How to Make Pesto with Fresh Basil

how to make basil pesto

In this recipe, I’ll show you how to make pesto with fresh basil.   It’s easy, simple and has a bunch of delicious uses! 

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When you learn how to make basil pesto at home, you won’t want to ever buy it from a store again!  This recipe is quick and healthy!

Most pesto recipes are very simple and the concept is always the same.  Blend the herbs with olive oil and add additional ingredients per your taste.   

However, here a a few things you need to know for how to make basil pesto at home:

Use Fresh Basil Leaves

First, pesto is made from basil leaves, fresh basil leaves. 

So if you’re looking for a good recipe for how to make pesto from basil leaves, you need to make sure it’s using fresh basil, ideally from your garden.  Here’s my own basil on my back porch in a pot!    


Basil grows very well in pots and it only takes a few handfuls to make a nice batch of pesto.  My image shown below is approximately 3 cubs of fresh basil from my potted plants.


You’ll need to Blend the ingredients

When doing smaller batches (pesto goes a long way), I recommend either a small food processor or a nutri-bullet which is what I use.  You can also go the old fashioned way with a mortar and pestle

All of these you can easily get on Amazon such as the 4 cup Cuisinart food processor below for example. 




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Quantities are Flexible

The quantities I provide are to show you how I make pesto from my own fresh basil.  If you want to adjust quantities as you see fit go right ahead! 

Some people love more garlic, while others prefer less.   Some like it with more cheese while others prefer it with none. 

Optional Ingredients

You can make basil pesto with and without some of the listed ingredients.   

For example, you can omit the cheese when cheese is already a part of the overall recipe.   We don’t eat pesto by the spoonful on it’s own, it’s used as part of other recipes, even if just spread on bread! 

One of my favorite uses is spreading it on toasted Italian bread with a slice of fresh mozzarella and fresh tomato!  In this case I omit the Romano cheese from the pesto. 

using fresh basil pesto in a sandwich


Pine nuts are not required for basil pesto, but I highly recommend them.   Pine nuts can be pricey but they go a long way.  In this recipe you will want to toast the pine nuts for about 15 minutes at 350F.  


This does a few things, it adds a beautiful depth to the pesto with a slightly toasted nut flavor, but not overpowering.   Pine nuts have a creamy texture so they blend incredibly well and won’t leave a flaky type texture.     

Also, using untoasted pine nuts can cause the pesto to get a bit clumpy and we don’t want that.   

You can get pine nuts on Amazon.  If you’ve ever looked into how pin nuts are harvested you’ll have an immediate appreciation for the little precious nut, and not be so turned off by the price.

 Organic Pine Nuts for Basil Pesto

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If you still can’t justify the cost, it’s okay.  You can ultimately omit the pine nuts and still have a great tasting pesto!


My recipe is right here where you can easily print it out and make it for yourself.   This is how I make my basil pesto from fresh basil leaves!

In a nutshell, I use about three cups of fresh basil (no they don’t have to be dry, but do wash them!). 

Mix with a processor of some sort (nutri-bullet, food processor, mortar), with a clove of garlic, and 1/3 Cup of extra virgin olive oil.  Add in the toasted pine nuts and cheese if you’re using those too!

Blend until smooth!

Pesto from Basil Leaves

An easy pesto recipe anyone can make and use!  Lots of possibilities!
3.72 from 7 votes
Print Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 20 minutes


  • 3 cups fresh basil
  • garlic clove
  • 1/3 Cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 TBLE toasted pine nuts (OPTIONAL)
  • 1/4 CUP Romano Cheese (OPTIONAL)


  • If using pine nuts, toast at 350F for 15 minutes. Do not let them burn, they should be slightly toasted in color.
  • When done, let cool.
  • Meanwhile, wash and pat dry the basil leaves
  • Process the garlic, basil, pine nuts, cheese and olive oil through a food processor. If you don't have a food processor, use a Mortar and Pestle or a nutri-bullet/magic bullet.
  • When it is well blended, remove and place in bowl and use in your favorite pesto recipes!


  1.  Freeze any extra amounts in the freezer for later use. Keep in mind these are all approximate measurements. Feel free to modify the recipe to suit your tastes.
  2. Omit the cheese if you prefer no dairy or are using the pesto with a recipe that already includes cheese, like mozzarella. 
  3. Pine nuts are optional, but if you use them make sure they are toasted


Many basil pesto recipes have cheese as an ingredient.  It adds flavor and is great for when using with pastas.  It also gives pesto a more spreadable texture.  

However, does basil pesto have to have dairy?  No.   You can omit the cheese.  My recipe from my father’s side does not include cheese.  The recipe from my husband’s side does include cheese. 

If you don’t use the cheese in the pesto, I would recommend using pine nuts to add some more flavor.   But even still, garlic, olive oil and basil are enough for a basic, simple basil pesto recipe. 


Once you learn how to make pesto with fresh basil, you’ll find a variety of recipes you can use it in. 

Tasting it alone with no other ingredients leaves for a very strong and intense flavor.   However a little pesto goes a very long way, so experiment with your recipes. 

As I mentioned above, you can use this pesto recipe on toasted Italian with roasted tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.  The flavor combination just can’t be beat!


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It can be also be used with pasta or as a flavoring agent, such as for soups or chicken dishes.


Pesto can be used frozen for later use, so I recommend it storing it in very small containers or even plastic ziplock bags so you don’t have to thaw a bunch of pesto that you ultimately do not need. 



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How to Make Pesto with Fresh Basil


  1. Try freezing leftover pesto in old fashion ice cube trays. After they are totally frozen, crack them and store in a freezer bag.

  2. 5 stars
    Good pesto! The ingredients are in the right proportions for my taste. I did sub toasted walnuts for the pine nuts (for the 1st time) and enjoyed that flavor. Used half in a main dish recipe and froze the rest in an ice cube tray. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

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