Recipe: Homemade Basil Pesto

image of homemade basil pesto on a bench with a bunch of fresh basil and lemon

Basil Pesto

There’s nothing like beautiful homemade pesto to add fresh flavour hit to practically any savoury dish to elevate it into a gourmet masterpiece!

Think pasta, gourmet sandwiches or burgers, add it to toast with bruschetta or eggs, add to sauces, salad dressings, use it as a dip or dollop onto pizza.  The possibilities are endless!  Hungry yet?

Pesto is so quick and simple to whip up, and really makes the most of the beautiful fresh & abundant basil available from markets or picked fresh from your own garden.

Nothing beats homemade.

Homemade pesto tastes better and is free from preservatives, unlike most store-bought versions (which can also be expensive).  Making your own is also a great way of using surplus herbs from your garden or from your trips to the Farmer’s Market!  And a wonderful sustainable gift idea for the food lover in your life.

This budget friendly version can be customised, depending on what’s available in your garden, fridge, pantry or Farmer’s Market.  You can make it vegan friendly with a few substitutions (see notes*).

This pesto stores very well, and we’ve included extra tips to store if for longer in your fridge (see storage notes below).

Let’s Get Cooking!

Here is the traditional recipe, but you can customise it to make it vegan or to suit your lifestyle best.  See the NOTES* below.

INGREDIENTS (see notes* below):

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves*
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated*
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts*
  • 1 garlic clove, freshly peeled
  • 1 tsp salt flakes (or to taste)
  • ½ tsp pepper (or to taste)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (plus extra to store)


  1. Place basil leaves (& other leaves if using), cheese, nuts, garlic, salt & pepper into a food processor.  Pulse for 5-10 seconds, scraping down sides as required until the mixture is crumbly.
  2. Slowly add olive oil while the food processor is running.  Scrape down the sides as needed, until the mixture is smooth.  Add more oil for a looser pesto, or less if you’d prefer it a bit thicker.
  3. Store pesto in an air-tight container in the fridge (refer to storage recommendations below).


  • Substitute basil for whatever soft herb you love – baby spinach, rocket, parsley are all delicious.
  • The parmesan cheese is in the traditional recipe, but you can make this recipe vegan by substituting the cheese for nutritional yeast, cashew parmesan or whatever suits your needs & lifestyle.
  • Pine nuts are traditionally used, but alternatives such as walnuts, macadamias or almonds are equally delicious & can be used instead.  Again, whatever suits your needs & lifestyle.


  • If stored appropriately, your homemade basil pesto will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
  • Store in an airtight container & drizzle the top with a generous layer of extra olive oil to preserve the pesto, keeping it fresh.
  • Every time you use the pesto, top it up with more olive oil to continue the preservation.
  • You may notice the top layer of the basil pesto darkens slightly over time, but this should still be fine to eat as long as the olive oil has been on top.
  • This recipe also freezes really well – add pesto to ice cube trays and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw completely in the fridge overnight before use.