Classic Basil Pesto Pasta Recipe

Looking for a new go-to pasta dish to wow your family or friends without breaking the bank or spending hours in the kitchen? If so, look no further than this classic basil pesto pasta. This recipe includes step-by-step instructions on how to whip up a flavorful and easy pesto sauce, and cooking the pasta is a no-brainer since you just need to cook it according to the instructions on the box. 

Recipe developer Catherine Brookes of Blue Sky Eating came up with this classic and wonderful basil pesto pasta recipe that checks all of the boxes. "Pesto pasta is such a classic, simple dish packed with flavor; and making your own pesto from scratch couldn't be easier," Brookes raves. The easier, the better, right? And while this specific recipe is for pasta, you can make a little extra pesto to use for other recipes as well. Brookes shares that it "would definitely be great spread on toast or as a dip for veggies, crackers, etc. You can also use it on pizza." How good does that sound?

Keep reading to find out how to make this classic basil pesto pasta recipe.

Gather the ingredients for classic basil pesto pasta

Once you're ready to begin, you need to gather the ingredients that go into this recipe. Pick up pine nuts, garlic cloves, basil leaves, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, salt, and fusilli pasta.

Once you have those things, you can make this classic basil pesto pasta.

Make the basil pesto

To make this green and delicious basil pesto sauce, you'll need to use a food processor. Add the pine nuts, garlic, and 2 tablespoons olive oil to the bowl. Blitz the ingredients until the mixture turns into a pulp. 

Once it gets a pulp-like consistency, add the basil leaves and continue blitzing until broken down.

Drizzle in the olive oil and add parmesan cheese and salt

While the food processor is still running, slowly drizzle in what's left of the olive oil. Be sure to continue letting the food processor run until the oil is mixed in.

Then, add the parmesan cheese and the salt. Once again, blitz everything until it's thoroughly combined. The taste of this sauce is killer! "The sauce is herby and garlicky with a richness from the oil and creaminess from the cheese," Brookes shares.

Cook and drain the pasta, then heat it with the pesto

Grab the pasta you'd like to use and cook it according to the instructions on the box. Brookes opted to use fusilli, but you can always try something else if fusilli isn't your thing. "Penne or spaghetti would work great here too," Brookes notes.

Once the pasta is done cooking, drain it and add it to a large frying pan with roughly 2-3 tablespoons of the pesto. Turn the heat to medium and stir for a few minutes, until the pesto is warmed through and the pasta is completely coated.

Serve and enjoy

Once the pesto is warm, plate the pasta and serve this dish as you wish. Brookes says it's great with a bit of extra grated Parmesan cheese on top and a few basil leaves, though both of those toppings are optional. "You could always serve with some extra protein, such as chicken breast, salmon, or tofu," Brookes adds.

This pesto is so tasty that you may not have any leftovers, but if you do, don't sweat it! You can refrigerate the sauce for up to a week, or you can freeze it to make it last longer.

Classic Basil Pesto Pasta Recipe
5 from 28 ratings
Switch up your pasta routine and opt for a fresh, nutty, and flavorful dinner when you make this classic basil pesto pasta recipe.
Prep Time
Cook Time
classic basil pesto pasta served
Total time: 25 minutes
  • ⅓ cup pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces fusilli pasta
  1. Add the pine nuts, garlic, and 2 tablespoons olive oil to the bowl of a food processor. Blitz into a pulp.
  2. Add the basil leaves and blitz until broken down.
  3. With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the remaining olive oil, until it's completely incorporated.
  4. Add the Parmesan and salt and blitz again, until combined.
  5. Boil the pasta in salted water according to the package instructions, then drain.
  6. Add the pasta to a large frying pan with 2-3 tablespoons pesto. Heat on a medium setting, stirring for a couple minutes, until the pesto is warmed through and the pasta is completely coated.
  7. Serve the pasta with a little extra grated Parmesan and a few basil leaves, if desired.
  8. Leftover pesto will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or can also be frozen.
Calories per Serving 499
Total Fat 29.8 g
Saturated Fat 5.2 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 8.4 mg
Total Carbohydrates 45.0 g
Dietary Fiber 2.5 g
Total Sugars 2.1 g
Sodium 260.1 mg
Protein 13.8 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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