Easy Pistachio Pesto Recipe (Basil Pasta Sauce)

My Easy Pistachio Pesto Recipe is the perfect modern twist on a traditional Ligurian pesto! All you need are a few simple ingredients like parmesan cheese, raw pistachios, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh herbs for a delicious pesto! Basil pistachio pesto is a great way to use up fresh basil leaves before they go bad, and the result is a versatile sauce perfect for pasta, fish, or snacks! Trust me, this 5-minute pistachio pesto will be a recipe you make over and over again! 

Pistachio pesto in a white ramekin with chopped and whole pistachios around and basil leaves.

I LOVE pesto. Truly, there is nothing I love more than a classic basil pesto. I have a lot of different pesto sauce recipes – all with a creamy texture. This pistachio pesto swaps out traditional pine nuts for vibrant green pistachios. The key to this recipe is using good quality ingredients (aka fresh ingredients – no wilty basil here!).

If you’re a fan of pesto recipes, next time try my lemon pesto, sunflower pesto, walnut pesto, or pumpkin seed pesto. I also have a few different recipes with pesto on my site, such as pesto-whipped goat cheese and tomato tart, and trofie al pesto, pesto butter, and pesto bruschetta topped with tomatoes.

A dollop of pesto is a great addition to homemade salad dressing, pizza, roasted veggies, or salmon. Plus, my favorite pasta, Trofie al Pesto, would be perfect with this pistachio pesto recipe!  If you like pistachios, try my pistachio granola and pistachio muffins!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • It’s a fast and easy recipe. My simple pistachio pesto recipe couldn’t be simpler to make. This batch of pesto comes together in under ten minutes, and it tastes so much better than store-bought pesto! 
  • You only need a handful of ingredients. This delicious green sauce only requires 7 ingredients (most of which you will probably have on hand). 
  • It’s freezer-friendly. You can make a big batch of this healthy pesto recipe and then store it in a freezer-safe container to prevent freezer burn. I love to make a ton of pesto at the end of the summer and then freeze it to use all year long, even when basil is no longer in season. 

Ingredients

Ingredients for pistachio pesto.

  • Basil – Basil provides the pesto’s signature flavor. Look for vibrant green leaves without black spots. Use fresh for the best taste, and store in the fridge wrapped in a damp paper towel.
  • Pistachios –  Pistachio nuts add a rich, slightly sweet flavor to the sauce. For convenience, choose raw, shelled pistachios. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place or refrigerate for longer freshness.
  • Garlic – Garlic clove gives the pesto a pungent kick. Pick firm, plump cloves and avoid any sprouting ones. Store in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.
  • Parmesan Cheese – Parmesan offers a nutty, salty flavor. Buy a wedge and grate it fresh for the best taste. Store your parmesan in the fridge wrapped in parchment paper or a cheese bag. I prefer to use real Parmigiano Reggiano! 
  • Pecorino Romano Cheese – Pecorino Romano adds a sharp, tangy flavor. Like parmesan, buy a wedge and grate it fresh. Store the cheese wrapped in parchment paper or a cheese bag in the fridge.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Extra virgin olive oil provides a rich, fruity flavor and smooth texture. Choose high-quality, cold-pressed oil. Store in a cool, dark place. I like to add a thin layer of olive oil on top of the pesto in a bowl to make a dipping sauce for bread!
  • Kosher Salt – Kosher salt enhances the pesto’s flavors. Use sparingly and adjust to taste. Store in a dry place to prevent clumping.

Substitutions and Additions

  • Basil – Substitute with spinach, arugula, or kale for a different flavor profile while maintaining the green color and freshness.
  • Parmesan Cheese – Substitute with Grana Padano or Asiago cheese for a similar umami and salty flavor.
  • Lemon Zest or Juice – Add lemon juice or zest for a bright, zesty flavor that complements the richness of the pesto.

Step by Step Instructions

Basil, salt, pistachios, and garlic in a food processor before pulsing.

Add fresh basil leaves, pistachios, garlic, and a pinch of salt to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment.

Basil, salt, pistachios, and garlic in a food processor pulsed together to make pistachio pesto.

Pulse the ingredients until the basil leaves are finely chopped and all the ingredients are well combined.

Incorporate the two cheeses into the mixture and pulse again until everything is evenly distributed.

Pistachio pesto in a food processor bowl.

With the food processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil in a steady stream. Continue to process until the sauce reaches a smooth and creamy consistency. Taste the pesto and adjust the seasoning if needed, adding a bit more salt or pepper to suit your taste preferences.

