Spring into summer with our winning homemade pesto sauce! This rich and tasty condiment hails from the Liguria region of northwestern Italy and packs quite the flavorful punch. Use it on pasta, instead of mayo on sandwiches, and to spice up summer salads. Read on for our recipe for traditional pesto from scratch.

What You'll Need

  • food processor
  • fruit & veggie wash or spray
  • cheese grater
  • measuring cups
  • colander
  • Chef's knife
  • medium skillet
  • wooden spoon
  • citrus juicer
flat lay of pesto ingredients and cheese grater


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • salt (we prefer pink Himalayan sea salt)
  • black pepper
  • 1 lemon


Step #1: Herbalicious

Gently rinse the basil with fruit & veggie wash (we recommend Rebel Green Fruit & Veggie Clean, available at Target, Walmart, and local health food stores). The most effective method is to place the herb in a colander under running water and rotate until adequately rinsed. Shake off excess water, and set aside.

Step #2: Pine Nut Prep

Heat skillet over medium heat. Toast pine nuts for about 3 minutes, rotating often. Watch them carefully as they can burn easily. Remove from heat and let cool completely. While toasting, juice lemon until 1 tbsp of juice has been collected. Set aside.

mortar and pestle with pesto

Step #3: Champion Cheese

Grate cheese until there's ¼ of a cup to use. For best results, it's important to use Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, which is carefully regulated to be aged at least 24 months, and from approved areas in Italy. Regular parmesan is not managed the same way, and is a generally lower quality product aged closer to 10 months. Peel garlic cloves by smashing with the flat side of your knife until outside cracks and be easily removed.

Step #4: Meaningful Merger

In food processor, combine fresh basil and toasted pine nuts. Pulse a few times. Next, add the grated cheese and peeled garlic and pulse a few more times until combined. Slowly add the olive oil in a thin stream while blending, until it emulsifies. Then, add lemon juice and blend again. Season liberally with salt and pepper. This recipe will make about 1 cup of pesto sauce.

small jar of fresh pesto

Cooking Notes:

This delicious pesto can be stored for up to three months in the refrigerator and a year in the freezer. Bonus pro tip: freeze pesto in an ice cube tray for use all winter long. That way, a pesto cube can easily be popped out and thawed for one serving of sauce, leaving the rest intact. For even more pesto pizazz, check out our pesto and zucchini noodles recipe, and our piece on pine nuts!

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