How to Make Italian Basil Pesto

Author: Veruska Anconitano, Award-Winning Food Travel Journalist, Sommelier & Outdoor LoverAuthor information
About the author
Veruska Anconitano
Veruska is a a food travel journalist with awards to her credit, such as World Best Food Travel Journalist. She holds a certification as a sommelier and she is also an ardent lover of the outdoors. Aside from this, Veruska is a Multilingual SEO and Localization Consultant and co-owns multiple websites that cater to a global audience.
Website Linkedin Twitter

If you are looking for the original recipe for homemade Italian basil pesto, keep reading because in this article we will explain everything: the recipe made according to tradition and officially deposited plus all the tips to prepare a tasty and fragrant basil pesto, ideal for summer recipes and consume all year round.

The recipe for homemade pesto is notoriously one of the most tormented, together with carbonara pasta: from the use of ingredients that are not appropriate to techniques that necessarily undermine the quality and flavor, this typical Ligurian recipe is usually mistreated.

Making the pesto, in fact, seems simple but in reality, if you do not respect the right doses and above all, if you do not pay attention to the order in which the ingredients are mixed, and obviously to the quality of the ingredients themselves, the result is everything but pleasant.

Is there a difference between pesto Genovese (Genoese pesto) and pesto sauce?

Although these two sentences do not seem different, in reality they are: in fact, it is possible to call “Genovese pesto” only the one prepared using the recipe filed by the Disciplinary which provides for the use of seven recognized ingredients: PDO Genoese basil, Extra virgin olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Dop, Garlic, Salt and Pine Nuts. To these ingredients is added the specific technique which requires that the pesto is prepared by hand with a mortar.

Theoretically and also practically, if your pesto does not comply with the above parameters (even the PDO ingredients, which are in fact the most difficult to find if you are not in Liguria) it cannot be called Genoese pesto but it must be called pesto sauce.

The recipe you can find here is the Authentic Italian Basil Pesto Recipe made with a mortar

Ingredients for One Jar

  • 50 grams of small leaves of basil (about 60/65 leaves)
  • 1/2 glass of extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 spoons of Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 2 spoons of Pecorino
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 3-4 grains of coarse salt


  1. Wash the basil in cold water then dab it with a cotton cloth to remove the water being careful not to break the leaves.
  2. Crush two cloves of garlic in the mortar and, when it is well crushed, add the coarse salt. Add the basil leaves a few at a time starting to pound them with a circular motion so that the basil releases the oil and the leaves do not break but gradually flake off.
  3. Once all the basil has been added and crushed and when a green liquid comes out, add the pine nuts and continue to crush.
  4. Add also the Parmesan and the Pecorino cheese to the mixture and, almost at the end, pour the oil so as to give it time to absorb all the flavors without overpowering anyone. Once the sauce is well blended, use it in the kitchen, on pasta and more.


Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 0 minutes

Total time: 10 minutes

Basil Pesto: Tips and Tricks

  • If you want to enjoy the benefits of fresh basil even in winter you can prepare the pesto and then put it to freeze in special containers or jars;
  • The pesto must be prepared with all the ingredients at room temperature and fast because otherwise the basil will blacken and become bitter;
  • To prevent the pesto from turning black, do not to expose it excessively to air and not even near intense heat sources;
  • If, once you open the jar, you have some sauce leftover, remember to cover it with cling film and possibly add extra virgin olive oil so that it doesn’t oxidize.

Can I make pesto with a blender?

Yes, you will be making a basil pesto sauce for the reasons above. To do this, use an immersion blender being careful not to overheat the ingredients which, with the heat, lose not only the color but also the organoleptic characteristics.

Can I change the ingredients of Genoese pesto?

No, if you want to stay true to tradition. Yes, if you want to prepare a sauce that reminds you of pesto but which is not pesto. For example, you could prepare the sauce without garlic or by replacing the pine nuts with walnuts.

How can I use my pesto?

Tradition has it that pesto is used as a condiment for pasta. But you may be familiar with using your basil sauce with mozzarella and fresh tomato or as a sauce for your panini. If not, try it and you will not be disappointed.

If you love this...

Latest articles

Do you want to receive a notification when we publish a new article?