Universal Pesto Recipe


Here’s the thing about pesto: you can use any combination of green things, nuts, and hard cheese to make it—just be sure to stick to this formula so you’re combining ingredients in the right ratio. Pine nuts, for example, are traditional but can be pricey. Try walnuts or a combo of odd nuts you have on hand. We wanted to bring you the best recipe for pesto that exists, so we tested out several steps that are common in pesto recipes, including toasting the nuts and blanching the greens. Toasting the nuts wasn’t worth it: we couldn’t distinguish pesto with toasted nuts from pesto with untoasted nuts. However, blanching the greens not only turned the pesto a vibrant green color but also prevented it from ever turning brown—even after it was frozen.

Hands On Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
15 mins
2 ½ cups


  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for blanching herbs

  • 8 packed cups mixed fresh tender herbs or greens, such as basil, parsley, arugula, kale, or spinach

  • ½ cup nuts or seeds, such as pine nuts, walnuts, pistachios, or sunflower seeds

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 1 ½ cups olive oil

  • 2 cups freshly grated hard aged cheese, such as Parmesan or pecorino


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set nearby. Add herbs to boiling water and cook until bright green, about 10 seconds. Transfer to ice bath with a slotted spoon. When cool, drain and squeeze dry.

  2. Combine herbs, nuts or seeds, garlic, and 2 teaspoons salt in a food processor; process until very finely minced.

  3. Drizzle in oil with the machine running and process until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.

  4. Add cheese and pulse to combine.

  5. Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to 1 week. Or transfer to resealable plastic bags and freeze for up to 4 months; thaw in refrigerator overnight.

  6. Toss with pasta, spread on sandwiches, or stir into yogurt to make a quick dip.

    Universal Pesto Recipe
    Greg DuPree

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

194 Calories
20g Fat
2g Carbs
3g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Calories 194
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 20g 26%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Cholesterol 7mg 2%
Sodium 321mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Protein 3g

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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