Traditional Basil Pesto

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Basil Pesto is a traditional Italian sauce that is made from simple, raw ingredients. Traditional basil pesto is made from garlic, olive oil, parmesan cheese, pecorino romano, and fresh basil leaves. This sauce has a vibrant green color and can be used in a variety of ways. Pesto can be used as a sauce for pasta, as a marinade, to make vinaigrettes, and more!

How to make basil pesto: vibrant green pesto in a white bowl on a wooden table surrounded by garlic and basil leaves.
Traditional Basil Pesto

why you should make this traditional basil pesto recipe

Pesto is such an easy dish to make! Plus, it’s a great way to use up extra basil. I will often make a few batched of pesto at a time before freezing it so that I can have fresh pesto all winter long. You can use this pesto with your favorite pasta, on top of fish, or in salad dressings. Also, if you’re a fan of traditional Italian recipes, you should check out my Bolognese or Carbonara!

How to make basil pesto: olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, pecorino romano cheese, parmesan cheese, and basil on a gray plate with a marble backdrop.

what ingredients do you need to make pesto?

  • Basil – Basil is the star of this pesto recipe. Basil gives pesto its’ vibrant color and it’s delightful fragrance. Make sure you have fresh basil available, and don’t forget to give it a quick rinse before using it!
  • Pecorino Romano – An Italian hard cheese that’s very salty (and delicious!), this cheese gives the sauce a salty flavor while also providing a little bit of heat. Pecorino Romano is an almost spicy cheese with a bit of tang!
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano- Of course, you cannot have pesto without Parmigiano-Reggiano! This nutty, fruity hard cheese is sharp. It is distinctively savory. Never purchase pre-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano! Grate it yourself for optimal flavor.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Olive oil helps smoothen out this sauce. Without it, we would be left with a very gritty, thick paste.
  • Garlic – Do recipes without garlic exist? Hopefully not. Garlic gives a sharpness to this pesto that isn’t over-powering. The garlic helps to create a paste when combined with the pine nuts and basil.
  • Pine Nuts – The traditional nut of choice when making a basil pesto.

how do I make traditional basil pesto?

recipe faq’s

How long will pesto stay good for?

Basil pesto will stay good for about 4-5 days in the fridge, in an airtight container. If you don’t think you can use it all up, I suggest freezing individual portions using an ice cube tray!

How to make basil pesto: vibrant green pesto in a white bowl on a wooden table surrounded by garlic and basil leaves.

Traditional Basil Pesto

Allie Hagerty
This traditional basil pesto recipe is a simple, no-cook sauce that you can. use in pasta dishes, marinades, and more!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Sauce
Cuisine Italian
Servings 24 servings
Calories 91 kcal


  • measuring spoons
  • measuring cups
  • food processor


  • 1 cup basil pack the basil – this is a full cup
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1 clove garlic peeled
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
  • 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch kosher salt


  • Add basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, and a pinch of salt to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process until the leaves are finely chopped and the ingredients combine.
  • Next, add the two cheeses, and process again.
  • While the motor is running, add the olive oil. Continue to process until the sauce becomes smooth.
  • Taste and add salt or pepper as necessary.


  • Pesto will last in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. If you’ve stored it in the freezer, it will last for 6 months. 


Serving: 1tablespoonCalories: 91kcalCarbohydrates: 2.1gProtein: 3.2gFat: 8.2gSaturated Fat: 1.3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 4.8mgSodium: 109.6mgPotassium: 106.3mgFiber: 0.5g
Keyword Italian, Italian food, No Cook, Pasta Sauce, Pesto, Sauce, Vegetarian
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Enjoy, and as always, please let me know if you make this recipe – and if you do, don’t forget to tag @seasonedandsalted and #seasonedandsalted on Instagram!

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