely chopped by the end, so I start with them.) Add the basil and pulse a few more times. Next, slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is running. (That itty bitty hole in the circular thingy in the lid of the processor is great for this, except it could be a little bigger.) Scrape down the sides of the processor and add the grated cheese, pulse again to blend.

how to make pesto

Salt and pepper to taste.There, that was easy, huh?

Again this is a basic basil pesto recipe. If you don’t have exact amounts of each ingredient it should still work well just make sure it’s not too oily. After you make it a few times, it’ll be something that you just “eyeball” for correct proportions. I promise. It’s that easy.


Basic Basil Pesto Recipe tips:

  • Basil is one of those herbs that’s worth the effort to grow your own. A small pack of basil around here runs $2-4.00 for just a little bit, while you can get a pack of seeds for a dollar or two. It’s super easy to grow. I wouldn’t tell you a fib either – try it.
  • I have substituted walnuts and even pistachios for the pine nuts before. Or if you have a nut allergy, I have made the pesto with out any nuts at all. Pesto is good all the different ways!
  • A food processor or blender is really the best way to get the perfect pesto consistency. It can be made by hand chopping the ingredients but it will take a long time and not be quite the same texture.

This Creamy Pesto Pasta is the perfect place to use this pesto recipe. It’s perfectly pleasing!

Basic Basil Pesto Recipe
Prep time
Total time
Serves: Makes about 1 cup.
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • ⅓ cup pine nuts
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Chop garlic and pine nuts in food processor. Pulse a few times.
  2. Add the basil and pulse a few more times.
  3. Add the olive oil slowly while the food processor is running.
  4. Scrape down the sides of the processor, add the grated cheese, pulse again to blend. (A lot of pulsing, I know.)
  5. Salt and pepper to taste.

basic basil pesto recipe

Sign Up for Email Updates

Subscribe here to have all updates delivered to your email.


  1. 1


    You know, I’ve never made pesto before… how can that be?

    I have made a version with cilatro and macadamia nuts instead. Although it might not be pesto without the basil.

  2. 3


    Pesto is such a great all around sauce! You can do so much with it. Your photos are just gorgeous! Every one of them looks so professional!

  3. 4

    Jessica says

    Great recipe! I used it to make Pesto Pinwheels (puff pastry w pesto & parmesan) and they turned out great. Thanks!

  4. 5

    Massimo says

    Actually, what is missing is Pecorino Romano grated cheese (the original Italian cheese, not an imitation).
    Being salty, one puts usually 2/3 of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (again, the original Italian cheese, not an adventurous Argentinian fake…) and 1/3 of grated Pecorino Romano.
    Also, I have never seen pesto with pepper. It has no business whatsoever in there.

  5. 6

    Zach says

    I went to the store the other day to get some pine nuts, and found them to be a “bit” too far out of my price range. Anything else you would suggest, or do I even need to use nuts?

    • 7


      Hey Zach!

      I’ve used walnuts before. I’ve also made it without any nuts at all. You’ll need to watch for consistency — maybe not add as much olive oil. It’s a little different from the original, but still quite tasty!

      • 8

        Zach says

        Thanks for the feedback. I just want to make sure, but it should be like a paste when it’s done then, right? I’m wanting to make sure I do this right since it sounds so yummy.

  6. 11

    jam says

    hi! first time cook here and in love with eating pesto dishes. Can I ask, what is the difference with this kind of pesto from the bottled ones we can find in supermarkets? Are they the same thing?

  7. 12

    Kim B says

    Making this Pesto for the second time in a few weeks. Absolutely delicious and so easy. I know I will be making this for years to come. Thanks Amy!

  8. 15

    Annette says

    I just want to say that I just found your website today, and I love it. :) Thank you for sharing your photos and recipes with us all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *