Is Pesto Keto?

Asparagus, one of the most keto-friendly vegetables

Short answer
A standard 50g serving of classic basil pesto contains 1.85g of carbohydrates, making it keto-friendly. However, we've found some shop-bought pestos that contain over 6.5g of carbohydrates per serving, so always read the label.

Long answer
There are too many different types of pesto to make broad generalisations about their keto-friendliness. We've compared dozens of pesto sauces and found some with as little as 3% carbohydrates and others with a whopping 13%. Different nuts and cheeses are mainly to blame for the wildly different amounts.

Here, we're going to break down the ingredients from the only basil pesto recipe endorsed by the Pesto Genovese Consortium to see what's going on under the bonnet.

Ingredient
Quantity
Carbs
Olive oil
80g
0%
Basil
75g
3%
Pine nuts
30g
13%
Parmesan
30g
4%
Pecorino
20g
0%
Garlic
5g
30%
Salt
pinch
0%
TOTAL
240g
3.7%

As you can see, this particular recipe is 3.7% carbohydrates, meaning you'll be consuming 1.85g of carbs if you follow our recommended serving size of 50g of pesto per person.

Just like pesto, keto-diets vary wildly, but nutritionists advise consuming between 20g - 50g of carbohydrate per day. On this basis, we think it's perfectly fair to consider most pesto sauces keto-friendly.

However, just for fun (you know we're pesto nerds, right?) we set out to design a recipe loosely based on classic basil pesto, but using the lowest carb ingredients we could find. Here's what you would get if you made up a 50g serving of what we think could be the most keto-compliant pesto recipe ever invented.

Ingredient Quantity Carbs
Olive oil 17g 0g
Basil 16g 0.48g
Pecans 6g 0.27g
Camembert 10g 0.05g
Garlic 1g 0.3g
Salt pinch 0g
TOTAL 50g 1.1g