Easy Walnut Pesto With Basil (Basil-Walnut Recipe)

I love making homemade basil pesto sauce with the abundance of basil that I grow during the summer months. This delicious Walnut Pesto is a fun twist on traditional pesto with an added twist of walnuts! I love this recipe because it is simple to make and a versatile sauce. It’s the best way to use up fresh herbs, and the bright green color adds a vibrant touch to some of my favorite pasta dishes.  Plus, all you need are a few simple ingredients from the grocery store for this delicious sauce!

Creamy walnut pesto in a jar with walnuts on top.

Pine nuts tend to have a sweeter and more delicate flavor compared to walnuts. Traditional pesto made with pine nuts often has a slightly nutty and buttery taste with a hint of sweetness, which pairs wonderfully with the fresh basil and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

On the other hand, pesto made with walnuts tends to have a richer and earthier flavor. Walnuts can add a slightly bitter note to the pesto, along with a hearty and robust nuttiness, giving it a more complex and rustic flavor. If you’re looking for a fresh pesto with traditional pine nuts, try my Pesto alla Genovese recipe! 

Creamy walnut pesto in a jar with walnuts on top with a spoon with some pesto in it.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Rich and nutty flavor – Unlike the classic basil pesto with its subtle sweetness, this version has a rich, nutty flavor that adds a whole new dimension to your dishes. It’s like adding a cozy blanket of flavor to your pasta or a warm hug to your grilled veggies. Trust me, once you try it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t make walnut pesto sooner!
  • Health benefits – Now, talk about the goodness packed into those walnuts. Not only do they taste fantastic, but they’re also good for us! Walnuts are chock-full of omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for your heart and overall well-being. Plus, they’re bursting with antioxidants. And did I mention they’re a great source of plant-based protein? So you can feel good about indulging in that extra spoonful of walnut pesto—it’s practically a health elixir in a jar!
  • Seasonality – Picture this: it’s a crisp autumn day, and you’ve just returned from the farmers market with a bag of fresh walnuts. As you crack open the shells and toast them to perfection, you can’t help but feel a sense of excitement for the season ahead. With summer’s basil lingering in your garden, you know it’s the perfect time to whip up a batch of walnut pesto. It’s a delicious way to celebrate the changing seasons and make the most of what nature offers. 

Ingredients

Ingredients for walnut pesto.

  • Walnuts – Walnuts bring a nutty flavor and a delightful crunch to our pesto. Also, they’re packed with good stuff like omega-3s, antioxidants, and protein, making them a real powerhouse ingredient. They’re also a great source of healthy fats!
  • Basil – Fresh basil adds a burst of fresh, herby goodness that screams summer vibes. Whether it’s from our own garden or the local farmer’s market, it’s always the star of the show.
  • Parmigiano Reggiano – Parmigiano Reggiano cheese helps give this pesto its creamy texture. Nothing beats freshly grated parmesan cheese – make sure to grate your own for the best results. 
  • Pecorino Romano – And let’s not forget about Pecorino Romano cheese, which brings its own tangy, salty goodness to the mix. This is sheep’s milk cheese. 
  • Extra virgin olive oil – Extra virgin olive oil brings everything together with its silky texture and that delicious hint of fruity goodness. Cold-pressed from the finest olives, this is one of my all-time favorite ingredients. For the best classic pesto possible, make sure not to skimp – get the good stuff!
  • Garlic cloves – And let’s not forget about the cloves of garlic! Fresh garlic gives this walnut pesto a bit of a kick!
  • Lemon juice – A squeeze of fresh lemon juice adds zesty, citrusy goodness to this pesto. It brightens up the homemade pesto sauce. 
  • Kosher salt – And last but not least, kosher salt. We need a just a little to round out this sauce.

Substitutions

  • Nut substitution –  Instead of walnuts, you can try using toasted almonds or toasted pistachios. Almonds will provide a slightly sweeter and milder flavor than walnuts, while pistachios will add a unique nuttiness and vibrant green color to the pesto. Both nuts will still contribute to the creamy texture and richness of the pesto.
  • Cheese substitution – For a different flavor profile, you can substitute the Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano cheeses with other hard cheeses like aged cheddar or Asiago. Aged cheddar will bring a sharp and tangy flavor, while Asiago will offer a nutty and slightly sweet taste. These cheeses will still add depth and richness to the pesto, albeit with a different flavor profile.
  • Make it vegan – Use nutritional yeast instead of Pecorino and Parm for a cheesy flavor while keeping this sauce vegan.

