How to Make Pesto

An in-depth step-by-step guide.

August 30, 2022

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Headline: HOW TO MAKE PESTO Description: Food Network Kitchen's How to Make Pesto. Keywords: Pesto

Headline: HOW TO MAKE PESTO Description: Food Network Kitchen's How to Make Pesto. Keywords: Pesto

Headline: HOW TO MAKE PESTO Description: Food Network Kitchen's How to Make Pesto. Keywords: Pesto

Pesto is a sauce from the Liguria region of northwestern Italy, typically made from fresh basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese and olive oil. It's traditionally made by hand-crushing pine nuts into a creamy base in a mortar and pestle, but you can make a quick and easy version with a food processor or blender. For more info on pesto, its history and uses and its flavor, head over to our story What Is Pesto?.

Basil Pesto Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch fresh basil leaves: To measure, discard the stems, then gently pack the leaves into the measuring cup.
  • 2 to 3 cloves of garlic: Because there are so few ingredients in pesto, it's important to use fresh cloves of garlic from a whole head - never the jarred chopped variety.
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts: Italian are best; Chinese are too bitter. If pine nuts are too expensive, it's okay to swap in walnuts or almonds for some or all of the pine nuts.
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese: Again, it's important to use freshly grated Parmesan cheese to achieve a full-flavored pesto.
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste: Even though you're adding salty cheese, you'll still need to season the pesto to taste.

How to Make Pesto

Headline: HOW TO MAKE PESTO Description: Food Network Kitchen's How to Make Pesto. Keywords: Pesto

Headline: HOW TO MAKE PESTO Description: Food Network Kitchen's How to Make Pesto. Keywords: Pesto

Headline: HOW TO MAKE PESTO Description: Food Network Kitchen's How to Make Pesto. Keywords: Pesto

Step 1: Prep the Ingredients

Remove the skins from 2 or 3 cloves of garlic. Give them a gentle crush under the blade of a chef's knife. This will make it easier for the food processor to break them down into the pesto.

Rinse and dry the basil, and remove the leaves from the stems.

Grate the Parmesan cheese.

Headline: HOW TO MAKE PESTO Description: Food Network Kitchen's How to Make Pesto. Keywords: Pesto

Headline: HOW TO MAKE PESTO Description: Food Network Kitchen's How to Make Pesto. Keywords: Pesto

Headline: HOW TO MAKE PESTO Description: Food Network Kitchen's How to Make Pesto. Keywords: Pesto

Step 2: Pulse the Basil, Garlic and Nuts

Add the leaves, crushed garlic and pine nuts. Pulse several times until they form a coarse paste. At this point, if desired, add 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar to keep the basil from darkening.

Headline: HOW TO MAKE PESTO Description: Food Network Kitchen's How to Make Pesto. Keywords: Pesto

Headline: HOW TO MAKE PESTO Description: Food Network Kitchen's How to Make Pesto. Keywords: Pesto

Headline: HOW TO MAKE PESTO Description: Food Network Kitchen's How to Make Pesto. Keywords: Pesto

Step 3: Blend in the Cheese and Oil

Add the Parmesan cheese to the mixture. Blend the mixture while slowly drizzling in the olive oil. The mixture should come together as a soft paste.

Headline: HOW TO MAKE PESTO Description: Food Network Kitchen's How to Make Pesto. Keywords: Pesto

Headline: HOW TO MAKE PESTO Description: Food Network Kitchen's How to Make Pesto. Keywords: Pesto

Headline: HOW TO MAKE PESTO Description: Food Network Kitchen's How to Make Pesto. Keywords: Pesto

Step 4: Season to Taste

Blend to the desired degree of smoothness, and add oil if needed to bring the pesto together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Basil Pesto

Keep this basic Basil Pesto recipe from Food Network Kitchen in your arsenal and use it for topping pasta, fish, chicken, pizza and more.

Headline: HOW TO MAKE PESTO Description: Food Network Kitchen's How to Make Pesto. Keywords: Pesto

Headline: HOW TO MAKE PESTO Description: Food Network Kitchen's How to Make Pesto. Keywords: Pesto

Pesto Recipe Variations

Feel free to get creative with the combination of ingredients. Just make sure to stick to the same volume ratios as the original pesto recipe you're working from.

How to Store Pesto

Headline: HOW TO MAKE PESTO Description: Food Network Kitchen's How to Make Pesto. Keywords: Pesto

Headline: HOW TO MAKE PESTO Description: Food Network Kitchen's How to Make Pesto. Keywords: Pesto

Headline: HOW TO MAKE PESTO Description: Food Network Kitchen's How to Make Pesto. Keywords: Pesto

How to Store Pesto In the Refrigerator

Store your pesto in an airtight container with cling wrap pressed directly onto the surface to prevent darkening or browning.

Headline: HOW TO MAKE PESTO Description: Food Network Kitchen's How to Make Pesto. Keywords: Pesto

Headline: HOW TO MAKE PESTO Description: Food Network Kitchen's How to Make Pesto. Keywords: Pesto

How to Freeze Pesto

Alternatively, spoon the pesto into ice cube trays, cover and freeze, where it will keep for up to three months.

How to Make Pesto Pasta

Enjoy your fresh or thawed pesto by tossing it directly with freshly cooked and drained pasta. Do not cook the pesto, but rather allow the heat of the pasta to bring out the delicate aromas of basil, garlic and Parmesan.

Penne with Pesto

Here, a perfectly simple recipe for pesto pasta. Change up the shape with whatever your heart desires.

Recipes with Pesto

Food Network Kitchen’s 5-Ingredient Chicken Pesto Soup, as seen on Food Network.

FNK_5IngredientChickenPestoSoup_H

Food Network Kitchen’s 5-Ingredient Chicken Pesto Soup, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet

Renee Comet

Stirring pesto into soup, such as this simple, nourishing spinach and broth-based dish, is an easy way to add more savory flavor.

Photo by: Armando Rafael

Armando Rafael

Toss your favorite cooked veggie in pesto – in this case beets, but you could use roasted carrots or cauliflower or broccoli too – for a new iteration.

Food Stylist: Jamie Kimm 

Prop Stylist: Paige Hicks

POTATO_SALAD_219.tif

Food Stylist: Jamie Kimm Prop Stylist: Paige Hicks

Photo by: Andrew Purcell

Andrew Purcell

The only thing more luxurious than drenching potatoes in butter? Tossing them with a generous amount of cheesy pesto.

Food Network Kitchen’s Pesto Lasagna Rolls for Food Network One-Offs, as seen on Food Network.

FNK_Pesto-Lasagna-Rolls_H

Food Network Kitchen’s Pesto Lasagna Rolls for Food Network One-Offs, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet

Renee Comet

Smear pesto in between the layers of your next lasagna. Or take it one step further and add it to your favorite casserole – chances are, it’ll work like magic.

BARLEY_LEMON_PARSLEY_PESTO_212.tif

Photo by: Antonis Achilleos

Antonis Achilleos

Tossing pesto with a cooked grain is an instant, easy way to add some flavor.

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