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How to make pesto in a food processor

Pesto is a flavorful and versatile sauce that originated in Italian cuisine. Traditionally made by hand using a mortar and pestle, modern kitchens often rely on the convenience of a food processor to prepare this delicious condiment.

A food processor is an excellent tool for making pesto as it simplifies and expedites the process. By pulsing and blending the ingredients together, a food processor ensures that the herbs, nuts, garlic, cheese, and olive oil are thoroughly combined, creating a smooth and vibrant sauce.

With a food processor, you can easily customize the consistency of your pesto by adjusting the processing time to achieve a chunky or smooth texture. Additionally, the versatility of a food processor allows you to experiment with various herbs, such as basil, parsley, or cilantro, and incorporate different nuts like pine nuts, almonds, or walnuts, to create unique pesto variations.

Whether you’re preparing a classic basil pesto or getting creative with your ingredient choices, using a food processor simplifies the process and ensures a quick and easy way to enjoy the fresh, aromatic flavors of homemade pesto.

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Does homemade pesto taste better?

Many people find that homemade pesto has a superior taste compared to store-bought versions. The freshness of the ingredients and the ability to customize the flavors to your liking contribute to the overall deliciousness of homemade pesto. Here are a few reasons why homemade pesto can often taste better:

  • Quality of ingredients: When making pesto at home, you have control over the quality and freshness of the ingredients you use. Fresh basil leaves, high-quality extra-virgin olive oil, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese can make a significant difference in the taste and aroma of the pesto.
  • Customization: Homemade pesto allows you to customize the flavors according to your preferences. You can adjust the amount of garlic, cheese, nuts, and other ingredients to achieve the perfect balance of flavors that suits your taste. This level of customization is not always possible with store-bought pesto.
  • Texture: Making pesto at home gives you control over the texture of the sauce. You can choose to blend the ingredients for a smooth and creamy consistency or leave it slightly chunky for added texture. This allows you to create a pesto with the desired mouthfeel and texture.
  • Freshness and vibrancy: Homemade pesto is typically made using fresh herbs and ingredients. The vibrant green color and fresh aroma of homemade pesto can enhance the overall sensory experience. Store-bought pesto may not always capture the same level of freshness and vibrancy.
  • Satisfaction of homemade: There’s a sense of satisfaction and pride that comes with making something from scratch. Homemade pesto allows you to connect with the process of creating a flavorful sauce, and this can enhance the enjoyment and appreciation of the final product.

While store-bought pesto can be convenient, many people find that homemade pesto offers a superior taste experience due to the use of fresh ingredients and the ability to customize the flavors to their liking. The process of making pesto from scratch can be rewarding and result in a sauce that truly stands out in terms of flavor and quality.

What is the best equipment for making pesto?

The best equipment for making pesto depends on personal preference and the desired outcome. Here are a few options to consider:

  1. Food Processor: A food processor is a popular and versatile choice for making pesto. It can efficiently blend and process the ingredients, allowing you to achieve the desired texture and consistency. The larger capacity of a food processor is also beneficial when making larger batches of pesto.
  2. Blender: Blenders can also be used to make pesto, especially if you prefer a smoother and more homogeneous sauce. High-powered blenders can quickly break down the ingredients into a silky texture. However, blenders typically have smaller capacities compared to food processors, so making larger batches may require multiple blending sessions.
  3. Mortar and Pestle: For a more traditional and hands-on approach, a mortar and pestle can be used to make pesto. This method involves grinding the ingredients manually, resulting in a rustic texture and a unique flavor profile. While it may take more time and effort, some people enjoy the process and the authenticity it brings to the final result.
  4. Immersion Blender: An immersion blender, also known as a hand blender, can be a convenient option for making small batches of pesto. It allows you to blend the ingredients directly in a bowl or container without transferring them to a separate appliance. Immersion blenders are easy to use, clean, and store.

Ultimately, the best equipment for making pesto depends on your personal preferences, the desired texture of the sauce, and the quantity you plan to make. Consider the convenience, ease of use, and versatility of each option to determine which equipment will suit your specific needs and preferences for making delicious pesto.

Is it better to make pesto in a blender or food processor?

