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Almond Pesto is a fun and flavorful twist on the classic! Keeping the basil of the traditional version, but swapping in toasted almonds for pine nuts, and pecorino cheese for parmesan. Creamy, tangy, and lightly smoky it’s a must try for pesto lovers.

Almond Pesto on a spoon

Though this almond pesto is ideal for tossing with pasta (especially homemade pasta with dough made in the food processor), that’s just one way to enjoy it. Stir it into soups, mashed potatoes, or roasted vegetables. Spread onto grilled or pan fried fish or seafood, swirl into scrambled eggs, or enjoy as a dip for bread or vegetables. The options are endless!

Ingredients You Need to Make Almond Pesto

Almond Pesto Ingredients on a white marble board
  • Basil: Look for fresh, bright green bunches of basil. Fresh basil spoils quickly, so purchase it no later than the day before you plan to use it.
  • Garlic: This recipe calls for a meager one clove, feel free to add more if you like.
  • Toasted Almonds: Raw almonds will also work, but you’ll lose some flavor depth.
  • Pecorino Cheese: Parmesan cheese is also an option.
  • Olive Oil: A good quality, extra virgin olive oil.
  • Kosher Salt

It’s not an overstatement to say that I’m infatuated with pesto.

Almond Pesto in a white bowl with a spoon

It was first introduced to me when I’d just graduated from high school. I had a new job and my boss invited me to dinner. When I arrived, my bosses wife Melanie was just beginning to drizzle olive oil into a blender full of heavenly scented, brilliant green paste. When the pesto had whirled itself into silky oblivion, she poured it over a serving bowl of hot tortellini, hunks of thinly sliced prosciutto, and loads of summer vegetables: red peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms. Then she tossed it all together and topped it with more cheese.  I remember thinking that it was one of the best things I’d ever tasted.

Melanie was kind enough to write down the recipe which I’ve kept in a notebook ever since. About most things, I’m not very sentimental, but handwritten recipes from friends and family feel like little treasures to me. And If you’ve had dinner at our home several times, I’ve probably served you this dish. After decades, it’s still one of my favorites. 

pesto tortellini recipe

More Versions of Pesto

I’ve experimented with classic basil pesto using different nut and cheese combinations, sometimes making it with a vegetable or a green like spinach (Spinach Pesto) or arugula instead of basil. (You may remember this Broccoli Pesto – also with almonds, these Caprese Crostini or this Hazelnut Pesto with charred cauliflower.) I also love to swirl it with homemade aioli to make Pesto Aioli. And then there’s this French Pistou recipe (similar, but sans nuts and often served on Soupe au Pistou). So when I spotted parsley pesto in Bon Appétit I tried the recipe immediately, but found it very bland without garlic.

But, that’s okay Bon Appétit, I still love you.

So this is my second pass at the recipe: I added garlic (for heaven’s sake!), swapped in basil for parsley (hardly original), used pecorino (bingo!), and toasted almonds (er, yum?). And you know what? This Almond Pesto may be my favorite version of pesto yet.

How to Make Almond Pesto

Step 1: Pulse basil, garlic, almonds, cheese and salt in a food processor until minced.

Step 2: Add olive oil in a slow, steady stream with the processor running, processing until smooth. Serve as desired.

Almond Pesto

5 from 7 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Calories: 91
Servings: 16 tablespoons
Feel free to experiment with this recipe! Swap in your favorite nut, cheese, green, or herb.

Ingredients  

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves packed, about 1 1/2 ounces
  • 1 clove garlic (see recipe note #2)
  • 1/3 cup toasted almonds
  • 2 ounces grated pecorino cheese
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions 

  • Place basil, garlic, almonds, cheese and salt in the bowl of a food processor; pulse until finely minced, scraping down the side of the bowl with a spatula as needed.
  • With the food processor running, add oil through the chute in a slow steady stream. Process until smooth. Use immediately or store according to directions in recipe notes.

Notes

  1. Store almond pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Smooth the top of the pesto and add a thin coat of olive oil to preserve the bright green color. Or freeze pesto for up to 6 months. For convenience, freeze in an ice cube tray then transfer frozen pesto cubes to a freezer bag to use as desired.
  2. If you like a garlicky pesto, add 2 or even 3 cloves of garlic.
  3. This recipe makes about 1 cup.

Nutrition

Calories: 91kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 188mg | Potassium: 33mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 173IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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36 Comments

  1. Lindsey says:

    5 stars
    Very good!! Added red pepper flakes and some lemon juice to brighten it. Mine was a little thick after adding to pasta so I recommend thinning out with a little pasta water if necessary.

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Hi Lindsey! So glad you enjoyed this and added your own touches to the recipe.

  2. Elizabeth Roy says:

    5 stars
    This pesto is so good. Sever it with shrimp over rice, with salad on the side. Absolutely will make again

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      That’s wonderful to hear, Elizabeth! Sounds like an excellent meal!

  3. Pat says:

    5 stars
    Easy and delicious I add some parsley with basil it helps balance our the garlic .

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      So glad you’re enjoying the recipe and adding your own spin, Pat!