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Basil Pesto


This simple Italian sauce brings summery flavor to all sorts of dishes, including our Pesto Pizzas and Chicken Fettuccine with Pesto Cream Sauce. Pesto is traditionally made with cheese, but it's just as good without (it freezes better, too).

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Yield: Makes 1 3/4 cups

Source: Everyday Food, September 2005


  • 1 cup walnuts or pine nuts
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 8 cups (4 ounces) lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread nuts evenly on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven until golden and fragrant, tossing once, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool completely.

  2. Meanwhile, bring 4 cups salted water to a boil; add basil, and submerge with a spoon. Immediately drain in a colander. Rinse with cold water until cool, then pat basil completely dry in paper towels.

  3. In a food processor, combine nuts, basil, and garlic; season generously with salt and pepper. Process until nuts are finely chopped. With machine running, pour oil in a steady stream through the feed tube; process until smooth. Use immediately, or freeze.

Cook's Notes

When you plan on freezing pesto, cook the basil briefly in salted water before mixing with the other ingredients; this will help preserve its bright color and fresh taste. To freeze, spoon pesto into an ice-cube tray (2 tablespoons per cube); cover with plastic wrap. Freeze overnight, then transfer cubes to a resealable plastic bag; keep up to 6 months. Defrost pesto at room temperature, about 20 minutes (or at 30-second intervals in the microwave). Mash with a fork before using in recipes.

Reviews Add a comment

  • MS12335195
    18 MAY, 2017
    Forgot the parm - a must have! I just toast my pine nuts in a small skillet on the stovetop. Must stir and remove promptly - it happens fast! But this saves energy and time. We always make 4 cups and have it over thin spaghetti for the two of us. A nice, light supper.
  • ooluu
    10 JUN, 2010
    I've used pistachios instead of the pine nuts and really like it better than walnuts
  • northwestmama
    23 JUL, 2009
    Great recipe, very simple and easy and good results. My kids and hubby loved it and so did I. I think I'd like to add parmigiana cheese next time though just for more flavor.
  • laundy
    14 APR, 2009
    Can basil pesto pasta be refrigerated and served cold the same as other pasta salads such as macaroni salad?
  • ivahays
    1 OCT, 2008
    Yes Silvia, add the cheeses. I have for years, and to freeze, be sure to drizzle olive oil over the top of the pesto, cover and it keeps its color WITHOUT blanching the basl. Never micro to thaw, it will turn the pesto into a glob.
  • foodandmooddoteu
    25 JUL, 2008
    Hi, I'm Silvia and I'm italian. For the original pesto recipe (a tipish plate from "Liguria", near Tuscany where I live), you have to had 1/2 cup of parmigiano cheese and a 1/2 of pecorino cheese. Try and tell me :-)
  • jamwinters
    19 JUL, 2008
    Very easy to make. I have made this every summer for the past 3 yrs. I always mean to freeze it, but its so yummy we eat it up before we can!
  • Sonj
    1 JUN, 2008
    Excellent!! I had a lot of people at my beach house and prepared it, served it over spaghetti, everybody liked it. Sonia Cobar - Guatemala City
  • rsvoboda
    30 MAY, 2008
    I also add a tablespoon of butter just to add some richness. I grow my own basil and make large batches of this pesto. It is great on bread, chicken or pasta.
  • wallaceaj
    26 MAY, 2008
    Add baby spinach chopped finely to keep pesto green when use with pasta.