How to Make Pesto: A Delicious Guide


Hello fellow foodies and chefs! Are you looking for a simple and tasty homemade sauce to add to your pasta dishes? Look no further than pesto! Pesto is a versatile sauce that can be made in just a few minutes and can elevate any dish to the next level. In this article, we will provide you with all the tips and tricks you need to create the perfect pesto sauce. From the traditional Genovese recipe to variations that cater to dietary requirements, you’ll find all you need to know about how to make pesto.

What is pesto?

Pesto is a sauce that originated in Genoa, Italy, and is traditionally made from fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and extra-virgin olive oil. Its signature bright green color and fragrant aroma make it a favorite among food lovers worldwide. However, pesto is more than just a pasta sauce. It can be used as a dip, spread, or marinade and can add a tasty twist to sandwiches, pizzas, and salads.

Why make pesto at home?

While it’s easy to buy pre-made pesto from the store, making it home is a game-changer. Not only does homemade pesto taste fresher and more flavorful, but it also allows you to customize the recipe to your liking. You can adjust the amount of garlic, cheese, or nuts, or even swap basil for other herbs like parsley or cilantro. Plus, making pesto at home can be a fun activity to do with friends or family.

Is pesto healthy?

Yes! Pesto can be a nutritious addition to your meals. Basil is packed with antioxidants, and pine nuts are a good source of protein and healthy fats. However, traditional pesto recipes can be high in fat and calories due to the use of oil and cheese. If you’re looking for a healthier option, try reducing the amount of oil or using a light variety, or skip the cheese altogether.


Ingredient Quantity
Fresh Basil 2 cups
Pine Nuts 1/2 cup
Garlic 3 cloves
Parmesan Cheese 1/2 cup
Extra-virgin Olive Oil 1/2 cup
Salt 1/2 tsp
Lemon Juice 1 tbsp


The good news is that you don’t need a fancy blender or food processor to make pesto. All you need is a mortar and pestle, a blender, or a food processor. If you’re using a blender or food processor, make sure they’re powerful enough to handle the nuts and the herbs.

How to Make Pesto

Step 1: Wash the basil

Start by washing the basil leaves in cold water and patting them dry with a paper towel.

Step 2: Toast the pine nuts

Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat and toast the pine nuts until they turn golden brown. Make sure to keep an eye on them and toss them frequently to avoid burning.

Step 3: Crush the garlic

Peel the garlic cloves and crush them with a mortar and pestle or finely chop them with a knife.

Step 4: Grate the cheese

Grate the Parmesan cheese using a fine grater or a food processor.

Step 5: Blend the ingredients

In a blender or a food processor, combine the basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, salt, and lemon juice. Pulse the ingredients until they’re roughly chopped.

Step 6: Add the olive oil

Slowly pour in the olive oil while continuing to blend the ingredients. Blend until the mixture reaches a smooth consistency.

Step 7: Taste and adjust

Take a spoonful of pesto and taste it. Add more salt, lemon juice, or olive oil if needed.

Step 8: Store the pesto

Transfer the pesto to a jar with a tight-fitting lid and store it in the fridge. Pesto can be stored for up to a week in the fridge, or you can freeze it for up to three months.

Pesto Variations

Vegan Pesto

To make vegan pesto, skip the cheese, and use nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan instead.

Nut-free Pesto

If you’re allergic to pine nuts or want to make nut-free pesto, swap pine nuts for pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds.

Cilantro Pesto

If you’re not a fan of basil, try making cilantro pesto. Swap basil for fresh cilantro leaves, and use lime juice instead of lemon juice.


Q1: Can I make pesto with a blender or a food processor?

Yes! A blender or a food processor can be used to make pesto.

Q2: Can I use a different type of nut?

Certainly! You can use walnuts, almonds, or even cashews instead of pine nuts.

Q3: How long can I store pesto in the fridge?

Homemade pesto can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.

Q4: Can I freeze pesto?

Yes! Pesto can be frozen for up to three months.

Q5: Can I make pesto in advance?

Absolutely! Pesto can be made in advance and stored in the fridge or freezer.

Q6: How much pesto should I use per serving of pasta?

A general rule of thumb is to use 2-3 tablespoons of pesto per serving of pasta.

Q7: How can I use extra pesto?

Pesto can be used as a dip or a spread for sandwiches or crackers. It can also be used as a marinade for fish or chicken, or as a topping for pizza or bruschetta.

Q8: Can I make dairy-free pesto?

Yes! Dairy-free pesto can be made by skipping the cheese or using a vegan cheese substitute.

Q9: Can I make pesto without garlic?

Of course! If you don’t like garlic, you can skip it or replace it with shallots or onions.

Q10: Can I make pesto with dried basil?

While fresh basil provides the best flavor and aroma, dried basil can be used in a pinch.

Q11: How can I fix pesto if it’s too runny?

If your pesto is too runny, you can add more nuts or cheese to thicken it.

Q12: Can I use frozen basil to make pesto?

Yes! Frozen basil can be used to make pesto, but make sure to thaw it first and squeeze out any excess water.

Q13: Can I use a different type of oil?

Yes! You can use any type of oil you like, such as avocado oil or sunflower oil.


Congratulations! Now that you know how to make pesto, you can add a flavorful and healthy sauce to your dishes. Whether you’re making it traditional Genovese style, or mixing it up with a variation, pesto is a crowd-pleaser that will impress your guests. Don’t be afraid to experiment and adjust the recipe to your liking. We hope this article has given you the inspiration to create your own homemade pesto. Buon appetito!

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The information in this article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult with a qualified healthcare professional before making changes to your diet or lifestyle. The author and publisher are not responsible for any adverse effects or consequences resulting from the use or misuse of any information provided in this article.

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