overhead photo of a bowl of pesto

Easy Pesto Recipe

  • Author: April @ Girl Gone Gourmet
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


Pesto is so easy to make and, with a food processor, is ready to go in about five minutes. Toss it with pasta, spread it on sandwiches, use it to make salad dressing, or mix it with cream cheese for your morning bagel. 

Because pesto is so easy to make I tend to make it in smaller batches. This recipe makes approximately 3/4 cup of pesto which is enough for four servings. You can easily double it if you want a bigger batch.



  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (see note)
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 of a small lemon (see note)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 of a cup of olive oil (see note)


  • Place the basil, garlic, cheese, pine nuts, lemon juice and zest, and salt in a food processor fitted with a chopping blade. Plus a few times until the ingredients create a paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed.
  • With the food processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the mixture. If needed, stop to scrape the sides to ensure everything is incorporated. Give the pesto a taste and adjust the salt, if needed.


  • Pine nuts are pricey, so I’ve substituted almonds and walnuts in their place with success. It changes the flavor a bit, but still tastes delicious.
  • Lemon is not a traditional ingredient in pesto, but I like to include it because the acid makes all of the other flavors pop. 
  • Depending on how thick or thin you want your pesto you may need to adjust the amount of olive oil.
  • Category: Sauces
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
  • Calories: 212
  • Sugar: 0.2g
  • Fat: 21.4g
  • Carbohydrates: 3.3g
  • Fiber: 1.3g
  • Protein: 3.4g

Keywords: basil pesto recipe, how to make pesto, no cook sauce recipe