Homemade Pesto Recipe with Fresh Garden Basil

Well, I finally harvested the garden basil to make this homemade pesto recipe. I have been snipping buds off it for several weeks to force more growth into the leaves but the plant was getting HUGE. I snipped off most of the branches about 3/4 of the way down the stalk but left some of the plants to continue growing.

This easy basil pesto is made with simple, all-natural ingredients and is easy to freeze for long-term storage.  Loaded with pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil, this homemade pesto is perfect tossed with pasta or used as a topping for homemade pizza.  

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collage of homemade pesto and fresh pesto ingredients

What is Pesto?

The original pesto recipe was made with basil, coarse salt, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, pine nuts (sometimes toasted), and grated cheese like Parmesan (if you want a unique twist, check out my Parsley Pesto instead!). I have seen many variations over the years.  Making pesto with walnuts is a good way to cut the cost since pine nuts are so expensive (and we should be eating more walnuts for better health anyhow!).

You can also make lettuce pesto or even pesto with other herbs like parsley.    Typically, homemade pesto is served mixed with pasta, although I find it delicious slathered on a piece of Italian bread that is lightly toasted. 

You can also use it as a sauce on homemade pizza.  I keep a jar of pesto in the fridge for nights when I am in a hurry.  Just dump on some pasta and serve with raw veggies for an easy weeknight meal.

Traditional italian pesto alla genovese with fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic and parmesan cheese

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Fresh Pesto Ingredients

Don’t skimp on the ingredients for this homemade pesto.  Here are the ingredients I used for making this simple pasta sauce:

  • Fresh basil leaves (about 3 cups)
  • Pine nuts
  • Fresh garlic
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Salt

If you are looking for more simple pasta sauces, try my Creamy Spinach Pasta Sauce Recipe.  It has a slightly more mild flavor since it blends both spinach and basil together with the other ingredients. 

bowtie pasta on a plate with homemade pesto and sliced cherry tomatoes

Tips For Making Homemade Pesto

We have another month or so of hot weather so I may be able to get one more small harvest of my garden basil at the end of September. I am looking forward to a few more batches of pesto this summer. It’s incredibly easy to make and we all love it. 

Here are a few things I have learned about making homemade pesto:

  • Make sure you rinse your basil before making your homemade pesto!  Next time I am going to have to remember to shake out the cuttings and spray them outside with the hose because I brought a TON of little tiny hopper-type bugs into my kitchen!
  • Pick in the morning:  Garden basil has the most flavor first thing in the morning.
  • Use a food processor:  This is the easiest way to puree your pesto recipe.  Just don’t make it TOO smooth.  I like a bit of texture!
  • Freeze it back. I measure it out into 1/3 cup serving sizes and freeze them. It is GREAT to spread on French bread pizza!! I do this in my food processor but a blender might work, too, just do smaller batches! The original recipe said to use a mortar and pestle but that is NOT going to happen!

Pesto Ingredient with text overlay 'How to make homemade pesto


More Basil Recipes

Want to make your own homemade pesto?  Check out my article about edible gardening and start growing your own basil.  If you are not sure how to get started, buy a basil growing kit.  Then, check out these other delicious basil recipes:

pizza topped with homemade pesto, cheese and tomatoes

Ways to use up fresh pesto

Now that you have made fresh basil pesto, what will you do with it? Of course, putting it on pasta is simple and delicious but there are a ton of other ways to use it.

Here are a few ways to use up fresh pesto

  • Add it to scrambled eggs
  • Use it as a pizza sauce
  • Make a pesto grilled cheese sandwich
  • Toss it with roasted vegetables
  • Mix it into mayo or sour cream for a dip or sandwich spread
  • Stir it into homemade soup
  • Drizzle it over grilled chicken or fish
  • Dollop it on top of a bowl of chili

The possibilities are endless! Get creative and enjoy your homemade pesto in lots of different ways.

Homemade Pesto in a small mason jar with fresh basil leaves on top


Homemade Pesto Recipe

 This easy homemade basil pesto is made with simple, fresh ingredients. It takes less than 5 minutes to make and is so much better than store-bought!  Freeze it back in 1/3 cup (more or less…) and you can have fresh pesto all year round! 

Yield: 2 cups

Easy Homemade Pesto Recipe

Traditional italian pesto alla genovese with fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic and parmesan cheese

Have too much fresh garden basil? Make a homemade pesto recipe this week! This homemade pesto recipe is bold, flavorful, and easy to make.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • 6 ounces basil leaves (about 3 cups)
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 7 cloves fresh garlic
  • 8 ounces fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 TBSP softened butter
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. Put basil, pine nuts and garlic into bowl of food processor. Add salt and cheese and pulse until a thick paste starts to form.
  2. Trickle in olive oil and continue to pulse. Add butter and process to not quite smooth.
  3. Measure out and freeze or use as a sauce for pasta or a topping for garlic bread. 1/3 cup of pesto is enough for about 3/4 of a pound of pasta.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 265Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 570mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 6g

Nutrition information not always accurate


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