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A jar of basil pesto over a whiite plate surrounded by lemon slices, fresh basil leaves and a spoon. All placed over a wooden board

Basil Pesto

Here’s all you need to know to make the BEST Basil Pesto! This basil pesto recipe is a step by step guide to making the sauce, freezing it, defrosting, using it, switching up nuts, and even making a basil pesto without nuts!

Course Dips, dressing, sauce
Cuisine Italian
Keyword basil pesto, basil pesto recipe, homemade pesto sauce, how to make basil recipe, pesto, pesto sauce
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 20 Tablespoons
Calories 99 kcal
Author Mahy


  • 3 cups fresh basil packed
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese freshly grated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice juice from 1 large lemon
  • 3/4 cup olive oil


  1. In a food processor, place all ingredients and process until a creamy sauce is formed.
  2. Transfer some of the sauce into a jar to store in your fridge. Make sure to add a thin layer of sauce over the top of the jar before sealing it.
  3. Freeze the remaining pesto according to instructions on freezing below.
  4. Spread the prepared basil pesto over a parchment paper lined baking sheet or a 9”X13” pan. This depends on the amount of pesto you have and on the thickness you want to freeze it in.
  5. Remember the thinner, the faster it defrosts.
  6. Cover the top of the pesto with another layer of parchment paper and freeze the pan until solid.
  7. Place the frozen pesto wrapped in parchment paper in a ziploc bag. At that point you can can keep it in the freezer for months. Up to 8 months.
  8. When you’re ready to use the basil pesto, simply trim a chunk of frozen pesto—big or small depending on how much you need.

Recipe Notes


  • Use Fresh Basil.
  • You can use extra garlic and lemon if you prefer an extra zest of flavor to your pesto.
  • Nuts are a MUST to emulsify your pesto sauce. Any type of nuts work, and if you’re making a nut free basil pesto, use hemp seeds.
  • To keep your basil pesto fresher and stay longer in your fridge, always keep a thin layer of olive oil on the top of the jar.
  • Follow the freezing tips above foe easy frozen and easy defrost pesto.
  • Use the fresh basil pesto endlessly (see above uses).
  • Do I need to Blanch basil for pesto? You can do that to keep your pesto green and fresh, however it’s a lengthy process and you can skip it completely. Make sure you add the layer of olive oil mentioned above.
  • Why is my pesto bitter? Because the olive oil when crushed in a food processor releases a substance which creates the slight bitter taste. To avoid this, I add a touch of sugar to my basil pesto recipe and make sure the sauce is well seasoned with salt.
Nutrition Facts
Basil Pesto
Amount Per Serving
Calories 99 Calories from Fat 90
% Daily Value*
Fat 10g15%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Cholesterol 2mg1%
Sodium 215mg9%
Potassium 29mg1%
Carbohydrates 1g0%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 209IU4%
Vitamin C 2mg2%
Calcium 37mg4%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.