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This homemade pesto recipe is super easy! You just need a handful of ingredients and a food processor. It tastes so much better than the store-bought variety.

You’re definitely going to want to use this homemade pesto in Creamy Pesto Gnocchi, Easy Pesto Pasta, and Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta.

a small bowl with homemade pesto and a sprig of fresh basil

Why you’ll love it

Pesto is a classic Italian sauce with basil that’s an amazing condiment to have on hand since it’s so versatile. Use it with pasta, potatoes, grilled veggies, and even for dipping bread or as a sandwich spread. It’s not hard to make, and each of the ingredients shine.

Your grandparents might have made it the traditional way with a pestle and mortar, but here we’re using a food processor to make it simple and save time. Technically, this specific pesto variety is called pesto alla genovese since it originated in Genoa, Italy. Now you know!

What you’ll need

  • Basil – fresh basil is the hallmark of any pesto. It’s one of the best ways to use up basil from the garden. Use Italian basil (sweet basil).
  • Pine nuts – they taste buttery, soft, and nutty. Pine nuts give pesto sauce its distinctive flavor.
  • Parmesan cheese – always grate your own! Typically parmesan is used in homemade pesto, but you can also use pecorino or Grana Padano.
  • Garlic – another essential component to pesto. I like to use three cloves to really amp up the flavor. You could even use Roasted Garlic.
  • Olive oil – you’re going to want to use a good-quality olive oil to blend all the ingredients together
  • Salt & pepper – it’s important to season pesto well to bring out the flavors

Tools for this recipe

Check out Natasha’s favorite kitchen essentials, gadgets, and cookware!

  • This is the food processor model I use.
  • Grate the cheese yourself since the pre-grated kind just doesn’t taste as good. I use my Microplane to do this.
  • Mince the garlic with one squeeze of a garlic press, and store the remaining cloves in this garlic saver.
basil and pine nuts in a food processor

Pro tip

Quickly toasting the pine nuts enhances their nutty flavor even more! Toast them until gently golden, and then let them cool down before making the pesto.

How to make pesto

This is an overview, and full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.

  • Gently toast the pine nuts in a skillet until golden, tossing often.
  • Prep the other ingredients, and add everything in apart from the olive oil to your food processor.
  • Pulse until incorporated, and then very slowly drizzle in the oil while the processor is in the “low” setting. Pause every so often to scrape the sides with a spatula.

Substitutions and variations

  • You can skip the step where you toast the pine nuts if you wish, but it won’t be quite as flavorful.
  • I recommend adjusting ingredient quantities to customize the pesto to your needs. Want more garlic? Go ahead and add in more. Want more oil? Drizzle it in. Red pepper flakes for a bit of spice? Why not. It’s easy to adapt to your tastes.
  • If you want to brighten it up even more, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to this pesto.
close-up of homemade pesto in a food processor

What to serve with pesto

  • It’s great with your favorite pasta shape and some fresh parmesan grated on top for a simple meal.
  • I also like serving it in small dipping bowls with slices of crusty bread to start a meal, especially for company.
  • More delicious recipes with pesto that we’ve come up with are linked at the end of the post!

Leftovers and storage

  • Pesto will keep in your fridge for a week in an airtight container. I just use a mason jar.
  • Can you freeze pesto sauce? Absolutely. It’s one of those sauces that freezes well! Homemade pesto will taste fresh even after thawing, so I love to keep a supply in my freezer.
  • My favorite hack is to use an ice cube tray to freeze pesto portions individually and tossing them in a freezer bag.
homemade basil presto in a bowl with basil leaves for garnish

Did you make this easy basil pesto recipe? Are you ditching store-bought pesto forever? Let me know in the comments below! You can also find me on Instagram.

Wondering how to make pesto sauce from scratch? It's easy! This fresh basil pesto recipe is perfect for pasta or chicken dinners or even as a dip for bread.
5 from 3 votes

Really Easy Pesto Recipe

This homemade pesto recipe is super easy! You just need a handful of ingredients and a food processor. It tastes so much better than the store-bought variety.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 (makes about 1 cup)


  • 1 cup (tightly packed) basil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  • If you wish to toast the pine nuts, add them to a skillet over medium-high heat, and watch them carefully. After a few minutes, they will start to brown. Toss them often until they’re lightly golden/browned on both sides. This whole process only takes about 5-10 minutes.
  • Prep your other ingredients and add everything to the bowl of a food processor except for the olive oil.
  • Pulse until everything is combined, then slowly drizzle the oil in while the motor is running on “low”. Stop to scrape down the sides and continue processing until there’s no large pieces of pine nuts.
  • Transfer to a jar, and store in the fridge for up to a week.


  • You can skip toasting the pine nuts if you wish. 
  • Customizations: I encourage you to add more garlic, oil, or even red pepper flakes if you want it to be spicy. Play with the recipe until it tastes exactly how you want it!
  • This is my beloved Kitchen Aid food processor that I used to make this pesto.
  • Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.


Calories: 319kcal, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 31g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 17mg, Sodium: 288mg, Potassium: 108mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 479IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 221mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

© Salt & Lavender Inc. Content and photographs are copyrighted. Sharing this blog post is much appreciated, but copying and pasting full recipes without authorization to social media is strictly prohibited.

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Hi! I’m Natasha.

Salt & Lavender is a recipe blog with a focus on delicious comfort food using everyday ingredients. Beat the weekday grind with hundreds of easy-to-follow and hassle-free recipes!

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5 from 3 votes (1 rating without comment)

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  1. Joy says:

    5 stars
    So quick, easy, and delicious! I will NEVER buy pesto from the store again!

    1. Natasha says:

      That’s so nice to hear, Joy!!

  2. Marcie S says:

    This turned out delicious! I’ve been growing fresh basil and wanted to try to make some pesto and this was an easy, yummy recipe. Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Natasha says:

      You’re very welcome, Marcie!

  3. Amy says:

    What can be used instead of pine nuts for the pesto due to nut allergy? 😊

    1. Natasha says:

      Hi Amy! Honestly, I’ve never made pesto without the pine nuts. Are they allergic to all nuts? If so, I would just google a tested allergy-friendly recipe as I am not sure – sorry!

  4. Kali says:

    Can I substitute something for pine nuts if we have an allergy ?

    1. Natasha says:

      Hmmmm… are other nuts ok? You could try walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, pecans, or even sunflower seeds.

  5. Melissa says:

    Can I use my ninja blender if I don’t have a food processor?

    1. Natasha says:

      Sure! Let me know how it goes.

  6. Natasha's Sister says:

    5 stars
    I don’t remember since I hate cooking. But I love pesto. Make this for me now.

    1. Natasha says: