Basil. Pine nuts. Garlic. Olive oil. Parmesan. And voilà, pesto.  

These five ingredients go into making one of the tastiest and most versatile sauces. Originating in Genoa, Italy in the 16th century, pesto has a rich and interesting history — both related to how the sauce has evolved and how it has influenced cuisine. There are many different variations of pesto including ones made from red pepper, avocado, edamame and kale, but you can't go wrong with the classic basil pesto.

Incredibly simple to make, pesto offers a delicious and sophisticated way to upgrade any and all of your meals, ranging from breakfast to dessert. Yes, that's right, even dessert.

#SpoonTip: If you're making your own pesto and have some leftover, store it in an ice cube tray in the freezer for portioned chunks to use in future meals.


chocolate, coffee, egg, candy, tea, milk, sweet
Amelia Hitchens

Pesto is the perfect addition to virtually any savory breakfast. If you're a fan of eggs in the morning, the sauce is easy to add to your scrambled eggs or a veggie omelette. You can either mix pesto into your scrambled egg or omelette mixture before cooking to make some green and tasty eggs, or add it in after cooking. Scrambled eggs with a couple tablespoons of pesto and half a cup of shredded mozzarella cheese is my personal favorite way to incorporate pesto into my breakfast, just don't forget the bacon!

Another extremely simple way to incorporate pesto into your breakfast is through pesto cream cheese, aka the perfect addition to your morning bagels and toast. To date, I haven't found an option to buy pre-made pesto cream cheese besides getting it on bagels in various coffee shops, but don't fear, it's perhaps one of the easiest things to make ever — arm workout included if you do it by hand.

Simply take any pesto of your choosing and mix it together with a store-bought cream cheese (at room temperature, so it's softer) until homogeneous. Most recipes advocate for varying amounts of pesto to cream cheese, but I recommend trying 1 part pesto to 2 parts cream cheese. And if that isn't enough pesto to satisfy your tastebuds, it's easy to add more.


sandwich, lettuce, tomato, bread, meat, bacon, cheese, toast
Jocelyn Hsu

The centerpiece of a good lunch is often a good sandwich, and pesto is the perfect go-to for making a sandwich not just good, but phenomenal. Using pesto as a sandwich spread adds some insane flavor and is incredibly versatile, meaning there are hundreds — if not thousands — of different sandwiches you can make with it. For a twist on a classic, try this pesto grilled cheese with tomato soup. If you're looking for something a little meatier, maybe this roast beef and pesto sandwich will satisfy your cravings. 

For the perfect side to your sandwich, look to pesto again to add that little extra something to your lunch through pasta salads or salad dressing. Try a pesto pasta with chickpeas and tomatoes which combines refreshing and juicy flavors with the garlicky spice and warmth pesto offers. Or if you want to mix up your grains, whip up this pesto couscous salad.

Pesto also makes a wonderful addition to a side salad made with leafy greens instead of grains. You can use it as a salad dressing simply by itself or mixed with your favorite dressings such as ranch or blue cheese. If you don't want to incorporate it into salad dressing, try mixing it with individual ingredients like garbanzo beans.

Snacks and Appetizers

Stephanie Lee

To no surprise, pesto is also great when it comes to snacking on the couch or serving appetizers at a dinner party. For easy and tasty snacking, try drizzling pesto on popcorn, use it to roast walnuts or almonds or make a yogurt pesto dip perfect for chips and veggies.

For some savory and truly appetizing appetizers, look no further than bread. Bake up a loaf of pesto bread to be cut up and served with butter or olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Or for some pre-portioned goodness, these spinach and pesto muffins and vegan pesto biscuit rolls are sure to satisfy even the hardest-to-please guests.  


spaghetti, pasta, basil, macaroni, sauce, fettuccine, tagliatelle, carbohydrate, vegetable
Jocelyn Hsu

If pesto is good at anything, it's revolutionizing dinner. Whether you're a pasta person or a pizza person or both, pesto will help spice up your meal.

If I had to spend the rest of my life eating only one food, it would be pan-fried gnocchi with pesto, hands down. When fried in butter or olive oil and tossed with pesto, these little potato dumplings transform into something sent straight down from foodie heaven.

But pesto isn't just great with gnocchi, it's great with all pastas. After all, there's a reason why the words "pesto pasta" are so frequently paired together. Whether you're working with shell, ravioli, zucchini noodle or penne, pesto is a sauce to be reckoned with. I even sometimes add it to my mac and cheese! Mix pesto into your cooked pasta and add some grated parmesan and you will definitely feel like you're living your best life. And if your pesto pasta looks a little sparse, you can't go wrong with adding some cherry or sun-dried tomatoes, roasted broccoli, asparagus or any other tasty veggies. 

If you're feeling more in the mood for pizza, pesto makes a perfect sauce for your base. Pair it with toppings like spinach, olives, mushrooms, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, bell peppers, feta cheese, sausage and chicken.

#SpoonTip: Whether you're baking your own pizza or getting one to-go or delivered, try drizzling pesto on it before consumption. It will change your life.


strawberry, berry, salad, mint
Hannah Linn

You might be thinking, pesto in dessert, are you crazy? But you haven't heard of dessert pesto yet. That's right: dessert pesto, made with mint, white chocolate, honey and a dash of cinnamon. Sounds absolutely wonderful and can conveniently be added to almost every dessert. Drizzle it onto your ice cream, add it into brownie or cupcake mix, serve with graham crackers or shortbread cookies or try it with an assortment of cut fresh fruit.