Oh glorious pesto! How to make it, store it, freeze it, and what to do with it! I can’t think of a savory sauce more versatile and flavorful than pesto. Not only is it vegetarian, but it’s gluten free, low carb, and keto pesto too.
No herb reminds me of summer as much as the smell and taste of basil. I’m convinced that most summer salads, grilled meats, or pasta dishes are made better with a delicious dab of pesto sauce.
A heavenly blend of basil, Parmesan, and pine nuts make the perfect garlicy Keto pesto for zucchini noodles (our favorite!), giving a sauce pizazz, added to your favorite salad, or as a dab on your favorite grilled chicken recipe.
We actually love to grow our own basil, fresh herbs can get so costly at the grocery store, but for just a couple dollars you can have a big harvest of basil to make your own low carb pesto all during the year. Typically, our garden includes three or four basil plants, just enough to use all summer long but also make sure we have enough keto pesto in our freezer to enjoy until the following summer.
It wasn’t until my 30s my love affair with pesto begin, prior to making fresh Keto pesto, I don’t really ever tried the jarred Paredes of pesto, which frankly cannot compare.
You only need a handful of ingredients to make homemade pesto, half of which you probably already have at home.
I know this was already mentioned above, but growing your own basil is a life saver! You might have noticed that the basil leaves in the photos aren’t uniformed size and perfect. That’s because garden basil is irregular and some of my basil leaves were utterly gigantic! But truly, the quality, flavor, and cost can’t be beat.
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Supplies to Make Low Carb Pesto
Making healthy homemade pesto sauce requires few special supplies. To make this recipe super simple (as in a 5 minute recipe!) having a tool on hand that quickly and evenly blends the ingredients is essential.
Food processor – This is what we used to make the gluten free keto pesto recipe. It literally took under 15 seconds to mix! A high powered blender should work well also. Quick tip- I often use my individual blender cup for making a quick sauce
Our food processor is ANCIENT, it’s one of my prized scores since I found it like new at a garage sale 15 years ago for $5! I can’t believe it still works just like the day I bought it. Since I’m an avid cook I might have to upgrade to something with a larger capacity bowl, but for sure I’ll be waiting for a Black Friday or Amazon Prime Days deal.
If you don’t have a food processor, you can also finely chop everything by hand OR you can use a mortar and pestle.
I often get asked where to buy the dishes from the post:
Scrolled handled mini spoon – World Market
Homemade Pesto: How to Make
Making our own homemade pesto is truly a piece of cake! If you’ve been wondering how to make pesto at home, you’re in for a treat. I KNOW this will be one of those recipes you’ll end up questioning yourself WHY you didn’t think to make your own pesto sooner! It tastes SO. MUCH. BETTER. than jarred sauce AND it’s so easy to make!
Step by Step Instructions
2 cups basil leaves, packed
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
In your food processor, add all ingredients and blend for 10-15 second until fine. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula and blend again for 5+ more seconds.
The recipe makes 1 cup of pesto, which should be enough for multiple recipes. Enjoy!
Make sure your basil leaves are packed down when measuring! It’s important that you have enough of the key ingredient in the recipe and your pesto will have too much liquid if you didn’t use enough basil.
Buying a hunk of parmesan cheese and grating your own is ideal, but to make the keto pesto recipe even quicker, you can also buy pre-shredded parmesan.
I’ll often take a tiny taste to make sure it has the flavor I’m looking for. Making your own pesto makes it so simple to add just a pinch more garlic, another drizzle of olive oil or a sprinkle more salt. Just adjust any seasoning as desired and blend for a few more seconds.
How to Store Pesto
How long is pesto good for?
Fresh pesto lasts up to 5-7 days in the fridge. A little bit REALLY goes a long way so you’ll most likely have leftover pesto after using this yummy sauce in a recipe.
When exposed to air, the sauce often starts to turn brown on the top. A little tip on how to prevent this is to pour a tiny layer of olive oil on top before sealing your container.
How to freeze homemade pesto
Freezing is the best way to store your homemade basil pesto after you make a batch. It will keep in the freezer for at least 3-4 months. Since I mostly use garden basil, I’ll often make up to 8 batches at a time to keep in my freezer for later in the year.
We love to store basil in small cute little 4 oz mason jars, which makes them perfect to give away as a gift also. Just add a simple bow and tag and your friends/relatives will adore you.
Food expands in the freezer so make sure to leave a 1/2″ of space between the sauce and the lid.
What Goes with Pesto?
Homemade basil pesto is SO versatile and literally makes almost everything taste better. Ok, maybe I wouldn’t add it to dessert? Just a little spoonful will add zesty flavor to meats, pasta, soups and more.
My personal favorite way to serve pesto is with zucchini noodles and sautéed shrimp. This is a fantastic keto pesto recipe idea and it’s also gluten free and vegetarian.
Here’s a few suggestions on what to do with your homemade pesto sauce:
Marinate chicken and grill
Add a layer to a thin quick cooking fish like salmon and broil 4-5 minutes
Add to any pasta dish or to zoodles (zucchini noodles)
Flavoring sauces- one of my favorite ways to use pesto sauce is just adding it to salad dressings, or mixing in with red sauce or Alfredo sauce
Mixing a dab into an Italian inspired soup
Adding a bit to scrambled eggs or hard boiled eggs
Carbs in Pesto Sauce
If you’re watching your carbs or following a Keto Diet like my husband, you’ll definitely want to know the pesto carb count. Making your own low carb keto pesto is a life saver of a sauce that infuses so much flavor into your favorite low carb dishes.
You’ll be happy to know that there’s only 1 carbs in pesto sauce for a 1 Tbsp serving size. This total could vary depending on the specific ingredients you purchase. I used the Trader Joes freshly shredded parmesan that has 0 net carbs per serving.
Pine nuts have 9 total carbs for a 1/2 cup (which is what the whole recipe calls for). While pine nuts aren’t considered one of the lowest carb nuts, because it’s divided into 8 portions and a little pesto goes a long way, the carbs in pesto is still very low.
Nuts that have lower carbs than pine nuts and you could try using instead would be cashews or almonds. It’ll alter the pesto taste slightly, but you can simply adjust the other seasoning as needed.
We hope you love this homemade basil pesto as much as we do! It’s such a versatile sauce and is a great addition to many recipes, plus we love that it’s gluten free, vegetarian, low carb, and keto pesto too.
Be sure to pin for later!
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If you have any questions or comments, please post below on the post. We’d also love to see a photo of your finished dish on either the Pinterest pin or tag @whole_lotta_yum on Instagram. xoxo, Jen
Other Recipes You’ll Love
- 2 cups basil leaves, packed
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 pine nuts
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend for 15 seconds, or until pureed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 5 more seconds.
- The recipe makes 1 cup and will most likely be more than you need for your recipe. Each serving size is 1 T of pesto sauce.
- Store in the fridge for up to 5-7 days or in the freezer for up to 3-4 months.