Step by Step Instructions

Some ingredients for walnut pesto, such as basil and walnuts, in a food processor, unprocessed.

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

Processed basil, walnuts, garlic, and salt in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment.

2: Pulse the ingredients until the basil leaves are finely chopped, and everything is well combined. At this stage, you want a coarse mixture.

Pecorino Romano cheese, Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese, and blended basil in a food processor.

3: Add the grated Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano cheeses to the mixture in the food processor.

Pulse the mixture again until the cheeses are evenly distributed and incorporated into the pesto.

Creamy, vibrant walnut pesto in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment.

4: With the food processor running, slowly pour in the fresh lemon juice in a steady stream. While the food processor is still running, slowly stream in the extra virgin olive oil until the pesto reaches a smooth and creamy consistency. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally to ensure everything is well-mixed.

Use the pesto immediately, or transfer leftover pesto to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to a week. 

Creamy walnut pesto in a jar with walnuts on top with a spoon.

Tips and Notes

  • Olive oil – Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor. The olive oil not only adds richness to the traditional basil pesto but also helps to emulsify the ingredients and create a smooth texture.

Serving Suggestions

  • Wine pairing – Let’s keep it Italian for this wine pairing suggestion! First, I suggest trying Vermentino. This Italian white wine offers zesty acidity and citrusy flavors that complement the herbal and nutty profile of pesto. Or, try Gavi! Gavi, made from the Cortese grape in Italy’s Piedmont region, is renowned for its crisp acidity and delicate fruit flavors. Its clean and refreshing profile makes it an excellent match for the vibrant flavors of pesto.
  • Pasta – Toss the pesto with cooked pasta, such as spaghetti, linguine, or penne, for a quick and flavorful meal. Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves for an extra pop of flavor.
  • Bruschetta – Spread pesto on toasted baguette slices and top with marinated tomatoes. I have an amazing Pesto Bruschetta recipe that this pesto would be perfect for!
  • Pizza – Spread pesto on pizza dough as a flavorful alternative to tomato sauce. 

Storage Instructions

  • Refrigerator – Transfer leftover walnut pesto to an airtight container, drizzle a thin layer of olive oil on top, and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Stir before using.
  • Freezer –  Spoon pesto into ice cube trays, freeze until solid, then transfer cubes to a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw the pesto cube overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature before using.

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

Walnut pesto.

Easy Walnut Pesto With Basil (Basil-Walnut Recipe)

Allie Hagerty
Revamp your meals with our Walnut Pesto recipe! Packed with toasted walnuts, fresh basil, and zesty Parmigiano Reggiano, it’s the ultimate flavor booster for pasta, sandwiches, and more. Get ready to savor every bite!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Sauce
Cuisine Italian
Servings 12 servings
Calories 156 kcal

Equipment

  • food processor
  • Knife
  • cutting board
  • measuring spoons
  • spatula

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts 75 g
  • 1 clove garlic peeled
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 112 g
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese  50 g
  • 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Instructions
 

  • Add the walnuts, fresh basil leaves, 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 everything is well combined. At this stage, you want a coarse mixture.
  • Add the grated Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano cheeses to the mixture in the food processor.
  • Pulse the mixture again until the cheeses are evenly distributed and incorporated into the pesto.
  • With the food processor running, slowly pour in the fresh lemon juice in a steady stream. This will help brighten up the flavors of the pesto.
  • While the food processor is still running, slowly stream in the extra virgin olive oil until the pesto reaches a smooth and creamy consistency. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally to ensure everything is well-mixed.
  • Taste the pesto and adjust the seasoning if needed, adding more salt or pepper to suit your taste preferences. You can also add more olive oil if you prefer a thinner consistency. Use the pesto immediately, or transfer leftover pesto to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to a week. Enjoy it tossed with pasta, spread on sandwiches or as a flavorful topping for grilled meats and vegetables.

Notes

Olive oil – Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor. The olive oil not only adds richness to the traditional basil pesto but also helps to emulsify the ingredients and create a smooth texture.

Nutrition

Serving: 2tablespoonsCalories: 156kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 5gFat: 15gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 245mgPotassium: 49mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 0.2gVitamin A: 196IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 127mgIron: 0.3mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating