The Best Basic Pesto

Tested & Perfected Recipes

This is my go-to pesto recipe — and it’s delicious on just about everything, from pasta to sandwiches to salads.

One of my favorite things about summer cooking is stepping out my back door to pick fresh herbs from my little potted herb and flower garden. It always amazes me how the tiny seedlings I impatiently wait for to sprout in May grow into more herbs than I can possibly use up in August. Right now, my basil plant is overflowing, which means it’s time to make pesto!

Pesto, or pesto alla genovese, is a vibrant, garlicky green sauce that originated in Genoa, Italy. It is traditionally made with a mortar and pestle, but thankfully most modern versions call for using a food processor. Pesto is a versatile sauce that can be used on just about everything, from pastas to sandwiches to salads. It freezes well, too.

potted herb garden

What You’ll Need To Make Pesto

Traditional pesto is made with garlic, pine nuts, salt, basil leaves, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and extra-virgin olive oil. It’s important to use top-quality ingredients, as the flavors really shine through. 

ingredients for pesto

For the cheese, be sure to use the real-deal imported Parmigiano-Reggiano from Italy; domestic Parmesan pales in comparison. You can always tell if it’s authentic by looking at the rind, which is embossed with the name over and over. If the cheese is already grated, it should be labeled “Parmigiano-Reggiano,” not “Parmesan.”

For the nuts, I use walnuts instead of the more traditional pine nuts for a few reasons. First, I always seem to have walnuts in the house (pine nuts can be very pricey!). Second, in recent years an increasing number of people, including me, have fallen prey to a bizarre problem with pine nuts called Pine Mouth Syndrome — a bitter, metallic taste in the mouth that develops a day or two after eating pine nuts. It can last for weeks and make eating or drinking anything very unpleasant. (You can use pecans or almonds, too.)

How To Make Pesto

walnuts and garlic in food processor

To begin, combine the walnuts and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.

coarsely chopped walnuts and garlic

Add the basil leaves, salt and pepper.

adding basil, salt, and pepper to food processor

Process until finely chopped.

finely chopped basil in food processor

Then, with the food processor running, add the olive oil through the feed tube in a steady stream.

olive oil blended into pesto

Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano.

adding the cheese

Process again until smooth. That’s your sauce!

blended finished pesto sauce

How To Store & Freeze Pesto

Use the sauce immediately or store it in a tightly sealed jar or air-tight plastic container, covered with a thin layer of olive oil (this seals out the air and prevents the sauce from oxidizing, which would turn it an ugly brown color). It will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.

Pesto can also be frozen in an airtight container for up to 6 months. I suggest dividing it into the compartments of an ice cube tray and freezing. Once frozen, remove the  cubes from the tray and put in a sealable plastic bag or airtight container. You can add the defrosted cubes to soups, pasta dishes, eggs, sandwiches, and potatoes.

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The Best Basic Pesto

This is my go-to pesto recipe — and it’s delicious on just about everything, from pasta to sandwiches to salads.

Servings: Makes about 1-1/4 cups (about 10 servings)
Total Time: 15 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups gently packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, best quality such as Lucini or Colavita
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Instructions

  1. Place the walnuts and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until coarsely chopped, about 10 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper and process until mixture resembles a paste, about 1 minute. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly blended. Add the Parmesan and process a minute more. Use pesto immediately or store in a tightly sealed jar or air-tight plastic container, covered with a thin layer of olive oil (this seals out the air and prevents the pesto from oxidizing, which would turn it an ugly brown color). It will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.
  2. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: Pesto can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 6 months. You can also divide your prepared pesto into the compartments of an ice cube tray and freeze. Once it’s frozen, remove the pesto cubes from the tray and put in a sealable plastic bag or airtight container. You can add the defrosted pesto cubes to soups, pasta dishes, eggs, sandwiches, and potatoes.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Serving size: 2 Tbsp.
  • Calories: 159
  • Fat: 17 g
  • Saturated fat: 3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 1 g
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Sodium: 161 mg
  • Cholesterol: 4 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Reviews & Comments

  • After years of delaying too long, I was so proud to finally remember to harvest the basil before the cold weather starts. But, I forgot to check the pantry and ended up a bit short on olive oil and Parmesan in the triple batch of pesto with walnuts. No worries! It is delicious with a wonderful texture and consistency. As for the comments about bitterness, sometimes raw garlic can be bitter. I also had two varieties of basil and one was definitely more bitter all summer than the other. That one literally did not make the cut for this recipe. Oh, and I can’t remember the last time we had an ice cube tray, so I used the mini cupcake pan and mini donut pans to freeze the batches. Perfect size!

    • — Fran on September 26, 2020
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  • This is a simple but excellent pesto recipe. Thanks for sharing another wonderful recipe Jen!

