This homemade basil pesto sauce is made with fragrant fresh basil, baby spinach, Pecorino Romano cheese, and delicious lemon zest. It is the perfect sauce to add to pasta, sandwiches, or salads. Not only is it delicious, this sauce could not be any easier to make and you can easily make it dairy free if you prefer!
This homemade basil pesto recipe is incredibly easy to make and perfect for the warm summer months when there is more basil than you even know what to do with. This flavorful sauce is the perfect addition to pasta, a delicious spread on sandwiches, and can even be used as the base of chicken salad.
This recipe packs a punch of extra nutrition by using fresh spinach in addition to the basil. It will take you just a few minutes to make and stores well in the fridge!
What is Basil Pesto?
Pesto is a delicious and bright green sauce that originated in Genoa, Italy. It is typically made with a combination of crushed garlic, basil, pine nuts, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese.
Homemade Basil Pesto Ingredients
Fresh Basil: the base of basil pesto is of course, fresh basil! Be sure to grab a good amount of that fresh fragrant basil.
Baby Spinach: while it is not traditional, I love adding baby spinach to this pesto for even more nutrition and an even deeper green color.
Pine Nuts: if you have never had pine nuts before, you are in for a treat! They have a delicious buttery flavor and tastes amazing in the pesto sauce.
Fresh Garlic: all good pestos require a good amount of fresh garlic. Skip the pre-minced stuff and take the time to peel fresh garlic cloves for this recipe. It makes all the difference.
Lemon Zest and Juice: I love the addition of fresh lemon zest to pesto. It adds a delicious brightness. You’ll also add a bit of fresh lemon juice.
Olive Oil: be sure to use a high quality olive that enjoy the taste of in this pesto sauce.
Pecorino Romano: traditional pesto uses parmesan cheese but I really love the flavor of Pecorino Romano so it’s always my go-to choice. If you prefer parmesan, feel free to use it instead.
How to Make Basil Pesto
Step One: First start by adding the fresh basil, spinach, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, cheese, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to a high-powered blender or food processor.
Step Two: Blend or process all of the ingredients until all of they are well combined and the sauce is relatively smooth. It is okay if the sauce still has texture and is not completely smooth.
Step Three: Transfer the sauce to an air-tight container and store in the fridge!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is basil pesto sauce healthy?
Yes! Healthy is always relative to the person asking, but I think that this basil spinach pesto is a delicious way to use veggies and add some healthy fats to your diet.
Can I make this dairy-free?
Yes! While traditional pesto is made with dairy, I have made this recipe with and without the cheese and trust me, both versions are delicious! Just leave out the Pecorino Romano to make a dairy free version of this basil pesto sauce.
Do I have to use pine nuts?
No! If you like, you can use another nut in this pesto. Almonds, walnuts, and cashews would all work well and taste great!
Tips and Tricks for the Best Pesto
If you would like to add a little extra flavor to the pesto, you can toast the pine nuts before adding them to the pesto. Just add the pine nuts to a dry skillet and toast over medium-low heat for a few minutes and then let them cool before adding them to the food processor.
Have a little extra basil or spinach? This recipe is very forgiving. Go ahead and add the extra spinach or basil to the food processor.
As always, give the pesto a taste and adjust the flavor to your liking. You can add an extra pinch of salt, more red pepper flakes for a little kick, or even more lemon zest if you prefer.
Ways to Use Pesto
Not only is this basil pesto easy whip up, there are so many different and creative use for it in your every day cooking.
Here are some of my favorite ways to use basil pesto sauce:
Add a tablespoon or so to your bolognese sauce at the end of cooking for a punch of extra flavor
Use it as a spread on sandwiches just like you would mayo or mustard (trust me on this it’s a game changer)
Combine leftover roasted chicken, mayo, and a tablespoon of pesto for an easy and flavorful pesto chicken salad
Can You Freeze Pesto Sauce?
Yes! If you have extra pesto sauce you can freeze into individual cubes using an ice cube tray. Once the pesto cubes are frozen, pop them out of the tray and then store them in an air tight freezer safe bag.
I hope you give this Homemade Basil Pesto a try! It’s a delicious and versatile sauce that I know you will love!
If you do give this recipe a try, I want to know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @allthehealthythings / #allthehealthythings on INSTAGRAM. Your reviews help support All the Healthy Things and make it possible for me to continue to create the recipes you know and love.
Recipe by: Ashlea Carver / All the Healthy Things | Photography by: Casey Colodny / THE MINDFUL HAPA
Leave a comment
This pesto is amazing and so easy to make! We didn’t have the cheese so just left it out and it was still awesome! I had never made pesto before but definitely will again now that I know how easy and good it is!
Easy and delicious- so much better than store bought! Have tried the recipe as -is and with nutritional yeast subbed for the dairy due to allergy and it’s been a hit every time!
I’m so glad you loved it, Kimberly!
Made this tonight with Basil & spinach from our garden 🌱🪴 I mixed it in with some couscous, chicken and cherry tomatoes. Next up with the leftover pesto: grilled flatbread pizzas! Cant wait. This will be a staple in our fridge all summer long!
The pesto on the flatbread pizzas sounds amazing, Crystal! Thanks for taking the time to leave a review!
this. pesto.!!! I made to serve over pasta and ended up just dipping crackers into the leftovers. Soooo much flavor and the texture is amazing!
Such a great idea, Casey! Thanks for taking the time to leave a review!