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basil pesto in glass pot with serving spoon on white slate
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5 from 2 votes

How to make Basil Pesto

Making your own homemade fresh pesto couldn't be more simple. Here I'll show you exactly how to make basil pesto in the tastiest way possible!
Prep Time10 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 1 cup
Calories: 306kcal
Cost: £2 / $3


  • Food Processor (or Pestle and Mortar)
  • Fine Cheese Grater
  • Spatula


  • 2 big handfuls Fresh Basil (approx 2 packed cups worth - 60g/2.1oz)
  • 1/2 - 2/3 cup / 100 - 150ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or as needed
  • 1/2 cup / 40g Parmesan
  • 1 small clove Garlic, peeled
  • 4 tbsp Pine Nuts (toasted if preferred)
  • 1/2 Lemon, juice only (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp Salt, or to taste
  • 1/8 tsp Black Pepper, or to taste


  • If you are toasting pine nuts, place 4 tbsp in a pan over low-medium heat with no oil and shake occasionally until golden brown. Pine nuts will go from toasted to burnt extremely quickly so just be vigilant.

Pestle and Mortar

  • Begin by crushing 1 small clove garlic with a pinch of salt to form a paste. Gradually add in 2.1oz/60g basil and smash/grind to blend. Then add your pine nuts and 1/2cup/40g parmesan. After, add in your oil around 1 tbsp at a time. Test for seasoning.


  • Add 1 small clove garlic and 4 tbsp pine nuts and blend until desired texture. Add 2.1oz/60g basil and 1/2cup/40g parmesan, blend and slowly add in your oil. Test for seasoning. Alternatively this can all be added at once and results will still be similar. This method just ensures there's no large chunks of garlic and the pine nuts and pulsed to preference.



a) Pesto with Lemon - If you're using lemon juice add in at the end and give it final blend. Start off with a squeeze and adjust to preference.
b) Pesto in the food processor - A great tip when if you're using the blender is to rest some ice in there before you use it to keep it cool. This will stop your basil from getting too hot and burning when you're blending it.
c) Vegetarian Pesto - For a vegetarian option using vegetarian parmesan or any other hard cheese. For vegan use nutritional yeast.
d) How to store Pesto - Store in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge with a layer of olive oil on top. Each time you use it, pour off the oil and replace when you put it back in. This will last at least a week, anything after that just be vigilant with your senses before using it. Freeze for up to a month, however add the cheese AFTER if you plan on freezing.
e) Video - is my Pesto Pasta Salad recipe.
f) Calories - based on the above recipe using 100ml olive oil and divided by 4 servings.


Calories: 306kcal | Carbohydrates: 2.4g | Protein: 5.7g | Fat: 32.3g | Saturated Fat: 5.6g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 117mg | Potassium: 93mg | Fiber: 0.5g | Sugar: 0.4g | Calcium: 110mg | Iron: 0.9mg