Easy basil pesto recipe with lots of tips

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How to make the best homemade pesto with basil, walnuts, garlic and olive oil. Go to the easy basil pesto recipe or read on for our tips for making it.

How to make basil pesto easy

The pesto is easy to prepare and a versatile sauce for pasta, meat or vegetables. We use our food processor, which makes it fast. You can also do it by hand with a mortar and pestle.

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We love this recipe and we make it often (especially in summer). It is quick and easy to do. Let me show you how to do it, plus our tips to do better.

How to make our basil pesto easy

Pesto is easy to make. Add garlic, walnuts, and fresh basil to a food processor, and then drizzle with olive oil until you get a sauce.

Make the pesto greener and tastier

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To do better, we share some tips learned over the years:

Tip 1: blanch the basil. I know this sounds a little crazy, but trust me. Whitening basil makes greener pesto possible. Have you ever noticed that pesto browns overtime in the fridge? Or even when you add it to the hot pasta? Blanching the pesto prevents this. It is enclosed in the bright green color of the leaves. We blanch basil in our recipe below. If you are not convinced, you can still use our recipe without blanching. It still works.

Whiten the basil.

If you're ready, bleaching is easy. Soak the basil leaves in boiling water for 5 to 10 seconds, and then soak them in ice water. Dry the leaves and go on to make the pesto.

Tip 2. Turn garlic into a paste. We love garlic, but we're not big fans of biting into a big chunk of it (especially if it's raw). That is why we turn garlic into a paste before adding it to our pesto. To do this, chop the garlic, and then use the flat side of a knife to scrape the garlic on a cutting board.

Turn the garlic into a paste.

Tip 3: Add the cheese at the end. A little texture in the sauce is a good thing. We don't add cheese to the food processor, we make the pesto and then add the grated Parmesan cheese by hand, which adds a bit of texture.

Recipe substitutions

  • If you can't find pine nuts, try the nuts. They are buttery and work well in pesto. You can also make pesto without nuts. The texture will be different, but the sauce still tastes fresh and delicious.
  • Add more herbs. Add a handful of parsley or mint leaves to our recipe below.
  • Make vegan pesto. Substitute cheese with non-dairy cheese or add 2-3 tablespoons nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is nutty and cheesy.
  • Add vegetables. Replacing some, if not all, of the basil with spinach, chard, or beet greens is an excellent choice. We've even done this with kale before.

What to do with the pesto?

If you are looking for uses for pesto, you have come to the right place. Here are our favorite things to do with it:

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Updated recipe, originally published in August 2013. Since I published this in 2013, we have tweaked the recipe to make it clearer. – Adam and Joanne

Easy basil pesto recipe with lots of tips

  • PREP 10mins

  • COOK 5 minutes
  • TOTAL 15 minutes

This basil pesto recipe won't turn brown the moment you make it or mix it with hot pasta. By quickly blanching the basil, which takes less than 10 seconds, we set the basil green and help prevent it from rusting over time. It's an additional step to making pesto, but it doesn't take long. If you prefer not to blanch the basil, you can skip it. Our recipe can be made with fresh or blanched basil.

Makes about 1 cup

Will need

2 cups fresh basil leaves

1 clove garlic

1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts, lightly toasted

1/2 cup olive oil, and more to store

1/2 cup finely grated pecorino or parmesan cheese

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


    Prepare a small bowl of ice water. Bring a small saucepan to a boil, fill halfway with salted water. Dip the basil leaves in boiling water for 5 to 10 seconds, or until they wilt. Then immediately immerse yourself in ice water to stop cooking. Drain, squeeze to remove excess water, then pat dry with a clean tea towel.

    Recipe Step 1

    Break and peel the garlic clove and then mince. Holding a chef's knife at an angle, scrape the knife blade over the minced garlic. Gather everything together and then scrape it back against the board until it turns into a fine paste.

    Basil pesto recipe

    Combine the garlic paste and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor. Press 2-3 times until everything is small. Add basil.

    With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl. After adding all the oil, check the consistency of the pesto; we like that it has some texture. For a softer pesto, press a few more times.

    Transfer the pesto to a bowl and then mix the cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Use it immediately or save it for later.

Adam and Joanne's advice

  • How to store pesto in the refrigerator: Add a thin layer of extra olive oil on top (to prevent air from entering), cover with a lid or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
  • How to Freeze Pesto: If it freezes, skip the cheese. Fill ice cube trays with pesto, freeze until hard. Then, store the frozen cubes in freezer-safe plastic bags. Freeze for up to 1 month.
  • Nutrition Facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.

If you make this recipe, take a photo and tag it #RecetasLatinas – We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook!

Nutrition Per Serving: 2 Tablespoon Serving Size / Calories 143 / Total Fat 15.4g / Saturated Fat 2.9g / Cholesterol 3.6mg / Sodium 90mg / Carbohydrate 0.5g / Dietary Fiber 0.1g / Total Sugars 0.1g / Protein 2.1g

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