Homemade Walnut Pesto could not be easier to make or more delicious! It’s got 6 ingredients, most of which you likely already have on hand, and has a bright flavor you’ll crave all spring and summer long! Plus, you can make it a few days in advance or freeze for months!
Not only does fresh pesto taste 100x better than store-bought, but it can be added to so many dishes! Serve it over grilled chicken or tossed with salmon, make the infamous TikTok pesto eggs, or use it as a spread on sandwiches. No matter how you enjoy it, we think you’ll agree that this Walnut Pesto recipe is on another level!
While pine nuts are the standard in pesto sauce, we love the flavor that toasted walnuts bring to this recipe. If you’re looking for a traditional pesto recipe, check out our basil pesto and arugula pesto recipes!
- Fresh basil: you’ll need about 2 cups of packed basil leaves
- Toasted walnuts: while you can of course use raw walnuts, if you toast them or heat through in a dry skillet for just a couple minutes, it brings out their nutty flavor and aroma!
- A garlic clove, thinly sliced: adds a sharp bite!
- Lemon zest and fresh lemon juice: to brighten up the flavors!
- Extra virgin olive oil: use a high quality EVOO, the flavor really shines through!
- Grated Parmigiano Reggiano — there is no replacement for Parmesan!
While you can certainly make pesto with a mortar and pestle, we recommend the easier method of making it in a food processor fitted with blade attachment. A small blender will also work (we love this personal blender from Zwilling for sauces and purées!).
How To Make Fresh Pesto At Home
Combine toasted walnuts, fresh basil, 1-2 garlic cloves, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a food processor. Pulse until very finely chopped, then with the motor running stream in the extra virgin olive oil.
The consistency should be oily, and you’ll think that you’ve put too much in. You haven’t! Transfer the basil pesto to a medium bowl, then pour in the grated Parmesan cheese. Stir it in and watch as the pesto thickens up. Give it a taste, it likely will not need added salt (Parmigiano Reggiano is nutty and salty on its own!). You can add a little black pepper if you like, but we do not generally add pepper to pesto. Personal preference!
How To Store Leftover Pesto
Homemade pesto will keep in a refrigerator for up to 5 days when stored in an airtight container.
Alternatively, you can freeze any leftovers in single portions in an ice cube tray. Genius, right?! Freeze until solid, then pop each pesto ice cube out and transfer to a large freezer safe Ziplock storage bag. The pesto will keep in a freezer for up to 6 months and can be added directly to the pan from frozen to make quick sauces for pasta, chicken, roasted veggies, or any other protein you love.
Different Uses For Pesto
Some of our favorite ways to use walnut pesto are:
- As a topping for pizza
- On sandwiches in place of spreads like mayonnaise or mustard
- Stirred into pasta (try our Trenette al Pesto) or as a sauce for gnocchi
- On grilled meats: chicken, salmon, shrimp, steak, or pork
- Tossed with roasted or grilled veggies
Can I Use Other Nuts?
Of course! Traditional basil pesto is made with toasted pine nuts, but if you’d rather not use those or toasted walnuts, you can substitute with pecans, almonds, or even pistachios!
I guess you could say this pesto is the besto! (I’m sorry, I had to — it’s that delicious!!)
If you make this Walnut Pesto recipe, please let us know by leaving a review and rating below!
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More pesto recipes to try!
- Breakfast Polenta with Pesto
- Chicken Pesto Pasta
- Trenette al Pesto
- Chicken Pesto Panini
- Pesto Zoodles With Salmon
Walnut Pesto Recipe
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves packed
- ¼ cup walnuts toasted
- 1 large garlic clove thinly sliced
- 1 tsp lemon zest plus 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ½-¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano grated
- Finely pulse ingredients. Place the basil, toasted walnuts, sliced garlic, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a food processor fitted with blade attachment. Secure the lid, the pulse until very finely chopped.
- Drizzle in EVOO. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil, beginning with ½ cup, and increasing to ¾ cup, as needed. You want the sauce to be liquidy, with excess olive oil, as the cheese will help to thicken the sauce.
- Stir in the Parmesan. Transfer the sauce to a bowl, then stir in ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning, as needed.