Homemade Pesto Sauce

Packed with fresh basil leaves, this homemade pesto sauce is a fantastic addition to so many dishes. Ready in moments, this sauce is backed with garlic cloves, lots of grated cheese, nutty pine nuts and brought together with olive oil. Once you discover how easy it is, you’ll be adding it this sauce to everything under the sun.

Pesto Ingredients

Pesto is extremely easy to make. The key is lots and lots of basil leaves. Skip over the little plastic containers if you can and find a fresh plant. Most grocery stores now offer “living” basil plants and I always find them to be much more flavorful than the precut variety. Plus, if you have a green thumb, you can try to keep the plant alive and thriving for the next time you’re craving pesto, which is going to be regularly.

Now that you have your basil, gather your remaining ingredients. For the cheese, I prefer Pecorino Romano. It find it has a sharper, zippier flavor than Parmesan. For the nuts, I like to use the classic pine nut. Pine nuts can be slightly harder to find and a bit expensive, so I will sub in walnuts or almonds in a pinch (both I usually have on hand already). A quality extra virgin olive oil is best here, especially if you don’t plan to cook the sauce directly.

Pesto ingredients in small containers with scissors on board.

How to Make

Now that we have everything gathered, begin by adding your basil to a food processor. Add the grated cheese, garlic, nuts, and seasoning and pulse until minced into a fine paste. Add in the olive oil at the end and pulse until just combined. Seriously, that’s it.

Uses for Homemade Pesto

This sauce is one of my go-tos. Homemade pesto is great on so many things, I’ve listed a few below, but I bet you can find so many other uses!

  • Stir into cooked pasta (the classic!). Grab my recipe for fresh Homemade Pasta if you really want a knock-out meal.
  • Use it in bread. My recipe for Cheesy Braided Pesto Bread makes this the star.
  • A quick lunch? Spoon some pesto over summer veggies or fish and bake in a parchment pouch.
  • Use as a white pizza topping
  • Stir into risotto along with some peas for a springy dish
  • Use as a sauce for steak, pork, fish
  • Make a grilled cheese sandwich with mozzarella, tomatoes and pesto
  • I could seriously continue for ages…..
Small dish of Pesto Sauce in glass bowl with fresh basil leaves.
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Homemade Pesto Sauce

  • Author: Theresa | Quiet Baking Day
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Easy
  • Cuisine: American


This classic homemade pesto sauce is brimming with basil, cheese and garlic and ready for a variety of uses like pastas and breads.


  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2/3 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (walnuts or almonds can substitute)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil


  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor except olive oil
  2. Pulse until a paste forms
  3. Add olive oil and pulse until just combined. Finish mixing with spatula if necessary

Keywords: herbs

Recipe Disclaimer: 

I test all my recipes using the Metric gram weights as shown. I recommend investing in a small kitchen scale for the most accurate results. I cannot guarantee exact outcomes using the US system. 

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About Theresa
Oh, hello, and welcome to my kitchen! My kitchen is the place I go to escape the hustle of the world and find some peace and serenity. These are the recipes I go to when I truly need a quiet baking day.

Hi, I'm Theresa

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