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Pesto takes many forms, but this is my favorite Classic Basil Pesto Recipe, simple and perfect: fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmigiano-Reggiano, extra virgin olive and salt.


We ate a lot of it during our trip to Italy, but especially in Levanto and the Cinque Terre (“The Five Lands”). You’ll find classic basil pesto on every menu there as Pesto alla Genovese. It originated in Liguria and is one of the region’s quintessential flavors. 

Speaking of quintessential, the Cinque Terre, with its brightly colored buildings clinging to cliffs above the Mediterranean, is one of the most popular destinations in Italy. And for good reason; the entire area is beyond stunning.


I’ve professed my love for pesto many times on this blog (Almond Pesto is a favorite as is my Spinach Pesto and the French take on it, Pistou), but if I had to pick one, this would be it. It’s so versatile! Scoop it into brothy soups like Soupe au Pistou, toss it with pasta or vegetables, slather it over chicken, fish or seafood, blend it with aioli to make Pesto Aioli, or just eat it with a spoon.

Read more about our days in Levanto


The Via dell’Amore and a Wardrobe Malfunction

Levanto and The Oasi Hotel

Porto Venere by Sapphire Sea

More authentic Italian Recipes

Pasta Aglio e Olio

Italian Meatballs

Bolognese Sauce

Pasta e Fagioli

Italian Pasta Salad

Italian Chopped Salad

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Classic Basil Pesto Recipe

Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Course: Seasoning
Cuisine: Italian
Calories: 180
Servings: 8 people
Basil Pesto is endlessly versatile: toss it with pasta or use it as a dip for anything from vegetables and bread to fish. We love to dip seared ahi tuna into it.


  • 1 1/2 ounces fresh basil leaves no stems, about 2 cups
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts about 35grams
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese about ½ cup
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil


  • Place basil, garlic, pine nuts, cheese and salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Scrape down bowl sides with a spatula.
  • With the food processor running, add olive oil in a steady stream and process until smooth. (The less time this takes the better as heat from the blade can affect the flavor.) Taste and add more salt if needed.


TIP: Put your food processor blade in the freezer 15 minutes before you plan to make the pesto.


Calories: 180kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 197mg | Potassium: 57mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 0.2g | Vitamin A: 343IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 74mg | Iron: 1mg

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

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  1. Steph says:

    Thanks for the tip of the blade in the freezer. Genius! I love your website!

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      aww, my pleasure, Steph! Thank you so much.