This homemade basil pesto is packed full of flavor and the perfect way to add freshness to pasta, pizza, sandwiches, chicken or shrimp.

Posting a new recipe on my blog wasn’t on today’s agenda – but when I make something that tastes this good, I have to share. This homemade pesto has a creamy garlic-herb flavor that will add freshness to any meal. And best of all – it is super simple to make.

To start, you’ll need a few cups of basil leaves. Basil tops my list of favorite herbs. Lucky for me, it’s easy to grow at home. Since I don’t have room for a huge garden, I use large pots in my backyard. Without much effort, the basil keeps growing, and growing and growing! I love being able to go to my backyard and pick fresh leaves to top pizza or sandwiches. And of course, to make pesto anytime I want.

A basic pesto recipe uses just a few ingredients – basil, olive oil, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. Traditional recipes taste good, but if you ask me, mine is better. It’s lower in fat and calories, and has more flavor, freshness and nutrients.

Here are some of the swaps I made:

– Pine nuts are expensive, so I used walnuts instead. Plus, I always have walnuts on hand, so I didn’t have to run to the store to buy special ingredients.

– I reduced the olive oil to 1 Tbsp and added water and lemon juice to the mix. That cut back on calories and fat, which means I can eat more of it. Yum!

– I reduced the amount of Parmesan cheese from what traditional recipes call for. This also helps keep the calories lower.

– I added salt and pepper. When you reduce the Parmesan cheese in recipes, you also reduce the salt. From a taste perspective, I felt it needed more. Adding as little as ¼ tsp to the entire recipe adds a lot of flavor. It will also help preserve the pesto for a little bit longer.

– I changed the amount of most ingredients, but garlic isn’t one of them. I love garlic. I would add more if I was making this just for me.

– Lastly, I used a handful of sweet, ripe cherry tomatoes. Tomatoes add to the freshness of this basil, adding a sweet and savory flavor. Tomato also adds to the overall liquid in the recipe without adding more water.

You can add pesto to pasta, pizza, sandwiches and wraps. It also tastes good as a marinade on chicken or shrimp, or spread on crackers with cheese and olives. In fact, if you ask me, pesto tastes good on anything.

Give it a try then let me know what you think.

[bctt tweet=”Attention #Basil Lovers – This fresh, homemade pesto is the perfect way to jazz up your pasta, pizza, sandwiches, chicken or shrimp. Lower calories but more flavor, freshness and nutrients than traditional recipes. #RdChat #FreshIsBest #Herbs” username=”heathermangieri”]

Hoemade Basil Pesto

This homemade basil pesto is packed full of flavor and the perfect way to add freshness to pasta, pizza, sandwiches, chicken or shrimp.
Author: Heather Mangieri, RDN


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 tomato, extra ripe
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper


  • Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. 


  • Recipe makes 1 cup of Pesto
  • Serving Size: 2 Tbsp; Serving per Recipe: 8
  • Nutrition Facts Per Serving:60 calories, 4 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 2 grams protein, 5 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 95 mg sodium, 6% Daily Iron, 4% Daily Calcium, 2% Daily Potassium
  • Meal Planning Servings: 0 CHO; 0 PRO; 1 FAT

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Tag @heathermangierion Instagram and hashtag it #HeatherMangieriNutrition

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