Homemade Fresh Basil Pesto Without Cheese

How to make basil pesto at home. My simple pesto recipe calls for just five ingredients and two easy-to-remember techniques to prevent the problems that we some times encounter with homemade pesto, bitterness and muddiness. My pesto recipe is made without cheese, that means that sweet, fresh basil flavor really lets loose.

Homemade Basil Pesto ♥  KitchenParade.com, cheese-free, lets sweet basil flavor really shine. Vegan. Low Carb. Gluten Free.

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  • "... it is so good! ... What a great recipe!" ~ Charlie
  • "You're a genius! The fresh pesto, no cheese, is so so delicious!" ~ Jan

Two Simple Tips

So these are my two simple tips for making basil pesto at home.

AVOID BITTERNESS To avoid the bitterness that can ruin pesto, I start off the pesto in the food processor but then finish it by hand, just a quick stir, really. Why finish the pesto by hand? Because there's a chemical reaction between good olive oil and the "heat" of the food processor's blades.

And no, I didn't figure that out myself, America's Test Kitchen did – although I do "dream" about ATK ideas, thanks to falling asleep listening to the weekly podcast. (Modern Life: some times I must listen to the same podcast five or six times to get all the way through!) If you like, listen online, just click the "radio" button near the top of the home page.

AVOID MUDDINESS This one may be more controversial because, yeah, I suppose, pesto isn't really pesto unless it contains some cheese, usually freshly grated Parmesan. But to my taste, cheese muddies basil's quintessential summer freshness and fragrance. Without cheese, the basil in Homemade Basil Pesto stays right out in front, unveiled by dusky dairy.

How To Use Homemade Basil Pesto


Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 10 minutes
Makes about 3/4 cup
  • 1 tablespoon fresh garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups packed (60g) sweet basil
  • 1/4 cup (30g) toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil


In a food processor, process the garlic and salt until garlic is finely minced, scraping the bowl's side a time or two if needed.

Add the basil and pine nuts, process until both are in tiny still-distinguishable bits but not mushy.


Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the olive oil.

WHEN TO SERVE Can be made a day or two ahead of time but is really best when completely fresh. Once refrigerated, return to room temperature before using.

ALANNA's TIPS Our herb pots overflow with basil choices, chocolate, lemon, Thai, etc. But for pesto, I stick with tradition and use only what is often called "sweet basil". It has the sweetest most basil-y flavor and its leaves are more tender. It's not too late to put in a few herbs, see Never Buy Fresh Herbs Again. Put the pots in a sunny spot, they'll thrive through the first frost. No pine nuts? No problem! Use walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, even sunflower seeds, they're easier to find and much less expensive.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Tablespoon: 97 Calories; 10g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 50mg Sodium; 1g Carb; 0g Fiber; 0g Sugar; 0g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS Old Points 3 & PointsPlus 3 & SmartPoints 3 & Freestyle 3 & Freestyle 3 & myWW green 3 & blue 3 & purple 3.

Homemade Basil Pesto ♥ KitchenParade.com, extra basil flavor thanks to no cheese, mixing technique.

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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Charlie8/06/2015

    Thank you for your "Quick Tip" for fresh pesto without parmesan. Jan made it yesterday and it is so good! We had it on a pasta dish last night, and for lunch today on a real salad caprese, with regular size tomatoes and mozzarella and lettuce. And there is still some left for the remaining angel-hair pasta from last night. What a great recipe!

  2. You're a genius! The fresh pesto, no cheese, is so so delicious! Thank you!

  3. Great recipe, i love pesto, never thought to make my own.



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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna