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Pistachio Pesto

Use this pistachio pesto recipe to breathe new life into pasta, sandwiches, salads, pizza, and crusty bread. Like spicy skhug or chimichurri with cilantro, the flavorful sauce is easy to make and ready in 15 minutes!

Pistachio pesto in a small bowl.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Olive Oil: Since olive oil is one of the main ingredients, use high-quality olive oil for the best flavor.
  • Lemon: Bright the sauce with lemon juice.
  • Pistachios: Toast the pistachios to pronounce their flavor.
  • Basil: Use four bundles of large-leaf Italian basil.
  • Garlic: I suggest using four cloves, but don’t let my recipe tell you how much garlic to use – measure with your heart.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Enhance the taste of the pesto recipe using freshly shaven parmesan cheese, or save some time with store-bought grated cheese.
  • Spices: I season the zesty pesto sauce with salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.

Additions and Substitutions

  • Nuts: I use pistachios in this recipe, but change it up with pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans, or cashews.
  • Greens: In addition to basil, you can add other leafy greens like kale, arugula, spinach, or watercress to brighten the sauce.
  • Add Flavor: Take pesto up a notch by changing the flavor profile a bit; use roasted red peppers, jalapeños, or sun-dried tomato.
  • Go Nut-Free: Instead of using nuts, try adding pepitas, chia, or hemp seeds.
  • Make it Vegan: Use nutritional yeast in place of cheese.

How to Make Pistachio Pesto Recipe

The full recipe with measurements is in the recipe card below.

Step 1: Toast the pistachios in a skillet over low heat and transfer them to a food processor.

Pistachios toasting in a skillet.

Step 2: Add all ingredients, except olive oil, to the food processor and blend until smooth.processor and blend until smooth.

The ingredients for pesto in a food processor apart from the olive oil.

Step 3: Slowly pour the olive oil into the food processor while blending on low power to emulsify.

Olive oil stirred into the pesto recipe.

Whip up the pistachio pesto and pair it with one of these dinner favorites!

How to Use Pesto Sauce

  • Pasta Sauce
  • Wrap or Sandwich Spread
  • Pizza Sauce
  • Vegetable, Poultry or Fish Topping
  • Salad Dressing
  • Dip for Bread and Vegetables

Frequently Asked Questions

What is pesto made out of?

Tradition pesto includes basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, salt, and hard cheese; ours is a take on the original.

What does pesto taste like?

Pesto gets its bright green color and herby flavor from fresh basil. Garlic and cheese add salty richness to make a tasty sauce you’ll crave.

How should I store leftover pesto?

To maintain the bright green color, wrap the sauce tightly so that the plastic wrap touches the top of the pesto and is not exposed to the air.

Did you know you can also freeze pesto sauce? Homemade pesto is one of the best ways to use fresh basil from the garden, and I love freezing mine to use in recipes throughout the year. Spoon the pesto into an ice tray, crack them out, and add them to a reusable bag.

More Herb Sauces:

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Pistachio pesto in a small bowl.

Pistachio Pesto

Tressa Jamil
With pistachios, fresh basil, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil, this creamy pistachio pesto recipe is the perfect topping, dressing, or dip. 
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Dip, Dressing
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 Servings
Calories 182 kcal
  • ½ cup pistachios, toasted
  • 5 cups fresh basil, loosely packed
  • lemon juice, ½ lemon (½ teaspoon lemon zest)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, coarse ground
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan, optional
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Toast the pistachios in a skillet over low heat and transfer them to a food processor.
  • Add all ingredients, except olive oil, to the food processor and blend until smooth.
  • Slowly pour the olive oil into the food processor while blending on low power to emulsify.
Serving Size: 1 Tablespoon
Nutrition Disclosure:
  • The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.
Serving: 1 Serving | Calories: 182 kcal | Carbohydrates: 4 g | Protein: 3 g | Fat: 18 g | Saturated Fat: 3 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12 g | Cholesterol: 3 mg | Sodium: 349 mg | Potassium: 139 mg | Fiber: 1 g | Sugar: 1 g | Vitamin A: 888 IU | Vitamin C: 4 mg | Calcium: 66 mg | Iron: 1 mg
Did you make this recipe? Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and follow @thejamilghar or tag #thejamilghar on Instagram!
5 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating