Leftover Pesto Ideas

Pesto being made in a pestle and mortar.

Never Waste an Ounce of Pesto Again

There are so many uses for pesto other than just a sauce to stir through pasta, so here we’ve compiled our top 15 ways to ensure those pesto leftovers never go to waste.

Use as a pizza base

Nothing beats a rich, homemade tomato sauce as the base for a pizza, but if you fancy a change, pesto makes a rather fine alternative.

Smoked salmon and pesto pizza

Add it to soups

A tablespoon or two of pesto can be mixed into your favourite soup to add an extra dimension.

Pesto and pea soup.

Use it in baking

We’ve successfully added pesto to focaccia, pinwheels, cheese straws, bruschetta, and many more bread and pastry dishes.

Braided pesto bread.

Stir it through literally anything

Once you start thinking of pesto as an ingredient rather than just a sauce, you’ll find the options limitless. A dollop of pesto can elevate mashed potatoes, salads, scrambled eggs, rice, and numerous other dishes to a completely new level.

A potato and quail egg salad with pesto

Add it to roasted vegetables

We love tossing carrots, parsnips, and onions in oil and honey before roasting. Stirring through some pesto in the final minutes of cooking, however, elevates the veggies to a whole new level.

A cast-iron skillet full of roasted vegetables with a fried egg on top.

Spice up your breakfast

Pesto isn’t something that most people associate with breakfast, but try drizzling some pesto over your fried eggs, buttery English muffins, or American-style pancakes. You’ll immediately kick yourself for not thinking to do it before.

Griddled bread with quail eggs, pesto, and twisted bacon.

Make a pesto dressing

For years, whenever we made a salad, we’d whip up a quick vinaigrette of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, occasionally adding a little wholegrain mustard and honey for an extra layer of complexity. Ever since adding pesto to the equation, though, we’ve never looked back.

A pesto and oil dressing being poured over a tomato salad.

Make pesto stuffing

We’re huge fans of stuffed chicken breast, so next time you find yourself stuffing your meat with breadcrumbs, spinach, cheese, or herbs, ask yourself whether pesto would make a nice addition. The answer is almost always “yes!".

A whole sea bream on a bed of vegetables.

Use as a marinade

One of our favourite ways to use up leftover pesto is to marinate prawns or thin strips of beef with it. It can easily elevate a dish from the mundane to the divine.

A lamb shank on a bed of couscous and salad.

Make pesto sandwiches

Pesto can be used in almost any sandwich, so when you find yourself automatically reaching for the mayonnaise, think about whether pesto could be a good substitute.

A cheese and pesto panini being pulled in half to show the gooey cheese.

Add it to béchamel and other sauces

Béchamel is the cornerstone of so many classic dishes like lasagne, moussaka, and fish pie. Whenever you find yourself adding milk to your butter-flour roux, think about whether there might be a place in there for pesto too.

Piping potato on top of a fish pie mix.

Make compound pesto butter

We know the term “compound butter” sounds a little pretentious, but it requires nothing more than mixing equal quantities of pesto with room-temperature butter and then refrigerating or freezing it. Our favourite use for it is to baste a steak or fish fillet during the very final stages of pan-frying.

Compound pesto butter.

Make a pesto dip

If we’re feeling really lazy, mixing pesto with sour cream, hummus, or cream cheese makes for a mighty fine dip that can go from the fridge to the table in 2 minutes flat.

A cracker being dipped into a pesto and mayonnaise dip.

Add it to breadcrumbs

We’re partial to sprinkling generous amounts of breadcrumbs onto fish fillets before finishing them under the grill. Mix those breadcrumbs with a little pesto, though, and the results are delicious.

A side of salmon with a pesto and breacrumb crust.

Freeze it

Pesto freezes remarkably well. Dedicating an ice cube tray to storing frozen nuggets of sauce will mean you always have some flavour-bombs on hand to enliven your dinner.

Nuggets of frozen pesto