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Easy Homemade Pesto

This Easy Homemade Pesto has just 7 simple ingredients and is so delicious, you’ll never want to eat store-bought again!

Homemade pesto in a glass jar with basil leaves

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with pesto. I love it so much I could eat a whole jar in one sitting, but about 15 minutes after eating it I usually feel like I’ve just been punched in the gut. Maybe it’s the raw garlic? Or the sheer quantity? The jury’s out.

But I had my love goggles on when I decided to whip up this homemade pesto. And guess what? 15 minutes later, no belly ache! I’m not usually one to draw conclusions so quickly…but in my super scientific study of n=1, the store bought gave me bellyaches and the homemade did not.

Homemade pesto in a glass jar

Where does pesto come from?

Pesto originates in Northern Italy (like Hugos!), Genoa to be exact. When I visited the area a while back, it was clear that the Genoese people are serious about their pesto. It was pesto this, pesto that, pesto everywhere. Pesto heaven.

Homemade pesto on a spoon

Homemade pesto ingredients

Genoans have a very specific way of making pesto. It must always include: pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil, Genovese Basil, garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano (parmesan cheese), and Pecorino Romano (sheep’s milk cheese). It should also be ground using a mortar and pestle, or chopped finely by hand.

But because we can’t all be Italian grandmothers, we’ll be using a food processor for this one. Here’s what you need to make this simplified pesto:

  • Fresh Basil: Fresh basil brings a major herby flavor to the pesto.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Aim for fresh parmesan here – avoid the powdered stuff! True parmesan (Parmigiano-Reggiano) is not vegetarian as it contains animal rennet. For a vegetarian option, check Whole Foods. 
  • Pine Nuts: Feeling fancy? Toast these in a skillet for a few minutes to add a roasted flavor to your pesto.
  • Garlic: Be sure to use fresh, blemish-free garlic.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: The flavor of the oil shines through in pesto, so use the good stuff.
  • Salt & Pepper: Finish it off with salt and pepper, to taste!
Ingredients to make pesto in a food processor

How to make pesto in a food processor

Making pesto in your food processor is the quickest, easiest way to make it at home! Simply throw in all the ingredients except the oil, salt, and pepper. Blitz until the mixture is mostly broken down. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until well blended. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Pesto in a food processor

Pesto variations

While traditional pesto is delicious on its own, there are a bunch of variations of pesto you can make! Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Use leafy greens instead of basil. Spinach, kale, and even carrot tops all work well! Guide to leafy greens pesto here.
  • Make pesto without pine nuts by swapping out the pine nuts for a different nut, like almonds or walnuts.
  • Add avocado to replace some of the olive oil, like we do in this Zucchini Pasta with Avocado Pesto.
  • Add roasted pepper to give your pesto a pop of color and smoky flavor.
Homemade pesto in a glass jar

Serve this pesto on:

Homemade pesto in a glass jar

Easy Homemade Pesto

This Homemade Pesto Genovese has just 7 simple ingredients and is so delicious, you’ll never want to eat store-bought again!
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dips, Sauces, and Salsas
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: homemade pesto, how to make pesto, pesto recipe, traditional pesto
Diet: Gluten-Free, Low Carb, Raw, Vegetarian
Occasion: Christmas, Thanksgiving
Time: 15 minutes or less, 30 minutes or less, 45 minutes or less
Prep: 10 mins
Total: 10 mins
Servings: 1 cup
Calories: 68kcal
Author: Sarah Bond
5 from 2 votes

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ½ cups packed fresh basil stems removed, 50 g
  • ¼ cup pine nuts* 20 g
  • ½ cup fresh grated parmesan 50 g
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • ½ tsp each salt and pepper
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil 120 mL

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Blitz: Place basil, pine nuts, parmesan, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor and blend until evenly mixed and finely ground. With a spoon or spatula, scrape down the sides to ensure everything is nice and mixed.
  • Pour: With food processor running, slowly pour in the oil.

NOTES

  • *Add toasty flavor by toasting pine nuts in a skillet until golden brown.
  • To store pesto, transfer to a clean container and top with a bit of olive oil. Cover and place in fridge for up to a week.
  • Variations of this pesto:
    • Use leafy greens instead of basil. Spinach, kale, and even carrot tops all work well! Guide to leafy greens pesto here.
    • Replace the pine nuts with a different nut, like almonds or walnuts.
    • Add avocado to replace some of the olive oil, like we do in this Zucchini Pasta with Avocado Pesto.
    • Add roasted pepper to give your pesto a pop of color and smokiness.

NUTRITION

Serving: 1Tbsp | Calories: 68kcal | Carbohydrates: 0.4g | Protein: 1.3g | Fat: 7.3g | Saturated Fat: 1.4g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 89mg | Potassium: 14mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Calcium: 38mg
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Homemade pesto in a mason jar
A photo from when I originally posted this homemade pesto recipe!

Hi, I’m Sarah!

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  1. Mama Bond says:

    I just had this tonight ony pasta. Perfect! I topped the pasta with some
    Sautéed zucchini and eggplant. With a glad of
    Chilled Orvieto. Yum!!

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