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star rating (6) rate this recipe »
Published prior to 2008

There's no need to purchase prepared pesto when it's so easy to make your own. When you see big bunches of fresh basil for sale at the farmer's market this summer, get out your food processor or blender and give this a try. And, for a different twist, substitute fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley for basil – perfect for winter, when fresh herbs are hard to come by.

Step-by-step photos illustrating how to make pesto are available at Baking Banter, our King Arthur blog.

4 to 5 cups fresh basil leaves, firmly packed (about one large bunch, 6 ounces before trimming); or one bunch Italian flat-leaf parsley
4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese: about 1 1/2 cups coarsely grated, or 1 cup finely grated
4 to 8 large, peeled garlic cloves (to taste)
1 cup (4 ounces) walnuts or pine nuts (use pine nuts only if you're independently wealthy)
1/4 teaspoon salt
about 5 tablespoons (about 2 1/8 ounces) olive oil, enough to thin and smooth the pesto to the consistency you prefer

Combine all of the ingredients except the oil in a food processor or blender, and process until finely chopped. Drizzle in the olive oil with the machine running, adding more for a thinner pesto, less for a thicker version.

Store pesto in the refrigerator, its surface covered with plastic wrap, if you plan to eat it soon. Or freeze it; even when frozen, it'll be soft enough that you can dig out chunks of it to warm up for sauce. Yield: about 20 ounces, a scant 2 1/2 cups.

Nutrition information per serving (2 tablespoons, 25g): 138 cal, 14g fat, 3g protein, 1g complex carbohydrates, 4mg cholesterol, 110mg sodium, 51mg potassium, 28RE vitamin A, 1mg vitamin C, 82mg calcium, 57mg phosphorus.


  • star rating 08/15/2012
  • kcholm from KAF Community
  • Great taste. To freeze the pesto for later use, rather than mess up ice cube trays I use a medium cookie scoop and freeze the pesto balls on a cookie sheet, then dump them into a zip lock bag.
  • star rating 08/12/2012
  • AnnaMagnani from KAF Community
  • This a followup to Barbara Bearman's comment on measuring Parmesan. I shred, grate, microplane, and process Parmesan. One cup of each weighs differently, so I stick to 4 oz./113 g. per cup for recipes. BTW, the rind of Parmesan is so hard, unless I'm putting it in Minestrone while cooking, I cut it in chunks and process it, sometimes for several minutes, but it works.
  • star rating 08/12/2012
  • AnnaMagnani from KAF Community
  • This is a very good recipe, but I did alter it by using butter and parsley. (I call it American Pesto) For those of us who don't like the taste of olive oil or raw basil, the butter is good and parsley is milder than basil, which is indispensable to my sauce, but I don't like it raw. Also, if you can get to a Trader Joe's, their pine nuts are very reasonable.
  • star rating 06/19/2010
  • Barbara Bearman from Virginia
  • Your weights vs measures seem very odd to me. I had a 4 oz package of pine nuts that almost filled a 1 cup measure, and 2 oz of cheese grated on a microplane grater came to 11/2 cups, paced gently. I went by your measures rather than weights and the results were good, although the pesto was somewhat dry & needed more olive oil.
    Barbara - Your claims took me to our kitchen to see for myself how much 1c. of pine nuts or walnuts would weigh. I found that 1c. of pine nuts weighed almost 5 oz and 1c. of walnuts weighed closer to 4 oz. I did not go as far as grating some fresh parm to compare with your finding. I am wondering of the recipe did not use freshly grated and if so, perhaps it was packed in there to be 1c. equal to 4 oz. Thank you for bringing all of this our attention. Looks like some changes need to be made. Glad you liked the recipe and thought to thin it out with some more olive oil. Elisabeth @ KAF
  • star rating 06/14/2010
  • Linda from Massachusetts
  • Once the pesto is made, to store it easily, put portions into plastic ice cube trays. Once frozen, you can pop them out and throw them all into a zip topped bag. Get all the air out and it will last for a long time! Ready all winter long for a reminder of summer! Delicious added to a batch of mashed potatoes. Mmmmm.
  • star rating 06/08/2010
  • Linda-Sue from Muscatine, Iowa
  • Our family has been eating lots of pesto this summer, so appreciated this recipe because we have an abundance of basil and other herbs with our counter top hydroponics unit. I have been using a knife and cutting board so the basil and nuts don't turn to mush, or use a small food processor and add some more coarsely chopped herbs and nuts for texture. Try substituting any or all ingredients by using cashews or pistachios (we buy shelled in an inexpensive large bag), asiago or an asiago parmesan romano blend, walnut oil, and add a dash of half and half. I got that idea from the pesto jar of what we have been buying at our local discount grocery chain. As bakers, we have to follow the chemistry of a recipe for good results. Break free with this recipe and have a little fun!