Fresh Pesto Sauce For Pasta

Fresh pesto sauce is so easy to make, full of cheesy, herbaceous flavor, and so versatile.  It also keeps well in your refrigerator or freezer.

A bowl of fresh pesto sauce with parmesan cheese, lemon juice, spinach, basil, and garlic. Perfect for pasta, on a pizza, drizzled over vegetables, or to top scrambled eggs.

This pesto is amazing on pasta, of course.  But it works wonderfully when spooned over chicken breasts and baked, as a dip for bread, as a base for pizza or bruschetta, slathered on roasted veggies, even as a condiment for scrambled eggs.  


  • Fresh basil and fresh baby spinach – Basil is a pretty strong flavor.  I like a more subtle basil flavor and the spinach rounds out the sauce. 
  • Parmesan cheese – buy the best quality cheese that you can find/afford and grate it yourself.
  • Extra virgin olive oil – this adds lots of flavor, so use good quality oil.
  • Walnuts – classic pesto uses pine nuts, but I had walnuts on hand and they were delicious.  You can toast them for a nutty flavor, but it isn’t required.
  • Garlic
  • Lemon juice – this will help keep your pesto a bright green color and add a bright note to the sauce.
  • Salt and pepper


I like to spoon my pesto into a mason jar with a tight lid.  Before I screw on the lid, I drizzle a little extra olive oil on top to ‘seal’ the pesto and help keep it from oxidizing. It’ll keep in your fridge for a week, maybe two…but I doubt it will last that long.


Yes!  I’ve read that you should leave the cheese out of the recipe if you’re planning on freezing it, but I’ve frozen the sauce with the cheese and it worked beautifully.

  • The same mason jar that you store your pesto in the fridge also works in the freezer.  Again, drizzle olive oil over the top before freezing.
  • You can store smaller amounts in ice cube trays.  This is great if you use a spoonful of pesto in other recipes.

Thaw your frozen pesto in the refrigerator.

A bowl of fresh pesto sauce with parmesan cheese, lemon juice, spinach, basil, and garlic. Perfect for pasta, on a pizza, drizzled over vegetables, or to top scrambled eggs.


Boil a pound of spaghetti and bake up a batch of perfectly moist chicken breasts.  Toss the pasta and sliced chicken with the pesto for a delicious dinner.

Serve it alongside an Italian Aperol Spritz, Goat Cheese Caprese Bruschetta, and a Classic Tiramisu for a sweet finish.



Easy, versatile, and delicious, this fresh pesto sauce is sure to become one of your family’s favorites.

  • Author: Millie Brinkley
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 1 1/2 cups 1x
  • Category: Main Dish - Sauce
  • Method: Puree
  • Cuisine: Italian



1 cup fresh basil leaves, tightly packed

1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves, tightly packed

1 cup parmesan cheese

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ cup walnuts or pine nuts (I like using walnuts)

4 large garlic cloves

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Wash and dry the basil and spinach leaves.

Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor.

Process until smooth.

Taste and adjust for salt.  

Spoon the pesto into a container with a tight-fitting lid.   I like to use a mason jar. Drizzle olive oil on top of the pesto and screw on the lid.

Store in the refrigerator for up to 1-2 weeks.

Keywords: fresh pesto sauce, pesto sauce, pasta sauce, Italian food, basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, baby spinach, extra virgin olive oil