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Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe in white bowl

Fresh Basil Pesto

  • Author: Elizabeth Rider
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 1.5 cups 1x
  • Category: Dips & Spreads
  • Method: Food Processor
  • Cuisine: Italian


Fresh basil pesto is a classic dish that never disappoints. We love it in the summertime and use it on chicken, fish, veggies and as wonderful spread on good-quality bread.


Units Scale
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves (if desired, substitute half the basil with fresh baby spinach or fresh arugula)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts (option to substitute with almonds, walnuts or pistachios)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste

(optional: 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice)


This classic basil pesto recipe is best made in a food processor. A blender also works, just be careful to not over blend it.

  1. To make quick work of mincing the garlic, put the whole peeled garlic cloves in the food processor and turn it on until it's finely minced. It will stick to the sides, and that's ok.
  2. Add the basil leaves, nuts, and salt (and lemon juice, if using) into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a 4-5 times to break everything up. Scrape down the sides, then put the lid back on.
  3. Turn the food processor on and with it running, slowly add the olive oil through the hole at the top. This should take about 20 seconds and the pesto will form. Scrape down the sides, then pulse it a few more times to make a uniform pesto.
  4. Remove the lid and blade and stir in the cheese. You can do this right in the food processor bowl or in a separate serving bowl. Stiring in the cheese at the end instead of adding it to the food processor allows it to retain more texture.
  5. Serve immediately or use in a dish such as Pesto Pasta with Chicken.
  6. To store, put it in a small container and add a little olive oil to the top to help prevent oxidation. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge up to 4 days. Freezes well.


Classic basil pesto contains fresh basil, fresh garlic, pine nuts, and a fresh hard cheese like Parmesan or Romano. Feel free to get creative with a mix of different herbs and/or nuts. The options are endless!

Keywords: Fresh Basil Pesto