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Homemade Easy Basil Walnut Pesto

Stashing containers of easy basil walnut pesto is the most squirrel-like getting-ready-for-winter thing I do. If our CSA farm share box comes with basil–I pull out the food processor and whip up a batch of pesto. It doesn’t take long–the work is in stripping the basil leaves off the stems. Once the pesto is made, I scrape it into small jars or plastic tubs and pop them into the freezer. Then, all winter long, if we want basil pesto for pasta or pizza or soup, we head to the freezer.

Easy Basil Walnut Pesto | Letty's Kitchen

We use basil walnut pesto as sauce on pasta for sure, but that’s not all. Winter soups love the extra flavor bump from a dollop of pesto. When a recipe calls for fresh herbs, in goes a tablespoon of basil pesto instead. Basil pesto spread over the dough is a great beginning for fabulous pizza. In the middle of winter, a dollop of garlicky basil walnut pesto brings a summer punch to most anything.

ingredients for Easy Basil Walnut Pesto | Letty's Kitchen

One of the best things about this recipe is that it uses less olive oil than other pesto recipes. More basil bang for the buck. Italian Genovese pesto calls for pine nuts and Parmesan cheese–but I save those bucks by using walnuts and Pecorino Romano cheese instead.

Purists be appalled, but any flavor or texture nuance lost by not using the traditional mortar and pestle is more than made up for with time saved by making it with the food processor. You say stripping all the leaves still seems like a lot of work, and why not buy the pesto at Costco. To me, that’s like saying dried parsley is an adequate substitute for the fresh leaf. There is nothing like homemade basil pesto, fresh or frozen stash.

Here in Park City the sports shops have all their summer gear on sale. Over Labor Day weekend they switched over—to skis, boots and winter clothing. I’m getting ready for winter in the kitchen; I’m stocking my pesto larder.

 Easy Basil Walnut Pesto ready for processing in Cuisinart | Letty's Kitchen

Today, harvest day for our CSA,  easy basil walnut pesto is front and center for dinner. I make up a full batch of the emerald opulence–and we gorge ourselves on pasta loaded with the super fresh walnut basil pesto. What doesn’t go on the pasta goes in jars and plastic tubs, in the freezer and waiting for winter.

You might also like this Garlic Scape and Mess o’ Greens Pesto. Or these Caprese Veggie Patties with Basil Arugula Pesto.

Wishing you a fabulous week–get in the kitchen and whip up something delicious!

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Basil Walnut Pesto
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
13 mins
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 3 ounces Pecorino romano cheese , broken in pieces or already grated, about 3/4 cup (see note)
  • 2 cups tightly packed , stemmed fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (or pine nuts to be extravagant)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Real Salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. With the motor of the food processor running, mince the garlic by dropping it through the feed tube. Process until it is very fine and it no longer makes noise as it hits the side of the bowl.
  2. Add the cheese, basil, walnuts and salt. Process for about 10 seconds, stopping to move things around if they get hung up.
  3. With the machine running, pour oil through the feed tube in a thin stream, processing until everything is well blended.
Recipe Notes
  • Don’t even think of using that sawdust in the green can they call parmesan!
  • Add the ingredients in the order directed for efficient use of the food processor.
  • Scrape the pesto into small containers immediately and freeze. To use in winter, thaw the pesto only enough so you can scrape out what you'll use.


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