Fresh and delicious basil pesto that’s super simple to make! This recipe is so versatile and can be added to so many dishes. The perfect way to use up that fresh basil from the garden!
Easy homemade pesto
We had an over abundance of basil in our garden last year, so we made lots of basil pesto last summer! It was so yummy. I meant to share this recipe last year, but the time got away from me. It’s so easy to make and comes together in just a few minutes.
This basil pesto is so versatile and can be added to so many dishes! It tastes amazing on a pizza, sandwiches, pesto chicken, cooked pasta, spaghetti squash, bread…pretty much anything. Pesto just makes everything taste so yummy!
How much basil for pesto?
You’ll need at least a few cups of basil to get that bold flavor that most pesto sauces have. I typically use around 2 cups, but you could always add in a little bit more if you like a super fragrant taste. Make sure to pack the leaves into the measuring cup to ensure you’re using the correct amount. You also want to remove the stems, as they are a bit tough and have a bitter taste.
Tips + variations
Below are some helpful tips and variations you can try. Pesto is a pretty forgiving sauce, so most of the swaps below shouldn’t alter the flavor too much. Just make sure to taste as you go and add more or less of each of the ingredients until you’ve reached your desired flavor.
- Roasted garlic. Using roasted garlic cloves is an easy way to add another layer of flavor to your pesto. It gives the sauce a sweet, caramelized taste that pairs wonderfully with the other ingredients.
- Consistency. If the consistency of your pesto is still a bit thick after blending it together, drizzle in a bit more oil to thin it out. Just don’t go overboard…a little at a time until the texture is just right.
- Greens. For a more subtle basil flavor, use 1 cup basil and 1 cup spinach.
- Nuts. Pine nuts can be swapped for walnuts or pistachios.
- Cheese. Use freshly grated parmesan cheese for the best flavor.
How to use basil pesto
The options are endless when it comes to using this delicious sauce! Below are some of our favorite ways to enjoy it.
- Bread: Use it to dip a piece or crusty french bread or spread some over top a slice of artisan bread. You can even make my favorite cheesy pesto pull-apart bread for a delicious appetizer idea.
- Meat: A drizzle of homemade pesto on top of grilled chicken or grilled salmon is the perfect way to add more flavor.
- Pizza: Make a spinach pesto pizza with my easy homemade pizza dough. Or for a quicker option, try this french bread pizza.
- Pasta: This spaghetti pesto, white chicken lasagna or sheet pan gnocchi are family favorites. Or make a cold pesto chicken pasta salad during the summer.
- Soup and sandwich: Spread on top of a grilled caprese sandwich or add a drizzle in a bowl of tomato basil soup.
Storing + freezing
If you have leftovers, pour the pesto into an airtight container or jar and store in the fridge. It will keep in the fridge for about a week.
If you don’t think you’ll use the whole batch within a week, you can easily freeze it! Add the pesto sauce to an ice cube tray, freeze and then add the frozen cubes to a ziploc baggie and store in freezer for up to 3 months. I like to thaw the pesto cubes by placing the baggie in a bowl of lukewarm water.
More homemade sauces:
- 2 cups fresh basil , stems removed
- 3 Tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic , minced
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese , grated
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil , more as needed
- salt and pepper to taste
- Combine the basil, pine nuts, garlic and parmesan in a food processor or blender and pulse until chopped.
- Add the oil and puree until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste. Add more olive oil, as needed.
- Store in the fridge for up to 1 week in an airtight container or jar.