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+ servings
basil pesto in a white bowl

20-Minute Basil Pesto

This recipe will show you how to make the best homemade traditional basil pesto from scratch in just 20 minutes! I also provide tips on how to preserve basil pesto and creative ideas on how to use this delicious sauce in simple everyday recipes year-round. Use basil pesto with pasta, pizza, chicken bakes, bread, or as a dip!  This recipe provides many helpful tips and step-by-step photos and instructions.
Course sauce, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Italian, Mediterranean
Keyword basil pesto
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 10 people
Calories 169kcal
Author Julia



  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread the pine nuts on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet and toast for about 5 minutes, watching carefully. The nuts should acquire a nice browned color but not be burned. Be careful not to burn them!
  • Add basil leaves, toasted pine nuts, shredded Parmesan cheese, and minced garlic into a blender or food processor. Blend for about 2 minutes. With the food processor in the off position, scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  • Add olive oil and mayonnaise. Blend for about 2 minutes or more until creamy. With the food processor in the off position, scrape down the sides of the food processor or blender with a spatula. Blend briefly again, if needed.
  • Optional: mix in extra pine nuts (whole and toasted) into the basil pesto, if desired.


  • Step-by-step photos are provided in this recipe if you scroll up above the recipe card.
  • Nuts. You can use pine nuts or walnuts. You can also use toasted almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachio, or even macadamias!
  • Basil leaves. Mix them up with fresh spinach leaves if you like or don't have enough.
  • Cheese.  Use Parmesan or Pecorino Romano can be used instead.
  • Lemon flavor. Add a small amount of freshly squeezed lemon juice (or lime juice) and lemon grind to the pesto before adding oil for another variation.
  • Add spice. Add red pepper flakes to add some heat to creamy pesto sauce, if you like things spicy.
  • How to use basil pesto in dinner recipes. Scroll up above the recipe card for a lot of weeknight dinner recipes that use fresh basil pesto: from pasta to chicken bakes, to shrimp and fish.


Calories: 169kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 116mg | Potassium: 64mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 0.3g | Vitamin A: 298IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 1mg