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 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.

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.

Basil Pesto

5 from 25 votes
Prep Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
Servings: 10 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan
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! 


  • 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.

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.


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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74 comments on “Basil Pesto”

  1. I have a lemon allergy. Is there another acid that would be a good substitute or could I just omit without too much disappointment in flavor?

  2. Hi Lisa!

    I made this exactly as listed, and it was amazing, but am wondering about the nutritional info.  My batch yielded 18 tbsps and when I enter the ingredients into my lose it app recipe calculator, it says 98 per tablespoon versus your calculation of 90 for 2 tablespoons. Ty!5 stars

  3. I use this recipe all the time. We like ours a little stronger, so we use more garlic, a bit more lemon juice, a bit more salt. Yummy!

  4. Easily the most delicious pesto recipe I’ve ever made. Rather than waste a drop of it, I used a dollop from scraping out the Vitamix container on one of your Zucchini & Prosciutto Egg Muffins. So delicious!

  5. Fabulous recipe! I added walnuts instead of cashews and a little arugula – came out great! So great to have these healthy but not boring recipes! thank you Lisa!5 stars

  6. Can I  use 100% cashews? I don’t have pine nuts . 

  7. Love all of your recipes, they are my do too just about everyday. I was wondering if I could replace the basil with English spinach 🤗5 stars

  8. Hey there, Firstly, congrats on the book. 😁
    Could I substitute the basil with Coriander and not add the cheese for a vegan coriander pesto?

    • Thanks so much Dayne! As for a cilantro pesto, you can do that. Although, you might want to look up some recipes to see what other ingredients they add to complement the cilantro :)

  9. How do you make the sauce thinner without it losing flavor? I couldn’t imagine using water. I want to use it plentifully as I would marinara sauce.

  10. Can you tell how to store herbs in ice tray in freezer?

  11. Thanks for this quick and simple recipe! Delicious 😋
    Added this to Trader Joe’s lentil penne with pan seared shrimp.5 stars

  12. This basil pesto was absolutely delicious. I served it as a dipping sauce for roasted chicken, but could have just as easily eaten it with a spoon! The consistency of mine was a lot more smooth, than the textured version in the recipe/video, so I may have over mixed it in the blender. Either way it was a 10/10. My boyfriend who doesn’t like anything green even approved! 5 stars

  13. Anything I can substitute  pine nuts with?

  14. Amazing! So easy, fresh and delicious, I think I will be putting it on everything! I hope my garden basil can keep up! Thanks for another great recipe Lisa!5 stars

  15. Perfect! My husband loves it too! This pesto is addictive!!! 5 stars

  16. As a dairy free option, do you think substituting nutritional yeast for parmesan would help with the “cheese” profile? Have you tried it? I know it’s optional, but I didn’t want to waste any pine nuts if I didn’t have to.

  17. Hi Lisa,
    I had plenty of basil so I made this recipe with a couple of substitutions instead of buying store bought pesto. Parmigiano Reggiano and pine nuts are so expensive so I used Pecorino Romano (left over from making Cacio E Pepe Spaghetti) and walnuts. It turned out well.

    I suppose if I can afford a VITAMIX I can afford the expensive ingredients but I like to tweet recipes to use ingredients I have on hand rather than buying stuff I might not use for a while.5 stars

  18. Hi Lisa,

    Thank you for sharing this pesto recipe mum and Hubby loved it! :)5 stars

  19. Love your recipes! I really wanted to try this one but I’m allergic to all nuts (including pine nuts and cashews). Do you have any suggestions for replacing them?

  20. Hi Lisa:)

    Enjoyed the recipe very easy to make and plenty of left over to freeze. I switched it up a little and used 1 cup of fresh basil and 1 cup fresh spinach. It was a big hit. Which pasta do you recommend to use for this recipe?

    Angel5 stars

  21. I have heard that it is better (safer) to leave the garlic out of the recipe (if you are freezing it) until you thaw and are ready to serve as the combination of garlic and oil can cause botulism.  Some recipes also suggest omitting cheese (again, if freezing) until ready for use.  What are your thoughts?

    • Hi Mary – my understanding is that the botulism concern is related to storing garlic in oil at room temperature. If it’s stored in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for a couple of months, it should be fine.

  22. This is my favorite pesto recipe!! Love it with pasta or on a sandwich. I also like to mix it with mayo to make a pesto-mayo dipping sauce5 stars

  23. I have tried dozens of Pesto recipes and this is hands down my favorite! Im dairy free and the cashews make this so creamy, that it mimics a cheesy version! It is my go to when using up all the basil I have going wild in my garden!5 stars

  24. Your amazing recipes are always 100% with my Vitamix ❤🙏5 stars

  25. Hi Lisa! I wanted to make this recipe but I have two questions: 
    1. I have a classic Vitamex (not one of those cool fancy ones haha). I also don’t own a food processor. Can I still put nuts in the blender or is it not powerful enough? I don’t want to ruin the blades/motor. 

    2. I have a cashew allergy. Can I replace the cashews in this recipe with almonds? 

    Thank you! 

    • Hi Summer – yes, you should have no problems with the pine nuts in the blender as they’re pretty soft. And I’d recommend replacing the cashews with more pine nuts. :)

  26. Simply the best I pesto I’ve ever made and so easy! Way better than anything I have found in stores. I will save this recipe forever!!5 stars

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

  28. 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!

  29. 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. 5 stars

    • 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. :)

    • Why buy Pesto from the store if it’s so easy to make right? Especially if it’s so delicious like your recipe! Thanks Lisa!
      Also within only a few minutes you can mix up a healthy homemade pasta like this. My family loves it!5 stars

  30. 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?5 stars

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

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

  33. Yum! Yum! Came in perfect timing. Thank you!5 stars

  34. 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.5 stars

    • 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

  35. 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!5 stars

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

  37. I have a bunch of a basil in my garden, I need to make this!5 stars

  38. 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!5 stars

  39. Fresh pesto sounds delicious!5 stars