This Homemade Walnut Pesto is bright, creamy, and loaded with flavor. It is similar to a traditional basil pesto recipe, but instead of pine nuts I use walnuts.
What do you do with a huge bunch of basil? Make homemade walnut pesto, of course!
The only logical response to buying a massive bunch of basil at the farmers market is making a big batch of homemade pesto sauce. During the summer the basil at the farmers market is an absolute steal. I got a huge bunch for $2.
Then when we got the basil home my girlfriend said, “What are you even going to make with that?” I gave her a look like, “do you even have to ask?” and then proceeded to make my walnut pesto recipe.
Like I said, basil is super affordable from farmers markets in the summer. Another way to cut down on the price of your homemade pesto sauce is to use walnuts instead of pine nuts. The flavor will still be great, but walnuts are much more affordable.
- Measuring spoons and measuring cups
- Liquid measuring cups
- Food processor or blender
- Flat spatula
- Frying pan to toast walnuts
- Optional: Cheese grater to freshly grate the parmesan cheese
A traditional pesto is made with a mortar and pestle, but to make things easier I use a food processor.
Make pesto with walnuts instead of pine nuts and save money!
While we’re chatting price I’m going to do a little amazon price comparison for you. You can get a 40oz bag of walnuts on amazon for $20 while a 16oz bag of pine nuts is $26!! You can see that walnuts are a quarter of the price of the pine nuts.
Moral of the story if you are looking to save some money on your homemade pesto sauce, make it with walnuts. This batch of pesto made about 1.5 cups of pesto, but you can easily double this batch and freeze some for later while basil is in season.
If you want to make a big batch of homemade pesto sauce and save it in the freezer, I recommend placing it in an airtight bag immediately after preparing the pesto.
The pesto sauce will turn brown when it is left out after being prepared because the cut basil leaves will oxidize. To keep your pesto fresh and green you will want to keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Fresh basil leaves
- Raw walnuts
- Garlic cloves
- Parmesan cheese
- Extra virgin olive oil
Ingredient substitutions and additions
Instead of walnuts you could also use roasted almonds or pecans. If you are using almonds I recommend using a marcona almond because the texture of the pesto will be smoother.
This is standard pesto recipe, but you can change it up to add even more flavor. Add a pinch of crushed pepper flakes to add a little bit of spice. Add a squeeze of lemon juice or a dollop of vinegar for a hit of acidity and brightness.
Change up the flavor slightly by using a pecorino romano cheese instead of the parmesano reggiano. You could also use a blend of both that you will occasionally see at the grocery store.
I hope by now I have convinced you that you need to make yourself a big, beautiful batch of homemade pesto sauce while basil is fresh and in season. Now that you have your walnut pestorecipe, how are you going to eat it? Truly the possibilities are endless.
As soon as I made my homemade pesto sauce I made some turkey sandwiches and slathered a hefty spoonful of this pesto on the bread. I also at this pesto on some avocado toast with eggs and on a grilled cheese.
Of course you can go the classic route and put this homemade pesto sauce on pasta. I love to mix sauteed summer vegetables with cooked pasta, some pasta water and lots of pesto.
I love to make a flatbread pizza with the pesto as the base. Then I top it with thinly sliced zucchini, fresh tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese. Pop it into the oven to bake for just 10 minutes.
You can also use this homemade pesto recipe as a dip for any protein you like. I love to serve it with some simple grilled chicken. If you are looking for a healthier spin on traditional pesto, try my kale pesto recipe.
How to make this walnut pesto recipe
To make this homemade pesto sauce you will need a knife, cutting board and a food processor. A blender will work, but it will not be as easy as a food processor.
If you only have a blender, be sure to stop while you are blending the pest and scrape down the sides of the container to get an even sauce.
It is very simple to make this homemade pesto sauce. Toast your walnuts in a dry skillet over medium low heat until they just start to turn golden brown – about 7 minutes.
Then, pull the leaves off your basil stalks until you have 2 packed cups of fresh basil. Then peel 1-2 cloves of garlic.
Place the basil leaves, garlic, parmesan cheese and walnuts into the bowl of the food processor. Process until a smooth even mixture remains.
While the food processor is running slowly pour in a stead stream of olive oil. Allow the food processor to continue running until a smooth mixture remains.
You will be left with a bright, fresh homemade pesto sauce. I like to store mine in the fridge in little 1/2 pint jars. To prevent oxidation, pour an extra thin layer of olive oil over top of the pesto in the jar.
Storage and freezing
Store this basil pesto sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week. The sauce may become discolored as it sits in the fridge, but will still taste good.
If you have extra basil walnut pesto or if you double the batch, you can freeze extra in an ice cube tray. This makes it super easy to pop one or two cubes out of the tray, defrost them and use them in any recipe.
Check out these other delicious homemade sauces!
- Creamy Zhoug Sauce
- Healthy Copycat Chick-fil-A Sauce
- Healthy Caesar Dressing
- Chipotle Ranch Dressing
Keep reading to find the whole recipe. As always, if you make this recipe, please let me know in the comments or on Instagram!
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 1–2 cloves garlic
- 1/3 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Peel garlic cloves and remove stems from basil
- Toast your walnuts in a dry skillet over medium low heat until they just start to turn golden brown – about 7 minutes, tossing frequently
- Place basil, garlic, walnuts, parmesan cheese, and salt in a food processor
- Process until fully combine
- With the food processor running, slowly stream in olive oil – you may need to stop the food processor and scraps down the sides to be sure all the ingredients are mixed in
- Once all of the oil is added, keep the food processor running until a smooth pesto remains
- Place in an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to one week
- Use pecorino romano instead of parmesan if you like it better
- Feel free to use almonds or pecans in place of walnuts
- Pour a thin layer of olive oil over top of the pesto in the jar to prevent oxidation