    • — Kathy M. on September 26, 2020
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  • This is the best ever pesto ….. our basil plants were lovely this year and we have made seven batches ….. some for us, some for family. Freezing in the trays is a great tip. Thanks

    • — Ruby on September 24, 2020
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  • I followed this exactly and it was too salty, too garlicky and too oily for us. Next time, I will put 1/4 tsp salt or even less, half the oil, and only half a garlic clove.

    • — France on September 23, 2020
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  • Perfect proportions of ingredients. Just like Nonna used to make… really!

    • — duckconfit on September 22, 2020
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  • Just made my first ever batch of pesto to be used in another recipe I’m making for dinner – this turned out amazing! I was looking for a basic pesto recipe that used walnuts, and this one worked wonderfully.

    • — SJ on September 20, 2020
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  • Outstanding Recipe! Pesto was so yummy, I could just lick the jar. The fresh basil leaves from my garden found a perfect place! Other than pasta and pizza topping, what else can I use the pesto for?

    • — Prajakta on September 14, 2020
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    • Hi Prajakta, Glad you liked it! Pesto is also nice stirred into or dolloped on top of soup like in this recipe. It’s also great spread onto bread for sandwiches or grilled cheese. You can also freeze pesto for future use if you have more than you can use now.

      • — Jenn on September 14, 2020
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  • This was sooooo good! Thanks for the recipe!

    • — Diana M on September 4, 2020
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  • Hi! If I did want to use pine nuts, would it be the same amount? 1/3 cup?

    Thanks! 🙏🏻

    • — Allison on September 1, 2020
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    • Yes – hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 2, 2020
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  • I just made this and it’s super bitter! I followed it exactly. Now what am I supposed to do, this is tonight’s dinner ? 🙁

    • — Shelley on August 31, 2020
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    • Hmmm…so sorry, Shelley. Any chance your nuts were bad?

      • — Jenn on August 31, 2020
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  • My family said it is fabulous 🙂

    • — Maria D'Abate on August 25, 2020
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  • This is the best pesto recipe I’ve ever had, and my Grandfather is from Italy. I only use 1/3 cup + 1 Tbs Cold Pressed EVO and 1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano. We love it so much we’ve doubled the number of basil plants in the garden so every 4 days I can pick enough to make a pesto dish. I’ve even made it to give as gifts and shared your recipe. Thank you so much! My entire family loves it.

    • — Karen Hudson on August 20, 2020
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  • Hi Jenn,
    Just made your pesto. Wow! Substituting pine nuts for walnuts is genius. My family and I enjoyed it with fresh pasta. Delicious! Thank you very much!

    • — Pasqualina on August 16, 2020
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  • Yummy!! We loved it. I didn’t need to use all of the olive oil but the result was still great.

    • — Marnie on August 14, 2020
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  • Two notes:
    If you blanch your basil for 30 seconds in boiling water you do not have to worry about it turning brown.

    Most pine nuts available in the US are from China and they are a different type than those grown in New Mexico or Europe. Those from NM will not have that horrid taste. It is well worth paying more for those grown in the USA.

    • — Simone Andrus on August 13, 2020
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    • Simone, Thank you for sharing info about the origins of pine nuts! Love the recipes and own the cookbook… First cookbook I bought since internet! I even bought my BFF one!
      Looking forward to the next cookbook…Yummers!

      • — Mila on August 14, 2020
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  • Once I found this recipe, there’s never been another acceptable pesto on my plate whether it’s puddled over pasta or spread on some bread.

    One of my wishes is to one day drop a straw into a glass of this pesto and enjoy. Salut!

    • — Catherine Nichols on August 13, 2020
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    • LOL – glad you like it!!

      • — Jenn on August 13, 2020
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  • I’m thinking this would work as a base for your three-cheese white pizza (which is so delicious!). What do you think?

    • — Glenna Ross on August 12, 2020
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    • Are you referring to this pizza? If so, definitely!

      • — Jenn on August 13, 2020
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      • No. Your three cheese white pizza with arugula which I love!

        • — Glenna on August 14, 2020
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        • Sure, but I’d skip the olive oil and garlic that the dough gets topped with. Hope you enjoy!

          • — Jenn on August 18, 2020
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  • contains way too much olive oil. I cut the olive oil in 1/2 and it was still extra greasy and very rich. I’ll use an other recipe next time.

    • — john rowland on August 9, 2020
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    • Can you recommend a good substitute for the pine nuts? (I have a tree nut allergy) and miss good pesto!!

      • — Liz on August 12, 2020
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      • Walnuts would be a great substitute. Hope you enjoy!

