Can You Eat Raw Pesto Straight From The Jar?

Supermarket shelf with a wide range of sauces

Short answer
Yes, pesto can be used straight from the jar and doesn't require cooking or heating. In fact, we actively discourage applying too much heat to pesto, as this will destroy many of the fresh flavours that producers work so hard to retain.

Long answer
Almost all the jarred pestos you find in the supermarket will have been pasteurised to not only ensure that they can last a long time unopened, but so they are perfectly safe to eat straight from the jar.

There is no need to heat pesto, although too many people do. Perhaps it's understandable that people opt to take a 'belt and braces' approach, especially if they plan to serve it to someone they may consider vulnerable, like babies, toddlers, or pregnant women. However, we strongly urge you not to because producers go to great lengths to keep their sauces raw, and heating (or worse still, cooking) destroys all those wonderful fresh flavours.

Once you have cooked and drained your pasta (hopefully you've saved some of the starchy pasta water, right?) the heat from the noodles will be perfectly hot enough to warm the pesto through without ruining the fresh flavours.

As for eating pesto neat, well, if that's your thing, go for it. We think its richness means you'll probably get sick of it long before you reach the bottom of the jar. Even pesto obsessives like us can't demolish a whole jar in one sitting.