This post covers how to make pesto sauce, how to store it, and more! If you’ve never made homemade pesto before, you’ve been missing out!
Homemade Basil Pesto Sauce Recipe
I don’t know why, but I had never had pesto until college. At least I’m pretty sure I didn’t. And I honestly don’t even remember who made it when I did finally have it. All I remember was that it was a basic pesto pasta and I loved it.
I’ll be the first to admit that I ate waaaaaay more than I should have. It was slightly nutty, cheesy, and super fresh. Could there be a better combo? We use pesto all the time now and we even make it a few different ways depending on how much of everything we have like our 15-Minute Pesto Pasta, pesto butter grilled cheese, creamy pesto chicken pizza, or the bacon pesto grilled cheese sandwich contest I won with Tillamook. However, in the end this is our ultimate, absolute favorite classic pesto recipe.
A classic pesto recipe is easy enough to make, but storing is a bit tricky. I have two ways that I store it and a third that I’ve heard great things about but never tried it. But we can talk about storing it after we discuss the actual classic pesto recipe.
Basil Pesto Ingredients
This is such an easy pesto recipe! It requires minimal ingredients to whip up. Here’s what all goes into this homemade pesto sauce:
- Fresh basil
- Garlic cloves
- Pine nuts
- Olive oil
- Grated Parmesan cheese
How to Make Pesto Sauce
To start this homemade pesto recipe, I just heat up a skillet over medium heat, add both the garlic cloves and the pine nuts and let it cook until golden, shaking the pan occasionally. Then, I remove the nuts and allow the garlic to finish turning golden as well.
An added bonus is that the garlic slides right out of its skin when it’s toasted this way. I love that. So, yes you read right, toast the garlic in its thin skin and then remove after it’s golden.
Place everything except the cheese and salt in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Stir in the cheese and add salt to taste. Yes, making this classic pesto recipe is that easy.
How to Store Pesto
Storing Pesto in a Jar
Make your classic pesto and then fill a jar to to almost the very top. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top and seal closed to keep pesto green. This can keep for a few weeks in the fridge if you continue to cover the top with olive to keep the herbs fresh. You can also choose to freeze the jar, but I wouldn’t keep it in the freezer for more than a month before switching it to the fridge.
Storing Pesto in a Vacuum Bag
I love the foodsaver. Yes, it costs a little money, but you end up saving tons. You can easily make your pesto, stick it in a bag, suck out the air and freeze it for up to 9 months. BOOYAH! When you’re ready to use it just move it down to the fridge to defrost and use on your favorite dish.
How Long Does Pesto Last?
This easy basil pesto sauce will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator if stored in an airtight container. If you use the olive oil method shared above, the shelf life will be extended.
Can You Freeze Pesto?
Yes! Homemade basil pesto sauce freezes incredibly well. Simply make the recipe as instructed, then seal the pesto in an airtight container or freezer bag.
Alternately, spoon the homemade pesto into ice cube trays and freeze until solid. Once hardened, transfer the pesto cubes to a freezer bag. This way, you wind up with single servings of frozen pesto!
Our Favorite Pesto Uses
We love pesto on everything from egg whites to garlic bread to chicken to pasta. I love having a jar handy in the fridge or freezer! Here are a few of our favorite recipes that use pesto sauce:
- 20-Minute Cheesy Pesto Pasta
- Pesto Pepperoni and Sausage Grilled Pizza
- Sun Dried Tomato, Bacon, & Pesto Grilled Cheese
- 15-Minute Grilled Veggies with Pesto
- Pesto Veggie Foil Packs
- 15-Minute Pesto Pasta
- Cheesy Pesto Tarts
Tips for the Best Pesto Sauce
- Put ice in the food processor and mix. This will cool your machine before preparing your pesto and will help in keeping your pesto greener.
- Because this easy pesto recipe uses so few ingredients, it’s important that you buy the best quality ingredients you can.
- Use extra virgin olive oil and freshly grated Parm for the best flavor.
Other Italian Sauce Recipes
Looking for more Italian Sauce recipes? Who doesn’t love Italian sauces!? Make sure you try these out the next time you are making that Italian dish:
- Traditional Bolognese Recipe
- Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
- Easy Pizza Sauce
- Garden Veggie Marinara Sauce
- Easy Beef Ragu
- Cilantro Pesto
- Creamy Sausage Alfredo Sauce
- Healthier Avocado Pesto
- Spicy Sausage Pasta Sauce
- ALL OF OUR PASTA RECIPES!
Classic Pesto Recipe and How to Store Pesto
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Classic Pesto Recipe
- 3 Cups Fresh Basil , packed
- 3 Cloves Garlic , unpeeled
- 1/4 Cup plus 1 1/2 Tablespoons Pine Nuts
- 1/4 Cup plus 1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1/4 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese , grated
- Salt (to taste)
- Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the pine nuts and garlic.
- Toast for a few minutes or until golden brown, shaking the pan occasionally to toss the pine nuts and promote even color.
- Once the pine nuts are done, remove them from the pan and continue to toast the garlic.
- Remove garlic from the pan and remove the skin.
- Wait until both garlic and pine nuts are cooled.
- Place the basil, pine nuts, garlic, and olive oil in a blender and pulse until smooth, but still a tad grainy in texture.
- Place everything in a bowl and stir in the cheese.
- Salt to taste and store according to post directions.
- You can adjust the garlic to your own taste. It you don't love it, just use 2 cloves!
- See the post for details on storing pesto in a mason jar with a little olive oil in the fridge.