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Easy Homemade Healthy Pesto Paste

Homemade basil pesto in a Polish pottery bowl with a wooden spoon from Gourmet Done Skinny

This homemade healthy pesto paste is super easy to make and very quick. Use it for soups, pastas, stews, chicken, bread, dips and more! If you freeze them into cubes, you’ll have a burst of flavor whenever you want. Be sure and read below about how to prevent bitter pesto.

It’s easy to make pesto: 1, 2, 3!

  1. Start by using freshly picked basil leaves. Use only the leaves, not the stems. Wash and pat them dry.
  2. Combine ingredients together in a food processor (paid link)except for the extra virgin olive oil.
  3. Transfer basil mix to a small bowl. Stir in olive oil. That’s it!
Fresh basil on a wooden cutting board with red tomatoes on the counter from Gourmet Done Skinny
Turn fresh basil into homemade healthy pesto! Start by washing and breaking off the leaves.
Food processor with fresh basil, garlic, parmesan cheese and black pepper
Place all of the pesto ingredients in the food processor (paid link) except for the oil.
Pesto ingredients combined in the food processor
Combine until well chopped. Transfer to a small bowl.
Bottle of olive oil being poured into a tablespoon over pesto
Add the olive oil in by hand to prevent your pesto from tasting bitter.
Blue Polish pottery bowl with homemade pesto, spatula and olive oil on a granite counter
Finished homemade healthy basil pesto ready to add to pastas, soups, chicken, beef and more!
Why do I add olive oil in by hand?

Have you ever made or had bitter pesto? This is the result from the oil being emulsified in the food processor (paid link). Overprocessing squeezes out the bitter tasting polyphenols and makes your pesto bitter. The first time I made pesto I was so disappointed. I barely had enough basil leaves to make the pesto and then I ruined it by pulsing the oil too much in the food processor (paid link). I was so sad! They say you can fix it with salt or more parmesan but this batch was completely ruined, there was no fixing it. I learned my lesson, always stir it in!

How long does homemade pesto last?

Homemade pesto lasts a few days in the refrigerator. In the freezer, it will last for months.

Can you freeze pesto?

Yes, most definitely! Place it into ice cube trays (or whatever you have handy, I happen to use mini bundt pans) or freeze 1 tablespoon plops on  parchment paper (paid link). Transfer to a plastic bag when frozen. Use as needed.

What can I do with homemade pesto?

Add it to soups, pastas, stews, chicken and beef dishes and more! 1 tablespoon of flavor goes a long way!

Freeze homemade pesto into cubes and transfer to a plastic bag (now I put in a vacuum sealed bag (paid link)) and store in the freezer. I use whatever I have available – mini bundt pans which hold about 1 tablespoon of pesto. Or now I use the small Souper Cubes 2 Tablespoon (paid link)

How did I make this homemade pesto recipe healthy?

While this homemade pesto recipe still has 83 calories per tablespoon, it is healthier than other recipes. Traditionally homemade pesto recipes use more oil and also include pine nuts (paid link). Although I love pine nuts (paid link), I don’t think they are necessary for a healthy pesto. More oil makes the pesto thinner and richer, this version is more of a paste, has more flavor and less calories.


Easy Healthy Homemade Pesto

Amy Lawrence
This healthy homemade basil pesto paste is super easy to make! It's a great flavor enhancer for pasta, soups, stews, chicken, beef and more! Freeze it into cubes so you can add it anytime you need flavor!
Weight Watchers Points: 2 Smart Points per tablespoon for all plans
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Sauce
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 Tablespoons
Calories 83 kcal


  • 2 c. firmly packed fresh basil leaves washed, no stems or blooms
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan
  • 1/4 t. kosher salt
  • 1/8 t. black pepper - I like mine with a little zip use less if you don't
  • 3 T. quality extra virgin olive oil


  • Wash basil and pat dry. Place in food processor.
  • Add garlic, parmesan, salt and pepper.
  • Process until finely chopped.
  • Transfer to a small bowl, add olive oil and combine well. (Note: if you add oil to food processor and over process, your pesto will be bitter, so just stir it in.)
  • Place in ice cube trays or use Souper Cubes 2 Tablespoons and freeze.  Or store in refrigerator for a few days.  Makes about 6 tablespoons.


Serving: 1TablespoonCalories: 83kcalCarbohydrates: 1.5gProtein: 1.6gFat: 8.3gSaturated Fat: 1.7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.8gMonounsaturated Fat: 5.3gCholesterol: 3.6mgSodium: 121.7mgPotassium: 43.7mgFiber: 0.3gSugar: 0.4gVitamin A: 34.9IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 51.8mgIron: 0.3mg
Keyword pesto
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2 thoughts on “Easy Homemade Healthy Pesto Paste”

  1. 5 stars
    Look what I made today…. Basil Pesto!
    When I told my granddaughter I was going to make Pesto she became really excited. She loves it. She also is learning to cook so I made a small batch and froze them individually because she makes small batches of foods and would probably only use one at a time.
    The flavor is divine so can’t wait to try a recipe with with them. Easy Peasy!

    1. I’m so glad she was excited! She could easily make it as well. It’s great to add as a topper for chicken, over tomatoes and burrata, in spaghetti and more!

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