Easy Homemade Pesto Without a Food Processor Recipe

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If you’ve stumbled upon one of my recipes for pesto pasta or pesto dip and feel as if you’re not able to make this because you don’t have a food processor – you don’t need to fret! It’s completely possible to make a fresh, easy and delicious basil pesto without using any special equipment – and it only takes a minute longer!

Though the end product is a little bit chunkier than a pesto made with assistance (be that a food processor or mortar and pestle), it is every bit as delicious and can be used anywhere that fresh pesto is called for!

So whether you simply hate using a food processor or don’t have one, you can still easily make a delicious pesto at home completely from scratch!

Pesto Without a Food Processor
Homemade Pesto

How to Make Pesto Without Using a Food Processor

This recipe requires a little bit of patience and some passable knife skills, but it isn’t really complicated and you can still have it completely finished in about ten minutes.

The first step to making any kind of pesto (and any recipe that uses pine nuse – such as my caponata recipe, as well) is to toast the pine nuts!

Ingredients for this pesto recipe
Ingredients for this pesto recipe

You can do this in a skillet, but I tend to like to do it in an oven. Simple scatter the pine nuts over a baking sheet and then put them in a 180°C (350°F) oven for about five minutes.

It can be easy to burn the pine nuts, so make sure you keep a keen eye on them and take them out of the oven as soon as they start to smell very fragrant and turn a toasty colour.

Toasting the pine nuts
Toasting the pine nuts

Now, it’s time to move over to the cutting board and very finely chop your basil. Often, when chopping basil, you need to be careful not to bruise the delicate leaves, however, that’s actually not super when making pesto. A little bit of bruising actually aids in a more cohesive texture, so don’t worry too much!

Finely chopping the basil
Finely chopping the basil

Once your basil is chopped, add it to a mixing bowl and move on to the pine nuts. You also need to very finely chop these – you’ll have to run your knife over them several times.

Note that it’s going to be tricky to ensure that every single nut is of a uniform texture and size so just embrace that this style of pesto is going to have a coarser texture – I personally really like it!

Adding the parmesan cheese and garlic
Adding the parmesan cheese and garlic

Add the pine nuts to the bowl with the basil and then grate in some parmesan cheese along with a clove of garlic. Season with a bit of salt and some black pepper and then stir it all to combine.

Next, drizzle in a good amount of extra virgin olive oil and stir vigorously to combine. Taste to adjust for seasoning and then your pesto is ready to use!

Adding olive oil & combining the ingredients
Adding olive oil & combining the ingredients
Pesto Without a Food Processor

Easy Pesto Without a Food Processor

If you don't have a food processor or mortar and pestle, it's still possible to make a delicious homemade basil pesto that leaves little to be desired. Using this method, this pesto can be used in recipes like my pesto pasta or my pesto dip.
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Servings 6
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • 50 g ( cup) pine nuts
  • 50 g (2. cups) basil leaves torn from stems
  • 30 g ( cup) parmesan cheese finely grated
  • 2 c;loves garlic grated or very finely minced
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil


  • Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Add the pine nuts to a small baking tray and move to the oven. Toast for about 5 minutes, or until they are browning and very fragrant. Keep a watchful eye as they can burn very quickly.
    Toasting the pine nuts
  • Using a sharp knife, very finely mince the basil. This may take a few minutes. Add the basil to a small mixing bowl.
    Finely chopping the basil
  • Very finely chop the toasted pine nuts with a sharp chef's knife until very few large pieces remain. Add to the bowl with the basil.
    Adding the chopped toasted pine nuts
  • To the bowl, add the parmesan cheese and garlic. Season with a small pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.
    Adding the parmesan cheese and garlic
  • Drizzle in the olive oil and stir until well combined. Serve or use in a recipe calling for fresh basil pesto.
    Adding olive oil & combining the ingredients


Calories: 159kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 81mg | Potassium: 80mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 0.4g | Vitamin A: 481IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 1mg

Disclaimer: Nutritional information is automatically generated and provided as guidance only. Accuracy is not guaranteed.

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Making pesto entirely by hand is actually pretty easy and, though you won’t be able to get a perfectly uniform texture, it’s a delicious way to make this iconic sauce with no special equipment required.

Are you after a great homemade pesto recipe? Have any questions? Let me know in the comments!

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Maggie is the creator behind No Frills Kitchen. She is a world traveller, home cook and recipe developer who loves to experiment with new cuisines and techniques at every chance she gets. No stranger to improvising and making do with the equipment and ingredients she has available, she is passionate about sharing her knowledge with others. Read More

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