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Basil Pesto without Pine Nuts

Basil pesto without pine nuts isn’t missing anything when it comes to flavor. If you’re nut free, you can leave out all the nuts or swap in walnuts like I did in this version. No matter how you make it, it’s sure to be delicious.

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Have you had grocery store jarred pesto? It’s so sad.

It’s time to make it yourself. It’s best while basil and parsley are in season in the summer and you can freeze it for later, but we’ll talk about that near the bottom of this post.

People make it with peas, arugula, and I’ve even seen broccoli rabe. But no matter how many versions there are, there’s nothing like the good old basic.

Spread it on a sandwich with melted mozzarella, toss it in pasta, or add it to any dish that needs a little spark.

Tips for the best basil pesto sauce

  • Use quality ingredients. Because there’s very little to bog this recipe down, every ingredient needs to shine. Don’t you dare use powdered parmesan cheese from a can. I’ll hunt you down.
  • Get a block of real parmesan, use a good olive oil like California Olive Ranch, and fresh basil and parsley.
  • I don’t recommend adding fresh garlic but you can if you want to. I just find that it totally overpowers all of the other flavors and your breath will cause people to faint for the rest of the day. It’s not really worth it.
  • The traditional recipe uses pine nuts, but I use walnuts here and we vastly prefer the flavor. If you have an allergy to nuts, it’s fine to leave them out.
looking down into a food processor at basil pesto ingredients before blending

Tips for leaving out or swapping the nuts

Obviously toasted pine nuts are the classic addition to pesto, but I have always made this version with walnuts without complaint. Nuts here are mostly for texture and not really flavor so it’s okay if you leave them out. People use a lot of different nuts in pesto–you might like one of these ideas.

How much basil pesto to add to pasta

That’s really to taste, but I do about a tablespoon of pesto to every cup of cooked pasta. If you find that your pesto is too thick, add some of the water your pasta cooked in (a tablespoon or two) to the pasta and pesto and stir. It will help it create more of a sauce like consistency.

How long is basil pesto good for?

Basil pesto without pine nuts can be stored in a jar in the fridge for up to two weeks. I like to pour a layer of olive oil on the surface then place a tight lid on. I use a mason jar for mine–if the pesto is exposed to air it will darken and may change flavor slightly so the olive oil on the top helps protect the flavor and color.

a plate of spaghetti with pesto with a fork

Can pesto be frozen?

Yes. I love to freeze big batches of it every year when basil is in season. To freeze, you can fill an empty ice cube tray with the finished pesto and chill until firm. Pop them out and store them in an air tight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

To use them, you can take out a few cubes and let them thaw at room temperature or stick them in the microwave for 25 to 30 seconds.

Recipes that use basil pesto deliciously

Need a lot of basil? Grow your own!

I’ve been growing basil for more than two decades. See how you can grow basil too.

a bowl of basil pesto without pine nuts on a table

Basil Pesto without Pine Nuts

Basil pesto can take a lot of forms and have a lot of different ingredients but the most familiar make the most flavor.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 10 people
Author Rachel Ballard


  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup packed Italian parsley
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup walnuts optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • 2/3 cup olive oil


  • Wash and dry the basil and parsley leaves well. Then in a food processor pulse all the ingredients except the olive oil, just to get things started. Then with the processor running, stream in the olive oil until everything is smooth.
  • Freeze any leftovers in an ice cube tray. I love to make a big batch in the late summer and enjoy that fresh flavor all through the winter.


Calories: 198kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 4gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 240mgPotassium: 73mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 692IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 107mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Tag us on Instagram @feastandfarm and hashtag it #feastandfarm
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian

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    1. 5 stars
      I have to watch my potassium intake. Walnuts have 35% less potasium than pine nuts, and are alot less expensive too. This is very delicious. Thank you!

  1. 4 stars
    I made with 6 cups of basil , cuttings from my basil plants and 1/2 cup of parsley. I’ve never made it with parsley before and didn’t want the taste to overwhelm the basil. Used freshly Frigo Shredded Parmesan cheese. I used only 1/2 cup of walnuts.
    Blended in food processor
    I’ve added garlic before but this time I did not.
    It came out perfect.

  2. 5 stars
    Can you leave nuts out of pesto and does it taste as good without it? My nephew is severely allergic to all nuts and I want to make it so that he can have it too but want to see what I can maybe substitute it with as well.

  3. You show traditional basil pesto sauce as an ingredient. I don’t think you meant for us to add the ingredients to a bottled sauce. Thanks for all the recipes!

  4. I’m not a fan of walnuts. What other nuts do you recommend? Pine, pecan, almond, cashew, pistachio….love about anything but walnut.

    By the way, so glad I started following you. Love to see what you come up with. Merry Christmas!! I bet there is some good eating with you around doing the cooking!!

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About the Author

Rachel Ballard, RN, BSN brings more than 20 years of professional nursing expertise to Feast and Farm. With a love for nutrient dense foods that support wellness, she works to distill complex health information and current trends into recipes that fuel the best version of yourself. Read more about Rachel here.