        • — Jenn on August 12, 2020
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  • Hi, Jenn! I love your pesto recipe, however, I have a ton of arugula in the fridge right now – could I do a 1:1 swap with the basil to make an arugula pesto? Would I need to add a little sugar or make any other adjustments? Thank you! Bethany

    • — Bethany on August 5, 2020
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    • Hi Bethany, I haven’t tried it, but I think this would be great with arugula! Because arugula definitely has a sharper flavor, you may want to add a pinch of sugar (but I’d make it as is first, taste it, and then add a pinch if necessary). I’d love to hear how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on August 7, 2020
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      • I did try it with arugula and it turned out very tasty! I did have to add about 1/4 tsp sugar to counteract the bitterness, and I used pecorino since it was what I had. I added an extra 1/4 tsp salt, as well, since the pecorino is a slightly less salty cheese.

        • — Bethany on August 12, 2020
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        • Glad it turned out nicely — thanks for reporting back! 🙂

          • — Jenn on August 13, 2020
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  • This pesto is the best I have ever tasted. I always have alot of basil in my garden but have never tried making pesto. I didn’t have a food processor so this time I used my blender…took a little while to get the basil blended but I was patient and it paid off. I tried to “drizzle” a little olive oil over the top for refrigerator storage…but may have got a little too much. I assume you just stir that in before using. Any suggestions on how to “drizzle” a small amount. I am heading to my garden to pick more basil to make more for my freezer. THANK YOU for sharing.

    • — Cheryl Bartle on August 5, 2020
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    • Hi Cheryl, Glad you enjoy the pesto! You might find it easier to pour some onto a spoon, and then drizzle it from the spoon. But I wouldn’t worry about it too much — you really can’t have too much olive oil (and yes, just stir it in). 🙂

      • — Jenn on August 6, 2020
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  • Delicious! This was the first time I had ever made pesto, I had so much basil in the garden this year I thought I’d give it a try. I used walnuts (and always will after this), it was easy to make and the family loved it. Thanks for a great recipe.

    • — Jodie Smith on August 2, 2020
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  • Awesome recipe, thanks Jenn!!

    Question: I’ve read that if you’re freezing pesto, you shouldn’t add the cheese, but instead freeze all the ingredients and then add the cheese separately, when you actually use the pesto.

    True? False? Seems like a pain that would make a difference to people with a more sophisticated palate than mine. 😉 Thanks!

    • — Jane on August 1, 2020
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    • Hi Jane, I freeze pesto with the cheese. 🙂

      • — Jenn on August 2, 2020
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  • Amazing! I was always told I had to use pine nuts for pesto and I don’t always have those around but I always have walnuts since my husband likes them. Made exactly as written and it was hard to stop licking the spoon! Will be using it to make your pesto pizza. Thank you.

    • — Chris W. on July 30, 2020
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  • Perfect. Made it for pesto pizza a bit later, exactly as written. Tastes the way pesto should taste.

    • — Steve Cohen on July 29, 2020
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  • Delicious and easy. I suggest less salt and pepper.

    • — Danita on July 29, 2020
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  • This recipe is awesome! I’ve had a bumper crop of basil this season and made it several times. I’ve given it away to friends and family and always received comments of “delicious”, the best” and “please share the recipe”!

    • — Susan Ross on July 24, 2020
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  • I make this all the time, great recipe! I like to use it as a base for my pizza, with sliced tomatoes instead of tomato sauce. I freeze this in large quantities too, but instead of freezing in ice cube trays, I just put it in a quart size ziplock bag and lay it flat to freeze. It’s super easy just to break off what you need. I have also subbed raw cashews for the walnuts or pine nuts because that was what I had. I’ve had great luck with my basil plant this year so my freezer is stocked!

    • — Barb on July 23, 2020
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  • SHRIMP PIZZA
    Hi Jenn, My wife and I used to get a pre-made crust such as the brand Bob—. Spread it with this and then add cut up cooked shrimp, top with fresh black pepper, and mozzarella mixed with a little fresh grated parmesan. Took about 5 minutes to prep. Now she makes a fabulous crust, which we roll out thin, and roll a dough docker over it. (We’re St. Louis thin crust fans.)We then pre-bake until it starts to turn brown. We then pull it out and add the toppings, put back in the oven until the cheese is light brown around the edges and bubbly in the center. It’s absolutely fabulous!

    • — Rick H on July 21, 2020
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  • Hi Jenn! I have a nut allergy and I am wondering if you can just leave them out or if I should substitute something like sunflower or pepitas? Thanks!

    • — Jill on July 20, 2020
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    • Hi Jill, I wouldn’t just leave the nuts out. I haven’t tried this with seeds like pepitas or sunflower so I can’t say for sure how it will turn out – I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful (but I’d love to hear how it is if you try it)!

      • — Jenn on July 21, 2020
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      • I made it with a 1:1 sunflower seed swap and it’s DELISH!!! Just fyi 🙂

        • — Jill orr on July 24, 2020
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    • I made my pesto with no nuts. I heard you can use the walnuts but I didn’t have it either so I used Pecorino Romano cheese. I grated it and used it along with Parmesan cheese.
      It was delicious.

