How to make pesto sauce at home. All recipes are described step by step

Pesto in a mortar

History of origin

What is pesto sauce? This is a delicious sauce originally from Italy (pesto – crushed, ground), the emphasis falls on “E“. The basis for this sauce is basil, pine nuts, olive oil and of course Parmesan.

Previously, when there was no blender, the ingredients for pesto sauce were mashed in a mortar and pestle. This is where the name comes from. The city of Genoa is the birthplace of the sauce, and the first mention of it was in 1863, in the cookbook “La Cuciniera Genovese”.

If you want to know what pesto looks like and what it tastes like? Then we will tell you. Its color is green, because the basis of everything is green basil, but it can also be purple and red, based on sun-dried tomatoes.

The taste is quite bright, because basil, garlic and spicy Parmesan are quite aromatic components of the sauce. But this piquant sauce only benefits.

What to eat with and where to add it

Pesto sauce with spaghetti

Of course, pesto and pasta are like brother and sister – this is a classic combination. But pizza with this sauce will be no less interesting. Any meat, poultry and fish will also sparkle with a new taste. And those shrimp with pesto sauce are finger licking good.

Where can you use pesto sauce if not in a vegetable salad as a dressing? Yes, almost any dish with pesto sauce will become tastier and brighter in taste. Pesto sauce even goes well with Italian minestrone soup. Yes, just spread the sauce on a piece of loaf and it will be very tasty.

Use it as dip sauce  when serving with french fries or for country-style potatoes. You can also dip your favorite snacks and snacks into it.

What are the benefits of pesto sauce?

Pesto sauce contains a lot of vegetable fats – this is both beneficial and harmful if you eat it in large quantities. Nuts, olive oil and cheese are also rich in protein, which is always better for the body than carbohydrates.

But don’t forget about the calorie content of olive oil; the truth is that it has much more benefits. After all, it even helps with Alzheimer’s disease and reduces the risk of stroke in older people.

Nuts also help reduce the risk of heart disease. And fatty acids are good for hair and skin. So the pesto sauce had a lot to offer, but within reasonable limits. In fact, pesto sauce is a vegan recipe, and vegetarians know a lot about its benefits.

Classic recipe

Classic pesto sauce recipe
Classic pesto sauce recipe

Finally, let’s figure out how to make pesto at home quickly and easily. We will tell you a recipe for real Pesto, but slightly adapted for Russians. We will prepare a recipe for pesto sauce with basil and pine nuts, it’s easier to buy them.

What’s included:

  • Green basil (leaves without stems) – 3 bunches
  • Extra virgin olive oil – 100 ml
  • Parmesan (or other hard cheese) – 100 gr.
  • Pine nuts – 2 tbsp. l.
  • Garlic – 2 cloves.
  • Salt to taste

How to prepare the sauce:

  1. Let the nuts fry until golden brown.
  2. Wash the basil and separate the leaves, dry them with a paper towel.
  3. Three garlic and cheese on a fine grater.
  4. Place all ingredients and a little oil in a blender bowl.
  5. At low speeds, turning the blender on and off, we begin to beat.
  6. Gradually pour in the remaining oil until you reach the consistency you want, adding some salt if necessary.
  7. Classic pesto sauce is ready!

According to our recipe, we prepare pesto sauce in a blender. Of course, the authentic recipe uses a mortar, but a blender is much faster. And it’s difficult to find a large mortar; it won’t affect the taste of the sauce.

If you are thinking about replacing pine nuts, then feel free to take cashews, walnuts or pumpkin seeds. Green basil can also not always be found in large quantities and is still quite expensive. Therefore, there is a cheaper option, making pesto sauce from parsley and walnuts.

Pesto sauce with walnuts, basil and parsley

We will also use cilantro, if you don’t like it, then take one bunch of parsley and two basil. In fact, you can use sunflower oil instead of olive oil. And take your favorite cheese, but hard varieties.

If you want to save money, then prepare the sauce from parsley and basil stems without tearing off the leaves. This will not affect the taste.


