Gluten-Free/ Sauces, Dips & Dressings

Pistachio Pesto

Rich and herby, this homemade basil pistachio pesto is an easy way to add flavor to so many meals. Simple and quick to make and loaded with freshness.
A jar of pistachio pesto next to a spoon that has been dipped in it.

Last Updated on September 21, 2021 by Betty Davies

Basil pesto just got a delicious make over! This simple pistachio pesto recipe is herby and rich and perfect to use in so many ways. Simple to make with just a handful of ingredients, it’s ready to enjoy within minutes.

A jar of pistachio pesto next to raw pistachios and basil.

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The Italians know how to do it right, eh? Simple and fresh ingredients full of vibrant flavors to create the most wonderful dishes, and this basil pistachio pesto really packs a punch in the flavor department!

Nutty, herby and cheesy, this pesto sauce is perfect to toss into fresh pasta, use it as a spread or add to other dishes for a burst of flavor.

Ditch the store bought jarred pesto and be sure to make extra, as this will disappear quickly!

Be sure to try my Lemon Basil Pesto too!

Why you will love this recipe!

  • Quick and easy: It only takes about 5 minutes to make this recipe, just add the ingredients to a blender and it’s ready to use.
  • Make ahead: Homemade pesto keeps well in the fridge and is freezer friendly too.
  • Simple ingredients: You only need 4 main ingredients plus a little salt and pepper.
  • Dietary info: This basil pistachio pesto is gluten-free and easily made vegetarian.
A jar of pistachio pesto next to raw pistachios and basil.

Ingredients

  • Basil leaves: Basil is the traditional herb used in Italian pesto. Use fresh basil leaves for the brightest flavors.
  • Salt and pepper: Added to taste.
  • Parmesan: Use freshly grated, rather than pre-grated parm. Freshly grated has a much stronger flavor and pre-grated can be quite dry, leading to a gritty texture.
  • Pistachios: Pistachios replace the traditional pine nuts in this pesto recipe.
  • Oil: I prefer to use extra virgin olive oil to make pesto for a rich and slightly bitter flavor. If you prefer, you can use a light flavored olive oil, or another neutral oil like avocado.

How to make pistachio pesto

Be sure to scroll down for the full recipe!

  • Add the ingredients to a blender, with a little oil (photo 1).
  • Blend into a paste (photo 2).
  • Slowly add in the remaining oil til you reach your preferred consistency (photo 3).
Three step by step photos to show how to make the recipe.

Recipe Variations

This simple pistachio pesto recipe can easily be adapted to suit your tastes. Try adding a bit of fresh lemon juice for a zingier flavor, or add in some chopped chili for a spicy kick. The pistachios can be substituted for other nuts like almonds , walnuts or the traditional pine nuts.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it keep?

Homemade pesto has a pretty good shelf life. Once blended, transfer it to an airtight jar or container, pour a tablespoon of oil on the top to cover it, and it will keep well for around 2 weeks in the fridge.

Can you freeze it?

Yes! Pesto freezes so well and will keep for around 3 months. Freeze it in portions in a large ice cube tray. You can then either thaw it to use, or, just pop the frozen pesto portions right into your favorite recipes.

Is pesto healthy?

Pesto contains parmesan cheese, nuts and oil, so it is high in calories, but it is low in saturated fat and you get a good amount of protein from the nuts. Because the flavor of the pesto is so strong, you don’t need to use as much like other pasta sauces like marinara, plus there’s no sugar in this basil pistachio pesto recipe, and it’s made with natural ingredients.

Overhead shot of the pistachio pesto in a glass jar.

Serving Suggestions

This pistachio pesto is glorious when stirred into freshly cooked pasta, it’s the most perfect of comfort foods! It’s also great used as a spread in sandwiches and wraps, toss some roasted vegetables in it and it’s great with chicken and fish. Try it it any of these recipes to add a burst of flavor:

Recipe Notes and Tips

  • Use the freshest ingredients you can for the best flavor. Your basil should be bright green with no marks on the leaves and not wilted.
  • If you find the flavor of extra virgin olive oil too overpowering, you can make this with a light olive oil, or another neutral oil like avocado.
  • If making ahead of time, store the pesto in an airtight container and pour a little oil on top to keep it fresh.
  • Use a rennet free parmesan or hard cheese to make this recipe vegetarian friendly.
  • Nutritional values are an estimate only and can vary depending on the ingredients used.
A jar of green pesto next to a spoon.

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A jar of pistachio pesto next to a spoon that has been dipped in it.

Pistachio Pesto

Rich and herby, this homemade basil pistachio pesto is an easy way to add flavor to so many meals. Simple and quick to make and loaded with freshness.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Condiment, Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Diet: Gluten Free
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 203kcal
Author: Betty Davies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves (approx 40g)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • pinch black pepper
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan (45g)
  • ½ cup pistachios unsalted and shelled (50g)
  • ¼ cup to ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (60 to 120ml)

Instructions

  • Add the basil leaves, salt, pepper, parmesan and pistachios to a blender, along with two tablespoons of the oil.
  • Blend until the ingredients are well combined and the basil has broken down. You may need to scrape the sides of the blender a few times until you form a paste.
  • Run the blender on a low speed and slowly add the rest of the oil. Add as much as you like for your preferred consistency.
  • Taste and add more salt and pepper if required.

Notes

  • Use the freshest ingredients you can for the best flavor. Your basil should be bright green with no marks on the leaves and not wilted.
  • If you find the flavor of extra virgin olive oil too overpowering, you can make this with a light olive oil, or another neutral oil like avocado.
  • If making ahead of time, store the pesto in an airtight container and pour a little oil on top to keep it fresh.
  • Use a rennet free parmesan or hard cheese to make this recipe vegetarian friendly.
  • Nutritional values are an estimate only and can vary depending on the ingredients used.

Nutrition

Calories: 203kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 231mg | Potassium: 136mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 530IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 124mg | Iron: 1mg

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