How to Make the Best Basil Pesto Sauce

This delicious green sauce is bursting with basil leaf flavor balanced by buttery pine nuts, fresh garlic, and infused with quality olive oil. Learn how to make the Best Basil Pesto Sauce full of fresh ingredients and prepared in minutes.

best basil pesto in pottery bowl with silver serving spoon

The Best Basil Pesto Sauce Recipe

Memorizing simple sauce recipes I can whip up in minutes is one way I save time in the kitchen and this basil pesto recipe is not only fresh but a perfect spread or sauce for many recipes. You can spread this over just about any meat and fish, or use it as a marinade for vegetables, but the most delicious way to enjoy pesto is tossed with some cooked noodles.

What is Basil Pesto?

Authentic pesto is made by pounding the ingredients together using a mortar and pestle, which is also where it gets its name. Pesto comes from the Italian word pounded and is traced back to the city Genoa. The uncooked sauce is made of fresh basil leaves, garlic cloves, pine nuts, and a dry-aged cheese such as parmesan. Once the ingredients are crushed together, or pulsed in a food processor, they mixed together in high-quality olive oil.

What Does Pesto Taste Like?

The strongest flavors in this sauce come from the basil and garlic, which is then balanced by the olive oil and pine nuts. Since pine nuts are an oily type nut they bring a buttery taste to the spread. Depending on the type of cheese you’ll also have hints of salt. You should be able to taste all the flavors of the ingredients added into this fresh sauce.

basil pesto ingredients in food processor

How to Make Basil Pesto

For this easy recipe, you only need a food processor and spatula to prepare it and a small container for storage.

  1. Place half of the basil leaves into a food processor with all of the nuts, cheese, garlic, and salt. Pulse until the ingredients are finely chopped.
  2. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the food processor and add the remaining basil. Continue to pulse until paste-like consistency forms.
  3. Remove the lid and slowly pour in the olive oil while continuing to pulse the ingredients together until it’s mixed well.
  4. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning as desired.

What to Use Pesto On?

Pesto sauce is one of those amazing recipes to always have on hand for quick dinners or marinades. It can make an average or simple dinner exquisite.

  • Use it as a pizza sauce.
  • Drizzle any beef, chicken, or fish.
  • Spread it onto a sandwich.
  • Mix it into a salad dressing.
  • Use it to marinate vegetables.

pesto sauce in pottery bowl with basil leaf and silver spoon

How to Store Basil Pesto?

Pesto sauce can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 week if packaged properly. Place the sauce in a small container and fill it to the brim, making sure to pack it down and remove any air. Pour an additional small amount of oil on the very top to maintain freshness. You can also freeze pesto sauce for several months if placed in a freezer-safe container. Don’t forget to place a date label on the packaging.

What if I don’t Like Basil Leaf?

Not a basil leaf fan? No, worries! You can easily swap out the peppery plant for your favorite leafy greens.

Some delicious options are listed below:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Mint Leaves
  • Watercress
  • Arugula
  • Mustard Greens

pesto sauce and noodles on white plate with silver spoon

For More Classic Sauce Recipes Try Some of These:

best basil pesto in pottery bowl with silver serving spoon

Best Basil Pesto Sauce

Prep Time 10 minutes

Total Time 10 minutes

Author Aimee Mars

Servings 12 Servings

This delicious green sauce is bursting with basil leaf flavor balanced by buttery pine nuts, fresh garlic, and infused with quality olive oil. Learn how to make the Best Basil Pesto Sauce full of fresh ingredients and prepared in minutes.

  • 6 ounces Fresh Basil Leaves about 6 cups lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup Pine Nuts
  • 1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

To create a thicker sauce for sandwiches or meats only use half the olive oil in the recipe. For a thinner sauce typically used for marinating vegetables or for pasta add all of the olive oil.

Nutrition Facts

Best Basil Pesto Sauce

Amount Per Serving (1 tablespoon)

Calories 139 Calories from Fat 126

% Daily Value*

Fat 14g22%

Saturated Fat 2g10%

Cholesterol 4mg1%

Sodium 162mg7%

Potassium 81mg2%

Carbohydrates 1g0%

Fiber 1g4%

Sugar 1g1%

Protein 3g6%

Vitamin A 784IU16%

Vitamin C 3mg4%

Calcium 73mg7%

Iron 1mg6%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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