      • — Thong on September 7, 2020
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  • Delicious! I’m glad I found this recipe to try for my first time making pesto. It was so good!

    • — JoDi on July 18, 2020
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  • Hi Jenn I made this recipe today. Looks and smells amazing. The basil flavour isn’t very strong, is that supposed to be the case? I mainly taste the cheese and walnuts, the basil is very slight. Thanks!

    • — Sam on July 16, 2020
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    • Hi Sam, strange that it doesn’t taste much of basil – you should be tasting all the flavors.

      • — Jenn on July 17, 2020
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  • Hello! If I want to use pine nuts, should I use the same quantity as the walnuts?

    • — Karla on July 13, 2020
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    • Yep – hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on July 14, 2020
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  • Added a couple T of lemon juice and it’s perfect!

    • — Sebby on July 13, 2020
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  • Very tasty

    • — Siti on July 10, 2020
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  • Turned out very well I just cut down on salt. Delicious

    • — Dlm on July 5, 2020
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  • This is by far the best pesto recipe I have found. Walnut pesto is extremely nostalgic to me but I could not get the proportions right to reproduce my mother’s recipe. Of the many alternatives I have tried, this one is by far the best and most similar to the pesto of my past.

    • — Dorothy Dowson on June 2, 2020
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  • I’m half Italian and this is by far as good as my mama’s and grandpa’s pesto. I don’t have their recipes and was so excited when my husband gave it a thumbs up. The version I was making was good but yours brings back memories and is delicious. I freeze it in ice cube trays so we can have it available at all times.

    • — Karen Hudson on May 25, 2020
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  • Hi Jenn
    I made this tonight! First time ever making pesto. We are predominantly plant based so I replaced the parmesan with brewed yeast but otherwise followed your recipe exactly! It was out of this world delicious! I actually feel like I could have a dinner party without feeling stressed because this is just so easy but so delicious!

    • — Stacy Cowell on May 23, 2020
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  • Just made second batch. Best pesto ever!

    • — Anne on May 10, 2020
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  • Worked brilliantly!

    • — Anne on April 20, 2020
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  • Works every time..fresh and beautiful

    • — Nadege on April 7, 2020
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  • Delicious! My husband’s favorite pesto. We freeze it in small ice cubes and pull it out as needed. Easy and yummy!

    • — LeahP on February 25, 2020
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  • I am an avid gardener and always grow basil but never made pesto. This past summer I decided to try your recipe and was not disappointed. I had pasta ready and we just loved it (never having it before) but now added to our favorites. Your directions and pictures are very, very good and make following your recipe so easy.

    • — Pauline on February 7, 2020
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  • Great little sauce with a big flavor…I just whipped up 1/2 a batch with some freezer basil (i was skeptical about that) and little leftover parsley….it’s lovely!

    • — tara bass on February 5, 2020
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  • Hi Jenn,

    I love your recipes and everything I have made have been great! I wanted to try this one but wanted to see if it would be ok to use toasted walnuts or is it better to not toast them? Thank you, Lisa

    • — Lisa on October 4, 2019
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    • If that’s all you have on hand, toasted walnuts will be fine. Enjoy! 🙂

      • — Jenn on October 4, 2019
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    • My go-to pesto recipe! Never disappoints. Thank you!

      • — Zoe on May 13, 2020
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  • Once upon a chef recipes are perfected, indeed. My pesto has always been meh, but this recipe fixed that. Who knows if it’s the ratios, the walnuts instead of pine nuts, or a combinations of the 2. This pesto proves once again then Jenn is the person to go to for recipes.

    • — Elle on September 13, 2019
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  • The BEST pesto recipe that I’ve ever made! Thank you.

    • — betty on August 12, 2019
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  • This is an excellent, affordable, pesto. I’ve made better pesto, but it involved spending a whole lot of time with a mortar and pestle. This is the pesto I make and freeze in the summer.

    • — Stacy R on July 30, 2019
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  • Great pesto. I use walnuts because I have gotten Pine Mouth Syndrome before. It lasted two weeks and was so annoying. I attributed it to the source of the pine nuts. I had bought a big bag at Costco and I’m sure the nuts were from China. I have nibbled on pine nuts since then that were from Italy (I think) and they were fine.

    • — Melissa on July 2, 2019
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  • I just made the pesto, using pine nuts and fresh basil, however when I tasted it, it has quite a bitter after taste. I thought maybe I had used too much basil. I re-read your recipe and see that maybe it’s the pine nuts??
    I didn’t want to sacrifice on the authenticity the pesto by swapping out the pine nuts for walnuts but i like this bitter taste even less. Will the walnuts affect the taste much?

    • — Vicky Driver on June 26, 2019
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    • Hi Vicky, I haven’t heard much mention of pine mouth syndrome lately but I assume it’s still out there. Are you still experiencing a bitter, metallic taste? If so, unfortunately, it may have been the pine nuts that caused that. If not, not really sure why you’re getting a bitter taste from the pesto — did you make any adjustments to the recipe aside from using pine nuts?

      • — Jenn on June 27, 2019
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  • This was great. My guests enjoyed it very much – so much that we had it on toast the next morning!

    • — Sandy on June 15, 2019
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  • Love this recipe! The only difference is that I toast the walnuts first and add a splash of lemon juice.

    • — Darlene on June 6, 2019
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    • Or lemon zest

      • — Jack on June 14, 2019
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  • I made this recipe all summer last year, using sunflower seeds – which are even cheaper than walnuts, and quite tasty. Looking forward to starting the routine again this year with my aggressive basil.

    • — Pittsburgh patio gardener on June 1, 2019
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  • |This is delicious!! This is my first time making it and I used pecans, no walnuts on hand. I also added sundried tomatoes and some of their oil. I’m not a big Pesto fan but I had a bunch of basil and this is what my search brought me to. Amazing!!

    • — Chachi on May 30, 2019
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  • Hi Jenn,
    First, I must tell you how much I love your blog! I find your stories and recipes so encouraging and reliably delicious I want to try them all. I will now make your pesto with walnuts. Have you tried Marcella Hazan’s blender pesto? That has been my go-to pesto recipe for years. She adds butter to it at the very end. I’ve learned I can reduce the quantity of olive oil she calls for and add less butter. But after making it with and without the butter, including it does provide an added creaminess.
    And I also wanted to tell you I have taken your yummy peanut sauce for the Asian slaw (a summer staple for me) and made a new recipe with it: a vegetable rice salad, with the peanut sauce as the dressing. One of the old Vegetarian Epicure cookbooks by Anna Thomas has a veggie/rice salad with an olive oil/parm cheese sauce. Delish but I love the flavors in your Asian slaw sauce! Cooked white jasmine rice with an assortment of chopped raw veggies based on color so it turns into a very colorful salad. Purple onion, orange carrots and/or peppers, red/yellow peppers, green zucchini and yellow summer squash….
    Thanks again for your recipes! Sally

    • — Sally Prangley on May 30, 2019
    • Reply
    • Thanks for all your kind words, Sally–so glad you like the blog! And thanks also for sharing how you’ve put the peanut sauce from the Asian slaw to good use. Your take on it sounds delicious! And good to know about the pesto; a little butter never hurt anything! 🙂

      • — Jenn on May 30, 2019
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  • Hi Once Upon a chef your Pizza is the best, question do you roast your walnuts for this pesto? I mention this as I got a little bit of metallic taste on the roof of my mouth or could this be something else?

    • — Sue Dromgool on April 17, 2019
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    • Hi Sue, Did you by chance make the pesto in a blender?

      • — Jenn on April 17, 2019
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  • We made this pesto tonight. Since it’s still early spring, my windowsill basil could only offer me 1 cup of leaves. I made up the balance with spinach and it was still great! We appreciated the walnuts instead of pinenuts. We have had trouble sourcing pinenuts without peanut traces (a problem for our house). Thanks for the recipe!

    • — Lisa on April 10, 2019
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  • I doubled this recipe and came out not thick enough. Flavor not tested yet, but something in the quantities not right when doubled.

    • — Peg on March 28, 2019
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    • Hi Peg, sorry you had a problem with doubling this. Is there any chance you could have made a measuring error?

      • — Jenn on March 29, 2019
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  • I made this and it was so amazingly good. I keep it in a small mason jar in the fridge and its ready anytime for a quick stir into pasta, veggies, a dallop in my power bowl, or just a little extra seasoning in sauces or as a condiment on sandwiches. Makes me want to try versions of pesto with maybe sundried tomatoes instead of basil, or roasted peppers. I love this!

    • — Cathy on March 16, 2019
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  • I generally feel like all pesto recipes are generally the same. Pesto is pesto after all. But this recipe is diffeeent. I can’t quite put my finger in it but every time I bring this pesto to a potluck, I get compliments on it. It also freezes well with a little extra oil and doesn’t turn brown/oxidize, so bonus points for that!

    • — Valentina on December 21, 2018
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  • I have been meaning to write this review all summer, each time I make this pesto. I had never made pesto before and this recipe is both simple and delicious! It takes minutes to throw together and tastes wonderful on pasta and chicken. Thanks for another keeper!!

    • — Nora on October 11, 2018
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  • I’ve been making Basil Pesto for years, BUT this recipe makes the very BEST Pesto. I love it on my breakfast sandwich of English muffin, pesto, scrambled egg and roasted bell pepper.

    • — Marci Cooke on October 4, 2018
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  • This recipe is how I discovered once upon a chef! It’s my go to pesto recipe. I like the tip about freezing the pesto without adding the cheese. I keep half in the refrigerator and half in the freezer and it never turns brown.

