Lemon Basil Pesto Sauce

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If you have an abundance of basil now growing in your garden and are wonder what to do with all of it, then I’d suggest making this AMAZING Lemon Basil Pesto. It pairs perfectly with your favorite pasta, chicken or fish. And if you have leftovers, freeze it and have it at your fingertips whenever you need it!

Lemon Basil Pesto in a jar with spoon

What is Lemon Basil Pesto?

I bet all of you know what a classic pesto sauce; is but just in case you don’t… it’s a combination of:

  • Fresh basil leaves;
  • Pine nuts;
  • Garlic;
  • Parmesan cheese; and
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Here I tweaked this basil pesto recipe by adding lemon zest and lemon juice for an extra freshness. Lemon is typically known for amplifying flavors – and the same is true here. I think you’ll agree, that while a basil pesto is pretty bold in its original recipe, that this lemon twist adds an additional depth to it.

Trust me on this. It’s out of this world delicious!!!

Basil Pesto Sauce with lemon on a side

How to Make Basil Pesto?

Making a Basil Pesto is super easy. You’ll just need to assemble all your ingredients and simply mince them in a blender.

  • First you will pulse in your blender:
    • Basil;
    • Nuts;
    • Garlic;
    • Lemon zest & lemon juice; and
    • Salt & Pepper
  • Then you’ll gradually add extra virgin olive oil, while the blender is going;
  • And at the end you’ll add cheese and pulse until it’s fully incorporated.

Easy peasy! It literally cannot get any easier then that, right?

How to make basil pesto

Can I Substitute any Other Greens, Instead of Basil?

Absolutely! It will not be a basil pesto then, but you can make pesto out of many different greens or combination of them. Here are some suggestions:

  • Parsley;
  • Cilantro;
  • Arugula

Basil pesto sauce on a spoon with jar on a side

Pine Nuts Are Not Easy to Find. Can I Use Other Nuts Instead?

I get it. Pine nuts are not super easy to find, and they’re also not very cheep. I usually buy my nuts from Trader Joe’s, as they always have a nice selection and the prices are affordable. I buy roasted pine nuts. However, if they don’t have them for whatever reason, I’d buy raw ones and toast them on a frying pan until slightly brown (on each side for a few minutes).

If you don’t have Trader Joe’s close to your home, it may be more difficult to find pine nuts that don’t break the bank.

Instead you could use walnuts or almonds. If you don’t buy them roasted, then roast them for couple of minutes in a 350 F oven so they’re crunchy.

Can I Freeze Pesto Sauce?

Yes, that’s the best part. You can make a ton of pesto sauce and freeze it. Here’s my suggestion: use an ice cube tray and freeze as many cubes as you want.

Once they’re frozen, then transfer them into a ziploc bag. Be sure to add a date on the bag and store in your freezer for up to a couple of months.

Lemon basil pesto on a spoon with jar

What to Serve this Basil Pesto Sauce with?

You can serve it with:

If you make this recipe, let me know in the comments how you liked it and what you chose to serve it with. I’m looking forward to seeing some nice creations.

Lemon basil pesto on a spoon with jar

Lemon Basil Pesto

If you have an abundance of basil growing up now in your garden and wonder what to do with it, make this AMAZING Lemon Basil Pesto and serve it with your favorite pasta, chicken or fish. If you have leftovers, freeze it and have it at your fingertips at any time you need it!
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 117kcal
Author: Edyta


  • 2-3 cups Basil Leaves packed;
  • 1 clove Garlic peeled;
  • 1/3 cup Pine Nuts roasted;
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese grated;
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil Extra Virgin
  • 1/2 Lemon juiced and zested;
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper freshly grounded


  • In a blender or food processor add basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper and pulse until nicely chopped; 
  • While the motor is running gradually add olive oil until the pesto is thick;
  • At the end add Parmesan Cheese and pulse until just incorporated (don't over-mix it at this point). Enjoy with your favorite pasta, chicken or fish.


Calories: 117kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 425mg | Potassium: 121mg | Vitamin A: 700IU | Vitamin C: 9.6mg | Calcium: 123mg | Iron: 1.2mg
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  1. 5 stars
    Pesto is my favorite and I love the extra bite of lemon in this one! Such a delicious addition to pretty much every summer meal! Not to mention, a gorgeous color 🙂

  2. I am swimming in basil right now! LOL! I agree that this pesto is a great way to use it up! Yum! 🙂

  3. 5 stars
    Ooohh! I love the addition of lemon to the basil! It must add such a nice bright note! I am totally trying this next time I make pesto!

  4. Should I have let my cashews—I toasted raw cashew pieces instead of pine nuts—cool down? I fear that I cooked my basil a little.

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