Easy Homemade Healthy Pesto Paste

This homemade healthy pesto paste is super easy to make and very quick. Use it for soups, pastas, stews, chicken, bread, dips and more! If you freeze them into cubes, you’ll have a burst of flavor whenever you want. Be sure and read below about how to prevent bitter pesto.

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It’s easy to make pesto: 1, 2, 3!

  1. Start by using freshly picked basil leaves. Use only the leaves, not the stems. Wash and pat them dry.
  2. Combine ingredients together in a food processorexcept for the extra virgin olive oil.
  3. Transfer basil mix to a small bowl. Stir in olive oil. That’s it!
Fresh basil on a wooden cutting board with red tomatoes on the counter from Gourmet Done Skinny
Turn fresh basil into homemade healthy pesto! Start by washing and breaking off the leaves.
Food processor with fresh basil, garlic, parmesan cheese and black pepper
Place all of the pesto ingredients in the food processor except for the oil.
Pesto ingredients combined in the food processor
Combine until well chopped. Transfer to a small bowl.
Bottle of olive oil being poured into a tablespoon over pesto
Add the olive oil in by hand to prevent your pesto from tasting bitter.
Blue Polish pottery bowl with homemade pesto, spatula and olive oil on a granite counter
Finished homemade healthy basil pesto ready to add to pastas, soups, chicken, beef and more!
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Why do I add olive oil in by hand?

Have you ever made or had bitter pesto? This is the result from the oil being emulsified in the food processor. Overprocessing squeezes out the bitter tasting polyphenols and makes your pesto bitter. The first time I made pesto I was so disappointed. I barely had enough basil leaves to make the pesto and then I ruined it by pulsing the oil too much in the food processor. I was so sad! They say you can fix it with salt or more parmesan but this batch was completely ruined, there was no fixing it. I learned my lesson, always stir it in!

How long does homemade pesto last?

Homemade pesto lasts a few days in the refrigerator. In the freezer, it will last for months.

Can you freeze pesto?

Yes, most definitely! Place it into ice cube trays (or whatever you have handy, I happen to use mini bundt pans) or freeze 1 tablespoon plops on  parchment paper. Transfer to a plastic bag when frozen. Use as needed.

What can I do with homemade pesto?

Add it to soups, pastas, stews, chicken and beef dishes and more! 1 tablespoon of flavor goes a long way!

Freeze homemade pesto into cubes and transfer to a plastic bag and store in the freezer. I use whatever I have available – mini bundt pans which hold about 1 tablespoon of pesto.

How did I make this homemade pesto recipe healthy?

While this homemade pesto recipe still has 2 Freestyle Smart Points per tablespoon, it is healthier than other recipes. Traditionally homemade pesto recipes use more oil and also include pine nuts. Although I love pine nuts, I don’t think they are necessary for a healthy pesto. More oil makes the pesto thinner and richer, this version is more of a paste, has more flavor, less calories and points.

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Homemade basil pesto in a Polish pottery bowl with a wooden spoon from Gourmet Done Skinny

Easy Healthy Homemade Pesto

  • Freestyle Smart Points:2 Freestyle Smart Points per tablespoon
  • Author: Amy Lawrence
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: none
  • Total Time: 15
  • Yield: 6 Tablespoons 1x
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Mixing
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

This healthy homemade basil pesto paste is super easy to make! It’s a great flavor enhancer for pasta, soups, stews, chicken, beef and more! Freeze it into cubes so you can add it anytime you need flavor!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 c. firmly packed fresh basil leaves, washed, no stems or blooms
  • 23 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan
  • 1/4 t. kosher salt
  • 1/8 t. black pepper – I like mine with a little zip, use less if you don’t
  • 3 T. quality extra virgin olive oil (I use Hojiblanca from Trio Carmel)

Instructions

  1. Wash basil and pat dry. Place in food processor.
  2. Add garlic, parmesan, salt and pepper.
  3. Process until finely chopped.
  4. Transfer to a small bowl, add olive oil and combine well. (Note: if you add oil to food processor and over process, your pesto will be bitter, so just stir it in.)
  5. Place in ice cube trays and freeze.  Or store in refrigerator for a few days.  Makes about 6 tablespoons.
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