Basil Walnut Pesto

4.99 from 53 votes

If you've ever wanted to make homemade pesto, try your hand at basil walnut pesto. This recipe has the perfect ratio of ingredients, making it a versatile sauce that can be use on many different dishes.

pesto in bowl with cheese and basil on top. sitting on wooden cutting board with bread
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Basil Walnut Pesto Recipe

Making homemade pesto is an easy skill to learn and will instantly elevate your homemade appetizers, pasta recipes and more. This basil walnut pesto recipe has a salty and nutty flavor with a smooth consistency. Plus, you can throw it together pretty quickly.

When I first learned how to make delicious pesto, I really couldn't believe how easy it was.

I've learned over the years that to be a more confident cook, it's important to know how to make homemade basics. It truly will take your confidence in the kitchen to the next level.

pesto with salmon on a gray plate with roasted tomatoes

The thing about making homemade pesto sauce is that it is more about a ratio of ingredients than it is about a specific recipe. Knowing this has allowed me to try a ton of different varieties of past years.

Whenever I have extra greens or fresh herbs that I need to use up, classic pesto sauce is an easy default.

After I make a batch of walnut basil pesto, I love to use it to make meatballs, put on a bed of my favorite pasta or even use it on top of salmon. I also use it to make appetizers like pesto crostini with prosciutto or as tasty sandwich spread.

So many uses for a simple walnut pesto with a beautiful bright green color!

Why You'll Love this Recipe

  • Walnuts and olive oil are each a great source of healthy fats. A cup of pesto is a great way to diversify your diet.
  • There are so many different uses for pesto and it is very adaptable to fit the flavor profile of any meal.
  • Traditional pesto is made with pine nuts, which tend to be pricey. This recipe is easy on your wallet and just as tasty using walnuts in place of expensive pine nuts.


Pesto is made from really simple ingredients. Add these to your grocery store list:

  • fresh spinach
  • basil
  • walnuts
  • olive oil
  • shredded parmesan cheese
  • salt

Substitutions and Variations

Although this recipe calls for walnuts, you can substitute another type of nut. Cashews, almonds, and hazelnuts are popular options to use when making pesto. These are more affordable options to use in place of pine nuts, which is what traditional pesto is made with.

Avocado oil is a great replacement for olive oil. Any other neutral oil like grapeseed oil or canola oil can be used as well.

Give this fresh basil walnut pesto a little tang by adding some lemon juice or lemon zest into the mix Or, add some kick and spice with a little dash of red pepper flakes.

Add fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro and chives to give your pesto even more flavor. You can also place garlic cloves or mined garlic in the food processor to elevate the flavor of this walnut basil pesto.

Make dairy-free pesto by using a dairy free parmesan, substituting nutritional yeast or leaving the cheese out entirely.

bowls with basil and olive oil

How to Make Basil Walnut Pesto

food processor with pesto ingredients
pesto ingredients pulsed in food processor

Add walnuts, basil leaves, parmesan cheese, fresh spinach, and salt to your the food processor.

Run the food processor for a few seconds until ingredients are chopped. Then slowly pour the extra virgin olive oil into the food processor in a steady stream while it runs on the low speed.

Taste your pesto to make sure that the flavors are balanced. Add more salt or a splash of lemon juice if needed.

How to Store Leftover Basil Walnut Pesto

Depending on how fresh your greens were, homemade pesto should last 1 to 2 weeks in the fridge. You can also spoon pesto into an ice cube tray (affiliate) and freeze for later.

Once frozen, pop the pesto cubes out of the tray and store in a freezer bag or airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months.

How to Use Basil Walnut Pesto

Pesto can be used in a variety of different dishes. Pasta dishes with pesto are quite popular and always turn out yummy. Pesto chicken or pesto salmon with a side of cheesy garlic bread is always a good idea.

You can also simply use pesto as a spread for things like focaccia bread, flatbread, and crostini.

Make a delicious salad with grilled chicken and a big helping of basil walnut pesto mixed into the crunchy greens.

pesto in bowl on top of wooden cutting board with bread

Tips for Success

  • The fresher the herbs and greens you use, the better! Check out your local farmers market for good deals on tasty greens that are super fresh and locally grown.
  • Periodically stop the food processor and then scrape the sides with a silicone spatula to ensure that all of the ingredients blend together well.
  • Clean your food processor well before using it. I have a post on how to clean a blender that should help you clean your food processor too!
pesto in bowl on top of wooden cutting board with bread


What is the correct ratio for making pesto?

For any regular pesto recipe, you need a ratio of 1:2:2:8. One part nuts, two parts unflavored oil, two parts grated cheese, and eight parts greens/herbs.
I always recommend using plenty of cups or fresh basil as a traditional base flavor for your pesto.

Should you toast nuts for pesto?

It is not required to toast nuts before using them in pesto. However, it can add a lovely flavor to homemade pesto! To toast nuts, simply spread them on a baking sheet and place in the oven for about 5 minutes. Allow to cool before using them in a pesto recipe.

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Did you make this recipe?

If you make and love this recipe, please leave a ★★★★★ review below! It means so much to me when you try my recipes, and I'd love to know how it goes. Please leave a comment below if you have any questions.

pesto in bowl on top of wooden cutting board with bread

Basil Walnut Pesto

Homemade pesto is easier to make than you'd think! Make some basil walnut pesto and use it however you want.
4.99 from 53 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Author: Madison | A Joyfully Mad Kitchen


  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup basil
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • ½ fresh shredded parmesan cheese
  • A pinch of salt
  • ½ cup olive oil


  • Add all of your ingredients except the oil to the food processor.
  • Run the food processor for a few seconds until ingredients are chopped. Then slowly pour the olive oil into the food processor while running it.
  • Taste your pesto to make sure that the flavors are balanced. Add more salt or a splash of lemon juice if needed.


Serving: 2tablespoons | Calories: 98kcal | Carbohydrates: 0.4g | Protein: 0.8g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 1.5g | Cholesterol: 0.2mg | Sodium: 5.6mg
4.99 from 53 votes (53 ratings without comment)

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    1. Yes!! I just saw your comment again on the kale arugula pesto post, I KNOW you're going to love this version 🙂