Homemade Basil Pesto

Making homemade basil pesto couldn’t be any easier! Fresh basil, lemon zest, Parmesan cheese, lemon and toasted pine nuts.

Make and Freeze Homemade Pesto l www.SimplyScratch.com

Liz already shared this recipe on her blog a couple of weeks ago and I swore to myself I was going to put my basil plant to use and make her recipe ASAP. I knew it was going to be amazing, everything Liz makes is. I love that it’s straight forward and calls for the basics; basil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, toasted pine nuts, Parmesan cheese and of course salt, pepper and olive oil. So simple… sooo good.

basil plant

I’ve already told you about my basil plant so I’ll spare you the deets. Other then it’s huge thanks to two huge bees. I swear it’s the same two bumble bees that every time I go to pick from my basil plant they would swoop down and buzz right by my ear and scared the you-know-what out of me. I’m not terribly scared of bees. More so wasps. Did I tell you about the time I was on our back deck enjoying a lovely pancake breakfast with my girls and I thought one landed in my hair? I know right? SO SCARRRRY! So in front of all the houses on our canal I was screeching and throwing my head up and down trying to shake it out. I could literally feel it in there and the wasp was stuck. In my hair. Oh. My. Lord.

Only it wasn’t a wasp… it was my bobby pin. Yeaaah. I probably didn’t tell you that story… because it’s totally embarrassing and who would be so stupid to confuse a bobby pin with a wasp. Pshhht I mean come on.


So anyways. The bees won’t keep me away from my basil plant. Those pollinators are doing their thang keeping my plant growing. And I still have a lot of basil to use before the summer months end and fall claims it. So I’m thinking since this pesto was SOOOO amazing… I’ll be making another batch soon. One can’t have too much basil pesto in the freezer.

basil pesto goodies

Grab the goods and GO!


First rinse any dirt off of 4 cups of fresh basil leaves.

pick through

I picked through mine just to make sure I didn’t miss any stems or soil particles, which of course I found.

rinsed and drain

Yes, that’s four cups of basil from my plant… I’m… so… proud. *sniff*

pat dry

Pat it dry…

air dry

And let the air dry it the rest as you start prepping…

half cup pine nuts

Measure out a half cup of pine nuts. Love these little buggers.

pine nuts

Throw them into a small skillet and set the pan on your stove to toast over medium heat. Or do what Liz does and toast them on a rimmed baking pan at 350 degrees for 6-7 minutes. Either way… toast’em.


Remove after the pine nuts start getting golden and smell all nutty like. Pull them off of the heat to cool.

peeled and roughly chopped

Roughly chop three cloves of garlic. This is probably not necessary when you plan to use your food processor… but what the heck.

lemon zest

Zest a small lemon.

basil in...

Throw the clean basil leaves into the bowl of your food processor…

add pine nuts

Add the toasted pine nuts.

lemon zest in

Add the lemon zest… ahhhh!

Parmesan and garlic

Lastly a cup of grated Parmesan cheese, garlic…

lemon juiced

… juice from the entire lemon…

black pepper

1/4 teaspoon of coarse black pepper…

kosher salt

… and 3/4  teaspoon kosher salt.

olive oil

Secure the lid, let’er rip and star drizzling in a cup of extra virgin olive oil.


Stop when smooth.


To freeze this homemade basil pesto into cubes is just as easy. Scoop…

spoon in


Freezing Collage

Cover with plastic wrap and freeze. I let mine freeze over night. But at least 2-3 hours should work.


Frozen baby.


Now just pop…


… and store. Liz says these homemade basil pesto cubes will last for up to 3 months in the freezer, but I doubt it’ll last that long.


I kept a little jar of the pesto in the fridge to make our favorite grilled cheese… I added an heirloom. OMG. The pesto steals the show for sure!


Enjoy! And if you give this homemade basil pesto recipe a try, let me know! Snap a photo and tag me on twitter or instagram!

Make and Freeze Homemade Basil Pesto ll www.SimplyScratch.com

My cookbook Simply Scratch : 120 Wholesome Homemade Recipes Made Easy is now available! CLICK HERE for details and THANK YOU in advance! 


Homemade Basil Pesto

Fresh basil pesto is the perfect on pasta, grilled cheese or as a dip!

Yield: about 2 cups

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes (5-6 minutes for the pine nuts)

Total Time: 30 minutes


4 cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed and patted dry

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

3 cloves fresh garlic, roughly chopped

1 whole lemon, zest and juice

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Recipe adapted (barely) from Liz at The Lemon Bowl


Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan for 5-6 minutes over medium heat until lightly golden in color and fragrant. Remove to cool.

In the bowl of your food processor add the basil, Parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, both the zest and juice from one lemon and the salt and pepper.

Secure your food processors lid and turn on while slowly drizzling in the cup of olive oil.

TO FREEZE: Spoon about 2 tablespoons of pesto into each ice cube slot. Cover and freeze for 2-3 hours or over night.

Pop the basil pesto cubes out and place into a freezer-safe re-sealable bag. Store frozen for up to three months.

