Looking for the best pesto recipes? Whether you are looking for a classic Homemade Basil Pesto with Pinenuts, a bright red Sundried Tomato Pesto, a Spinach Pesto, or even a fresh and flavorful Cilantro Pesto, you'll find them here. Plus tasty variations on classic pesto using other nuts including almonds, walnuts, and cashews. This is the ultimate guide for making and using fresh pesto recipes!
Best Pesto Recipes
Here you'll find the best pesto recipes you can make at home. Homemade pesto is actually surprisingly simple to make, and super customizable with flavors and ingredients. You can mix up the nuts, the base, and even the citrus - lemon or lime- to blend different flavors into this tasty and versatile sauce.
This collection of pesto recipes includes a classic Basil Pine Nut Pesto plus several variations with different nuts including walnuts, almonds, and cashews. I also included a gorgeous red Sun Dried Tomato Pesto, plus a flavorful Spinach Pesto Recipe to make when you might be short on basil. The final twist is a completely different flavor profile than traditional pesto and actually goes well with Mexcian dishes! My Cilantro Pesto is unexpected, crazy delicious and one you'll just have to try.
Pesto is originally from Genoa, Italy. The word means "to brush or pound" and was originally made with a mortar and pestle, but now is a lot easier to make thanks to food processors and blenders. Pesto is traditionally made with pine nuts and basil, but this recipe collection celebrates some unusual twists on this classic Italian sauce.
This rich pesto sauce is all made with just a handful of ingredients and comes together in less than 5 minutes thanks to a good food processor.
What does pesto go well with?
Pesto is a super versatile sauce that goes well with so many things. Traditional pesto with Italian flavors goes great on warm pasta, pasta salad, gnocchi, zoodles, and pizza. It's also a great spread on a sandwich, wraps, a drizzle on roasted vegetables, or potatoes, stir it in soups, or even a topper for chicken, fish, or shrimp. You can even use it as a dressing in a bean-based salad.
I even stir a scoop into simple frozen vegetables for my family to jazz up the flavor! My kids love it and get them to eat more veggies. The possibilities are endless. Add it anywhere you want to amp up the flavor of a boring dish.7 Perfect Pesto Recipes to Make at Home Click To Tweet
Why You'll Love These Best Pesto Recipes...
- These Best Pesto Recipes are all made with about 5 ingredients in 5 minutes.
- They are all healthy with fresh, good-for-you, ingredients.
- Pesto is a versatile flavor bomb that elevates so many dishes you can make.
- This collection of recipes includes pesto recipes to make in summer when basil is plentiful and a few to make when you don't have as much basil.
- This list includes options that don't all include pine nuts, since they can be a bit pricy.
- You really can't beat the flavor of homemade pesto!
Here's an overview of what you'll need to make these best pesto recipes, use what you'll need to create any of the recipes below and also use this as inspiration or a template recipe to create your own pesto creations too!
- Basil, Greens, or Fresh Herbs- 2 Cups: Most traditional pesto recipes start with fresh basil, and fresh basil leaves are where the traditional pesto flavor comes from. However, you can substitute other fresh herbs like cilantro, mint, or parsley. You can also mix in greens like spinach, kale, or arugula.
- Pine Nuts or Nuts- ⅓ Cup: Pine nuts are what you traditionally use to make pesto, but they can be expensive to buy. You can substitute lots of other nuts including almonds, cashews, walnuts, or even sunflower seeds.
- Garlic - 2 cloves: I like to use a real fresh garlic bulb. You need two garlic cloves (the smaller part inside of the bulb) peeled.
- Parmesan Cheese - ½ Cup: I love putting fresh shaved or grated parmesan cheese in my homemade pesto for the most flavor. You can also use a blend of pecorino romano. You can make this vegan or dairy-free by substituting nutritional yeast for the parmesan or simply leaving it out.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil - ½ Cup: Use good finishing olive oil. This dish is the most flavorful when using nice, high-quality ingredients. I like this one.
- Salt: I salt to taste but don't add pepper to my pesto.
- Optional: Add citruses like lemon juice or lime as an optional add-on for pesto.
- Start with your food processor. Open the food processor and toss in the fresh basil, peeled garlic cloves, nuts, parmesan cheese, and olive oil to the food processor.
- Pulse the food processor a few times and then process the basil pesto mixture for several minutes until the pesto is well combined to the desired consistency. If needed, scrape the sides down to make sure it's all blended. Watch it until you get the right pesto consistency, but don't over-blend because it could turn bitter. Olive oil can turn if you over-process it.
- Add salt to taste.
- Serve immediately or store in an airtight container or jar in the fridge until ready to use.
Best Pesto Recipes
Classic Basil Pine Nut Pesto
This Classic Basil Pine Nut Pesto is your basic recipe with everything you know and loves about pesto. It's a simple, 5 ingredient recipe that includes basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese. If you are looking for a basic recipe, without variations, this is it! This is a new recipe to this site, so the full recipe is below in the recipe card.
This Spinach Pesto recipe is one of the best pesto recipes because it uses mostly spinach and just some basil. Many fresh pesto recipes require you to have lots of fresh basil, but if you are short on basil, this is a great alternative. Tender green spinach is a great substitute and I love the bright green color of this homemade pesto. There's just enough basil still in this recipe to still get that classic flavor. This recipe is also a bit healthier because of the spinach.
Use this Spinach Pesto in Caprese Pasta Salad.
Cashew Pesto is a fabulous alternative to classic pesto because it uses creamy and easy-to-find cashews! This rich nut makes a perfect swap out for pinenuts and the flavor of the pesto is just as rich.
Use this in Easy Lemon Pesto Salmon.
Don't have a bunch of basil? Try my Sun Dried Tomato Pesto which is bright and super flavorful. It's great to make year-round because you can use canned sun-dried tomatoes. This sauce is so delicious.
Use this as a sauce for my Blackened Mahi Mahi.
Pesto can be made with something other than basil! This Cilantro Pesto is another one of my best pesto recipes because of the unexpected flavor combination of cilantro and lime. This pesto doesn't taste like traditional pesto but has a southwest flare that pairs perfectly with Mexican dishes.
Walnut Pesto is another great alternative to making pesto with pine nuts. This recipe swaps out walnuts for an easy-to-make and less expensive homemade pesto. It takes nearly identical it classic pesto.
Use this on my Easy Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad.
If you've been wondering if you can make pesto with almonds? You can! This Homemade Almond Basil Pesto is super rich and delicious. You'll never know the price-conscious and heart-healthy swap has been made.
Use Basil Almond Pesto as a topping for Mediterranean Roast Vegetables.
Why does my homemade pesto taste bad?
Homemade Pesto can turn bitter if you overprocess the olive oil. Only blend it just enough to hit your desired consistency, don't keep the food processor running.
How do you preserve pesto color?
You can steam your basil ahead of time to keep a bright green color in your pesto.
How do you preserve pesto long-term?
Homemade Pesto can only keep 5 days in the fridge, but freezing is a great option for long-term storage. It's a fabulous way to preserve fresh basil. After making the pesto, put it in ice cube trays and freeze. Once the pesto is frozen, remove the cubes from the trays and store them in a freezer bag or airtight container. When you need pesto, just pop out one cube and use it. You can keep frozen pesto for up to three months.
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Best Pesto Recipe - Classic Basil Pesto
- Add the basil, peeled garlic cloves, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and olive oil to the food processor.
- Blend for several minutes until the pesto is well combined. If needed, scrape the sides down to make sure it's all mixed in.
- Salt to taste.
- Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.
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