How Do I Fix Bitter Pesto?

Honey, which can be used to sweeten pesto

Short answer
If you're unfortunate enough to be the owner of some bitter pesto, then sugar or honey might be the first thing you reach for. They both work well at masking bitterness in foods, but there are several other ingredients that help too, including acid, salt, and fat.

Long answer
We've written extensively about why your pesto may taste bitter, but here we're more concerned with fixing the problem once it has been identified. The truth is, there's no way to get rid of bitterness from food; it's more a case of counterbalancing the bitter notes with other sweet flavours. Here are some of the most useful ingredients you can use:

Adding a little sugar is the most obvious way to dampen down any bitterness from pesto. Anything sugary will work: granulated white sugar, honey, fruit juices, even sweet dessert wines.

Acid in the form of vinegar or citrus juices can make a pesto taste less bitter and could even enhance the flavour of the sauce at the same time.

In low concentrations, salt can be used to suppress bitterness, which is why people have been adding tiny amounts to coffee for decades. Always go easy to start with. You can always add more salt later, but you can never take it away.

Fat is surprisingly good at masking bitterness, which is why, in some parts of the world, people add cream to coffee. In the case of pesto, though, because it's already quite fattening, we're not overly enthusiastic about adding yet more fat to it.