  • Green basil (leaves without stems) – 1 bunch
  • Parsley – 1 bunch
  • Cilantro – 1 bunch
  • Extra virgin olive oil – 100 ml
  • Parmesan (or other hard cheese) – 100 gr.
  • Walnuts – 3 pieces.
  • Garlic – 2 cloves.
  • Salt to taste

How to make parsley sauce:

  1. Start by roasting the nuts, but be careful not to burn them.
  2. Wash the greens, dry them and chop them a little, this will make it easier for the blender.
  3. Grate the cheese along with the garlic.
  4. Place everything except the salt in a blender and slowly blend the sauce.
  5. Add salt if necessary and your homemade pesto sauce with parsley is ready!

For speed, you can not grate the garlic, but only lightly cut it with a knife. But check while beating to see if it is crushed. It is better to add cheese at the end, thereby adjusting the thickness of the sauce. Same with salt, add salt at the last moment, because the cheese will add saltiness to the sauce.

Red pesto

Red pesto made with purple basil and sun-dried tomatoes
Red pesto made with purple basil and sun-dried tomatoes

This is, of course, not a classic pesto, but rather a variation on the theme of basil sauce. But the taste and aroma of this paste will not leave you indifferent to the red basil sauce. Moreover, this sauce will have a spicy kick from the chili pepper, which will give it some piquancy. And you decide for yourself whether it is possible to make pesto sauce from purple basil. Which is easier to buy in our country.

We will need:
  • Purple basil – 1 bunch
  • Sun-dried tomatoes – 100 gr.
  • Chili pepper to taste
  • Tomato paste – 1 tsp.
  • Any nuts you want – 2-3 tbsp. l.
  • Garlic – 1 clove
  • Parmesan – 70-100 g.
  • Vegetable oil – 50 ml
  • Tomato oil – 30 ml
  • Balsamic red vinegar – 1 tsp

Homemade recipe:

  1. We remove the seeds from the pepper; if you want it spicier, leave them.
  2. Roast the nuts, it will be tastier.
  3. Grate the cheese and garlic.
  4. Place everything except the cheese in a blender and puree.
  5. Red basil pesto is ready!

We do not recommend adding the whole chili pepper at once; it is better to add more at the end. Sun-dried tomatoes most often already contain garlic, which is why there is only one clove in the recipe. Salt, sugar and spices will already be in the tomato oil, you can only use it.

It is better to fry the tomato paste in a frying pan, this will remove its metallic taste.

Red pesto, where do you add it? It goes very well with barbecue, and of course with pasta and spaghetti. And just spread it on bread or dip snacks in it.

How to preserve sauce for the winter

Pesto in foil

Now about how to prepare pesto sauce for the winter and how long it can be stored in the refrigerator. If we are talking about store-bought pesto from a jar, then after opening it is better not to store it for more than 5 days. Homemade pesto sauce lasts the same amount of time, but they can be frozen and defrosted as needed.

You can do this in ice containers or simply pour it into food-grade plastic containers. You can also use freezer bags or wrap in foil. For this method, the sauce must be quite thick or slightly frozen and then wrapped.

It is better to wrap it in several layers in the form of a roll, so in the future it will be convenient to cut off the required amount. Now you know how to store the sauce, thereby preserving all the benefits of pesto.

Conclusion about Italian sauce

As you understand, you can prepare the sauce according to your taste. Make it green, red, spicy, from parsley, and even without cheese and without nuts. Of course, a sauce without nuts and without cheese is still possible, but this is no longer a classic pesto recipe! With basil and only with it you will get the taste of real pesto.

Of course, all the ingredients that make up the original Italian sauce make it pesto sauce. Still, be sure to try making it with cilantro, but if you mix it with basil, you’ll love it!

We tried to tell you whether pesto sauce is beneficial or harmful. How to make pesto without pine nuts by simply replacing them. But they didn’t tell you about arugula pesto sauce, the recipe is the same, just replace the basil with it. There is even a pesto made from dried basil, although it’s more of a salad dressing.

You also learned how long pesto sauce can be stored in the refrigerator and whether it can be frozen. And we hope it won’t be difficult for you to make pesto sauce at home. Cook, experiment, choose the best for yourself!

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