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The Best Classic Basil Pesto Recipe You’ll Have

This classic basil pesto recipe uses loads of fresh basil, pine nuts, parmesan, and olive oil. It’s savory and delicious – the best homemade pesto you’ll find!

Delicious homemade pesto with olive oil, basil, and pine nuts in jars

Have you ever purchased basil pesto from the store? It’s a fortune! We eat a ton of basil pesto around here, and for a family of six, buying pesto started to become an issue.

You shouldn’t have to deplete a child’s college fund for olive oil and parmesan, right? That’s how this basil pesto recipe was born.

Our basil plant grew crazy large this year, so I took the armload of leaves that was left over toward the end of the season to make this homemade pesto.

This classic pesto recipe is so easy and it will be a treat to continue to enjoy the bounty of our garden a bit longer. There’s just NOTHING like fresh pesto from the garden. If you’ve never had it – you’ve got to!

Homemade Pesto

If you’re ready to try your hand at a homemade pesto recipe the whole family will enjoy, I’ve got one for you. Before we get to that, I want to answer some of the frequently asked questions about homemade pesto that I get asked.

You are welcome to ask additional questions in the comments as well. These are the most common!

Can I Grow My Own Basil?

Basil grows very fast in warm weather and/or a place with 6-8 hours of sun (see some tips here).

Basil really needs to be watered, because I find that it dries out easily. It can also die from too much watering. Basically you want to keep the soil moist but not too wet at all times!

Basil is great for container gardening, so it can easily be grown in the house or on a closed in porch or patio.

If you live in a rainy or freezing cold area, containers are the best idea so that you can move them inside or out of the weather as need be.

What Can You Use Instead of Pine Nuts?

Pine nuts are expensive, yo! If you live in the southwest you can collect up to 25 pounds on public lands without a permit (who knew?).

But if you can’t find pine nuts or the price is prohibitive, you can also use pistachios, walnuts, or almonds.

These will provide a similar texture, though the test will be different, so you’ll want to experiment with a small batch first.

Can Homemade Pesto be Frozen?

Absolutely! You can store homemade pesto – and this particular basil pesto recipe – in freezer bags for up to six months.

You can freeze it in plastic containers or glass mason jars for nine to twelve months. I recommend letting it defrost on the counter instead of microwaving.

Is Basil Pesto Healthy?

Well, it depends on what you’re comparing it to! Pesto has high fat content due to the oil and nuts, but the fats are unsaturated (which promotes heart health).

It also contains some pretty good nutrients like calcium and Vitamin A. Whether or not it’s “healthy” depends on what you are trying to achieve, but generally speaking it’s better than a lot of other sauces, especially Alfredo (which is high in saturated fats).

Pesto Recipe Substitutions

I have two substitutions you might be interested in besides the pine nuts. First, you can add 1 cup spinach leaves to substitute for 1 cup of the basil leaves if you want to use up some spinach and for additional nutrients.

Second, you can use vegan cheese if you want to make the recipe dairy free. Parmesan by Angel Food is the #1 recommended brand.

Are you ready to try this homemade pesto the whole family is going to love? Check out the recipe below.

Classic Pesto Recipe Ingredients - pine nuts, garlic cloves, parmesan, basil

DIY Pesto Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 cups packed basil leaves
  • 3-4 cloves garlic {you might not want to eat this before a first date!}
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • a pinch of salt and pepper if you’d like
Homemade pesto recipe - ingredients combined in a blender

Throw everything but the oil in your blender or food processor and puree.

Basil pesto recipe - ingredients combined in a blender

While still blending, slowly pour in the oil. Scrape down the sides a few times and add in salt and pepper. Pulse until all the ingredients are incorporated and well blended.

Homemade pesto recipe divided between five jars

Spoon the mixture into jars {I tripled the recipe to fill all of these!} and tightly seal. Refrigerate for about a week or freeze up to a few months.

Yield: 8 servings

Basil Pesto Recipe

Classic Pesto Recipe Ingredients - pine nuts, garlic cloves, parmesan, basil

Learn how to make basil pesto the easy way, using this delicious, classic recipe.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups basil leaves (packed)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese (freshly grated)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 1 pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Throw everything but the oil in your blender or food processor and puree.
  2. Then, while still blending, slowly pour in the oil. Scrape down the sides a few times and add in salt and pepper. 
  3. Pulse until all the ingredients are incorporated and well blended.
  4. Spoon the mixture into jars and tightly seal.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 206Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 123mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 3g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a rating or share a photo on Pinterest!

Some of our favorite ways to enjoy this pesto recipe include:

  • warmed and served over pasta or gnocchi
  • spread on a baguette
  • drizzled over sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella {adding a bit more oil makes this easier}
  • as a marinade over chicken or seafood
  • mixed with a spoonful with a dollop of mayo and spread on a sandwich

Which of these would you try?

Delicious homemade basil pesto in jars

For other simple recipes like this, craft projects, and DIYs, visit my blog, a pretty cool life.

If you’re interested in checking out other recipes that are perfect for your family and use ingredients from a garden, try these:

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Shelly

Sunday 23rd of September 2018

Easy to make. I added 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to brighten the flavor. I will make this again.

Paige

Tuesday 29th of September 2015

This pesto looks incredible! I'll have to try this recipe the next time we make it at home!

Paige http://www.thehappyflammily.com/