Homemade pesto sauce made with fresh basil, parsley, olive oil, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese is really versatile and easy to make.

Clear glass jar of fresh basil pesto surrounded by sprigs of fresh basil, garlic cloves, parmesan cheese, and peppercorns.

Translated from Italian, the word pesto means “pounded,” and the traditional version combines fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese, pounded to a paste using a mortar and pestle.

Our easy version is made in the food processor and includes a splash of balsamic vinegar and lemon juice to add some bright acidity. We’ve also replaced some of the basil with fresh parsley to mellow the flavor a bit.

How to Make Homemade Pesto Sauce

  • Remove the tough stems from the basil and parsley and loosely pack the leaves into a measuring cup.
  • Peel and roughly chop the garlic.
  • Measure the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and salt into the work bowl of a food processor.
  • Add a few grinds of black pepper, then add the prepared basil, parsley, and garlic.
  • Pulse until the mixture is the consistency of a thick paste.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
  • Pesto may be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 3 days.

Seven Delicious Ways to Use Pesto

  1. Toss with cooked pasta and serve as a side or main dish.
  2. Spread on toasted baguette, top with chunks of tomato and fresh mozzarella.
  3. Use in place of red sauce on pizza.
  4. Use as a spread on a grilled cheese sandwich made with a combination of fontina and mozzarella.
  5. Mix into a classic vinaigrette to dress a salad.
  6. Use as a topping for turkey burgers or grilled chicken sandwiches.
  7. Spread on broiled fish or chicken before serving.

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Homemade Pesto Sauce

5 from 2 votes
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Homemade pesto sauce made with fresh basil, parsley, olive oil, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese is really versatile and easy to make.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
  • 3/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, loosely packed
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup pine (pignoli) nuts
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Remove the tough stems from the basil and parsley and loosely pack the leaves into a measuring cup.
  • Peel and roughly chop the garlic.
  • Measure the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and salt into the work bowl of a food processor.
  • Add a few grinds of black pepper, then add the basil, parsley, and garlic.
  • Pulse until the mixture is the consistency of a thick paste, taste, and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  • Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Tips for Making This Recipe

When measuring the fresh basil and parsley you don’t need to be too exacting, but it’s better to have too much than too little.

Ways to Use Homemade Pesto Sauce: 

  • Toss with cooked pasta and serve as a side or main dish.
  • Spread on toasted baguette, top with chunks of tomato and fresh mozzarella.
  • Use in place of red sauce on pizza.
  • Use as a spread on a grilled cheese sandwich made with a combination of fontina and mozzarella.
  • Mix into a classic vinaigrette to dress a salad.
  • Use as a topping for turkey burgers or grilled chicken sandwiches.
  • Spread on broiled fish or chicken before serving.
Serving: 0.25cup, Calories: 180kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 11g, Cholesterol: 2mg, Sodium: 437mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g
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