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Pesto Recipe When You Have Lots of Basil

Pesto Recipe When You Have Lots of Basil

This pesto recipe is ideal to make when you have lots of basil plants growing. Certainly, you can make basil pesto with basil from the grocery store as well. However, that can become expensive quickly.

One thing I can grow is basil. I have several large bushy plants. However, I can only dry, freeze and give away so much. This basil pesto recipe is a great way to use up basil because it uses 4 cups of  leaves. I often double it because it fits in the food processor easily.

Pesto is so easy to make if you have a high performance blender or food processor. I have a Vitamix which makes making pesto a cinch to make. Prep time takes just 8 minutes — probably not even that long for most people. It’s really simple too.

Pesto Recipe

We’re not a big pasta-eating family so it never occurred to me to make pesto. But when thought about something to make to use up the basil I had growing, I decided to try it. It’s also a good way to use up a basil plant before the weather turns cold.

basil pesto

Basil pesto without pine nuts

I’ve made basil pesto several times now. My husband and I love it, and I’ve even brought it with pasta to my book club. (You can also make pesto with spinach. There are lots of pesto recipes.) 

I’ve made basil pesto with pine nuts and without them. See modifications below if you don’t have pine nuts.

Growing basil at home is a much more economical way to make pesto. The best part is you can start with one plant and as it grows, snip off stems and set them on your kitchen counter in water.

When roots are about an inch long, you can transplant them outside or in pots indoors. Basil is easy to grow. You can continue doing this until you have as much basil as you have room to grow it. Then you can snip off the leaves and make pesto sauce whenever.

Another great thing about this pesto recipe is it uses ingredients you likely have at home. I always have a big bottle of Kirkland Organic Olive Oil from Costco along with garlic cloves on my kitchen counter. I just need to be sure I have the parmesan cheese.

Typically, I don’t have pine nuts but when I remember to buy them, I add them in. This recipe for basil pesto tastes great with or without them. It makes one cup of pesto. If you add in pine nuts, it makes a bit over a cup. 

pesto ingredients

Recipe ingredients for basil pesto

Pesto Ingredients

  • 4 cups of basil leaves
  • 6 – 8 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese or asiago cheese – shredded or block
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt – sea salt, table salt, Himalayan salt, or kosher salt are fine
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1/2 cup of pine nuts – optional 
picking basil for pesto

Picking basil for pesto

wash and dry basil leaves

Wash and dry basil leaves

how to make pesto

I set leaves on a towel and then pat dry with another towel

How to Make Basil Pesto

  1. Lay out a clean towel on the kitchen counter. Wash basil in a colander and drain. Set leaves on towel. Get another clean towel and pat to dry.
  2. You can leave the leaves out to dry further or proceed with making pesto.
  3. Put basil in food processor or blender.
  4. Peel garlic cloves. Put garlic cloves in food processor.
  5. Add in cheese, salt and pepper, and pine nuts if you are using.
  6. Process ingredients in food processor. It should be smooth.
  7. Add in olive oil and blend again.
  8. Put in bowl or jar. Scrap sides of the blender to be sure to get as much as possible out– it’s delicious! Eat and enjoy.

You can always add more or less garlic or olive oil to taste. You can serve it warm or right out of the refrigerator. 

Putting basil and garlic in food processor

Putting basil and garlic in food processor

It’s astounding to me how all of the ingredients blend down to make just over one cup of basil pesto. It’s strong with the garlic and extra virgin olive oil so a little goes a long way. However, when I have a lot of leaves, I will double the recipe.  

This is the best pesto recipe because whether you have pine nuts or not, it tastes amazing. Like with so many Italian foods, olive oil and garlic are so delicious together.

Store leftovers in a sealed container for up to five days in the refrigerator.

basil pesto recipe

Basil, garlic, cheese, salt and pepper in food processor

Pesto Sauce Recipe

Sure, you can buy pesto at the store but when you make basil pesto at home, the difference in taste is incredible. It’s like growing your own tomato compared to eating a store-bought one. If you love tomatoes, you will know what I’m talking about! Homemade pesto is the same.

Since figuring out my son has a palm oil allergy and palm oil intolerance, I’ve been making foods at home from scratch more and more. I’m also gardening more, growing tomatoes and trying to grow garlic. I’ve always had success with basil plants so making this recipe for basil pesto is perfect.

It’s difficult to buy processed foods, especially when they have a lot of unknown ingredients in them. Because of this, I’ve learned to cook most things from scratch. This homemade pesto sauce recipe is so easy. My kids don’t eat it but my husband and I devour it. He eats basil pesto on pasta. I have it on gluten free red lentil pasta. Sometimes I’ll have it with gluten free bread as well.

pesto sauce recipe

You can add more olive oil to taste and depending on the consistency you favor. If I’m using this for pasta, I might add a bit for oil to coat the noodles.

If you have a high performance blender or food processor, it’s easy to learn how to make basil pesto. The appliance does all the work. If you have a block of parmesan cheese instead of pre-shredded, it’s easy as well. 

If you make this pesto recipe, please let me know in the Comments how it tasted. Wasn’t it easy? Did you make this because you had a lot of basil? When I think of how far I’ve come making foods at home, I can’t believe it. Eating less processed foods and more real, whole foods and ingredients tastes better too. 

Love Italian food? Check out this recipe for White bean and pasta soup. Check out this fresh Mediterranean dip recipe as well. 

pesto recipe

Pesto Recipe

This pesto recipe is so easy to make. Toss everything in the food processor and in seconds you will have delicious basil pesto. Pine nuts are optional. Garlic and olive oil combined with fresh basil leaves -- there's nothing better!
Course Condiment, Sauce
Cuisine Italian
Keyword basil pesto, basil pesto recipe, pesto recipe, pesto sauce recipe, recipe basil pesto, recipe for basil pesto
Prep Time 8 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Servings 1 cup
Author Dawn Head


  • 4 cups of basil leaves
  • 6 - 8 cloves of garlic
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese or asiago cheese - shredded or block
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of table salt, kosher, sea salt or Himalayan salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ cup pine nuts - optional


  • Wash and dry basil leaves. You can lay out a clean tea towel and dry the leaves on it.
  • Add basil leaves, garlic cloves, cheese, salt and pepper in food processor or blender. Add in pine nuts if you are using.
  • Process in food processor until pesto is smooth.
  • Add in olive oil and blend further.
  • Pour into bowl or container. Serve or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


Add more or less garlic and olive oil to taste. Serve basil pesto warm or cold.
Recipe Rating