Use up all of the leftover summer basil (or basil in the back of your fridge) by making this deliciously easy and nut-free homemade pesto recipe. This recipe comes together with just four ingredients, and packs that irresistible flavor you know and love. Pesto is truly the GOAT of sauces.
Pesto is typically most popular during the summer months when basil is at its peak, but it's great all year round.
I love using pesto in my pesto orzo with chicken or my cheesy pesto tortellini bake, but you can literally use it in just about everything.
What are the ingredients for this recipe?
I'm not allergic to nuts, but there are some that are not as appealing to me, such as pine nuts, aka pignoli nuts. I don't prefer the flavor, so I've always made my pesto without them, making this a nut free option for my friends and readers who have a nut allergy.
When I shared this recipe on social media a little while back, I got a lot of positive feedback regarding leaving the nuts out, and it makes me very happy to hear that! All that to say, the ingredients below are simple, easy, and do not include nuts!
- Basil: Basil is the most popular green herb used in making pesto. Known for its earthy and fragrant leaves, basil is perfect for pesto.
- Garlic: We use garlic to add a robust flavor to the pesto. It's one of the most important parts of pesto!
- Oil: Using oil helps to bind all of the ingredients together and form the sauce or paste.
- Parmesan cheese: We use parmesan cheese (or pecorino) to round out the flavor and add a creaminess to the pesto.
See recipe card below for specific information about quantities.
How do I make this pesto?
Making homemade pesto is easy! You only really need a good blender or food processor and some patience. It likely won't become smooth after the first blend, so adding a little more oil and cheese will help the pesto come to a smooth consistency.
In a food processor, add the basil leaves, chopped garlic, oil, and parmesan cheese. Close tightly and blend until smooth.
Continue to add more cheese and/or oil to your desired consistency: smooth in texture with minimal to no clumps of garlic or basil leaves.
Hint: You may need to add in more oil, more cheese, or more basil as you blend the ingredients together to make it creamy and smooth. If you like it more rustic, don't add more cheese!
Recipe Swaps, Substitutions, and Variations
If you know how to make the recipe fit a certain diet, let the reader know here. Don't fake it - only provide guidance on topics you have actual experience with.
- Vegan - This recipe is easily made vegan by swapping the parmesan cheese for nutritional yeast. The flavor may change just a little, but overall it'll do great as a swap.
- Basil - there are many different greens that can be used for pesto such as arugula, spinach, or even kale! Here's a version that uses broccoli rabe.
- CAN I add nuts? - You absolutely can add nuts if you like the flavor of pignoli nuts, there's nothing wrong with that!
Pesto Serving Suggestions
I love using pesto with pasta, but there are so many ways you can incorporate it into other recipes, see below for some of my favorites:
- Cold pasta salads
- Topping on fish
- Stews and soups
If you made pesto for one recipe, you'll be amazed at what else you can use it for.
Kitchen Tools and Equipment
There are very minimal tools and gadgets you will need in this recipe to make it from start to finish. Here's the full list:
- Blender - I like using a food processor for this recipe, and my favorite is here.
- Cutting board
- Santoku or slicing knife
- Spatula - to scrape the sides of the food processor.
How do I store this pesto?
This is my FAVORITE part of making pesto, because you can store it in a few different ways:
- Add 1 tablespoon of pesto to each well of an ice tray for individual servings of pesto each time.
- Put the remainder of the pesto into a container and freeze for up to 6 months.
- Store in the fridge in a jar and use up to 2 weeks.
Add some fresh squeezed lemon to the pesto for added acidic flavor. Plus, a lemon pesto is absolutely delicious on fish and in pasta recipes.
Hungry for More?
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Easy Nut-Free Homemade Pesto Recipe
- 1 food processor
- 1 spatula
- 1 cutting board
- 1 sharp kitchen knife santoku or slicing
- 4 oz basil
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup oil
- In a food processor, add the basil leaves, chopped garlic, oil, and parmesan cheese.
- Close tightly and blend until smooth.
- Continue to add more cheese and/or oil to your desired consistency: smooth in texture with minimal to no clumps of garlic or basil leaves.
- Serve as desired (sandwiches, pastas, pizzas, salads, etc.)
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