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Classic Basil Pesto closeup on spoon
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5 from 1 vote

Classic Basil Pesto

Make this classic basil pesto in under five minutes! The perfect way to add flavor to pasta, sandwiches, salads and pizza.
Prep Time5 mins
Total Time5 mins
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Italian
Diet: Diabetic, Gluten Free
Servings: 8 portions


  • 4 cups fresh basil leaves packed; stems removed; approx. 130 g; note 1
  • ¼ cup pine nuts 38 g; note 2
  • 1 garlic clove large
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil 106 g
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese grated; 22 g


  • First blend- Combine basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse until well combined and roughly chopped. See: blanching
    Classic Basil Pesto ingredients loaded into food processor ready to blend.
  • Second blend- Add the lemon juice and olive oil, blending until a somewhat creamy mixture begins to form, about 30 seconds. If you blend for longer, the pesto will become a cremier dressing rather than the classic version.
    Adding olive and lemon juice oil before blending
  • Third blend- Add in parmesan cheese and pulse until well combined and desired consistency.
    Adding parmesan cheese before blending.
  • Taste the pesto and add more salt if needed. Serve right away or store in the fridge for 4-5 days.
    Classic Basil Pesto blended in the food processor


  1. sweet basil is recommended
  2. toasting recommended for best flavor; blanched almonds can work in place (though not 'classic')
  3. If you want a less creamy pesto, you can blend in half the olive oil and then mix the remaining in with a spoon. Blending the olive oil into the pesto creates a creamier mixture, so by doing half blended and half simply mixed in, the pesto won’t become very creamy.
  4. if you don't have a food processor, a high speed blender such as a vitamix can work as well.
If you want to preserve the bright green color, consider blanching your basil:
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil.
  2. Carefully lower the basil into boiling water for only 15 seconds, then remove and place into a bowl of ice water for a minute until fully cooled.
  3. Gather the blanched basil and squeeze out all the liquid. Roughly chop so it’s easier to blend.
  • Fridge- store in an air tight container for 4-5 days.
  • Freezer- portion out into ice cube trays, then freeze until solid. Transfer to heavy-duty freezer bags or wrap loosely in parchment paper then store in an air tight container. Freeze for up to 6 months.