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 Video
While this recipe is easy to make, it always helps to watch a quick step-by-step tutorial video. Give it a watch below!
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.
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.
- Just add the olive oil and lemon juice first, followed by the remaining ingredients.
- Turn your Vitamix (or Food Processor) on high and use the tamper to push the ingredients into the blades.
- 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
- Zucchini Noodle Caprese
- Marinara Sauce
- Roasted Beet Hummus with Basil Pesto
- Melon Mozzarella Salad with Basil
- Basil Chicken with Kumquats
- Persimmon Caprese
- 2/3 cup olive oil, or more as needed
- 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
- 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.