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Pesto Recipe with Pistachio

My pistachio pesto recipe is a versatile sauce that elevates pasta, sandwiches, salads, pizza, and crusty dipping bread. Like Middle Eastern skhug or chimichurri with cilantro, the flavorful sauce is easy to make and ready in 15 minutes!

Pesto in a glass bowl with a spoon scooping into it.

What You Need to Make this Recipe

  • 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 This 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 add them to a food processor.

Pistachios toasting in a pan.

Step 2: Add the remaining ingredients, apart from the olive oil, to the food processor and blend until smooth.

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

Step 3: Add the olive oil and whisk to emulsify.

Olive oil stirred into the pesto recipe.

Step 4: Store the leftover in an airtight container.

Pesto inside of an airtight container.

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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 Sauce and Dip Recipes:

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Pesto in a glass bowl.

Pesto Recipe with Pistachio

Tressa Jamil
Made with basil, pistachios, garlic, lemon, and olive oil, our pesto recipe is the perfect topping, dressing, or dip.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Dip, Dressing
Cuisine Italian
Servings 1 cup
Calories 1404 kcal
  • ½ cup pistachios, toasted
  • 5 cups basil, loosely packed
  • ½ lemon, zest and juice
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, coarse ground
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup parmesan, shredded, optional
  • Toast the pistachios in a skillet over low heat and add them to a food processor.
  • Add the remaining ingredients, apart from the olive oil, to the food processor and blend until smooth.
  • Add the olive oil and whisk to emulsify.
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 Cup | Calories: 1404 kcal | Carbohydrates: 26 g | Protein: 17 g | Fat: 143 g | Sodium: 1870 mg | Fiber: 9 g | Sugar: 6 g
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!
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