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.
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.