    • — Gail on October 4, 2018
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  • Made this last night to throw on some pasta (I did farfalle with tomatoes and chicken). My husband told me it’s the best thing I’ve ever made. So easy and delicious!

  • PERFECT!! The ONLY thing I changed was the times it took to process….was much quicker than stated. Used my fresh basil from the garden and can’t get over how delicious this is. I even finger swiped the food processor bowl 😀 THANKYOU

  • The bitterness some people have experienced is the garlic. I’ve made this with sharp garlic and milder garlic. My first time screamed “bitter,” but I knew at once what happened. I bought fresher garlic.

  • Delicious. I add just a dash of lemon for some freshness.

    • — Shirley A Vasta
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  • I had extra basil from another recipe so gave this a try. I put it on chicken breasts and baked them-so good the walnuts worked very well. I stole an idea from your shrimp and feta recipe and added cherry tomatoes for the last 20 minutes and it worked quite well. We enjoyed the chicken leftovers on salad!

  • I loved this recipe, so easy and so delicious…. I have loads of basic and needed a good pesto recipe. I make it every week until my basil freezes.. ): I’m going to make your Pesto Shrimp tonight, will let you know later about it.

  • Loved this I used pecans instead of walnuts. It was delicious. Just another option if Walnuts are too bitter for you. I’m glad I found your sites. It’s beautiful and the other recipes look amazing. Hope to try another one soon.

  • In regards to the metallic taste in your mouth after eating pine nuts from china: if they are toasted first there should not be that taste. A friend of mine is a specialty food sales rep for a spice and nut company and that is what she told me. I find it does work.

    • — Vanessa Romero
    • Reply
  • I bought a nice Walnut Olive Oil at a specialty store and have been looking for a recipe to use it in. I’d probably roast the walnuts first to give them a little more nuttiness.

    What do y’all think about using that oil? Maybe I could put the parmesan cheeese in before the oil and then just make up a tiny bit with the special oil….check taste before adding to the entire batch.

    • I think that sounds like a good way to go, Jeanne. I’d love to hear how it turns out!

  • This is my go to spot for recipes, I’ve always been so pleased with how everything turned out until now. I know it’s not the recipe but rather my ingredients, however, this was inedibly bitter, went right in the garbage. Not sure what caused the bitterness? I’d like to try again, perhaps someone could shed light on what could have caused the bitterness and if there is any ingredient that could fix it in case it happens again?

    • Sorry to hear you had a problem with this Julie! It definitely should not taste bitter– Any chance the nuts could have been spoiled or burnt? Also, you used walnuts (and not pine nuts)?

      • Hi Jen! No, I used brand new walnuts that tasted good. I’ll try again. Thank you for responding, so kind of you. I looove your site and recipes and I know this one is no exception. I am so looking forward to your cookbook next spring. Happy 4th!

    • Hi there, Jenn’s pesto recipe is my go to. I have made it a few times without a problem, however I ran into an issue with the bitterness the last time I made it. My issue was the olive oil, as I found. I learned that by adding 1/4 cup of water or less, just enough to make a paste, while the ingredients (NOT the olive oil) are in the food processor stage. Once you get the ingredients to a paste like consistency, put the pesto in a bowl and mix in by hand the olive oil! This worked for me, I hope it solves the problem for you.

      • Thank you! Appreciate it.

    • Some olive oils are bitter. I would taste everything before you put it in, just in case.

      • — Vicki Frederick
      • Reply
  • hi Jenn, Love pesto and excited to try your recipe. Question for you – have you tried pistachios? I read this is the sicilian version. Debating them or walnuts and curious if you’ve tried both. Thanks!

    • Hi Janet, I’ve used both walnuts and pistachios and both are delicious; you can’t really go wrong!

  • I’m planning to make this tonight! I’m curious if you use raw walnuts or if you toast them first? Does it make a difference? Thanks!

    • El, I usually just throw them in raw, but they would be delicious toasted!

  • Would you make any adjustments when omitting the cheese, to boost flavor? I need the pesto to be both gluten and dairy free. Pls cfm, thanks!

    • Hi Kate, while I’ve never used it, I know a lot of people use nutritional yeast in place of cheese in a variety of recipes, so you may want to try that. If not, you may want to add a bit more salt to the pesto as the cheese adds a nice salty flavor.

  • If you were making pesto pasta, would you just pour the room temperature pesto over the hot pasta, or would you heat up the pesto?

    • No need to heat it up, Stacey – I’d pour it over the hot pasta in a pan (with a little bit of the pasta cooking water) and cook a few minutes to blend the flavors.

      • I made it last night and your suggestion worked perfectly!! Thank you so much for the tip. It was delicious!

  • Do you think you could use this pesto sauce recipe over pasta?

    • Definitely!

  • Hi Jen – your recipes are incredible! One question on this, if I wanted to make a “creamy pesto” and add some half and half, would that work here?

