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mason jar filled with late summer harvest basil pesto sitting on cutting board

Basil Pesto

The best basil pesto recipe and you can freeze it!
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Servings 2 cups


  • food processor
  • sharp knife
  • baking sheet


  • 2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1-2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces fresh parmesan
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


  • Remove basil leaves from stems and discard any damaged leaves.
  • Rinse leaves and remove excess water. I like to use my salad spinner for this, but you can also press the leaves between paper towels to remove excess moisture.
  • Add 2 cups loosely packed basil leaves to a food processor bowl.
  • Add garlic clove. I like to rough chop before adding to the food processor.
  • Add 1/4 cup toasted walnuts. For toasting walnuts, spread a single layer on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally. I like to rough chop before adding to the basil mixture.
  • Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper.
  • Add 3 ounces good quality parmesan.
  • Process about 15 seconds, then turn off the machine and scape down sides of bowl and process another 10-15 seconds until all ingredients are broken down.
  • While running the processor, slowly add 1/2 cup olive oil and continue running the processor until you reach the desired consistency. You can add more olive oil if you prefer a thinner pesto.


Tips and Variations:
You can substitute toasted pine nuts for walnuts, if you prefer or omit if you have nut allergies.  
I cannot stress how important good quality ingredients are.  It makes a big difference in the flavor.  Use a good quality olive oil and fresh parmesan.  Also, fresh squeezed lemon, and not the bottled concentrated and fresh garlic cloves.
You can freeze this pesto. Pour pesto into clean ice cube trays.  Place in freezer.  After is completely frozen, pop cubes out, wrap individual cubes in saran wrap and place them all inside freezer safe bag. 
Keyword basil, basil pesto, pesto, sauce, spread