This 15 minute pesto pasta is one of our all time favorite dinners, especially during summer to use up all of that basil!

Classic pesto is one of the first ways that I had fresh basil. It was a long, long time ago, but it impressed me so much I never forgot. The flavor was so bright and fresh that I fell in love immediately. One of my favorite parts about the pesto is it’s a quick and easy dinner it only took about 2 minutes to make, and another 10 minutes to cook up the pasta. Hello fantabulous meal in less than 15 minutes!!

a photo of a charcoal gray plate full of penne pasta covered in homemade pesto

More About Pesto

If you haven’t had pesto, first of all you need a good shake because you haven’t been living your life to the fullest, and second, let me explain a little more about it. Pesto is made with garlic, olive oil, pine nuts or occasionally walnuts, fresh basil, olive oil, parmesan cheese and of course, salt and pepper. A list of simple ingredients, but blend these together they are pure deliciousness. We have a whole post on how to make and store pesto so check that out.

If you are a pesto lover, you should absolutely make our sun dried tomato bacon pesto grilled cheese, our pesto pepperoni and sausage grilled pizza AND our caprese sandwich. My mouth is watering just thinking about those recipe!

Ingredients for Pesto Pasta

I just ran through all the ingredients quickly, but here is the exact ingredients you will need to make this quick weeknight meal:

  • Pine Nuts
  • Garlic
  • Basil (fresh)
  • Olive Oil
  • Parmesan Cheese (fresh)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Pasta

The measurements for each ingredient can be found in the recipe card at the end of the post.

a photo of a plate of bright green pesto penne pasta with a fork and spoon sitting next to the plate and fresh basil leaves scattered around the plate.

How to Make Pesto Pasta

This recipe is quick and easy. Make the pasta. Make the pesto. Combine the two and serve. That’s it! Here are the steps in a little more detail with a few tips along the way:

  1. Add water to a large pot over high heat, add a few pinches of salt, and bring water to a boil.
    • PRO TIP: Adding salt to the water adds so much flavor to the pasta at it cooks.
  2. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and turn the heat down to medium high.
  3. Cook the pasta until al dente.
    • PRO TIP: Al dente means that the pasta is tender but still firm when you bite it. You don’t want mushy pasta. The pasta will continue to cook even after it is drained, so you want it to be slightly undercooked before you drain it so that it’s perfect when you serve it.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, heat a small skillet over medium heat and then add the pine nuts.
  5. Cook the pine nuts until they are toasted and golden. You will start to smell a nutty aroma as they cook.
  6. Remove the small skillet from the stove and allow the pine nuts to cool a little.
  7. Add the pine nuts, garlic, and basil to a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth.
  8. As the blender is running, drizzle a little olive oil in and pulse a few more times. Place the pesto in a bowl or jar.
  9. Add the parmesan cheese and salt and pepper and stir to combine.
  10. When the pasta is ready, drain it and place it in a large bowl.
    • PRO TIP: You move the pasta to a bowl so that you don’t add any unnecessary heat to the pesto. When basil gets hot, it turns black, and nobody wants black pesto!
  11. Pour the pesto on top of the pasta and toss until evenly coated.
  12. Sprinkle fresh parmesan and serve.
All of these steps can also be found in the recipe card at the end of this post.

a close up photo of a plate full of bright green pesto covered penne pasta.

What is the Best Pasta for Pesto?

The short answer to this is that you can use whatever pasta you love the most. Pesto really does go well with all pastas, but my favorites are penne, ziti, or even spaghetti or angel hair pasta.

Will Pesto Keep Overnight?

Pesto should be placed into an airtight container and placed into the refrigerator. Homemade pesto that is properly stored will last for up to 5 days.

a photo of a plate of cooked penne pasta covered in bright green pesto with a cup of fresh pesto next to it and a jar of pine nuts on the side

Can You Freeze Pesto?

Pesto freezes very well. Place pesto in an airtight container or portion it into an ice cube tray and freeze.

When frozen, remove from ice cube tray and store in a freezer bag. Pesto will keep for 9-12 months in the freezer.

Can You Reheat Pasta?

Plain pasta can be reheated by dipping it briefly in boiling water.

Pasta with sauce can be reheated covered in the oven, in a sauce pan over medium heat, or in the microwave.

If you need a quick and easy weeknight meal, this 15 minute pesto pasta is one of my go-to’s. It is light and bright, and who doesn’t love pasta?

15 Minute Pesto Pasta

4.17 from 6 votes
Servings: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes


 This 15 minute pesto pasta is one of our all time favorite dinners, especially during summer to use up all of that basil!


  • 8 Oz Penne Pasta, cooked
  • 2 Tablespoons Pine Nuts
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Cup Sweet Basil, packed
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh, grated parmesan cheese
  • Sea Salt and Fresh Black Pepper


  • Heat a large pot of water over high heat, adding a few pinches of salt to season the pasta as it cooks. (If you're unsure how much taste the water. It should taste slightly salty) Once the water begins to boil add the pasta. Turn the heat down to medium high and continue to cook until al dente (cooked through, not soggy, but a slight bite to it.) Meanwhile, heat a small skillet to medium heat and add the pine nuts.
    8 Oz Penne Pasta, 2 Tablespoons Pine Nuts
  • Cook until toasted and golden on all side, giving the pan a little toss every now and again to help the nuts to toast evenly. You should be able to start smelling the nutty aroma.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  • Add the pine nuts, garlic, and fresh basil to a blender or food processor.
    2 Cloves Garlic, 1 Cup Sweet Basil
  • Process until as smooth as possible.
  • While the blender/processor is running drizzle in the olive oil, processor another 10-20 seconds and place in a bowl.
    1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • Stir in the parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
    1/4 Cup Fresh, Sea Salt and Fresh Black Pepper
  • Set aside.
  • Once the pasta is done, drain and place in a large bowl.
  • Add the pesto and toss until the pasta is evenly coated.
  • Top with a sprinkle of fresh parmesan.
  • Serve immediately.


Cover left overs and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


Serving: 1CupCalories: 393kcalCarbohydrates: 44gProtein: 11gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 100mgPotassium: 171mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 61IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 85mgIron: 1mg
Author: Sweet Basil
Course: Over 500 Family Dinner Recipes Ideas

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