Both blenders and food processors can be used to make pesto, but they have some differences that may affect the final result. Here are some considerations to help you decide which appliance is better for making pesto:

  • Texture: Food processors are generally better at achieving a chunkier texture, while blenders tend to create a smoother consistency. If you prefer a more rustic or textured pesto with small bits of ingredients, a food processor may be the better choice. On the other hand, if you prefer a silky smooth pesto, a blender might be more suitable.
  • Processing Power: Blenders typically have more powerful motors compared to food processors, which can result in a smoother blending experience. This is especially useful when working with tougher ingredients like nuts or large quantities of herbs. Blenders can handle these ingredients more efficiently and break them down into a finer texture.
  • Batch Size: Blenders are often designed with smaller capacities compared to food processors. If you’re making a small amount of pesto, a blender can work well. However, if you’re making a larger batch, a food processor with its larger capacity may be more practical.
  • Convenience: Food processors are generally more versatile than blenders and can perform a wider range of kitchen tasks. If you’re looking for an appliance that can handle various food processing tasks in addition to making pesto, a food processor may be a better investment.

Ultimately, the choice between a blender and a food processor for making pesto depends on your personal preferences and the desired outcome. If you prioritize texture and versatility, a food processor may be the better option. If you prefer a smoother consistency and more powerful blending, a blender can be a suitable choice. Consider your specific needs and the features of each appliance to determine which one best suits your requirements for making pesto.

Benefits of making pesto in a food processor

Making pesto in a food processor offers several benefits:

  • Convenience: Using a food processor makes the process of making pesto quick and easy. It simplifies the task of combining and blending the ingredients, saving you time and effort in the kitchen.
  • Consistency: Food processors are designed to blend ingredients evenly, resulting in a consistent texture throughout the pesto. The sharp blades and powerful motor ensure that the herbs, nuts, garlic, cheese, and olive oil are thoroughly incorporated, creating a smooth and well-emulsified sauce.
  • Control over Texture: With a food processor, you have control over the texture of your pesto. You can process the ingredients for a shorter time if you prefer a chunkier texture with visible pieces of herbs and nuts. Conversely, if you desire a smoother and more homogeneous texture, you can process the ingredients for a longer duration.
  • Capacity: Food processors typically have a larger capacity compared to blenders, allowing you to make larger batches of pesto at once. This is advantageous if you want to prepare pesto for a gathering or store some for future use.
  • Versatility: A food processor is a versatile kitchen appliance that can be used for various other tasks, such as chopping, slicing, pureeing, and grinding. It serves multiple purposes in the kitchen, reducing the need for additional gadgets and saving valuable countertop space.
  • Easy Cleanup: Food processors are generally designed with removable parts that are easy to clean. The bowl, blade, and lid can be detached and washed separately or placed in a dishwasher for convenience.
  • Customization: Making pesto in a food processor allows you to customize the recipe to your taste preferences. You can adjust the ratios of ingredients, experiment with different herbs and nuts, and control the amount of olive oil or other seasonings to create a pesto that suits your palate.

Overall, using a food processor to make pesto provides convenience, consistent results, control over texture, and the ability to customize the sauce according to your preferences. It streamlines the process and ensures that you can enjoy delicious homemade pesto with ease.

Factors to consider when choosing the best food processor for pesto

When choosing the best food processor for making pesto, there are several factors to consider. Here are some key factors to keep in mind:

  • Power and Motor Strength: Look for a food processor with a powerful motor that can handle processing tough ingredients like basil leaves, nuts, and garlic. A higher wattage or horsepower will ensure smoother and more efficient blending.
  • Capacity: Consider the size of the food processor and whether it can accommodate the quantity of pesto you plan to make. If you regularly make large batches of pesto, opt for a larger capacity food processor.
  • Blade Design: Check the blade design of the food processor. A sharp and sturdy blade, preferably made of stainless steel, will ensure efficient and precise chopping and blending of the ingredients.
  • Speed Settings: Look for a food processor with multiple speed settings, including a pulse function. This will give you better control over the texture of the pesto and allow you to achieve the desired consistency.
  • Ease of Use and Cleaning: Consider the ease of assembly, disassembly, and cleaning of the food processor. Look for dishwasher-safe parts and a user-friendly design that makes the process hassle-free.
  • Stability and Durability: Ensure that the food processor has a sturdy base and non-slip feet to prevent it from moving or vibrating during operation. Look for a well-built and durable food processor that can withstand frequent use.
  • Brand and Reviews: Research reputable brands known for their quality food processors. Read customer reviews and ratings to get an idea of the performance, reliability, and longevity of the models you are considering.
  • Price: Set a budget for your food processor purchase. Consider the features and specifications that are most important to you and find a balance between quality and price.