Tips and Notes

  • Add Olive Oil Gradually – Pour the olive oil in a steady stream while the food processor is running. This helps to emulsify the pesto and achieve a smooth, creamy consistency.
  • Scrape the Sides of the Food Processor – Periodically stop the food processor and scrape down the sides with a spatula to ensure all ingredients are evenly processed. This prevents large chunks and ensures a uniform texture.
  • Avoid Overprocessing – Pulse the ingredients rather than running the food processor continuously. This prevents the basil from bruising too much and turning brown, keeping your pesto vibrant green.

Pistachio pesto in a white ramekin with chopped and whole pistachios around.

Serving Suggestions

  • Pasta – Toss your pistachio pesto with warm pasta for a quick and flavorful meal. Add a splash of hot pasta water to create a silky sauce that coats the noodles perfectly. Top with extra grated parmesan and a sprinkle of toasted pistachios. Looking for step by step instructions? Grab my Trofie al Pesto recipe! 
  • Sandwich Spread – Use the pesto as a spread for sandwiches or wraps. It pairs wonderfully with roasted vegetables, grilled chicken, mozzarella, or fresh tomatoes for a burst of flavor.
  • Bruschetta –  Spread pesto on toasted baguette slices and top with cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, or a drizzle of balsamic glaze for a delightful appetizer or snack. Trust me, pesto bruschetta is the perfect summer snack! 
  • Pizza –  Swap out traditional tomato sauce for pistachio pesto on your next homemade pizza. Add toppings like arugula, prosciutto, goat cheese, and caramelized onions for a gourmet twist.
  • Salad Dressing – Thin out the pesto with a squeeze of lemon juice or vinegar to create a vibrant salad dressing. Drizzle over mixed greens, roasted vegetables, or grain salads. This pistachio pesto would also be delicious dolloped on top of caprese salad
  • Grilled Meat or Fish – Use the pesto as a marinade or sauce for grilled chicken, steak, shrimp, or fish. The nutty and herby flavors complement grilled meats beautifully.

Storage Instructions

Refrigerator

Store leftover pistachio pesto in an airtight container. To prevent oxidation and maintain its vibrant green color, pour a thin layer of olive oil on top before sealing. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Freezer

For longer storage, freeze the pesto. A great tip is to use ice cube trays to freeze pesto in individual portions. This way, you can easily use just the amount you need without defrosting the entire batch.

Freezing Instructions

  • Spoon the pesto into ice cube trays, filling each compartment.
  • Place the trays in the freezer until the pesto is completely frozen.
  • Once frozen, pop the pesto cubes out of the trays and transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or container. Label with the date for easy reference.
  • Frozen pesto cubes can be stored for up to 3 months.

Thawing and Using Frozen Pesto

  • To use, simply take out the desired number of pesto cubes and let them thaw in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
  • Alternatively, you can add the frozen pesto cubes directly to hot pasta or sauces, which will quickly melt the frozen sauce. 

Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it! Tag @seasonedandsalted on Instagram and leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review below!

Pistachip pesto in a small bowl with pistachios on a wooden board.

Easy Pistachio Pesto Recipe (Basil Pasta Sauce)

Allie Hagerty
Try my easy 5-minute pistachio pesto recipe with fresh basil leaves and raw pistachios. It’s perfect for pasta, fish, or snacks! This recipe makes 1 1/2 cups.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Sauce
Cuisine Italian
Servings 24 servings
Calories 77 kcal

Equipment

  • measuring spoons
  • measuring cups
  • food processor

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup basil *packed cup* 36 g
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios 75 g
  • 1 clove garlic peeled
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese 126 g
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese 50 g
  • 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 74 g
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions
 

  • Start by adding fresh basil leaves, pistachios, garlic, and a pinch of salt to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment.
  • Pulse the ingredients until the basil leaves are finely chopped and all the ingredients are well combined.
  • Next, incorporate the two cheeses into the mixture and pulse again until everything is evenly distributed.
  • With the food processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil in a steady stream.
  • Continue to process until the sauce reaches a smooth and creamy consistency.
  • Don’t forget to taste the pesto and adjust the seasoning if needed, adding a bit more salt or pepper to suit your taste preferences.

Notes

Add Olive Oil Gradually – Pour the olive oil in a steady stream while the food processor is running. This helps to emulsify the pesto and achieve a smooth, creamy consistency.
Scrape the Sides of the Food Processor – Periodically stop the food processor and scrape down the sides with a spatula to ensure all ingredients are evenly processed. This prevents large chunks and ensures a uniform texture.
Avoid Overprocessing – Pulse the ingredients rather than running the food processor continuously. This prevents the basil from bruising too much and turning brown, keeping your pesto vibrant green.

Nutrition

Serving: 1tablespoonCalories: 77kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 2gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 122mgPotassium: 39mgFiber: 0.3gSugar: 0.2gVitamin A: 104IUVitamin C: 0.3mgCalcium: 64mgIron: 0.2mg
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