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Basil Pesto

Basil pesto is a fresh, aromatic, insanely flavorful sauce. It’s light, refreshing, summery and couldn’t be easier to make with a handful of fresh ingredients.

Basil pesto is a fresh, aromatic, insanely flavorful sauce. It's light, refreshing, summery and couldn't be easier to make with a handful of fresh ingredients.

Basil pesto is one of my favorite sauces to slather on just about anything – zucchini noodles, chicken, salmon, you name it. I find that basil pesto instantly elevates the flavor of any dish with it’s aromatic, herby, nutty, creamy, garlicky and all around divine flavor.

Basil pesto also reminds me of my travels throughout Italy, which is always a good thing. That smell has a way of transporting me back to the Italian Riviera and getting my stomach ready for what I know will be a delicious meal.

Now, you can buy pre-packaged basil pesto at the market, but it doesn’t even come close to fresh basil pesto made at home.

And the good news is that it couldn’t be easier to make basil pesto at home with with a few simple ingredients including: fresh basil, pine nuts, cashews, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper and optionally, Parmigiano Reggiano.

Basil Pesto Recipe (1-Minute Video)

While this recipe is easy to make, it always helps to watch a quick step-by-step tutorial video.

Can you Make a Dairy-Free, Vegan Basil Pesto?

Absolutely! Many times I’ll make this recipe without cheese for an easy, dairy-free option, especially if I have guests with a dairy-sensitivity. The cashews in the recipe add much of the creaminess that the cheese would normally provide, so I find that it’s certainly not missing anything if you opt to go without cheese.

But if You’d like a Cheesy Basil Pesto Recipe…

If do enjoy cheese, definitely splurge on good stuff. Don’t ever buy those cans of pre-grated parmesan cheese. Not only are they completely lacking in flavor, they may also include some unsavory ingredients, like oh, say wood pulp.

I recommend a high quality cheese such as Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano and grate it yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

Basil pesto is a fresh, aromatic, insanely flavorful sauce. It's light, refreshing, summery and couldn't be easier to make with a handful of fresh ingredients.

Basil pesto is a fresh, aromatic, insanely flavorful sauce. It's light, refreshing, summery and couldn't be easier to make with a handful of fresh ingredients.

How to Make Basil Pesto

It’s extremely easy to make basil pesto at home. You can use either a food processor or a Vitamix blender. I’ve shown you how to use a food processor in my Zucchini Noodle Caprese recipe so today, I thought I’d show you how to make it in my Vitamix.

  1. Just add the olive oil and lemon juice first, followed by the remaining ingredients.
  2. Turn your Vitamix (or Food Processor) on high and use the tamper to push the ingredients into the blades.
  3. Within seconds, you’ll have fresh, healthy, deliciously smelling, homemade basil pesto. Yes, it really is that easy.

TIP: Freeze it for Future Recipes

You can freeze basil pesto for quick and easy meals! Just pour any leftovers into a silicone ice cube tray and freeze it. I’ve shown you how to do this before on my kitchen gadgets video with fresh herbs and olive oil. And basil pesto is no different.

Then, when you’d like to enjoy some of the pesto, simply thaw a basil pesto cube and add it to your favorite recipe. It’s super easy and you can keep the cubes frozen for several months. Just place them in a food storage container after they’re frozen.

Best Recipes with Fresh Basil

Basil pesto is a fresh, aromatic, insanely flavorful sauce. It's light, refreshing, summery and couldn't be easier to make with a handful of fresh ingredients.

Basil pesto is a fresh, aromatic, insanely flavorful sauce. It's light, refreshing, summery and couldn't be easier to make with a handful of fresh ingredients.
5 from 9 votes

Basil Pesto

Prep Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
Servings: 10 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan
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Basil pesto is a fresh, aromatic, insanely flavorful sauce. It's light, refreshing, summery and couldn't be easier to make with a handful of fresh ingredients. Watch my video above to see how quickly it comes together! 

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup raw pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 2 cup packed basil leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, optional

Instructions

  • Add the olive oil and lemon juice to your food processor or Vitamix.
  • Toast the pine nuts and cashews in a skillet on medium low heat for 5 minutes, tossing gently. Then place them in your food processor or Vitamix.
  • And all remaining pesto ingredients. If using a food processor, pulse until the ingredients are mixed. If using your Vitamix, slowly turn the speed to high and use the tamper to push the ingredients into the blades until the pesto is smooth and creamy.

Lisa's Tips

  • Yield: 1 1/4 Cup
  • Toasting the pine nuts and cashews is optional, but it does add a wonderful flavor to the pesto.
  • The Vitamix model I use is the Ascent 3500 and I definitely recommend it. Make sure to check out all my other Vitamix Recipes as well.

Nutrition

Serving: 2tbsp, Calories: 90kcal, Protein: 1g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 78mg, Potassium: 29mg, Vitamin A: 135IU, Vitamin C: 0.7mg, Calcium: 20mg, Iron: 0.3mg
Course: dressing, sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Basil Pesto, Basil Pesto Recipe, Basil Pesto Sauce
©Downshiftology. Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.
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26 comments on “Basil Pesto”

  1. Has the video been removed? I’m not seeing it here.

  2. Hello!
    My son is multi-allergic. His big ones are dairy and peanut but, cashew is also on the list. Could I sub the cashews in this recipe with something else?

    Thank you!

  3. I am so happy I made this for #freezerprep as I will be able to use delicious pesto cubes for months to come. I love this pesto on pizza, pasta, zoodles, in savory oats, and so on. It’s a perfect recipe for when you find a huge batch of basil at a good price or if you’re fortunate enough to have a good green thumb. I didn’t have Parmesan but I did add some nutritional yeast for a hint a cheesy-like flavor. 

    • Yes! This makes for the best freezer meal prep using a silicone ice cube tray. I’m always happy knowing I can easily toss a basil cube into a stir fry or with some zoodles. :)

  4. I got my Vitamix about two weeks ago and was sad because I thought I wouldn’t be able to find a Basil plant but I found a small one today at Whole Foods. I’m making some today! Should I use 2/4 cup pine nuts since I don’t have cashews? I have walnuts too if they can take cashews place?

    Rating: 5
  5. Hi Lisa, I love your pesto recipe. How many days does it last?

  6. Hello Lisa, I love to use vitamix with ur recipes! How long does pesto last?

  7. Yum! Yum! Came in perfect timing. Thank you!

    Rating: 5
  8. Made this today to go with the zucchini dinner (from your ‘what I eat in a day’ video).  Well well well.  We all knew we would enjoy it, we’ve made pesto from your recipe, the fact it tastes so good with the zucchini cake to no surprise.  Our daughter (10 years old) doesn’t really like zucchini but had two helpings of them!!!  She really liked how the pesto “masked” the zucchini!  Feeling full so will wait a bit before making mango/yoghurt dessert.

    Rating: 5
    • I think “masking” is 100% okay when you’re slathering the zucchini noodles in healthy basil pesto (more greens). Haha. And look at that – two helpings. Yay! Glad both the pesto and the zucchini noodle caprese was a success! x

  9. Now this is the perfect topping for pasta in summer and I have a ton of basil out in the garden right now!Thanks for posting this. I can even use it on top of garlic pizza! YUMMY!

    Rating: 5
  10. That basil pesto looks so delicious! I do love pesto, I’d have it on everything if I could!

    Rating: 5
  11. I have a bunch of a basil in my garden, I need to make this!

    Rating: 5
  12. I always make my own pesto these days and basil is of course the classic. Haven’t tried with cashews, mind you – for next time!

    Rating: 5
  13. Fresh pesto sounds delicious!

    Rating: 5