Basil and Walnut Pesto {Budget Friendly!}

You won’t miss the overpriced pine nuts in this affordable basil pesto recipe. Swirl into hot pasta, spread on sandwiches, or add to anything you’d like.

close up pesto

❤️ Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Flavor-packed: The blend of fresh basil, walnuts, and parmesan is a delicious classic.
  • Quick and Easy: Just 15 minutes and a food processor does all the work.
  • Budget-Friendly: No pricey ingredients here! This recipe offers gourmet taste without the hefty price tag.
  • Freezer Friendly: Got extras? No worries! You can easily store them for later.

This is an overview of the ingredients. You’ll find the full measurements and instructions in the printable recipe at the bottom of the page.

ingredients on wooden board.

You’ll need the following for this classic summer spread:

  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Walnuts
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Garlic cloves
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper

🍴Instructions

Step one: toast walnuts

walnuts before and after toasting.

Start by toasting those walnuts in an oven at 350°F. You’ll know they’re ready when they’re fragrant and take on a golden hue. Cool them off once they’re out.

Step two: pulse dry ingredients

ingredients in food processor before and after blending.

Rinse the basil leaves, pat them dry, and remove any old stems or off-color leaves.

Toss the toasted walnuts, basil, grated parmesan, garlic, salt, and pepper into a blender or food processor. Give it a few pulses to get acquainted.

Step Three: add olive oil

finished pesto in food processor.

🥫 Storage instructions

Transfer the walnut basil pesto to a clean and airtight container. You can store it in the refrigerator for up to a week. Cover with a layer of olive oil.

For longer storage, you can freeze the pesto in ice cube trays and transfer the frozen cubes

🔍 FAQs

Can I use another nut instead of walnuts?

Pecans will work!

I don’t have a food processor, can I still make this?

You can use a mortar and pestle to crush and mix the ingredients. It might take a bit more effort, but the result will be a more rustic, textured pesto.

What if I want a more liquid consistency?

Simply add more olive oil! Drizzle it in slowly until you reach your desired consistency. Remember, it’s always easier to add more than to take some out!

👩🏻‍🍳 Expert tips

  • Ensure your basil is truly fresh. The fresher it is, the brighter and more vibrant your pesto will taste.
  • When storing in the fridge, topping the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil will keep it looking and tasting fresh.
  • If you’re not a fan of too much garlic, adjust to your liking.

📘 more basil Recipes

🍽 Serve it with

  • Toss the pesto with your favorite cooked pasta and sprinkle some extra-grated Parmesan on top.
  • Spread it on toasted baguette slices for a tasty appetizer.
  • Use it as a marinade for grilled chicken or fish.
  • Stir it into soups or stews for an extra burst of flavor.
pasta tossed in homemade pesto.

📖 Here’s the recipe

finished pesto in ramekin.

Basil Walnut Pesto

A budget-friendly pesto recipe that you'll love. Versatile, freezer friendly, and perfect for summer. Makes 1 cup.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Serving Size 8 servings

Equipment

  • Blender or food processor

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves packed
  • ½ cup walnuts toasted
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese about 3-4 ounces
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions 

  • Toast the Walnuts: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer. Toast them in the preheated oven for about 5-7 minutes, or until they become fragrant and lightly browned. Keep an eye on them to avoid burning. Once toasted, remove from the oven and let them cool.
  • Prep the Basil: Rinse the fresh basil leaves thoroughly and pat them dry with paper towels. Make sure to remove any tough stems or discolored leaves.
  • Blend the Pesto: In a food processor or blender, combine the toasted walnuts, fresh basil, grated Parmesan cheese, garlic cloves, salt, and black pepper. Pulse the ingredients a few times to break them down.
  • Drizzle in Olive Oil: While the food processor is running, slowly drizzle in the extra-virgin olive oil. Continue processing until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy. You may need to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a spatula to ensure even blending.
  • Serve or Store the Pesto: Serve immediately, or carefully store. Transfer the walnut basil pesto to a clean and airtight container. You can store it in the refrigerator for up to a week. For longer storage, you can freeze the pesto in ice cube trays and transfer the frozen cubes to a freezer-safe bag.

Notes

The basil will brown after a few days if exposed to air.  Cover with a layer of olive oil to store, or freeze. 
Basil and Walnut Pesto {Budget Friendly!}

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