Basic Pesto

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 10 min
  • Active: 10 min
  • Yield: about 2 cups of pesto
Traditionally pesto is made in a mortar and pestle and it takes both time and force to pound nuts, garlic, basil and oil into a creamy emulsified sauce. The food processor has certainly shortened the process, but it’s still important to slowly stream in the oil to create a smooth, vibrant sauce. Stirring in the Parmesan cheese at the end will thicken the pesto a bit and add extra seasoning.



  1. Pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor or blender until the basil is finely chopped.
  2. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil and puree until emulsified. Stir in the Parmesan. To store, transfer to a container, cover and refrigerate up to 5 days.

Cook’s Note

Like guacamole, pesto can turn brownish when it’s exposed to air. To prevent this, pour a thin layer of olive oil on top of the pesto before covering and refrigerating. Spoon extra pesto into an ice cube tray and freeze until solid, then pop out the frozen cubes and freeze in a resealable bag. They’ll keep for months, and you can thaw as little or as much as you need. If you’re making pesto just for freezing, leave out the cheese and stir in after thawing.