Pesto sauce

Prep: 10 mins Cook: 5 mins


Makes 250ml
Make your own delicious pesto sauce in just 15 minutes

Nutrition and extra info

  • Vegetarian

Nutrition: per tbsp

  • kcal105
  • fat11g
  • saturates2g
  • carbs0g
  • sugars0g
  • fibre0g
  • protein2g
  • salt0.06g
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  • 50g pine nuts
  • large bunch of basil



    Most closely associated with Mediterranean cooking but also very prevalent in Asian food, the…

  • 50g Parmesan (or vegetarian alternative)



    Parmesan is a straw-coloured hard cheese with a natural yellow rind and rich, fruity flavour. It…

  • 150ml olive oil, plus extra for storing
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 2 garlic cloves


  1. Heat a small frying pan over a low heat. Cook the pine nuts until golden, shaking occasionally. Put into a food processor with the remaining ingredients and process until smooth, then season.

  2. Pour the pesto into a jar and cover with a little extra oil, then seal and store in the fridge. It will keep in a fridge for up to two weeks.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Comments (51)

turkishjelly's picture

Very easy to make. I used 50g of a mix of basil and spinach leaves, about 80ml of olive oil and only one garlic clove. It was delicious!

katherinedarling1's picture

Just made this using about 75mls of oil and I also roasted the garlic as I find raw garlic overpowering in homemade pesto. Added some lemon juice, black pepper and chilli flakes, tastes amazing! Might recommend slightly less cheese.

SE27Eagle's picture

Used about 120ml with three standard sized supermarket bags of basil and the liquid balance was pretty good. Followed Italy Unpacked advice and used the closest in our local supermarket to trofie which was - not that close - gemelli - still short and holds the sauce. Return of happiness to cooking/prep time about as high as you can reasonably get.

martina555's picture

150ml olive oil was way too much!! ruined the taste even though I only put 100ml

bean_mother's picture

Just plain delicious and super quick.

sandrabowes's picture

This is a delicious recIpe , I used about a 120mls of Greek olive oil with about 50g of small leaved Greek basil , the flavour was so intense , put some over plain boiled pasta and freshly ground black pepper .....mmmmmnnn mmmmnnn , will add chicken and green beans next time :)

andy1971's picture

for those who are not sure what amount of basil to use, its usually 2 firmly packed cups, 1 cup = 45g
this goes well with mixed with curled salad leaves as a side.
Also try this with both creamy and grilled polenta, bbq fish, pan fried lamb and beef.
other great pesto's i have made are red pepper, rocket and mint and coriander and chilli.

catharsist316's picture

This was so easy and really yummy! Way better than store bought stuff - and minus the wheatflour, which was my primary reason for making it myself.

looney's picture

Delicious. Just stuck to the recipe and I'm converted. Will never use shop bought pesto again.

sailorgirl700's picture

I am Vegetarian and have found a great alternative to Parmesan. I get it from a company called Bookhams, via the internet, saw them first at the December 2011 Good Food Show. It comes through the post and you can freeze it too which is great. I cut into smallish recipe amounts wrap in waxed paper put in an air tight container and then freeze. Hope this is of some use, as there is nothing worse than when a recipe says vegetarian and then says Parmesan!

Captaincake's picture

Sainsburys also do their own veggie version of Parmesan in their basics range. It's called Italian hard cheese and it's really good. Finally I can have pesto again!

natdinnis's picture

You do know Parmesan is cheese right? If that's the case I think you mean VEGAN not vegetarian!!!

nataliehorridge's picture

Actually Parmesan isn't vegetarian because it contains Rennet, which is made from the stomach of slaughtered calves

RoxySpiral's picture

I am vegetarian, but I thought cheese was ok! What's different about parmesan? Also, what is the alternative called, I couldn't find it? Thanks!

pineapplerio64's picture

Some cheese is ok and some cheese isn't. All cheeses are made with rennet. There is animal rennet made from an enzyme from a newly born calf's stomach and there is vegetable rennet. Parmesan unfortunately contains animal rennet! I guess it's a similar thing to eating gelatin, not ok for vegetarians! There are lots of vegetarian cheeses out there though and lots of ones that substitute parmesan in recipes including Twineham Grange Vegetarian Parmesan.

benatjamins's picture

Very easy to make i will try a little less oil next time and maybe add a chilli.

I put it with some fried gnocchi and rocket.

oddspod's picture

Based on other recipes, which use 2 parts basil to 1 part nuts and cheese, I guessed 'a large bunch' to be 100g. I can also report that it doesn't really work in a blender... ended up finishing it off by hand in my tiny pestle and mortar. Still, I have something that looks and tastes a bit like pesto, and wrapped around some spaghetti it was delicious.

mejane4art's picture

I grow several pots of basil and make bulk quantities. It freezes really well...tastes totally fresh straight from the freezer. I used less oil.


Questions (3)

k8pots's picture

Does anyone know if this is freezable? I've got loads of basil growing in the garden and I'd like to make up a few batches. Any advice gratefully received.

goodfoodteam's picture
Hi there thanks for your question, yes you can freeze the pesto - try freezing it in ice cube trays for convenient portions.
eadb's picture

It won't help you now but you could always do some basil butter and freeze them for thewinter. Not sure how long it will keep but it's an idea anyway.

Tips (1)

lucycp94's picture

I added rocket to add a bit of a kick. Chopped mushrooms add a nice change too. I served with linguine, asparagus, tomatoes and falafel. A good vegetarian parmesan alternative is tesco's everyday value 'Italian style hard cheese'.