How to Make Pesto With Any Herb

While pesto sauce is a delicious Italian classic used for pasta, you can use it in many other different ways. From drizzling on roasted veggies to spreading on sandwiches to dressing salads, pesto is a fresh way of livening up any meal. Use pesto sauce in your pastas, on your pizzas or as a marinade for chicken or fish.

Traditionally made with fresh basil, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese, pesto can be made with a variety of herbs (or leafy greens), nuts and cheeses. Use this recipe for a classic pesto sauce, or get creative with your ingredients using the tips below. (And here's a great way to keep herbs fresh!)

Jar of pesto sauce. Homemade pesto sauce perks up any meal. Image Credit: Julia Mueller

Things You\’ll Need

  • 3 cups tightly packed basil leaves

  • 2/3 cup pine nuts

  • 5 cloves garlic

  • 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

  • 2/3 cup olive oil

  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Step 1: Mix Dry Ingredients

Food processor container filled with pesto ingredients. Add the pesto ingredients to a food processor. Image Credit: Julia Mueller

Add all of the ingredients except for the oil to a food processor.

Step 2: Pulse to Chop

Chopped pesto ingredients in food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are coarsely chopped. Image Credit: Julia Mueller

Pulse 4 to 5 times until the ingredients are roughly chopped.

Step 3: Slowly Add Oil

Pesto sauce in a food processor. Incorporate the olive oil gradually. Image Credit: Julia Mueller

Turn on the food processor, and slowly drizzle in the oil through the lid opening. Process to your desired consistency. You can make the sauce completely smooth or leave it fairly chunky.

Step 4: Transfer to a Jar

Jar of pesto sauce. Store pesto for up to 10 days. Image Credit: Julia Mueller

Pour the pesto sauce into a sealable container, and refrigerate until ready to use. Store in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. You also can freeze it in a sealed container.


Now that you have the basics, experiment with a variety of herbs, nuts or seeds, oils and cheeses. Simply use the same portions listed in the original recipe, and combine various ingredients to create your own delicious sauce. For a highly nutritious sauce, you can use leafy greens in combination with your favorite herbs.

Herbs: basil, flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, sage, mint, tarragon.

Leafy greens: kale, spinach, arugula. Note: If making pesto with kale, incorporate an herb such as basil or parsley for best result.

Cheeses: Parmesan, Gruyere, aged white cheddar, Asiago.

Nuts and seeds: pine nuts, raw walnuts, raw cashews, roasted almonds, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds.

Oils: Extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, almond oil, grapeseed oil, pumpkin oil.

Bunches of parsley, basil, and cilantro. Parsley, basil and cilantro all make a tasty pesto sauce. Image Credit: Julia Mueller

How to Keep Herb Fresh

Old, wilted herbs just aren't cute. Or tasty. Or appealing. Here's how to keep them fresh…

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