Basil Pesto Sauce

Basil Pesto Sauce is an easy basil pesto recipe that’s made with only 6 ingredients.  It’s so fresh and delicious that you’ll never buy it again!

close up of basil pesto sauce in jar

**This post has been updated with new photos and text in August 2019.

I believe in meal prepping, but I don’t do it the same way most people do.  I like to plan out my meals for the week and shop for the ingredients that I need, and prep the ingredients and/or prepare components of the recipes.

For example, I love chopping my veggies up to throw into salads and recipes, and make sauces in advance so that I can put dinner together much more quickly.  

This basil pesto sauce recipe is one of my favorite things to prep.  Having a batch in the fridge or freezer keeps me at ease because I know I can make a quick meal with it no matter what I have on hand!

basil pesto sauce in a jar with a spoon

Basil Pesto Sauce

This homemade basil pesto sauce is full of bright, fresh flavor.  The color says is all, doesn’t it?

Most store bought pesto sauces lack flavor because they contain too much oil.  I prefer to use a minimal amount of oil to let the fresh flavor of the basil shine through.

My secret ingredient to heighten the flavor of this pesto recipe is fresh lemon juice.  Just a couple of tablespoons is all you need to taste the difference!

How long does homemade pesto last?

Homemade pesto sauce will keep in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

I love making extra pesto sauce for the freezer as it’s freezer friendly.  Freeze pesto sauce in an air tight container in the refrigerator for 3-6 months.

Why is my basil pesto bitter?

I’ve purchased fresh basil in the past that has a strong, bitter flavor. 

There are a couple of things that you can do to remedy this problem:

  1. Add more nuts and/or parmesan cheese
  2. Substitute half of the basil with baby spinach or other greens

overhead shot of basil pesto sauce with lemon and basil in background

Pesto sauce ingredients

This basil pesto sauce includes the following ingredients:

  • fresh basil
  • garlic 
  • lemon juice
  • parmesan cheese
  • pine nuts
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt

See my post How to Make Pesto Sauce for pesto sauce variations!

How to make basil pesto sauce

  • Place the basil, garlic, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, pine nuts and salt to taste in the bowl of a food processor.  
  • I like this 3 1/2 cup food processor — it’s just the right size for a small batch of pesto!
  • Process until coarsely chopped, then scrape down the sides of the bowl with a scraper.
  • With the processor running, add the olive oil through the feed tube and continue to process until the sauce has reached the desired consistency. 
  • Add more oil to suit your taste, and adjust the salt as needed.

pesto sauce in food processor - before and after

Recipe tips and substitutions

  • While I personally don’t blanch my basil or greens for pesto sauce, you can certainly opt to do that if you’d like your sauce to be a brighter shade of green.  Read this article on blanching basil for tips.
  • Use your pesto sauce for pizza and pasta, as a spread for sandwiches and burgers, in quinoa or farro salads, or as a condiment for roasted veggies!

basil pesto sauce with gray linen, spoon and lemon

Hungry for more pesto?  Try these:

Carrot top pesto

Spinach pesto

What to make with pesto:

Grilled pesto chicken

Pesto chicken salad

Pesto gnocchi

Pesto tortellini

Pesto zoodles

Basil Pesto Sauce

Yield: 1 cup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Basil Pesto Sauce is an easy basil pesto recipe that's made with only 6 ingredients.  It's so fresh and delicious that you'll never buy it again!

Basil Pesto Sauce

Ingredients

  • 4 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • Juice of one lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Add basil, garlic, nuts, lemon juice, parmesan cheese and salt to a food processor and pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber scraper.
  2. With the processor running, add the olive oil through the feed tube and process until the sauce reaches the desired consistency. Add more oil and adjust the salt to suit your taste.
  3. Add to your recipes and enjoy!

Notes

  • Store leftover sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
  • See my post How to Make Pesto Sauce for pesto sauce variations.
  • While I personally don't blanch my basil or greens for pesto sauce, you can certainly opt to do that if you'd like your sauce to be a brighter shade of green.  Read this article for tips.
  • Use your pesto sauce for pizza and pasta, as a spread for sandwiches and burgers, in quinoa or farro salads, or as a condiment for roasted veggies!  

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

2 tablespoons

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 123 Total Fat: 12g Saturated Fat: 2g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 10g Cholesterol: 3mg Sodium: 123mg Carbohydrates: 2g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 1g Sugar: 0g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 2g
Nutrition information is mean to be an estimate only. The numbers will vary based on the quantity consumed, brands used and substitutions that are made.

Sharing is caring!