    • Hi Haley, I haven’t tried this before, but you could try replacing half the oil with 1/2 & 1/2. I’d love to hear how it turns out if you try it!

  • You can also freeze it… I have and it lasts for at least a year.

  • How much pasta will this recipe dress?

    • Good question Sally– maybe about 1 1/2 pounds of pasta (but it depends upon how “pesto-y” you want it). I’d suggest starting with a pound as any leftovers are also delicious on roasted veggies and potatoes, mixed into soup, or just spread on crackers.

  • What type of walnut? Black oe English??
    Thank you.

    • English walnuts will work best here. Enjoy!

  • Made this last week and it was wonderful! I unfortunately cannot remember how much garlic I put in it and the bulbs that I have now have what I would describe as “huge” cloves. How much would you say a “large” garlic clove coarsely chopped is in teaspoons?

    • Hi Jan, 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic is the equivalent of about 2 average-sized cloves, so I’d just use your judgment based on how strong a garlic flavor you like.

  • Once again my pesto came out incredibly bitter. Inedibly so. What have I done wrong? Followed precisely. Any ideas?

    • Hi Dawn, This definitely shouldn’t taste bitter! Could the cheese have been bad, by any chance? Also, you used walnuts (and not pine nuts)?

    • Mine was also a bit bitter, I’m thinking the basil wasnt as fresh as possible.

  • Hi,
    This is a classic recipe; I came looking for ratios. I ended up making a 20X recipe —- it freezes well! I make a couple additions to this pesto. In the basic amounts there, I would use juice from a 1/2 lemon. This helps emulsify the pesto, and like salad dressings, emulsification is a good thing. Also, I use additional pepper — in this batch, I used 1/3 black (Tellicherry) pepper, 1/3 pink, and 1/3 cubeb berries. If you don’t know what cubeb berries (pepper) are, look it up and get some! You and your guests will appreciate it!

  • Lovely recipe! The blender was on the fritz so I had to do all the chopping by hand but I frankly like walnuts more than pine nuts so this recipe was perfect for me

  • I just made this for the first time ever and WOW! Super easy and soooo delish! I actually don’t have a good processor, so I made it in my Bullet and it came out great! I added a couple tablespoons of lemon juice, since the bullet really emulsified it, it seemed to need more liquid. Delish! Thank you for posting this recipe!!

  • Why do I not see the recipe?

    • Hi Rick, I’m sorry you’re having a problem viewing the recipe. Please try this link.

  • This pesto is fabulous! It is the perfect balance of flavors. As usual, I followed your recipe exactly (even S&P amounts) and the results were superb. Lunch was a grilled chicken panini dressed with the pesto; supper is going to be homemade pizza with the pesto spread on the crust. My only hope is there will be enough left for another meal tomorrow! Thanks for yet another go-to recipe that I will be making again and again!

  • Hi Jenn,

    I recently started eating pesto and LOVE it! (I might be a little obsessive right now!) I am wondering, could you blend this into sour cream or mayo or cream cheese to make a dip?

    • Sure Mary, I think that would work. If you’re making a dip, I’d go with the sour cream, cream cheese or even Greek yogurt. I’d use the mayo if you plan to use it more as a spread. Would love to know how it turns out!

  • If I’m understanding your question, you’re asking why Parmesan cheese can’t be frozen. It actually can– while it’s best fresh and the taste and texture will be a bit different when you defrost it, you can freeze it.

  • My son and I Made the basil walnut pesto using basil that he grew this summer as part of a Boy Scout merit badge requirement. Made exactly according to your recipe. A lovely Shabbat dinner with wild salmon and pesto fettuccine! Well received by the whole family! Thank you!

  • I just tried to print the recipe and for some reason, it will not print. I just get a blank page. The same thing happened with another recipe from this site. Is something going on with the site? I am able to print from other sites.

    • — Vicki Frederick
    • Reply
    • Hi Vicki, Are you clicking on the print tab?

  • I didn’t see the quantities of the ingredients. How much walnuts etc.

    • Hi Tara, Scroll down to the bottom for the recipe or click on the “recipe” tab on the top. Enjoy 🙂

  • Heavenly! I just made it – and made my husband a very happy man 🙂

    • — Vicki Frederick
    • Reply
  • Thank you for sharing this recipe using walnuts. I also have Pine Mouth and have found that I can eat Mediterranean pine nuts but not Asian ones. I have to order them, as they are very hard to find in stores. I can’t wait to try your recipe!

    • — Vicki Frederick
    • Reply
  • why did my pesto turn out grainy and not smooth like yours? do i need to process more?

    • Hi Chris, Yes, just keep processing until smooth.

  • Thank you for this recipe. After years of joyfully eating pine nuts I had several bouts of Pine Mouth before I realized the culprit. I find it strange that quite suddenly many people have it. Hopefully it is something to do with the source and we won’t have to swear of pignolas forever. In the meantime walnut pesto will comfort me.

