Fresh Basil & Parmesan Pesto

Rating: 5 out of 5.

As seen on Tasty

For my first post, I couldn’t imagine talking about anything other than pesto. Yes, it is the besto! I mean really. Is there anything better than fresh basil, parmesan cheese, garlic and pine nuts?

I always try to have multiple fresh basil plants to pick from so I can whip up this recipe anytime the feeling hits one of us in the house. And, to be honest, the urge for some pesto hits us pretty often in this house. So, really, I’m constantly whipping up a fresh batch.

To get started, you need fresh basil leaves. Whether you buy them at the grocery or have them on-hand, fresh is best. In the spring time, I like to collect all the fresh vegetable and herb seeds I can to plant in my suburban raised garden.

This past year, I had the joy of introducing my son to gardening fresh vegetables and herbs. We currently live in the suburbs so we’ve made due with a raised garden to plant our vegetables and a few pots around the deck for our fresh herbs. My son loved seeing the different sizes and colors of the seeds for each different type of vegetable and herb. We planted everything together, watering them everyday, and then seeing them mature into edible plants.

He quickly learned which plant was basil and would ask if he could pick the leaves each time he saw the plants. It was a new, fun, task that was just his!

Now, like I said earlier, fresh is best. From time to time, I’ve needed more basil than my little deck plants can produce so I supplement with grocery basil leaves. Be sure to check your leaves are fresh, especially if they are in a sealed package. Last thing you want is to find your leaves have grown mold in that sealed package. Especially, when you’re ready to start making a deliciously pesto-y meal!

So, let’s start walking through how to make this classic basil pesto. Now, everyone’s palates are different so if something looks to be a little too much for your taste (or not enough) this is one of those recipes where tweaking is just fine!

The easiest and quickest for this recipe is to use your food processor. If you don’t have one, I recommend the Cuisinart here. I’ve had it for many years and it’s standed the test of time. Reliable, easy to operate, easy to clean, and at a reasonable price.

Picking the leaves

Again, for all my recipes, I welcome the kiddos to help! This is a great one to have kids pinch the leaves off the basil plant or stalk if you bought it at the grocery. I also have my son help measure the ingredients and put them into dishes ready to add to the processor.

Using the food processor

My son is still very young, so I will work through the next steps operating the food processor. First, load the processor with the fresh basil leaves. Be sure they are dry when putting them into the processor. Top the basil leaves with the pine nuts and pulse until well combined.

Next, add the parmesan cheese and garlic to the processor and pulse several times. You may need to pause and scrap the sides of the processor to incorporate all ingredients.

Lastly, slowly pour the extra virgin olive oil into the processor as you pulse the processor. This will help prevent the olive oil from separating. Once well mixed, use immediately or transfer to a container. You can store fresh basil in a sealed container. Fresh basil pesto can turn brownish when exposed to air so it’s best to store in an air tight container. You can also use plastic wrap ensuring the plastic wrap is touching the pesto in the container and preventing air from reaching the pesto.

Be sure to check out my other recipes using this delicious pesto.

Try my Chicken Pesto Sandwich recipe and let me know what you think!

Basil & Parmesan Pesto

Delicious, flavorful fresh basil pesto makes a great addition to sandwiches, pizza, pasta, crackers, or baguettes.
Prep Time 5 minutes
10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • 1 Food Processor


  • 2 cups Fresh Basil Leaves
  • 1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 tbsp Minced Garlic
  • 1/4 cup Pine Nuts
  • 1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste


  • In the food processor, add the fresh basil leaves
  • Add the pine nuts and pulse the blender several times until well chopped and combined
  • Add the parmesan cheese and garlic to the food processor and pulse again several times until well combined. You may need to scrap the sides of the processor to combine all ingredients
  • Slowly pour the extra virgin olive oil while pulsing the processor to keep the olive oil from separating
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste
  • Serve immediately or refrigerate in a sealed container


This is one of those all-time classic basil pesto recipes.  There are so many possible variations or additions that make this recipe great. Here are some ideas on a few variations. But, I’d love to hear your ideas. Please share below!
  • Walnuts instead of pinenuts
  • Combine with parlsey, spinach, or other leafy green
  • Mix in some lemon
  • Add crushed red pepper
  • …the options are endless!

Did you make this recipe or have a variation? Share your comments here!