Pesto pasta has to be one of the ultimate lazy dinners. Boil some pasta, stir through a jar of sauce and—hey pesto—you're done. It's such an easy meal that it also makes great drunk food. My friends and I regularly come home from a night out, whip up some basil pesto pasta, and have a #PostPartyPastaParty.

For some reason, using a store-bought jar of basil pesto seems way less of a cheat than buying any other jar of pasta sauce. I would never dream of buying a jar of tomato, white, or bolognese sauce, yet wouldn't hesitate about buying a jar of pesto—but why? 

Making your own pesto is actually super easy. All you need are a few basic ingredients and a food processor, and you're on your way to perfecting your pesto prowess.

The main reason I probably don't make pesto as often as other sauces is that it ends up being a little pricier. But if you want to impress a hot date, or just want to treat yo self, then here is a simple basil pesto recipe to help you on your way.

Classic Pesto

  • Prep Time:10 mins
  • Cook Time:0
  • Total Time:10 mins
  • Servings:0
  • Easy


  • 50g pine nuts
  • Large bunch basil about 60g
  • 50g grated Parmesan
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 150ml olive oil
oil, garlic, vegetable
Jessica Findlay
  • Step 1

    Toast the pine nuts in a pan, taking care not to burn.

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    Jessica Findlay
  • Step 2

    Add all of the ingredients, apart from half of the olive oil, to a blender and blend until smooth.

    Jessica Findlay
  • Step 3

    Add the rest of the olive oil gradually until you reach the desired consistency. Season to taste.

    tea, spinach, pesto, herb
    Jessica Findlay
  • Step 4


    garlic, broccoli, basil, pesto, chutney, spinach, vegetable, herb
    Jessica Findlay

Too much of a hipster for mainstream pesto? Make a few simple swaps and you'll have something way different to stir into your edamame spaghetti.

To make kale and walnut pesto, swap out basil for kale, pine nuts for walnuts, and add a squeeze of lemon juice. For pea and mint pesto, swap the basil for half the amount of fresh mint, and add about 200 grams of peas (I use frozen and boil for 1-2 minutes first). For vegan-friendly avocado pesto, swap the Parmesan for two ripe avocados, the pine nuts for walnuts, and add a squeeze of lemon juice for some plant-based pesto perfection.

The next time you reach for that jar of store-bought pesto, think twice. Apart from the pride you can take in being an adult and making your own sauce, your homemade pesto will taste way better than anything you'll find in a jar and you'll cut out any nasty artificial preservatives and added sugar—win-win.

Got some pesto leftover? Don't let all your hard work go to waste. Here are some super simple recipes that show you that there is so much more to this sauce than just pesto pasta!