Homemade Fresh Basil Pesto

Green Pesto can compliment so many dishes and it’s really easy to make. Just throw the ingredients together and blend. You can have delicious fresh pesto made with basil in under 10 minutes.

Classic pesto always comes in handy when you want to enhance a meal and what makes it so great is the list of possibilities for pesto uses are endless.

Made with fresh basil leaves and toasted pine nuts, making your own pesto really couldn’t be more simple. You just blend everything together and there you have it! A super delicious Italian Pesto that’s ready to use in less than 10 minutes.

oil being poured into a bowl with other ingredients

Where does Pesto come from?

Pesto originated in Liguria in Italy, you will often see the commercial types called Pesto alla Genovese, which is pesto that comes from Genoa, the capital of Liguria. This is the most popular type seen throughout the world.

Although the main ingredients in traditional pesto usually consist of the same things; Basil leaves, pine nuts, hard cheese, garlic and olive oil. There can be regional differences and basil pesto recipes can differ slightly from each other.

The name pesto comes from the Italian word “pestare” which means “to pound” or to grind. Since, pesto was originally made using a pestle and mortar. You can also find other recipe variations without basil using the name pesto. In Sicily, for example, you often find Pesto al Pistachio which uses fewer basil leaves and pistacchio verde di Bronte (green pistachio from Bronte) in place of the pine nuts. Pesto Rosso is another example that is based on the use of sun dried tomatoes, making the sauce red and giving it it’s name. Around the world, there are many deviations from the traditional recipe, using a variety of greens and various different nuts to create the pounded sauce.

basil pesto in a bowl and a jar

How to Use Pesto

Pesto is extremely versatile and can be used in so many different ways.

You can use pesto as an alternative to tomato sauce on a pizza. It goes well with a topping of roasted cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and parmesan. Add some fresh rocket leaves on top when your pizza leaves the oven.

A very simple recipe for Pesto is to stir it into warm cooked pasta and top with Parmesan. The flavours are amazing and it’s a very quick meal that’s ready in under 15 minutes. It goes down really well with kids too. You can also add green beans and peas to make it extra healthy too. To make a super quick creamy pesto sauce for pasta. Simply add cream cheese and stir it in to warm, freshly cooked pasta.

You can try these roasted pesto potatoes, for an alternative to simple roast potatoes or make some pesto scones and fill them with deli meats.

Mixing in a teaspoon of pesto to mayonnaise, gives you a great dip that goes well in a burger, or as a sauce for potatoes wedges.

Recipe Tips and Guidance

You’ll notice that Fresh Pesto has a slightly different smell to Shop Bought Pesto. That’s because everything is fresh and the basil is yet to be cooked. It has not been through any processing to make it last. However, be aware that it does have a limited shelf life and since it is so quick to make, I would always recommend using it when you make it.

A great way to enhance pesto is to use roasted garlic.

If you cannot find pecorino or grana padano cheese, using parmigiano reggiano is fine. You can use a basic parmesan cheese but the flavours of the cheese will not be as matured as an authentic Italian cheese.

Be sure to wash your fresh basil leaves and dry them thoroughly before adding to the blender. Extra surface water on the leaves can affect how runny your finished pesto is.

You can use either extra virgin olive oil or regular olive oil in this recipe. However, you may find a slight taste difference. Blended extra virgin olive oil, however, can sometimes, produce a bitter taste. In this case, I recommend to blend all other ingredients first and then stir in the extra virgin oil afterwards, to avoid this potential problem.

Traditionally, untoasted pine nuts were used. I recommend toasting your nuts first, before adding, due to a condition called Pine Mouth. Pine mouth is a condition that affects your sense of taste. Eating raw pine nuts, for some people, can create a strange metallic taste which can last up to 2 weeks.

You can use a little lemon juice to help keep the bright green colour in your pesto vibrant. Unfortunately, pesto can quickly oxidise and turn brown. Another way to prevent this is to blanch the leaves before adding to the recipe. To blanche the basil leaves; simply place the leaves in boiling water for no more than 10 seconds and immediately transfer them to an ice bath, drain and dry the leaves well, before adding into your recipe.

Recipe FAQ

How long does fresh pesto last?

Fresh pesto will store for up to 3 days in an airtight sterilised jar in the fridge. You can also freeze it for up to 6 months, but, be sure to freeze immediately upon making it. I recommend using an ice cube tray and freezing your pesto in portions.

bail pesto in a white bowl

Homemade Fresh Basil Pesto

Author: Becky
Green Pesto can compliment so many dishes and it’s really easy to make. Just throw the ingredients together and blend. You can have delicious fresh pesto made with basil in under 10 minutes.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Course dip, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6
Calories 311 kcal


  • 50 g Fresh Basil
  • 30 g Toasted Pine Nuts
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic
  • 50 g Grana Padano
  • 30 g Pecorino Romano
  • 1 Pinch of Salt
  • 150 ml Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice optional


  • Place the basil, nuts, garlic and salt (plus the lemon juice if using) into a blender, turn on the blade at a slow speed and gradually add the oil. Blend until the pesto reaches your require consistency.
  • Finely grate your cheese and stir in.
  • Place into airtight sterilised jars and store in the fridge.

Recipe Notes and Guidance

See Recipe tips and guidance for more details.
  • Be aware that fresh pesto smells different to commercial jarred pesto, since it has not been subject to any processing.
  • Try using roasted garlic for extra flavour.
  • Using extra virgin olive oil will work well too, just blend the ingredients first to make a paste and stir the oil in afterwards. Blended extra virgin olive oil can produce a bitter taste.
  • You can use the cheese recommended or a simple parmesan.
  • You can use untoasted pine nuts in this recipe, but be aware that they can create a taste deviation called Pine mouth in some people. 
  • To help prevent the pesto turning brown, add a little lemon juice or blanche the basil leaves before adding to your recipe. 

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 311kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 6gFat: 32gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 195mgPotassium: 73mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 527IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 170mgIron: 1mg
Keyword basil pesto, green pesto with basil
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