[this post contains affiliate links.]

    Pin It

30 Responses to “Homemade Basil Pesto”

  1. #
    Steph (Poupetteinthekitchen) — August 21, 2013 at 8:13 am

    Hi Laurie!

    May I pick your brain? I bought an astronomical quantity of Thai basil the other day, and just can’t decide if I should make pesto with some of it… It has a fairly different flavor than regular basil (maybe a bit more menthol-y if you know what I mean?) and I’m just not sure if it’d come out good…

    Do you have any advice? Or even experience with this?


    • simplyscratch replied: — August 21st, 2013 @ 9:42 am

      Hi Steph! I would go for it! Make the pesto {here is a recipe from The Vintage Mixer http://www.thevintagemixer.com/2012/10/thai-basil-pesto-recipe/ } and I would also make a double or triple batch of a stir-fry sauce calling for thai basil, freeze in individual recipe portions so you can thaw and whip up a quick dinner. I hope this helps!

  2. #
    Tieghan Gerard — August 21, 2013 at 8:28 am

    I am so jealous of all your basil! It looks great and so good!!! I love pesto!

  3. #
    Alison — August 21, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Ohhhh pestooooo! I love it Laurie!

  4. #
    Christina @ The Beautiful Balance — August 21, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    LOVE the lemon that you added to this basil, I have to try it.

  5. #
    Melanie @ carmelmoments.com — August 21, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    That looks beautiful! I have fresh bail on hand. I’ll have to give it a try.

  6. #
    Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain — August 21, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    What a beautiful tutorial, Laurie! You Michigan gals sure know your pesto!!

  7. #
    Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking — August 21, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Ohhh, I love me some basil pesto! Yours looks so beautiful and vibrantly green, Laurie! I love it.

  8. #
    Steph (Poupetteinthekitchen) — August 21, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    Thanks Laurie for the Thai Basil recipe! Exactly what I was looking for 🙂

    • simplyscratch replied: — August 21st, 2013 @ 9:09 pm

      Yay Steph! Glad I could help!

  9. #
    Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. — August 22, 2013 at 12:02 am

    I love pesto so much!! Yours is perfect!

  10. #
    Des — August 22, 2013 at 1:22 am

    Oh pesto. How I heart thee! I get your whole thing about wasps too. The other day I was eating dinner with my little dude in the backyard and one started buzzing all around him. I tried to shoo it away. Then it started buzzing all around me. I proceeded to do the “get the heck away from me” dance that is so often seen around bees. Apparently 21 month old babies think it is HILARIOUS.

  11. #
    Jessica@AKitchenAddiction — August 22, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    I still need to try Liz’s pesto! I love that you can freeze it!

  12. #
    Ambika Kumar — September 2, 2013 at 12:28 am

    Hello 🙂 i love pesto and make it a lot when I find basil…but I have never frozen it. I have a question regarding the frozen pesto.
    When the cubes thaw will they be very watery /diluted?
    Will the flovuor of the oil intensify? Am curious to know before i try it.

  13. #
    Laura Davoudi — March 22, 2014 at 12:25 am

    I discovered that if you freeze a bowl of this, you can literally scoop out the amount you want, like ice cream and warm it up when you toss the pasta.

  14. #
    Terry VanArman — May 30, 2014 at 10:57 am

    I have used a similar recipe for Basil pesto, making Spinach pesto. sorrel also works well. I also have a recipe for Edamame pesto, which I am looking forward to trying.

  15. #
    terry shaw — June 4, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    i would like to jar this, should i pressure cook or just hot jars and lids like jelly?

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — June 5th, 2014 @ 2:54 pm

      Hi Terry! I’m in no way an expert so I really am unsure. Sorry that I’m no help 🙂

  16. #
    Tovah — July 25, 2014 at 10:44 pm

    I just made this recipe with basil from the garden my son helped grow at his elementary school. Yes, NYC grown basil! One of the best batches of pesto we’ve ever made. Thank you for the recipe.

  17. #
    Debbie S — August 24, 2014 at 11:43 am

    How long will pesto last in the fridge?

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — August 24th, 2014 @ 11:50 am

      Hi Debbie! Pesto could last a good couple of weeks at least. I always drizzle a little olive oil over the top after each use which helps it keep longer

  18. #
    plasterers bristol — June 22, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Great recipe sally, i love pesto, never thought to make my own.



  1. Pingback: Try it Thursday: Healthy Habitudes for Valentine’s Day!

  2. Pingback: Mediterranean Chicken Quesadillas | Push Ups in Pennyloafers

  3. Pingback: Food Friday: Pasta Primavera

  4. Pingback: Indoor Herb Gardening 101 and Terracotta Pot Painting Tutorial |

  5. Pingback: Whole wheat pizza crackers with home made pesto | Healthy Living Ink

  6. Pingback: Eat Healthy Inspo: Grow a Garden! | The Tulip in Bloom

  7. Pingback: Homemade Basil Pesto recipes – 07Recipes

  8. Pingback: Basil Pesto – A Palate For Pie

Leave a Comment