By considering these factors, you can choose a food processor that is well-suited for making pesto and meets your specific needs and preferences. Remember to prioritize the factors that matter most to you, whether it’s power, capacity, ease of use, or other considerations, to find the best food processor for your pesto-making endeavors.

What is the best food processor for pesto?

Determining the best food processor for making pesto can vary depending on individual preferences and needs. However, here are a few popular food processors known for their performance in processing pesto:

  1. Cuisinart DFP-14BCNY 14-Cup Food Processor: This food processor offers a large capacity, powerful motor, and a versatile slicing and shredding disc. It has a sturdy construction and is known for its reliability in handling various ingredients, including those required for pesto.
  2. Breville BFP800XL Sous Chef Food Processor: This food processor features a powerful motor and multiple precision control settings, allowing you to achieve the desired consistency for your pesto. It includes a range of blades and discs, including a specific dough blade and adjustable slicing disc.
  3. KitchenAid 13-Cup Food Processor: With its generous capacity and strong motor, this food processor can handle large batches of pesto. It comes with a variety of attachments and accessories, including a multipurpose blade and a reversible shredding disc.
  4. Hamilton Beach 12-Cup Stack & Snap Food Processor: This food processor is praised for its simplicity and ease of use. It offers a large capacity, a powerful motor, and a convenient stack-and-snap assembly, making it a suitable option for processing pesto.

These are just a few examples of food processors that have received positive reviews for making pesto. It’s essential to consider your specific requirements, budget, and available features when selecting the best food processor for your pesto-making needs. Reading customer reviews, comparing specifications, and considering factors such as power, capacity, and ease of use will help you make an informed decision.

How to make Pesto in a Food Processor

To make pesto in a food processor, follow these steps:


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts (you can also use walnuts or almonds)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Prepare the ingredients: Wash the basil leaves and pat them dry. Grate the Parmesan cheese if not already grated. Peel the garlic cloves.
  2. Add the basil, nuts, cheese, and garlic: Place the basil leaves, pine nuts, grated Parmesan cheese, and garlic cloves into the bowl of the food processor.
  3. Pulse the ingredients: Secure the lid on the food processor and pulse the ingredients a few times until they are roughly chopped and combined. This step breaks down the larger pieces before adding the olive oil.
  4. Add the olive oil: With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the extra-virgin olive oil through the feed tube. Continue processing until the ingredients are well blended and reach your desired consistency. You can stop sooner for a chunkier texture or process longer for a smoother result.
  5. Season and taste: Once the ingredients are blended, taste the pesto and add salt and pepper according to your preference. Pulse briefly to mix in the seasoning.
  6. Serve or store: Transfer the pesto to a jar or airtight container. Use it immediately or store it in the refrigerator for up to a week. If storing, drizzle a thin layer of olive oil over the top to help preserve the vibrant green color.

Pesto made in a food processor is versatile and can be used as a sauce for pasta, spread on sandwiches, mixed into soups, or used as a dip. Enjoy the fresh and aromatic flavors of homemade pesto!

Should pesto be thick or runny?

The thickness of pesto can vary depending on personal preference and its intended use. However, traditional pesto typically has a moderately thick consistency that is spreadable but not overly runny. It should have enough body to coat pasta or other ingredients without being too watery.

The thickness of pesto can be influenced by factors such as the amount of olive oil used and the duration of processing. If you prefer a thicker pesto, you can reduce the amount of olive oil or process the ingredients for a shorter time, leaving some texture and small pieces of herbs and nuts.

Conversely, if you prefer a runnier or more sauce-like consistency, you can add a little extra olive oil or even a splash of water to achieve the desired thickness. Adjusting the ingredients and processing time allows you to customize the pesto to your liking.

Keep in mind that pesto will naturally thicken slightly when refrigerated due to the solidification of the olive oil. If it becomes too thick after chilling, you can bring it back to the desired consistency by stirring in a little extra olive oil or a small amount of warm water.

Ultimately, the thickness of pesto is a matter of personal preference, so feel free to adjust the ingredients and processing time to achieve the desired consistency that suits your taste and intended use.

What is the trick for keeping pesto green?

