Roasted Garlic Pesto

Roasting garlic mellows its sharp flavor and is a great way to use up extra heads of garlic hiding in your pantry. Mix it with nuts, fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, and lemon and you get a roasted garlic pesto that’s perfect for pasta.

overhead photo of pesto

This roasted garlic pesto recipe is an old favorite I first shared way back in ye olden days of this blog, otherwise known the year 2009. It’s a classic basil pesto with a roasted garlic spin and it’s perfect for all the dishes that benefit from a dollop of fresh pesto. Like pasta, grilled meats, sandwiches… you know, all the things.

Roasting the garlic first mellows its sharpness and gives it a sweet, caramelized flavor that takes pesto to a whole new level. It adds a step but it’s not difficult and the results are delicious, I promise. So, let’s make some, shall we?

photo collage of the ingredients

First, Roast the Garlic

I’ve written a tutorial about how to roast garlic, but it’s so easy I can just sit and tappity-tap-tap it out again here:

  • Grap a whole head of garlic and remove the outer papery part.
  • Slice just enough off the top to expose the tips of the cloves inside.
  • Place it on a sheet of foil and drizzle some olive oil over the top. Wrap the foil around it.
  • You can roast the garlic in the oven at 425°F for 30 to 40 minutes or until the garlic cloves are softened.

Let the roasted garlic cool until you can handle it. Then squeeze the soft cloves into a food processor. That’s it. So easy.

How to Make Roasted Garlic Pesto

Once you’ve roasted the garlic it’s a quick blending process to make the pesto.

Add fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and salt to the garlic in the food processor. Pulse it a few times until combined.

While the machine is running, slowly pour in olive oil until it reaches your desired consistency.

Homemade pesto will keep in the refrigerator for four to five days or you can freeze it, too.

I love it tossed with hot pasta and fresh tomatoes for a easy, light dinner. You can thin it out with more oil to make a salad dressing, spread it on sandwiches or use it as a sauce for fish, shrimp, chicken, pork and beef.

There are so many opportunities with this one, friends.

Happy pesto-making,

overhead photo of a plate of pasta with pesto and fresh tomatoes

More Pesto Recipes


Roasted Garlic Pesto

Roasted Garlic Pesto

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4.2 from 5 reviews

Roasting garlic mellows its sharp flavor and is a great way to use up extra heads of garlic hiding in your pantry. Mix it with nuts, fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, and lemon and you get a pesto that’s perfect for pasta.

  • Author: April @ Girl Gone Gourmet
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Sauces
  • Method: Blend
  • Cuisine: Italian



For the Roasted Garlic

  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

For the Pesto

  • 23 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts (see note)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil


  1. Roast the Garlic: Remove the loose papery stuff from the outside of the garlic. Slice the top of the garlic off, enough so the tops of the cloves are exposed. Place the whole head of garlic on a piece of tin foil, drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil over the top, and pull the tin foil up around it and twist close. There are two ways to roast the garlic:
    • Oven Method: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the wrapped garlic directly on the rack and roast for 30 -40 minutes.
    • Outdoor Grill Method: Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Place the wrapped garlic directly on the grill, close the lid, and roast for 30 minutes.
  2. Make the Pesto: Once the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze it to extract the roasted cloves. Place the roasted garlic, basil, pine nuts, salt, lemon juice and Parmesan cheese in a blender or food processor. Pulse a few times to chop and mix the ingredients. With the machine running, slowly add 1/3 cup of olive oil. Check for salt and add additional, if necessary. Makes approximately 1 cup.


Pine nuts are expensive so I often substitute walnuts or slivered almonds when I don’t feel like dipping into my savings account for a half a cup of pine nuts.


  • Serving Size: 1/6 of recipe
  • Calories: 217
  • Sugar: 0.3g
  • Sodium: 473.7mg
  • Fat: 20.2g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.1g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 16.2g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 7.2g
  • Fiber: 1.6g
  • Protein: 4.6g
  • Cholesterol: 1.3mg

Do you love this recipe? Don’t forget to leave a comment and your recipe star rating!

Post and photos updated from the archives. First published in 2009.


  1. Love this recipe. Easy to make and roasting the garlic really adds to the flavor. I’m going to make lots more and freeze it.

  2. This sounds to be a simple recipe. Just like what I have been searching for! Thanks for sharing and I hope to attempt to make this week.

  3. I needed to use up a ton of basil before it went bad. Conveniently I had just roasted a garlic on the grill — for something else — but this was a better use. 🙂 Great recipe. Now I just have to stop myself from eating the whole thing with a spoon!

  4. I followed these instructions for roasting garlic (oven temp and time) and unfortunately the garlic burnt to a crisp. Beware of the recipes on this website as they are likely to be off if roasting garlic isn’t even accurate.

    1. I’m sorry you had trouble with the recipe – every oven is different so it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on things the first time you make a recipe. I’m wondering if your oven runs hot – other readers haven’t had this issue and the recipe works fine.

  5. I often use Pecans in my pesto instead of pine nuts. They work really well! We have an abundance of pecans from my tree, so it’s a great way to use them. Can’t wait to try your recipe. I never thought of roasting the garlic. Yum!

  6. This was awesome! I just roasted 5lbs of garlic and was looking for ways to use it. I used walnuts and toasted them lightly, I used Ramono cheese since that all I had. I can’t wait to make more.

  7. This pesto is delicious! I love garlic, so I thought it would be good, but I was really surprised at how good it was. I will definitely be making this again.

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