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Almond basil pesto in a bowl with a spoon.

Lemon Basil Pesto

Make the most of summer's fresh basil and whip up this easy pesto recipe - two ways! Make Lemon Basil Pesto with walnuts or almonds, enjoy now or  freeze it for later! vegetarian + gluten free + easily vegan | This recipe makes 2 1/4 C (515g) with a serving size of 1 Tbs each.
Course Condiment
Cuisine American, Italian, Vegetarian
Keyword Almond Pesto, Easy pesto Recipe, Lemon Basil pesto, Walnut Pesto
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 36
Calories 76kcal
Author Traci York | Vanilla And Bean


  • 2/3 C (110g) Almonds or Walnuts
  • 4 C (100g) Fresh Basil loosely packed
  • 3-4 Cloves of Garlic plump and large
  • 1 Lemon zest + juice
  • 1/2 C (75g) Parmesan* small dice, if using grated parm 3/4 C (75g)
  • 1 C (200g) Extra Virgin Olive Oil + up to 1/4 C (50g) more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Fine Sea Salt
  • A few Grinds of Fresh Black Pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 350 and toast nuts for 8-10 minutes. Keep an eye on them as they go from toasty to over toasted fast! Alternatively, toast the nuts on the stovetop in a dry pan on low for about 3-5 minutes, tossing frequently to avoid scorching. Set aside to cool.
  • In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with an S blade, add the basil, nuts, parm, garlic, lemon zest and juice, salt and a few generous grinds of black pepper. Process, just to get the ingredients moving then with the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil in a slow steady stream. Once all the olive oil is added stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Process again until the ingredients are smoothish. Add up to 1/4 C (50g) more olive oil depending on how thick or thin you prefer pesto.

Store the Pesto

  • Homemade pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days or for longer storage, it freezes beautifully for up to a year! If storing in a jar or lidded container, cover the top of the olive oil with a few tablespoons of oil. This will help preserve it's bright green color.
    Here are two ways to freeze pesto:
    Store pesto in a lidded freezer container, I like using small 8oz canning jars. When ready to use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight and use as desired. It can be refrozen multiple times.
    For smaller portions, freeze the pesto in ice cube trays. Simply spoon the pesto into the tray and freeze. To transfer to a freezer bag or container, set the tray out at room temperature for about 10 minutes (do not allow to thaw), then spoon the pesto cubes out and into the freezer container. While I've read you can line the ice cube tray with plastic wrap, I've never tried this in my efforts to reduce kitchen waste. 


If you find you'd like the pesto to be more like a pesto sauce, add more olive oil, a few tablespoons at a time to reach desired consistency.
Freezer friendly? Yes please! For up to a year! Freeze in individual containers or in small portions in a ice cube tray. See recipe for more details.
Dairy free? Make it vegan! Leave out the parmesan all together, decrease the oil by 1/4 C (50g) and add another 1/4 tsp of salt OR add a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Be sure to add nutritional yeast to taste as I find this to be an acquired taste for some.
Use diced parmesan or grated parmesan - I've included measurements for each in the recipe.
Buying parmesan in 8 oz wedges then shredding or grating it at home is more economical and it produces less waste. Look for vegetarian friendly Parmesan cheese (one that does not use rennet in production). BelGioiosoOrganic Valley and Stella offers vegetarian friendly Parm. For more information, check directly with your preferred cheese maker.


Calories: 76kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 55mg | Potassium: 33mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 152IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 1mg