Walnut Pesto

This homemade pesto is a twist on the classic with fresh basil, cheese, garlic, olive oil, and walnuts. Using walnuts instead of traditional pine nuts is an easy way to switch up a basic pesto. It’s perfect tossed with hot pasta or use it as a sauce for vegetables, grilled chicken, or fish, or thin it to use as a salad dressing. Lots of options with this simple walnut pesto recipe!

pasta coated in pesto in a bowl.

If you’ve been following along, you already know I love some homemade pesto. It’s one of my favorite things to make because it’s easy and so customizable. This walnut pesto is just a shade off from a traditional pesto – instead of using wallet-busting pine nuts, I used walnuts instead. And it’s delicious.

With the season for fresh basil just around the corner, I thought now is the best time to share a new pesto recipe. Use this no-cook sauce on all the summer things like grilled steak, chicken, and fish, or just toss with pasta for a simple and incredibly fresh pasta dish.

ingredients for walnut pesto.

What I love best about making pesto is that you can adjust it to your tastes. I have some suggestions for big changes later in the post, but remember you can adjust the amounts listed – always test and adjust before you serve it so it’s just right for you.


  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Walnuts
  • Garlic cloves
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper

Recipe Steps

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until they are broken down and well combined.

With the food processor running, slowly pour the olive oil in until the pesto reaches your desired consistency.

Store it in an airtight container until you’re ready to use it.

Pesto FAQs

Can you use other kinds of nuts?

Yes, it’s what I love best about making pesto – the flavor combos are endless and it’s easy to switch it up by changing the kinds of nuts you use. Try using pecans, cashews, or almonds and see how you like it. You can also change things up and makes this pesto with toasted walnuts or another kind of nut that you like.

How long does it keep?

Pesto will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. Keep it in an airtight container and give it a good shake before using it.

Can you freeze pesto?

Yes, and it’s easy to do with an ice cube tray. Fill each mold with pesto leaving a little space at the top. Top each off with a thin layer of olive oil, tightly wrap the tray, and freeze. Once frozen, you can pop the little squares of pesto out and keep them in a freezer bag. Use them to make pasta or add them to soup recipes like tomato soup or chicken pesto orzo soup.

Is pesto Italian?

Yes, pesto originated in Italy – specifically in Genoa. Traditional Italian pesto is made with fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, pine nuts, salt. The classic way to prepare it is with a mortar and pestle, which crushes the ingredients instead of pureeing them as you do with a food processor.

What are other ways to switch up this recipe?

So many ways! You could use arugula instead of basil and make arugula pesto. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for a pop of brightness. Like heat? Try adding a pinch or two of red pepper flakes. You can also use nutritional yeast instead of cheese if you want a vegan version.

Different Ways to Use It

Besides the obvious pesto pasta, there are lots of ways to use this walnut pesto:

  • I use it as a condiment and spoon it over scrambled eggs, smear it on bread to make sandwiches, or spoon it on pork chops or chicken.
  • Use it to flavor soups – just add a dollop at the end of the cooking time to add fresh herby flavor.
  • You can also thin it with olive oil and use it as a salad dressing or dressing for pasta salad.
  • Toss it with roasted veggies side dishes like zucchini, broccoli, and tomatoes before serving.

For even more ideas be sure to browse my how to make pesto post that has more recipe ideas!

a spoonful of pesto.

It’s a simple thing, but this basil walnut pesto will add a punch of flavor to everythng you add it, too. Make a batch and keep it in the fridge – I know you will find all kinds of ways to use it!

Happy pesto-making!


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an overhead shot of a bowl of pasta with pesto.

More Creative Pesto Recipes

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Walnut Pesto

walnut pesto in a food processor.

This walnut pesto is a twist on a classic basil pesto. Instead of pine nuts (which are really pricey) walnuts are mixed with fresh basil, garlic, and olive oil for a simple and delicious sauce. Toss with pasta, add it to soups, or spoon it over steak, chicken, or pork.

  • Author: April Anderson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Sauces
  • Method: Blend
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • 1 cup basil
  • 3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Pinch of salt and black pepper


Place the basil, cheese, nuts, and garlic in a food processor. Add half of the olive oil and pulse until the ingredients are broken down and well combined.

With the food processor running, slowly add the rest of the olive oil until the pesto has the consistency you like.

Serve with hot pasta or store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.


  • Calories: 155
  • Sugar: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 51.6g
  • Fat: 16.g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.6g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 13.8g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 1.1g
  • Fiber: 0.3g
  • Protein: 1.5g
  • Cholesterol: 1.4mg

Keywords: walnut pesto, pesto without pine nuts

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

The nutrition is an estimate only. It was calculated using Nutrifox, an online nutrition calculator.

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One Comment

  1. I usually use pine nuts in my pesto recipe, but could not locate them at Costco this time. Great tip on toasting the walnuts. That add a nice aroma and flavor to the pesto. Thank you for sharing.

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