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A jar of basil pesto.

Large or Small Batch Basil Pesto

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4.9 from 15 reviews


Pesto can be made with many a herb (parsley, chives, tarragon, cilantro) as well as many a vegetable (kale), cheese (pecorino), and/or nut (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts). Because our CSA had gifted us three enormous bundles in two weeks, I made a straight-up basil pesto, omitting the nuts mostly because they’re so darn expensive. If you like the texture and flavor offered by nuts, you can definitely add them here. Quantities are listed in ingredient list.

Pesto freezes beautifully. Freezing in ice cube trays or something similar is handy, because it allows you to remove small portions as needed.

Re kosher salt: I note the brand I use, Diamond Crystal, because saltiness varies among brands. If you use Morton’s kosher salt, for example, you should cut the amount of salt back because Morton’s is saltier than Diamond Crystal.

To make a small batch of pesto, use these quantities:

  • 4 cups (85 g) loosely packed basil
  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal brand, see notes)
  • 1/2 cup (57 g) grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, almonds, or walnuts (optional)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil


  • 16 cups (320 g) basil
  • 1 head garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 to 3.5 teaspoons kosher salt (Diamond Crystal brand, see notes)
  • 2 cups (215 g) grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 cup toasted pine nuts, almonds, or walnuts (optional)
  • 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil


Combine basil, garlic, lemon, 3 teaspoons of the salt, and the cheese in a food processor. Pulse to combine—you may have to pulse in batches. Add the oil and purée to combine. Taste. Adjust with more salt, lemon or oil to taste. Store in fridge or transfer to ice cube trays and freeze; then transfer to a ziplock bag and store in freezer.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Condiment
  • Method: Food Processor
  • Cuisine: Italian