How to Make and Freeze Basil Pesto

Basil pesto is easy to make and freeze, preserving the fresh flavors of summer. Healthy and versatile – pesto is perfect brushed on grilled meats, tossed with steamed veggies, or stirred into soup.

Putting pesto on pasta

I love preparing homemade basil pesto in bulk during the summer. I can prepare the sauce in just minutes, and it’s also extremely versatile and ideal for freezing. When you’re in need of a quick lunch or dinner, you can take a cube of frozen pesto and have a sauced up pasta in minutes! It’s actually super simple, and I’ll show you how easy it is to make and freeze your own basil pesto.


  • Fresh basil: Whether from your own yard or the store or farmer’s market, it needs to be fresh!
  • Parmesan: Nutty and salty, it adds texture and flavor to the sauce.
  • Pine nuts: Instead of using raw pine nuts, I like to toast them to add a deep, rich flavor.
  • Garlic: Earthy, nutty, and somewhat spicy, it adds rich flavor to the pesto.
  • Lemon juice and zest: Brightens up the flavor while adding an acidic balance to the olive oil, cheese, and nuts.
  • Olive oil: Helps to evenly distrubute the ingredients as they blend and gives the pesto its spreadable consistency.

how to Make and Freeze Basil Pesto

Toasted pine nuts

Start by toasting your pine nuts by tossing them in the oven at 350 for about 6 or 6 minutes, until nice and brown.

Drying basil

While the pine nuts are toasting, you can wash and dry your fresh basil.

Adding basil leaves to food proccessor

Then pick the basil leaves off of the stems and add to a food processor.

Adding parmesan cheese to food processor

Followed by the grated parmesan cheese.

Adding lemon zest to pesto

Then add your garlic cloves and fresh lemon zest.

Adding pine nuts to pesto

Next add your toasted pine nuts.

Adding salt to pesto

Finish with some salt and pepper to taste, before turning on your food processor.

adding olive oil to pesto

As your pesto blends, slowly add the olive oil until ilt arrive at the desired consistency.

Adding lemon juice to pesto

Finish off with the fresh lemon juice, and you are ready to serve over some pasta, brushed onto grilled meat, or whatever you can think of!

How to make and freeze basil pesto.

However if you aren’t using it all for your dish, take a clean ice cub tray and fill with the pesto. Cover (plastic wrap will work if your trays don’t come with lids), and place in the freezer. You’ll now have basil pesto at the ready for months going forward!

Easy Substitutions

  • Basil : spinach, parsley, arugula or cilantro
  • Parmesan : pecorino, romano, or Grana Padano cheese
  • Pine nuts : walnuts, pistachios, or cashews

Frequently Asked Questions:

How long can you keep homemade pesto for?

Pesto keeps for 5-7 days in the refrigerator.

How long does frozen pesto keep for?

3 Months

Does olive oil have to be used to make pesto?

Olive oil prevents oxidation and slows the pesto from turning brown. I’ve never tried not using olive oil.

How to make and freeze basil pesto on pasta.

Recipes with Pesto

Eat It, Like It, Share it!

Did you try this method? The next time you make it, snap a picture and share it to your socials! Tag @thelemonbowl and #thelemonbowl so we can admire and share your meal.

Liz eating fresh basil pesto.

Eat it now, or eat it later, now that you know how to make and freeze basil pesto, you’ll start using it all the time.

Your fork is waiting.

Putting pesto on pasta

How To Make And Freeze Basil Pesto

Liz DellaCroce
Lemon juice and zest adds brightness and freshness to this traditional basil pesto recipe. Perfect for freezing and using later in pastas, soups, marinades and more.
4.28 stars average
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Sauce
Cuisine Italian
Servings 24
Calories 119 kcal


  • 4 cups fresh basil
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • ½ cup pine nuts toasted
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 lemon juice and zest of
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • To toast pine nuts, place on a baking sheet in an even layer and bake at 350 for 6-7 minutes until browned.
  • In a large food processor, pulse together basil, parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice and zest.
  • Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Serving: 2tablespoonsCalories: 119kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 2gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 64mgPotassium: 42mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 245IUVitamin C: 3.2mgCalcium: 56mgIron: 0.3mg
Keyword how to make and freeze pesto
Did you make this?If so tag @thelemonbowl using the hashtag #thelemonbowl to be featured!

For more great recipes, check out my Pinterest board!

87 thoughts on “How to Make and Freeze Basil Pesto”

  1. Liz,
    I’ve never thought to add lemon zest to my pesto–great idea. I make mine thicker (usually because I’ve got so many leaves vs cheese and nuts) and use a small disher or cookie scoop to freeze it on trays. The act of freezing bursts the cell walls, and the pesto is . . . well not runny, but let’s say liquid . . . when thawed. (I have a shortage of ice cube trays and don’t like to tie them up, so I tried it this way with success.)


  2. I have never thought to freeze my pesto either! Also, due to a nut allergy in the fam, I use Pumpkin Seeds instead of Pine Nuts and it turns out great!

  3. Exactly what I plan to do this weekend. Our basil is going to seed so fast I’ve been plucking it like crazy; now to do something with all of that amazing abundance!

    I have been using toasted walnuts of late in pesto; as much as I love pine nuts; their $20/lb price tag needs some adjusting before it can regain it’s place as the favored kitchen nut!

    1. Liz DellaCroce

      I love the idea of toasting walnuts!! Pine nuts are so dang expensive but we buy them at Costco in bulk and freeze the bag. It lasts us about 3 months-6 months.

  4. I totally freeze pesto the same way!! This is how I made my kids baby food too. Ice cube trays are so versatile! ha ha. We have several basil plants growing in our backyard here in Vegas. My 5 year old will pick leaves and eat them like they are chips or something. Crazy kiddo

  5. ALL of these years I’ve been making basil pesto and never considered freezing it! What a brilliant tip, Liz. This is so useful, especially since I can’t get enough of the stuff year-round and homemade tastes SO much better than store bought.

    1. Liz DellaCroce

      Yes freezing it is the best!!! So much tastier than those tiny bottles for $6 at the grocery store. :)

  6. I laughed when I saw the title- this post couldn’t be more timely! We have a ton of basil in our garden. I made sunflower seed pesto a few days ago, and just harvested a whole colander full of basil this afternoon. It’s so nice to know that the basil cubes will be patiently waiting for me in the freezer come December :)

    1. Hi thx for the recipe. I actually made pea pesto in the past so for those with treenut or even seed allergies this might work as well. For the person that asked about minimizing the oil I have also used vegetable broth or believe it or not tofu to make it creamy

  7. Thanks for the reminder that I need to try this! I love, love, love pesto, but have never tried the freezer method. Now I just need to go load up on basil and other yummy greens :-)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your feedback is important to us. Rate what you thought of this.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.