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Homemade Pesto Recipe

Cara is a web writer and website owner with over 15 years of experience. She enjoys writing about food and cooking, among other topics.


My Thoughts on Basil Pesto

I wasn’t always a fan of pesto, but my kids heard about it and decided we were all going to try it. I dug through recipes and developed a plan to approach it from a fresh perspective but with a traditional flare. Now that I grow basil in my garden, I love it, especially when the weather is getting warm, and my garden goodies start making an appearance.

If you have never made basil pesto, you will be surprised to hear that it takes less than 10 minutes to make, and the flavor is so much fresher than the store-bought variety. I make my pesto in a food processor, but if you only have a blender, you can use that instead.

Chef's Tips

It only takes a few ingredients to make pesto and while some are already in your cabinet, the other ingredients are very easy to find and pretty affordable on any budget. I have found that the most expensive ingredient in this recipe is pine nuts, so if you can’t find them in your budget, you can substitute a more affordable nut that you like.

  • When you are making homemade pesto, choose the freshest basil to ensure the best flavor. I personally use organic basil that I have grown myself or pick some up at my local farmer’s market in the spring and summer. If I need a backup plan, I have been known to purchase fresh basil in the produce section of my grocery store, but I make sure to look it over well before choosing a bunch.
  • As always, fresh garlic is always best but if you have a jar of pre-minced garlic available, that will work in a pinch.
  • As I mentioned before, pine nuts are preferred for this recipe, but if you find they are too expensive at the time, walnuts make a great substitution.
  • Ideally, you should use freshly grated Parmesan cheese, directly from the block. However, this can be expensive, so I sometimes sway toward using pre-shredded cheese. I do not recommend using shaker Parmesan cheese because it will dry out your pesto, and the flavor is pretty undesirable once all the ingredients come together.

More Tips

  • I use a food processor for this recipe, but if you have a blender you can easily use that instead.
  • Take time to properly remove the stems from the basil. Wash the basil leaves well and dry them with a paper towel. Add the leaves to your food processor or blender.
  • Add in your prepared garlic, cheese, nuts, and seasonings. Place the lid on your blender or food processor and pulse five times, or until your mixture is coarsely chopped.
  • Add your olive oil in a steady, slow stream as the food processor or blender is running on low. Allow it to run for 30 seconds to ensure that everything mixes well. Your pesto should look similar to the image below and it is ready to store in the refrigerator. Make sure to lay a layer of plastic wrap directly over the pesto before placing the lid on a covered bowl, or you can serve immediately. This will keep your pesto fresh and prevent it from turning brown.

Cook Time

Prep timeReady inYields

10 min

10 min

1 cup


  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


  1. Add all of the ingredients except for the olive oil to a food processor or blender.
  2. Pulse the food processor or blender 5 times until the ingredients form a coarse mixture.
  3. Turn your food processor or blender on low and add your olive oil slowly, in a steady stream.
  4. You can store your pesto in the refrigerator covered in plastic wrap, or serve it immediately.

Make Your Own Pasta

If you are craving pasta to go with this amazing pesto, check out my recipe for fresh handmade pasta.

© 2022 Cara Garrison