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Tremendous Straightforward Do-it-yourself Pesto Pasta


You can buy pesto in a jar, but there is nothing like the fresh and bright flavors of homemade basil pesto. You won’t believe how easy it is to make with just 5 ingredients and you have a delicious Pesto Pasta dinner in less than 30 minutes!

homemade pesto pasta on a white speckled plate with parmesan cheese and basil leaf as garnish.

Homemade Pesto Sauce

The base of my homemade pesto recipe is basil. Fresh basil is one of those herbs that can be found all over during the summer months. I have found it at my local grocery stores, Trader Joe’s, farmers markets and plant nurseries. I usually buy a plant and then pot it myself so that I have fresh basil whenever I want. It grows pretty well for me inside as long as I keep it by a window.

There are actually lots of different kinds of pesto, but my kids prefer basil pesto. It is truly SO easy to make and the fresh flavors are like nothing else. You can put it on pasta, chicken, pizza, veggies, crusty bread and even shrimp!

homemade pesto pasta with shredded parmesan cheese and fresh basil as a garnish on a white speckled plate with a fork lifting a piece of pasta.

Ingredients to Make Your Own Pesto Pasta at Home

This pesto sauce only has 5 ingredients! Yes, its true. And most of them I typically have on hand so it is easy to whip up when I need a quick meal in a pinch.

  • Fresh Basil – it is a lot more economical to buy an entire plant when it comes to basil. Look around at your local grocery stories or even plant nurseries. They almost always have them available, even year round and they smell amazing in your kitchen!
  • Parmesan Cheese – you will want to use freshly grated parmesan. You can also use romano if you want.
  • Pine Nuts – these can be expensive! If you can’t stomach the cost you can definitely use walnuts.
  • Olive Oil – extra virgin olive oil gives pesto the best flavor.
  • Garlic – you will need it minced and so you can mince it yourself, or buy pre-minced.
  • Lemon (optional) – if you like the bright and tangy flavor of lemon, you can definitely add a squeeze.
Ingredients for making pesto sauce: basil, parmesan, pine nuts in a marble mortar.

How to Make Easy Homemade Pesto Pasta

It will probably take you longer to boil your noodles than to make an entire batch of pesto!

  • Cook your noodles according to package directions. I love using shaped pasta because it’s easier for kids to eat!
  • Pulse. In the bowl of a food processor, add the basil leaves and pine nuts and pulse until very finely minced.
  • Add the garlic and parmesan cheese and pulse a few more times until combined.
  • Pour. With the food processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil and blend until combined and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste and pulse a couple of times.
  • Serve with cooked pasta and add an extra sprinkle of parmesan cheese as a garnish.
homemade pesto pasta on a white speckled plate with parmesan cheese and basil leaf as garnish.

Commonly Asked Questions About Making Pesto Pasta

What can I add to pesto pasta?

-Cherry tomatoes
-Zucchini or yellow squash
-Chicken or shrimp
-Asparagus
-Chickpeas
-Sundried tomatoes
-Roasted red peppers

How much pesto do I need for pasta?

You will need about 1 cup of pesto per pound of dried pasta.

Do you put pesto on pasta hot or cold?

You can actually do either! It really is just up to your personal preference. If you serve it cold, it is more like a pasta salad. Served warm is more like a dinner entree.

Is Pesto healthy?

Homemade pesto has vitamins and minerals like potassium and manganese, antioxidants and monounsaturated fats. When you make your own pesto at home, you can control how much fat and salt go into your pesto from the olive oil, parmesan cheese and any salt you add.

homemade pesto pasta on a white speckled plate with parmesan cheese and basil leaf as garnish.

More Favorite Pasta Recipes

homemade pesto pasta on a white speckled plate with parmesan cheese and a fresh basil leaf as a garnish.
  • 2 cups spiral pasta
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese freshly grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Cook your noodles according to package directions.

  • Pulse. In the bowl of a food processor, add the basil leaves and pine nuts and pulse until very finely minced.

  • Add the garlic and parmesan cheese and pulse a few more times until combined.

  • Pour. With the food processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil and blend until combined and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste and pulse a couple of times.

  • Serve with cooked pasta and add an extra sprinkle of parmesan cheese as a garnish.

Calories: 396kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 203mg | Potassium: 215mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 736IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 178mg | Iron: 2mg

Natalie Monson

I’m a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.

Learn More about Natalie

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