Homemade pesto is our go to when we’ve got extra greens to use up. We are particularly in love with arugula pesto, with it’s peppery bite.
Don’t worry, it’s not too peppery. This arugula pesto recipe is balanced by the addition of basil (we use a 4:1 ratio of arugula to basil) and zesty, bright lemon.
- Peppery and pungent from the combination of arugula and garlic
- Bright and fresh from the basil and lemon
- Sweet nuttiness and cheesy flavor from grated parmesan
- Smooth, creamy texture
- 5 minute prep time!
- Made in a food processor
Seriously, this is the best pesto recipe ever!
What Is Pesto?
Pesto is a bright, herbaceous uncooked sauce originating from Genoa featuring basil, dry aged cheese (parmesan cheese or pecorino cheese are classics) garlic, salt, and olive oil.
While pesto was originally prepared in a mortar with pestle, we take the quicker route and blend the ingredients together in a food processor. Hello, 5 minute prep time!
As for the classic flavor of pesto? We’re giving it a facelift with the welcomed addition of peppery arugula. Forget having leftovers, when you’re enjoying the best pesto recipe, you”ll lick the bowl clean! We speak from experience.
If you love homemade pesto as much as we do, be sure to try these recipes next: Garlic Scape Pesto, Ramp Pesto, and Walnut Pesto
Arugula Pesto Ingredients
- Fresh arugula
- Fresh basil
- Pine nuts
- Grated parmesan cheese
- Lemon zest and juice
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
Don’t have pine nuts? You can substitute walnuts, almonds, or pecans in its place.
Pecorino romano can replace parmesan in a pinch!
How To Make The Best Pesto Recipe
Making pesto is so easy you’ll have it on rotation all summer long!
Combine all ingredients except for olive oil in a food processor fitted with blade attachment, then pulse until very finely chopped.
With the motor running, stream in olive oil (½ cup at first) until smooth and desired consistency is reached.
Serve immediately or store in mason jars with lid.
Variations On The Best Pesto Recipe
Pesto is as versatile as it gets! In this recipe, we recommend sticking with a 4:1 ratio of arugula to basil, but you can use spinach, fresh herbs, or other leafy greens such as kale to make homemade pesto.
And oh my god, if you are lucky enough to score ramps at the farmer’s market in the spring, check out our ramp pesto, which is killer!!
Don’t have pine nuts? Walnuts, pistachios, and almonds are all commonly used ingredients to add that nutty flavor!
Ways To Use Pesto
Homemade arugula pesto is great on pizzas, sandwiches, mixed with pasta, or simply used as a dip for crudité!
- Add a scoop of arugula pesto on top of salmon, shrimp, or chicken before baking.
- Use as a sauce on burgers or bratwurst!
- Serve with crusty bread, roasted potatoes, or french fries for dipping!
Oh, and if you are crazy about pesto, you absolutely must try our pesto bread!! A simple braided dough is slathered with pesto, then bakes until light and soft. It is heaven!
Tips For Making The Best Pesto
- Pulse, don’t blend! This will help keep small pieces of arugula and basil visible in the sauce.
- Stream in olive oil while the motor is running instead of pouring it all in at once. This is the correct way to emulsify sauces so they won’t break.
We promise, one bite and you will be hooked! Arugula pesto is the type of recipe you double just for the sake of leftovers, but end up eating by the spoonful before ever making it to the Tupperware.
We speak from experience when we say this is the best pesto recipe — make a triple batch and live your best life!!
If you make this Arugula Pesto recipe, please let us know by leaving a review and rating below.
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For more summer recipes, check out the following:
- Ahi tuna poke recipe
- Tomato confit
- Mozzarella caprese gazpacho
- Homemade ricotta cheese
- Shrimp lettuce wraps
- Homemade lamb burgers with yogurt sauce
Arugula Pesto Recipe
- 2 cups packed arugula
- ½ cup basil
- ½ cup parmesan cheese grated
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 1 clove garlic chopped
- 1 tsp lemon zest + half a lemon juiced
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ½ – ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Place all ingredients except for olive oil in the bowl of a food processor fitted with blade attachment. Pulse until very finely chopped.
- With machine on, slowly drizzle in olive oil, using ½ cup to begin, until smooth and emulsified. If pesto is too chunky, add remaining olive oil. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in refrigerator until needed.
- Arugula pesto will keep for up to 1 week in a refrigerator or up to 3 months in a freezer. Tip: freeze extra pesto in ice cube trays, then add to sauces or pastas in single portions as needed!
- Variations for arugula: additional basil, spinach, or kale work great
- Variations for pine nuts: walnuts, pistachios, pecans, or almonds
- Variations for parmesan: pecorino, asiago, or gruyere for a smoky, nutty flavor
This was amazing! We eat a lot of pesto in our house, but I had a massive crop of arugula that I wanted to use before it went to seed in the garden. This was just the ticket. It was garlicky, peppery, and a tad bit lemony – a great change from regular pesto. We put it on homemade pizza with caramelized onions and thin sliced red potatoes. Even my pepperoni-worshiping partner ate three pieces.
ari | well seasoned says
So happy you love this pesto!! That peppery bite is just the best!! xo, Ari
I made this arugula pesto yesterday and it was wonderful! I had it on top of bread last night and today I had it on top of a ham sandwich. I can’t wait put mix it with some pasta. This arugula pesto has the most amazing flavors. It was so easy to make. I’m planning on making more and doing exactly what the tips say and freeze some… that is if any of it makes it to the freezer. Yum!
ari | well seasoned says
We are OBSESSED with this pesto and I’m so, so glad you loved it too! Bread, sandwich, or eaten plain by the spoonful, it’s just really freakin’ delicious!! xo, Ari
Holy mother of pearl this is delicious! It’s smooth, it’s a little peppery, and it knocks you down with its flavor but you just have to keep coming back for more! Can’t recommend this recipe enough. The only additional variation I added of my own is lightly toasting the pine nuts before using but I’ve done this recipe with and without toasting – still a winner either way.
ari | well seasoned says
YES YES YES!!! It is my favorite pesto in the whole world!!! xo, Ari
Just made a fresh batch today because I ran out and need some pesto for a recipe. It’s SO good. Just SO SO good! I use either almonds or walnuts (or sometimes cashews) instead of the pine nuts because I get a weird metal mouth reaction (boo!), but otherwise follow your impeccable instruction to amazing results! Thank you!
Ari Laing says
It truly is so flavorful! We sometimes eat it by the spoonful lol! xo, Ari