(Almost) Any-Herb Pesto

Classic Italian pesto is made from basil, pine nuts, and Parmesan, but we love to mix it up by substituting different herbs, nuts, and cheeses. We’ve made suggestions for some of our favorite pestos, but try making up your own blends (we even love making it with spicy greens, like arugula). Pesto is great mixed into pasta and grains, as a spread on sandwiches, burgers, tofu, fish, and chicken, or dolloped on chili and soups. It has a strong taste, so a little goes a long way!

Hands-on time:
20 minutes
Total time:
20 minutes
1/2 cups

Kitchen Gear

Cutting board
Sharp knife (adult needed)
Measuring cup
Measuring spoons
Food processor (adult needed)
Rubber spatula


2 garlic cloves or scallions, peeled and sliced
1 1⁄2 cups packed fresh herb leaves: basil, parsley, mint, or cilantro (or a combination)
1⁄3 cup raw or lightly toasted almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, or pecans
1 cup cup grated Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago cheese, or shredded cheddar, or crumbled feta or goat cheese
3⁄4 cup olive oil
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt


Wash your hands with soap and water, then gather all your equipment and ingredients and put them on a counter.

  1. Put the garlic, herbs, and nuts in the bowl of the food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until well chopped.
  2. ​Add the cheese, oil, and salt and process until smooth, stopping from time to time to scrape down the sides of the bowl with the spatula.
  3. Use right away, or transfer to a container, cover, and refrigerate up to 3 days.

To toast the nuts, put them on a small baking sheet in a 350-degree oven until they are fragrant and look a shade darker, 5-20 minutes depending on the nut.