The Ultimate Basil Pesto Recipe

Basil pesto ingredients

It might seem strange for a pesto company to tell you how to make it at home, but bear with us, there’s a method to our madness.

You see, here at GO! Pesto, as much as we adore classic basil pesto, we don’t make it. We think it's one of the world's greatest sauces and we love eating it whenever we get the chance. But there are so many companies producing it that we don't feel we can bring much more to the party.

There are some very special producers in pesto's heartland - the north Italian region of Liguria - who make small-batch, unpasteurised pesto that simply cannot be rivalled. They have exclusive access to the finest basil on the planet, basil so good that in 2006 it was granted protected designation of origin (PDO) status.

How to make genuine basil pesto at home
If you've never attempted it, let us assure you that making pesto from scratch is one of the most enjoyable culinary activities that exists. Yes, you can make it in a food processor or Thermomix, but do it the traditional way - using a pestle and mortar - and you will be rewarded with a far superior result.

The original basil pesto

The official basil pesto recipe
The one and only recipe acknowledged by the Pesto Genovese Consortium as the truly genuine, authentic pesto, uses just seven ingredients, many of which are so special that they've been granted PDO status.

(Some locals refer to these as the "seven dwarfs", which we can only assume means Snow White is the pasta on which it is served.)

You would have to do an insane amount of legwork to source the exact ingredients listed below. However, use the finest quality versions you can find, and you will end up with a sauce that is far superior to any basil pesto you'll find in your local supermarket.

Ingredients for 4-6 servings of classic basil pesto

Riviera Ligure olive oil (PDO)


Genovese basil (PDO)


Pinoli (pine nuts)


Parmigiano-Reggiano (PDO)


Pecorino Fiore Sardo (PDO)


Vessalico garlic

1 clove

Trapani sea salt


Check your garlic clove doesn't have a green "germ" running down the middle. If it does, simply remove and discard. Add the clove, along with the salt, to a marble mortar and crush with a wooden pestle, utilising the salt as an abrasive to help break the garlic down.

Add the pine nuts and continue to rotate the pestle around the sides of the mortar to create a paste.

When the nuts are fully broken down, add the basil leaves (if you can find young, small leaves then your sauce will be all the better for it) and continue to work the sauce for a few minutes until you have a smooth consistency.

Add the cheeses, work the sauce for another minute and then slowly drizzle in the oil until the sauce is super creamy.

To serve
Basil pesto is best served immediately to prevent the herbs oxidising and dulling the vibrancy of the sauce.

If pairing with pasta, make sure to just warm the pesto using the residual heat from the pasta. You don't want to cook the sauce because that will destroy all those amazing, fresh flavours that you’ve just put so much effort into encapsulating.