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Five Ingredient Homemade Pesto

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A healthy and easy homemade pesto recipe comes together with only 5 simple ingredients. Made without pine nuts to make it more affordable, this versatile sauce goes with everything.

homemade pesto in a small jar on a black backdrop with basil

Fact: pesto is a really hard thing to take pretty photos of.

I have found that when it comes to cooking, there are basically three types of people. There are people who just don’t want to do it. They have zero interest and tend to not even read recipe posts on blogs. There are people who want their hands held and told exactly what measurements are needed in a recipe. And then there are people who want a basic guideline and then given the freedom to personalize.

I’m sorry anal retentive measuring junkies, this recipe is going to give you flop sweat. In my eyes, homemade pesto is more of an art than a science. For me, it comes down to five ingredients – nuts, basil, parmesan cheese, garlic, and olive oil. It all goes into a food processor/ blender and within seconds you have a delicious sauce that will change your life and make you a kitchen hero. The recipe listed below is more of a guideline and contains only loose measurements. Just go with it. Be breezy.

a white strainer full of fresh basil on a black surface

How to Make Homemade Pesto – Step by Step:

1. Toast some nuts. Giggle.toasted almonds in a blue cast iron skillet with parmesan and fresh basil on a wooden backdrop

2. Blend that ish

ingredients for pesto in a food processor

Homemade Pesto in a food processor3. Enjoy it.

puff pastry filled with onions, spinach, chicken and cheese on a parchment covered baking sheet

May I recommend smearing some on a Savory Puff Pastry Sandwich Bake?

Can I Make This Pesto Whole30 Compliant?

Yes. Leave out the parmesan cheese and you’re good to go. You can substitute with 1-2 tbsp of nutritional yeast if you’d like.

Pesto is a sauce that is best served in small quantities.  There is a reason that grocery stores sell it in teeny tiny jars – a little goes a long way.  And yikes, those jars are pricey!  I like to put my pesto in a covered ice cube tray until frozen solid, and then transfer them to a freezer ziploc. For larger quantities, I freeze homemade pesto in 4 oz mason jars.

As summer winds down, the rain is making its presence known. With rain comes the end of many crops. Our basil will soon be covered with black spots and no longer edible. Before that happens, I make pesto. Pesto makes me feel like a magician. In just a few minutes, I take fresh basil and turn it into an amazing and versatile sauce. Pesto change-o!

Making this recipe or others?

Post a photo on my Facebook page, share it on Instagram, or save it to Pinterest with the tag #sustainablecooks. I can't wait to see your take on it!

homemade pesto
5 from 1 vote
Five Ingredient Homemade Pesto
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
10 mins

A healthy and easy homemade pesto recipe comes together with only 5 simple ingredients. Made without pine nuts to make it more affordable, this versatile sauce goes with everything.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: easy pesto, homemade pesto, pesto without pine nuts
Servings: 4
Calories: 58 kcal
  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup nuts (almonds, cashew, pine nuts, walnuts)
  • shredded or grated parmesan to taste
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • olive oil to taste
  1. In a heavy skillet on medium, toast nuts with a drizzle of olive oil until they are warm and fragrant.

  2. In a food processor, blend the first four ingredients until everything is in very small pieces. Scrape the sides. With the machine running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until the mixture has come together.

Nutrition Facts
Five Ingredient Homemade Pesto
Amount Per Serving
Calories 58 Calories from Fat 36
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 6%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1mg 0%
Potassium 110mg 3%
Total Carbohydrates 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 0g
Protein 2g 4%
Vitamin A 12.7%
Vitamin C 3.8%
Calcium 5%
Iron 4.2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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14 comments on “Five Ingredient Homemade Pesto”

  1. You’re so sweet. A food blog I sometimes read has a series on how to take better food photos, and it’s been SO helpful for me! Here is the site:

    I like pesto on pizza with chicken and artichoke hearts. Also, on crusty bread with grilled chicken and melted mozzarella!

  2. Your pictures are so much prettier than mine. 🙂 I can’t get over how expensive pesto is in the store! My husband laughs because I will look at something and say “Do you know I can make twice that amount for $x.xx!” You will have to post your recipes for using it. I love new recipes!

  3. I love making my own basil and freezing it. We use pine nuts, but I may switch to almonds. Our store doesn’t carry bulk pine nuts anymore. THanks for joining the Frugal Tuesday Tip.

  4. I *highly* recommend trying this with roasted walnuts. The flavor is spectacular and (at least where I am) walnuts are so much cheaper than almonds.

  5. The Garden Betty blog has a recipe for Basil Puree that can be frozen. The post includes great suggestions for how to use it, I\\\’ll definitely be making it this year as well as your pesto recipe. Here\\\’s the link in case anybody is interested.
    I love your blog!

  6. I ran an experiment last year and I made two batches of pesto.
    They were identical -and carefully measured!!- except for one ingredient.
    One used pine nuts and the other was made with walnuts.
    Nobody could tell the difference between the two!
    And walnuts are so much cheaper than pine nuts!
    A friend gave me a butt-load of basil yesterday, so you post had amazing timing! And I will be using walnuts. 🙂

  7. I have pretty much the same recipe but with pine nuts, which usually require consideration of organ donation when purchasing…. Definitely going to have a go with almonds.
    Just curious, how long do you store the pesto? I normally make and cook at the same time.
    Thanks heaps!

    • Pine nuts are delicious, but oh yeah super expensive. Walnuts and cashews are delicious as well almonds. I have even done sunflower seeds in a pinch.

      I freeze it for months at a time. It will oxidize (turn brown) eventually, but it tastes delicious even if it is browned.

  8. I use walnuts in my pesto. I have a butt load

  9. I think I could easily live on pesto!

  10. Pingback: Creamy Pesto and Goat Cheese Pasta - Smack Of Flavor