This post has been updated for photos and content since its original publication in 2015.
Make your own homemade pistachio pesto in about 5 minutes with just a handful of ingredients. It’s delicious slathered on sandwiches, tossed with pasta or swirled into soups. Pistachios give a unique flavor to this classic herbal sauce.
Ode to pistachios
Pistachios shouldn’t be relegated solely to desserts. They’re wonderful in savory dishes too. Like this basil pistachio pesto.
Although, traditional basil pesto is made with pine nuts, I’ve found that pistachios (as well as other types of nuts and seeds) bring a subtle twist to this classic herb sauce.
Are pistachios healthy?
Pistachios are actually the seeds of the pistachio tree (not a nut at all) and have numerous health benefits including anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant traits.
In fact, they have more anti-oxidants than most other nuts (only pecans and walnuts contain more).
They’re naturally low in calories, but high in protein, which can help to keep you satiated longer.
Learn more about the health and nutrition benefits of pistachios here.
Despite many jarred sauces being available in the market, they don’t hold a candle to this homemade pistachio pesto. It’s creamy, bright, rich, tangy and delicious with so many things. It’s a difference you can taste.
With just a few everyday ingredients and about 5 minutes of prep you can make your own homemade pesto.
What you’ll need for pistachio pesto
- Fresh Basil Leaves
- Shelled Roasted Pistachios
- Parmesan Cheese
- Olive Oil
- Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
- Salt & Pepper
I recommend using a blender or food processor to make this (or any) homemade pesto. It’s such a simple process and a good machine can grind the leaves, garlic and nuts into a smooth paste in no time at all.
You can also make pistachio pesto using a mortar and pestle, but that involves a strong arm and sweat equity.
Either way you’ll be rewarded with a creamy, herbal sauce to go with so many things.
How to make basil pistachio pesto
- Add the fresh basil leaves to the food processor or blender.
- Top with garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, pistachios and grated cheese.
- Pulse several times to chop the ingredients. You may need to stir or scrape down the bowl of the processor.
- Once the basil and nuts are finely chopped, with the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil until it forms a smooth paste.
- Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary with salt, pepper or extra lemon zest or juice.
How does pistachio pesto taste?
Pistachio basil pesto has a delicious balance of brightness and tang from the fresh herbs and lemon (zest and juice). Pairing them with a good quality fruity olive oil, enhances their zing.
Parmesan cheese adds a rich umami flavor and the roasted pistachios are earthy and buttery.
Garlic and red pepper flakes gives a bold assertiveness to this simple condiment.
This quick and easy pesto tastes fresh and lively. It’s earthy with a bit of spice and zest, but it’s mild enough to go well with lots of dishes.
How to use basil pistachio pesto in other recipes:
- Summer Squash & Courgette Salad
- Pan Seared Scallops and Pesto Pasta
- Spring Pesto Roasted Tomatoes
- Baked Salmon Pesto
- Spring Pesto Green Beans
More quick & easy sauce recipes:
- Spinach Basil Pesto with Almonds
- Charred Tomatillo Poblano Salsa Verde
- Pesto with Pine Nuts
- Easy Hatch Green Chile Sauce
- Basil Walnut Pesto
Pistachio Basil Pesto
- 4 cups fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup pistachios roasted, shelled
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese grated or shredded
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup olive oil – more if needed
- salt and pepper to taste
- Add the basil leaves, to the bowl of a food processor or blender.
- Zest about 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest and add the pistachios, parmesan cheese, 3 cloves garlic, 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes in a blender or food processor.
- Blend or pulse until you have a rough chop.
- While the machine is running, gradually drizzle in olive oil, and continue to blend until a smooth paste is formed. Add about 1-2 teaspoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice and blend again.
- Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed wtih salt and pepper or extra lemon juice.