This 5 Minute Basil Pesto is one of the most commonly used condiments in our kitchen. We use it as spread for sandwiches, garnish for cheeseboards, and a light sauce for pasta. It is a healthy substitute for mayo and dressing and it's a quick and easy way to spice up a dish. It is garlicky, cheesy, and packed full of flavor.
Classic basil pesto calls for pine nuts. However, we use walnuts instead of pine nuts because they are more affordable but don't sacrifice taste. Walnuts are still rich and hearty and make the perfect addition to pesto. When combined with the basil, cheese, garlic, and olive oil, it creates a multi-dimensional flavor medley.
- Fresh basil leaves - Provides a fresh an peppery taste to the pesto sauce.
- Parmigiano-reggiano - Parmigiano-reggiano or parmesan cheese adds sharp and creamy flavor.
- Walnuts - Raw or toasted walnuts add a nutty flavor and heartiness to the pesto sauce.
- Garlic cloves - Adds the quintessential aroma to the sauce.
- Extra virgin olive oil - An emulsifier that brings the sauce together.
- Kosher salt - Accentuates the flavors of the sauce.
- Freshly ground black pepper - Adds a spicy kick.
How to Make Fresh Basil Pesto
- Blend basil and cheese - Place basil and cheese in the food processor container. Pulse until well-blended, about 30 seconds.
- Add and blend walnuts and garlic - Add in walnuts and garlic, and blend for another minute.
- Add and blend salt, pepper, and olive oil - Add in salt, pepper, and olive oil. Blend until the mixture is creamy and smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste if necessary.
- Nuts - Replace the walnuts with pine nuts, pecans, almonds, or hemp seeds.
- Kale - Try our Kale Walnut Pesto recipe with fresh torn kale for an earthy alternative.
- Nut free pesto - If you have a nut allergy or just want to keep fat calories down, you can omit the nuts.
- Pecorino Romano - Replace a ¼ of Parmigiano-reggiano with Pecorino romano for an extra sharp flavor.
- Lemon Juice - add a tablespoon of lemon juice for added acidity and brightness.
- Spicy - Add crushed red pepper flakes to imbue heat to the sauce.
- Vegan - Omit the grated Parmigiano-reggiano or parmesan cheese to make this recipe vegan and dairy free.
- Spinach - Add a couple cups of spinach leaves if you are running low on basil leaves and for added nutritional value.
To explore more kitchen items to make your kitchen complete, head to our Kitchen Essentials shop.
If you don't use this gluten free basil pesto sauce all in one sitting, you can store it in an air-tight container and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Be sure to add a thin layer of olive oil to seal out the air and prevent the sauce from oxidizing and turning brown. You will love this pesto and will want a jar of it in your fridge at all times! You can also freeze the pesto in an airtight ice cube tray for up to 6 months.
Did You Like This Recipe?
If you loved this basil pesto recipe, please rate and comment below! For more healthy condiment and sauce recipes, check out:
- Spicy Kewpie Mayo (Sauce for Poke, Sushi, and More)
- Healthy Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing
- 5 Minute Kale Pesto (with Walnuts)
- Yuzu Ponzu Sauce
5 Minute Basil Pesto (Without Pine Nuts)
- 2 cups Fresh basil leaves
- ½ cup Freshly grated Parmigiano-reggiano
- ¼ cup Walnuts
- 2 Garlic cloves
- ½ cup Extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- ⅛ teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper
- Blend basil and cheese - Place basil and cheese in the food processor container. Pulse until well-blended, about 30 seconds.2 cups Fresh basil leaves, ½ cup Freshly grated Parmigiano-reggiano
- Add and blend walnuts and garlic - Add in walnuts and garlic, and blend for another minute.¼ cup Walnuts, 2 Garlic cloves
- Add and blend salt, pepper, and olive oil - Add in salt, pepper, and olive oil. Blend until the mixture is creamy and smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste if necessary.¼ teaspoon Salt, ⅛ teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper, ½ cup Extra virgin olive oil
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods