5 Minute Basil Pesto

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5 Minute Basil Pesto Sauce is such an easy sauce recipe! All it takes is a few everyday pantry essentials to whip up this tasty and versatile sauce. Basil pesto is the perfect way to add tons of flavor to all sorts of dishes.

Suitable for Gluten Free and Keto diets.

top down view of basil pesto in a glass jar

I knew OH was the one on the day he first made me his homemade Basil Pesto Sauce. I made the happy mistake of telling him this. Well, that led to some hilarious proposals down lonesome country lanes with orange and purple dusky skies. Pesto, you rock my world.

5 Minute Homemade Pesto Sauce is super easy to make and the secret to the best pesto ever => the pesto trinity of equal quantity of nuts, basil, and cheese.  But feel free to play around with the quantities of these main ingredients to your taste.

I tend to use unsalted cashew nuts for this as they are a pantry staple in my house. You can use them raw, but roasting the nuts first definitely makes a difference to the flavor of the pesto. So test both ways and see which you prefer.

This is going to be another one of your go-to sauces for easily adding variety to mealtimes via dips, pasta dishes, wraps,  salads, glazes, marinating meats, and sooooooo much more.

Why You’ll Love This

  • Made with pantry ingredients you already own.
  • Quick sauce that is ready in 5 minutes or less.
  • Great for meal prep and freeze friendly.
  • Flavorful, adaptable and versatile.
  • Kids and adults LOOOOOOOVE it.

basil pesto in a glass jar next to a dish containing one serving of pasta and pesto

Tools Needed

How To Make Basil Pesto

  1. Put basil, Parmesan, cashew nuts, minced garlic cloves, salt and pepper into a food processor and whiz into a paste.
  2. If you like your pesto chunky then whiz for a shorter time than you would if you want it smoother.
  3. Transfer paste into a container and slowly drizzle in olive oil, mixing all the time till pesto is saturated. I add in about half a cup (100-120mls) for this amount of pesto but OH happily adds in more.
  4. Adjust seasoning and serve.

close up view of pasta with basil pesto sauce

I believe in eating spoonfuls of pesto straight out of the jar. Yeap, it is that good. My other current thing is using pesto instead of tomato sauce on pizzas.  And adding it to mashed potatoes, well that is just YUM.

Basil Pesto Sauce Tips

  • This is a basic sauce recipe; feel free to adjust ingredients as necessary.
  • For a smoother basil pesto sauce blend for longer, blend less if you prefer a chunkier sauce.
  • If you want it to be more of a sauce then add a little bit more oil.
  • To roast the nuts, bake them in the oven at fan-assisted 140C/ 160C/ 350F/ Gas 4 for about 15 minutes.
  • Using roasted garlic instead of raw adds additional flavor to this.
  • If using raw garlic in pesto is to crush it first,  as you don’t want to end up with large chunks of garlic when eating it.

Recipe Variations

Other ingredients to add into this homemade sauce to change up the flavor:

  • Different nuts – pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, or sunflower seeds (if avoiding nuts).
  • Different greens – arugula, cilantro, mint, parsley.
  • Different oils – canola oil, walnut oil.
  • Some heat – red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, siracha.
  • Veggies – sundried tomatoes make an awesome addition or can be used instead of cheese.

Meal Prep And Prep Ahead

Prep ahead – Make ahead and keep it in the fridge for a week. Pesto turns darker if left in contact with air. However, this is perfectly fine to eat. To try and avoid it turning dark, you can cover the surface of the pesto with a layer of olive oil.

Freeze it

  • Transfer into these very handy Ziploc freezer bags.
  • Squeeze out all the extra air and seal the bags.
  • Label the bags and then lay them flat in the freezer.
  • Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Chef’s tip => Even better freeze it in ice cube trays for so you can grab these for small single-serving portions or to flavor soups, baked goods, etc.

Serving Suggestions

pasta topped with basil pesto sauce and served in a white dish

More Amazing Fast Sauces

Thank you for reading this basil pesto recipe post. And please come visit again as I continue dreaming up recipes, traditional African recipes, African fusion recipes, Sierra Leone recipes, travel plans and much more for you.

First update August 2017. New update April 2020.

Get The Basil Pesto Recipe:

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Homemade basil pesto sauce is super easy to make. This recipe is made with basil, parmesan, garlic, nuts and olive oil. recipesfromapantry.com
Print Recipe
5 from 14 votes

Basil Pesto

Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time15 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 238kcal
Author: Bintu Hardy

Ingredients

  • 5 cup (100g) basil leaves
  • 1 cup (100g) Parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 cup (100g) roasted cashew nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (100mL) extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  • Put basil, Parmesan, cashew nuts, garlic cloves, salt and pepper into a food processor and whiz into a paste.
  • If you like your pesto chunky then whiz for a shorter time than you would if you want it smoother.
  • Transfer paste into a container and slowly drizzle in olive oil, mixing all the time till pesto is saturated. I add in about 1/2 cup (100mL) for this amount of pesto but OH happily adds in more.
  • Adjust seasonings to taste and then serve.
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Notes

Basil Pesto Sauce Tips

  • This is a basic sauce recipe; feel free to adjust ingredients as necessary.
  • For a smoother basil pesto sauce blend for longer, blend less if you prefer a chunkier sauce.
  • If you want it to be more of a sauce then add a little bit more oil.
  • To roast the nuts, bake them in the oven at fan-assisted 140C/ 160C/ 350F/ Gas 4 for about 15 minutes.
  • Using roasted garlic instead of raw adds additional flavor to this.
  • If using raw garlic in pesto is to crush it first,  as you don't want to end up with large chunks of garlic when eating it.

Serving Suggestions

Nutrition

Calories: 238kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 203mg | Potassium: 120mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 889IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 181mg | Iron: 1mg
 

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27 Comments

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  4. 5 stars
    No more store bought for me. I’m making this fresh, easy and delicious one from now on.

  5. 5 stars
    I love basil pest and am waiting for the weather to warm to grow my basil outside. I usually use pine nuts in my pesto but cashews intrigues me. Definitely trying this version.

  6. 5 stars
    I’ve never tried pesto with cashew nuts before, but this is delightfully delicious. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. 5 stars
    Bintu! YUMMY! This was easy and so so good. I had it on my tortellini salad. I bet it would be great on hot pasta too. Or even to dip veggies. Thanks for this quick and easy pesto.

  8. 5 stars
    Only 5 minutes?? You bet I am in!! This pesto looks like a thing of dreams!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. 5 stars
    I don’t think there is anything better in the world than pesto ha. I love that you used cashews I use them sometimes too and it makes it so nice and creamy!