Budget Friendly Pesto Walnut Basil Recipe

August 17, 2023

By: Miranda Lamb

The mouth-watering smell of basil! Is there anything better? Making homemade basil pesto is such a delicious way to harvest and preserve your summer garden basil. And with this budget-friendly pesto walnut basil recipe there is no reason to not whip up a couple batches.

What is Pesto

Pesto is a blend of basil and sometimes spinach leaves blended with cheese, nuts, and olive oil. It is perfect for adding flavor to Italian dishes or as a dipping sauce or spread for bread. As the main ingredient is basil, pesto has a deep rich flavor and an intense green color.

Can you Substitute Walnuts in Homemade Pesto

When I first started making homemade pesto, I saw that most recipes used pine nuts. Living in a small town, I struggled to find pine nuts. And then when I did find pine nuts, I was shocked at the price. Yikes! So I quickly started experimenting with other nuts to make my homemade basil pesto.

Thankfully, I discovered that walnuts go perfectly with basil to make a delicious, more affordable pesto! And walnuts can be found at any basic grocery store.

How to Preserve Basil

Start with fresh basil. You will need about 2 packed cups of basil leaves. Now basil has a tendency to brown quickly. So you want to be careful how you handle it.

If you are getting basil from the garden, trim the basil stems with scissors. Trimming your basil will also cause your basil to continue to grow and become more plentiful. Trim the stem and don’t just pick the leaves for the best future growth.

pesto walnut basil

Once you have picked the basil, you have a couple options. You can either place your basil stems in water, if they are long enough, in a jar of water on the counter.

The second option is to pick leaves off of stems, carefully wash leaves, and thoroughly dry leaves before placing in a sealed plastic bag. If you place your basil wet in the fridge, it will turn dark and be very sad looking. Avoid this!

Or you can wash your basil leaves and pat dry with a paper towel and use immediately. I would suggest using your basil immediately when possible.

How To Make Pesto at Home

Pesto has basil, nuts, cheese, olive oil, garlic, and a little salt. To make pesto you will definitely need a food processor to really blend the ingredients together.

pesto walnut recipe

First, place your basil into a food processor with your walnuts. And pulse to blend.

pesto walnut basil

Add your minced garlic and parmesan cheese. You can use fresh grated parmesan cheese. Or I like the parmesan that comes in the small tubs from Aldi. Or it comes in a green package from Kroger in the regular cheese section. Don’t use the powdered can parmesan cheese that you would shake onto pizza.

pesto walnut basil recipe

Next, once your basil, nuts, cheese, and garlic are blended, slowly add in your olive oil. If your food processor allows, stream in your olive oil while the processor is running. My processor does not have this feature. But my walnut basil pesto still comes out tasty.

homemade basil pesto

Lastly, add in a little salt and pepper to taste.

How to Store Pesto

The best part is storing your pesto for later. Using a ice cube tray or a plastic lined mini muffin pan, portion out your pesto. Freeze your pesto walnut basil recipe in the small portions.

homemade basil pesto recipe! Budget-friendly recipe with walnuts. Preserve your basil.

Once frozen, remove your ice cube tray from the freezer and carefully pop out the pesto. Place the homemade basil pesto cubes into a labeled freezer quart bag and push as much air out of the bag as possible. Place freezer bag into the freezer.

What To Do With Pesto

Pesto makes any Italian dish way more flavorful and delicious! Add your pesto to your spaghetti sauce or to your meat sauce for your lasagna.

My personal favorite way to enjoy pesto is to warm up French bread, slice, and dip in the pesto! While warming up your French bread, thaw a cube or two of pesto. Warm pesto for a few seconds in the microwave, add a little more olive oil if needed, and then dip the bread into the pesto! Perfect appetizer or side with your Italian meal!


Homemade Basil Pesto with Walnuts

Budget friendly recipe to make homemade basil pesto. Harvest your summer basil and create a delicious pesto for breads, pasta dishes, and more! Freeze your pesto to use all year long.
Prep Time30 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: basil, pesto, pesto bread, walnut pesto
Servings: 8


  • Food processor


  • 2 cups packed basil leaves – rinsed and dried
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper


  • Place fresh basil leaves in the processor with walnuts. Pulse to chop up walnuts and basil.
  • Add in garlic and parmesan cheese. Continue to pulse.
  • Scrape down the sides of the processor.
  • Slowly add in olive oil. If your processor allows, add oil while the processor is running.
  • Add salt and pepper.
  • If freezing pesto, scoop pesto into ice cube trays or mini muffin tins. Freeze for several hours. Pop out pesto from ice cube trays and place in a freezer quart bag. Place back into freezer.

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