  • For the first time I grew a herb garden and have lots of fresh basil. I used this for your recipe for grilled pesto shrimp and it was really yummy.

  • I just made this pesto recipe and as I’m typing enjoying it with my whole grain pasta, delicious! Can’t wait to substitute my pizza sauce with the pesto, should be amazing! Thanks for sharing Jenn 🙂

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  • Do you have any video of that? I’d want to find out more details.

  • This is the only recipe I use for pesto. I’ve made it many, many times. Last year I froze enough to last all winter. My basil crop has reached the point this year that I need to start making pesto again. I always reduce the olive oil in this recipe to 1/2 cup (instead of 2/3 cup) for a less oily result. I love to use a dollop of pesto in a quiche or spread a little on sandwiches instead of mayo.

  • Even without the metallic taste condition you describe, the price of pine nuts leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Made two big batches with my end of season basil; one with walnuts and one with pine nuts. I put the cooled pesto into ice cube trays. After they froze solid, I transferred the cubes into ziploc freezer bags. This makes them super easy to pull out and toss into a pan as needed.

  • This was a great recipe, thanks! I have a pine nut allergy (oddly, the only nut I am allergic to and it is NOT fun!) but LOVE pesto and i really enjoyed this

  • Will try today! Looks fantastic.

  • Great idea,had it with pasta and chicken yummm!

  • My local Wegman’s stopped carrying pine nuts in their bulk food aisle because of problems with their supply and cases of pine mouth syndrome being reported.

    I’m not a fan of walnuts, but I’ve used almonds and pistachios and it worked wonderfully. As Becca mentioned, blanching whatever greens then shocking them in ice water will keep the color vibrant for days in the fridge.

  • Thanks for your discription of how. Living in Phoenix AZ, its mid november, and this could be the last batch of the year. Several lessons have been learned, comments are welcomed. Full sun? This year some of my plants were in the pepper bed getting sun only till noon, they did better in the heavy heat, so I made them all morning sun only, until the temps dropped. I add hot peppers, and add sugar to balance the bitterness. Also use a variety of basils, including Thai, Greek, Lemon, and several varieties of Sweet. My freezer is full of pesto cubes. Being end of seaon, this time I will separate varieties.

  • Tried it since I love so many of your recipes, but must confess… I prefer using pine nuts to walnuts. Love to eat the pesta tossed with orzo… great, fast & easy side!

  • Everyone should know about this tip. If you don’t plan to use all your pesto quickly, i.e. freezing it, blanching the basil leaves for about 30 seconds in boiling water will keep the pesto a vibrant green color. Before blending the pesto ingredients, blanch the basil leaves, take them out of the boiling water and run them under cool water to stop the cooking and then add to the food processor as the recipe directs. This really works and keeps pesto a nice fresh green color, even after freezing and defrosting.

  • I never liked pesto, but this recipe has changed my mind. Even my boys will eat it over pasta. Wonderful recipe–thank you!!

  • Pesto is one of my wife’s favorite flavors. This came out fantastic. We can’t wait to use it on different foods.

  • This turned out great, thank you for sharing.

  • Walnuts are a great sub. for pignoli. I’m going to have to try this!!

  • a great idea. i never thought to sub walnuts for pignola nuts.

  • Walnuts were a great sub for pine nuts.

    • — meredith Lovelss
    • Reply
  • Heading out to plant my basil seeds right now, with this dish as an inspiration! Loved serving this, as you suggested, drizzled over the summer vegetable soup.

  • This looks good. This is one of my favorite thing. I love this! This is very easy to make and a great.

    How to make the perfect basil pesto?

  • Hi, Just made your walnut pesto! Delicious. Really am going to enjoy this with veggies or pasta…can’t decide which.

    Donna

  • Ashlynn Deal

    I value the article post.Much thanks again. Fantastic.

  • Just got a bunch of purple basil from our CSA and wasn’t sure what to do with it so figured I would give this a try. Thanks!

  • I also grow herbs and my basil was gorgeous this year! (live in Atlanta, GA) I have made about 5 quarts of pesto so far this summer. I also use walnuts instead of pine nuts, but it is mainly due to the difference in COST. A similar recipe was on The Barefoot Contessa on Food TV…so cheers to you and thanks for sharing!

  • I read that the problem with pine nuts was from the pine nuts from China, not the USA. You’ve got to be careful!

  • And walnuts are much cheaper than pine nuts anyway. Thanks for the recipe.

    • — Marilyn Sullivan
    • Reply
  • This looks good. My husband loves walnuts. I’m still using pesto I froze last summer. I’ve never heard of pine mouth syndrome. It sounds awful. I do check to see where the pine nuts I purchase are from. We have some in our grocery that are from a local area in Texas. I checked one of the popular Italian brands and they are actually from China, which surprised me.

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