Go Back
+ servings
Bowl of green pesto surrounded by hard cheese, basil, walnuts and garlic
Print Recipe
5 from 8 votes

Easy Homemade Pesto Without Pine Nuts

Homemade pesto is fresh, flavorful and versatile. Use with what you have on hand and customize to suit your taste. This delicious green sauce is bursting with basil leaf flavors balanced by toasted walnuts, fresh garlic, a touch of lemon and delicious fruity olive oil.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Resting time5 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: condiment, sauce, seasoning
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 20
Calories: 87kcal


  • 2 cups basil solid packed cups
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup walnuts toasted ** see notes
  • 2/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil divided
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


  • Bring a deep pot of water to a boil. Get a deep bowl of ice water ready.
  • While the water is coming to a boil, pull the tender leaves of basil from their stems and set aside.
  • Once the water comes to a boil blanch the leaves for no more than 15 seconds in the water by submerging them with the wire strainer.
  • Remove them with the wire spider/strainer and shock them in the ice water to stop them from cooking.
  • Press the water out of the leaves by placing them in a potato ricer and squeeze. You may have to do this in several batches. If you don't have a ricer put in-between paper towels and press to remove the water.
  • Combine the basil, garlic, nuts, and lemon in a food processor or blender until finely chopped.
  • Add the Parmesan cheese and begin to stream in 1/2 cup of the olive oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth.
  • Season with salt and pepper. Taste and add more salt, garlic, nuts, cheese, or oil as needed.
  • Place in jar and pour a bit of the saved olive oil on top and refrigerate. When ready to use stir in the oil and get creative with the delicious pesto.


Tips for the best pesto

  1. Always use fresh basil leaves to make pesto. Look for plants with bright, perky leaves. They will have the most moisture and oils still in the leaf.
  2. Toast the nuts. You may use them raw but toasting enhances the flavor.
  3. Don't over process the basil leaves. Heat from the blender or food processor, or over-chopping can cause to the basil leaves to turn brown. Add the basil leaves last.
  4. Add a pinch of Kosher salt. Salt helps break down the leaves plus adds flavor.
  5. Add a touch of citrus. Lemon juice and/or zest can brighten up the pesto and also help it to retain its color.
  6. Choose extra-virgin olive oil for the best pesto. A good quality olive oil will do wonders for the taste of your pesto.
  7. Store pesto in refrigerator with a layer of olive oil. Helps preserve the color. If you need to save it for a long period of time it is best to freeze the pesto. Use ice cube trays and over with plastic wrap.
  8. Keep the bright green color by blanching -- a quick dunk in hot water than a cold bath will produce a creamier pesto plus maintain the beautiful color.
  9. Pesto freezes well -- make a lot of it. Freeze it in ice cube trays then store it in zip-lock bags. Pesto will store for up to three months.


Calories: 87kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 40mg | Potassium: 18mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 146IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 1mg