Homemade basil walnut pesto is an amazingly fresh and vibrant Italian pesto sauce that can be added to fish, pasta, meat, or used as a dip. This walnut and basil pesto recipe is an Italian pesto but without the pricey pine nuts.
Why I Love This Basil Pesto
Traditionally basil pesto is made with pine nuts. Pine nuts are pricey and in my opinion less tasty than walnuts. This pesto is made with walnuts and not pinenuts and it is my favorite way to make pesto.
After much trial and error, this is our favorite pesto sauce to make. I think using walnuts to make pesto tastes so much better than using pine nuts.
You can also use almonds or pecans if you do not have walnuts available or opt for the traditional pine nuts.
- Fresh basil. These are the star ingredients in this homemade pesto.
- Parmesan. You want to make sure you are using Italian Parmesan for this recipe that you grate yourself.
- Olive oil. You can use extra virgin or regular olive oil.
- Vegetable oil. This may seem odd but it helps offset the olive oil which has a stronger flavor. More on this below.
- Walnuts toasted. It is important to toast the walnuts to bring out their natural flavor.
- Lemon. Lemon juice when added to pesto brings out the brightness of the ingredients.
- Kosher salt.
Best Oil For Pesto
Extra virgin olive oil is the best base oil for homemade pesto. In addition to the olive oil, many Italians will use a little vegetable oil since it has a mild taste and helps thin the pesto.
So, you use olive oil for the flavor and a little vegetable oil to thin the pesto. It is the best of both Worlds.
How to make this easy basil pesto with walnuts
- Add all of your ingredients to a food processor.
- Mix until they begin to come together and form a pesto.
- Taste for seasoning and add any salt or pepper as needed.
Very simple. All of the work to make this easy pesto is done in the food processor.
You are merely pulsing the ingredients in the food processor until you get the right smooth consistency.
One of the great things about making this walnut basil pesto is that you can customize it to your own taste. Just like I did here, I prefer walnuts to pine nuts so I made a pesto without the pine nuts.
You can also go heavier or lighter on the garlic, olive oil, or other ingredients in the pesto that you make.
The only thing you want to make sure you do when you adjust the ingredients is make sure you achieve the right consistency at the end. Somewhat thick and not runny is the ideal pesto consistency.
Once you try out this easy walnut and basil pesto, you can start experimenting with other types of pesto. From sun-dried tomato pesto to arugula and spinach pesto. There is no wrong way to make this amazing Italian staple.
How to use walnut pesto
This easy pesto can be used in many dishes. You can make pesto pasta which is the most traditional.
Some other ways to use this walnut pesto that I love are:
- Served over chicken or fish
- As a dip for vegetables
- My favorite way to eat pesto is to serve it in a big bowl with some good Italian crusty bread to dip in.
- You can also use it as a topping for your soups like Italian Minestrone to add a punch of flavor.
You may be wondering how long will this pesto last or what is the best way to store it. Here are my favorite tips:
- If you do have leftover pesto, the best thing to do is place it in a jar and drizzle a little olive oil over the top (to keep it from drying out).
- Drizzling olive oil over the top of your homemade pesto keeps the pesto fresher longer and prevents the fresh herbs from turning brown.
- To store your homemade pesto, after drizzling olive oil over the top, just place it in the refrigerator covered for up to one week.
How to make pesto without a food processor
Making this easy basil pesto without a food processor is simple. Italians have been making pesto for generations and I can assure you they did not always have a food processor or a blender.
I often don't feel like breaking out the food processor for this recipe and will instead use either a mortar and pestle or a bowl with a pestle or something thick to crush the ingredients with.
Here is how to make pesto without a food processor:
- Add the nuts and garlic to a large mortar (or bowl) and crush them down with a pestle (you can also use the base of a large rolling pin or cooking spoon.)
- Once the nuts and garlic are broken down, add the basil, parmesan and salt and continue crushing the ingredients with the pestle.
- Stir the pestle around well in the bowl with the ingredients crushing the ingredients against the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- Now add the olive oil and lemon juice and continue mixing.
- Do this until the pesto reaches the perfect creamy consistency.
- Add water to thin as needed.
This is such an easy way to make pesto and so much more rustic. I often prefer a mortar and pestle for making pesto to the food processor method.
Some of our favorite recipes to serve with this walnut pesto:
More Italian Recipes
If you love this walnut basil pesto recipe you may also like these:
Homemade Pesto (With Walnuts)
- 1 cup Chopped fresh basil packed down
- ⅓ cup Walnuts toasted. You can also use almonds or pine nuts.
- ½ cup Shredded fresh parmesan
- 3 tablespoon Olive oil
- 3 tablespoon Vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoon Lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced about 4 cloves
- 1 tablespoon Water plus more to thin if necessary
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- Add all of your ingredients to a food processor starting with your liquids first so they are at the bottom.1 tablespoon garlic minced, 1 cup Chopped fresh basil, ½ cup Shredded fresh parmesan, 3 tablespoon Olive oil, 3 tablespoon Vegetable oil, ⅓ cup Walnuts, 2 tablespoon Lemon juice, ½ teaspoon Kosher salt, 1 tablespoon Water
- Pulse your ingredients until they begin to come together and form a pesto.
- Do not over mix or your pesto or it will be too smooth; you want a little texture.
- Taste for seasoning and add any salt or pepper as needed.
- Add it to pesto pasta or serve with bread for dipping.
Nutrition Values are estimates only.See full nutrition disclaimer here
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