This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

NotesAlthough we have taken this most popular of sauces to places where it has never gone before, pesto may still be best on pasta.

The food processor makes it very easy to make pesto, but I think it’s well worth making by hand. The slowed-down process of hand grinding the leaves in a mortar lets you see the extraordinary transformation that takes place as garlic, salt, nuts, and basil are worked into a paste, all the while inhaling magnificent scents. If you have a choice at your market, use Genovese (Italian) basil.

About1 cup



Total Timeunder 15 minutes

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

Equipmentfood processor

Five Ingredients or LessYes

Taste and Texturegarlicky, herby, nutty, savory

Type of DishCondiments


  • 1 or 2 plump garlic cloves
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 3 cups loosely packed basil leaves, stems removed, leaves washed and dried
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons grated pecorino Romano to taste
  • 2 tablespoons soft butter, optional
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil


  1. By Hand: Smash the garlic with l/2 teaspoon salt and the pine nuts to break them up, then add the basil leaves a handful at a time. (If you’re impatient, you can speed things up by tearing the leaves into smaller pieces first.) Grind them, using a circular motion, until you have a fairly fine paste with very small flecks of leaves. Briefly work in the cheeses and butter, then stir in the olive oil. Taste for salt.

  2. In a Food Processor: Use the same ingredients but in the following order: Process the garlic, salt, and pine nuts until fairly finely chopped, then add the basil and olive oil. When smooth, add the cheeses and butter and process just to combine.


Free recipes, giveaways, exclusive partner offers, and more straight to your inbox!


I have not made this yet so I cannot rate it.

Include a Photo Include a Photo

Click the button above or drag and drop images onto the button. You can upload two images.

Cancel Reply to Comment

Thanks for your comment. Don't forget to share!


Report Inappropriate Comment

Are you sure you would like to report this comment? It will be flagged for our moderators to take action.

Thank you for taking the time to improve the content on our site.

Sign In to Your Account

Close Window
Sign In with one of your Social Accounts
Facebook Twitter
Sign In using Email and Password