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Classic Pesto Recipe

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Classic Basil Pesto is such an easy sauce to make and is so versatile. It’s fantastic tossed with pasta, or my favorite — on gnocchi! Making your own homemade pesto is so much better than store bought and super easy to make.

Read on to learn how we make it.

What Is Classic Basil Pesto Sauce?

Pesto is a beautiful bright green sauce that is made from pureeing together basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and parmesan cheese.

Ingredients for Basil Pesto

If you keep a stocked pantry like I do, then you should probably already have most of the ingredients on hand. I grow basil in my herb garden, but if you don't have it on hand, you can buy fresh from the store and use it that way. Do you want to grow herbs at home? Check out this post for how to turn a pallet into an herb garden.

  • Basil – use fresh sweet basil leaves
  • Parmesan cheese – shredded — you can buy pre-shredded or shred your own. Do not use the stuff in the can
  • Extra virgin olive oil – better quality will make for a better pesto sauce
  • Pine nuts – these are typical for pesto, but you can substitute walnuts or pecans
  • Garlic cloves – pesto has lots of garlic
  • Lemon juice – use freshly squeezed juice from 1 large or 2 smaller lemons. Do not use lemon juice concentrate. 
  • Salt & Pepper – can be added to taste

To get the most flavor out of the pine nuts for your basil, be sure and toast them on a dry skillet over medium heat, tossing often until golden and fragrant then cool before using in the recipe.

After toasting your pine nuts, wash and rinse your basil leaves. Now, place all your ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.

More Homemade Sauces

Pesto is one of my favorite sauces! These other homemade condiment recipes below are so much better than what you get at the store.

Once you make your own homemade dressings and sauces, you won’t want anything else.

Yield: 1 cup

Classic Basil Pesto Sauce Recipe

up close shot of basil pesto

This classic basil pesto recipe is so good. You can use it in so many different recipes.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves (about 1 large bunch)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • Kosher salt (to taste)


  1. Combine all the ingredients except the oil and cheeses in a food processor.
  2. Pulse until the pesto is blended into a slightly coarse paste.​
  3. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the oil and cheeses.​
  4. Store in a jar in the refrigerator until ready to use. Can be stored in the fridge for about 3 weeks.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 44Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 42mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 1g

Did you make this recipe?

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Inger@Art of Natural Living

Saturday 5th of March 2022

Love the add of lemon juice! I love having pesto in my freezer--makes a special meal super easy!

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