Homemade Pesto

Fresh Pesto at Home

You know that tiny basil plant that started in Spring with about 4 leaves? That one you potted, watered and didn’t expect much from? If you’re like me and, in three short months, it’s miraculously become an overgrown shrub full of delicious, aromatic leaves, it’s time to make homemade pesto!

Glass Weck jar full of vibrant fresh homemade pesto with a spoon on a white marble surface in a beautiful modern kitchen

My aunt visited a few years ago, and we came across the most beautiful basil at my local farmer’s market — so we bought it ALL. We spent the day in the kitchen prepping and jarring pesto. It’s such a special memory.

I learned from her that pesto is meal prep GOLD. First of all, did you know you can freeze it? She taught me to fill ice trays, freeze and then pop out the cubes of frozen pesto into a gallon bag so I can use portions as I need them.  So simple, yet so genius. The small cubes also warm faster than a larger frozen block.

Pesto Dishes Beyond Pasta

With my stock of jarred and frozen pesto, I started spicing up all sorts of savory dishes with the nutty, salty and bright aromatic basil flavor.

Pesto is surprisingly versatile once you imagine it outside of pasta sauce. I always keep it on hand because it can pull so many types of leftovers into a meal, or transform them into an elevated side dish.

Food processor full of fresh basil, garlic and walnuts along with a lemon juicer & olive oil on a white marble surface

These are some of my favorite ways to get the most out of my homemade pesto.

  1. As a sauce for flatbreads or pizzas, topped with caramelized onions, all of those end-of-the-week leftover veggies, and mozzarella.
  2. Slathered on bread as a sandwich condiment. Move over mayo!
  3. Mixed into Greek yogurt for a veggie dip.
  4. To top eggs, or baked into a frittata (and muffin tin meal prep egg frittatas, too!)
  5. As a seasoning for roasted potatoes or vegetables. Just add them to a bag with pesto, shake….and bake.
  6. To sauce up any meat or seafood, from steaks, pork chops and chicken to shrimp and salmon.


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How to Make Easy Homemade Pesto

Homemade pesto is seriously easy. My recipe is simple, fresh and uses walnuts because they’re more economical than pine nuts,. They also bring an extra punch of earthy nuttiness that really rounds out the lemon and sharp Parmesan.

If you make this recipe, we’d love to see it on Instagram! Just use the hashtag #THEFRESH20 so we can see what’s cooking in your kitchen.

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Homemade Pesto

  • Author: The Fresh 20
  • Prep Time: 3 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x


Creamy, fresh basil pesto with earthy walnuts, sharp Parmesan and bright lemon flavors.



  • 1 cup walnuts (we use walnuts for home cook’s budget)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil


  1. Pulse ingredients (except olive oil) in the bowl of a food processor until well combined.
  2. Slowly drizzle in olive oil with processor running for about a minute.
  3. Add additional olive oil (or water) a tablespoon at a time for desired thickness.

Food processor full of fresh basil, garlic and walnuts along with a lemon juicer & olive oil on a white marble surface Food processor with fresh basil, garlic & walnuts along with a lemon juicer & olive oil with a Weck jar of homemade pesto on a white marble surface

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