To keep pesto green and prevent it from turning brown, you can employ a few tricks:

  1. Blanche the basil: Before making the pesto, blanch the basil leaves briefly in boiling water for about 10 seconds, then transfer them to an ice water bath. This process helps to preserve the vibrant green color of the basil and prevent oxidation.
  2. Use fresh ingredients: Ensure that all the ingredients used in the pesto, especially the basil leaves, are fresh and vibrant green. Older or wilted leaves can contribute to a duller color.
  3. Quick processing: When blending the ingredients in the food processor, try to minimize the processing time. The longer the ingredients are exposed to air and the heat generated by the food processor, the greater the chance of oxidation. Process the ingredients just enough to achieve the desired consistency.
  4. Use a cold food processor: If possible, chill the food processor bowl and blade in the refrigerator for a short time before making the pesto. A cold environment helps to slow down the oxidation process.
  5. Cover with a thin layer of olive oil: When storing pesto in a jar or container, drizzle a thin layer of olive oil over the top to create a barrier between the pesto and the air. This helps prevent oxidation and keeps the pesto green.
  6. Store properly: Keep the pesto in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. Oxygen exposure can cause the pesto to darken over time, so minimize the contact of the pesto with air as much as possible.

By following these tips, you can help maintain the vibrant green color of your pesto for a longer time, ensuring that it looks as fresh as it tastes.

What oil is best for pesto?

The best oil for pesto is extra-virgin olive oil. It is a classic choice and provides a rich, fruity flavor that complements the other ingredients in the pesto. Extra-virgin olive oil also adds a smooth and velvety texture to the sauce.

When selecting olive oil for pesto, opt for a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil that has a pleasant taste and aroma. Look for oils labeled as “cold-pressed” or “first-pressed” to ensure that they are made from high-quality olives and have undergone minimal processing.

It’s important to note that the flavor of the olive oil you choose will impact the overall taste of your pesto. Different olive oils can vary in flavor profiles, ranging from mild and buttery to robust and peppery. Consider your personal preferences and the desired flavor balance when selecting an olive oil for your pesto.

While extra-virgin olive oil is the traditional and recommended choice for pesto, you can also experiment with other oils if you desire different flavor profiles. Some alternatives include using a portion of a neutral oil like grapeseed or avocado oil, or even incorporating oils infused with herbs or other flavors to add an extra dimension to your pesto. Just keep in mind that these substitutions may alter the taste and texture of the final pesto.

Ultimately, the choice of oil for pesto depends on your personal preference and the flavor profile you want to achieve. Extra-virgin olive oil is the classic and most commonly used option, providing a delicious and authentic taste to your homemade pesto.

How can I enhance my pesto flavor?

To enhance the flavor of your pesto, you can try the following tips:

  1. Toast the nuts: Before adding them to the food processor, lightly toast the pine nuts, walnuts, or almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat. Toasting brings out their natural oils and enhances their nutty flavor. Allow the nuts to cool before incorporating them into the pesto.
  2. Add garlic variations: Experiment with different garlic varieties to add depth and complexity to your pesto. Roasted garlic can provide a milder and slightly sweet flavor, while using a combination of raw and roasted garlic can offer a balance of pungency and sweetness.
  3. Incorporate different herbs: While basil is the traditional herb used in pesto, you can experiment with other herbs or a combination of herbs to create unique flavor profiles. Consider adding fresh parsley, cilantro, arugula, or even a small amount of fresh mint to add complexity and freshness to the pesto.
  4. Use a variety of cheeses: While Parmesan cheese is the classic choice for pesto, you can try using different cheeses or a combination of cheeses to vary the flavor. For example, you could include a bit of Pecorino Romano or aged Asiago cheese to add a sharper and tangier taste.
  5. Add lemon zest or juice: For a bright and citrusy note, add some freshly grated lemon zest or a squeeze of lemon juice to the pesto. This can help balance the richness and add a refreshing element to the overall flavor.
  6. Season with salt and pepper: Taste the pesto as you go and season it with salt and freshly ground black pepper to enhance the flavors of the ingredients. Adjust the seasoning according to your taste preferences.
  7. Drizzle with high-quality olive oil: Just before serving, drizzle a small amount of high-quality extra-virgin olive oil over the pesto. This adds an extra layer of richness and flavor, enhancing the overall taste experience.

Remember, the key to enhancing pesto flavor is experimentation. Don’t be afraid to try different combinations of ingredients and adjust the quantities to suit your preferences. Taste as you go and make adjustments accordingly until you achieve the desired flavor profile.

How long does homemade pesto last?

Homemade pesto can last for up to one week when stored properly in the refrigerator. The shelf life of pesto can vary slightly depending on the specific ingredients used and the storage conditions. Here are some guidelines to help you understand how long your homemade pesto can last:

  • Refrigeration: To maximize the shelf life of pesto, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The cold temperature helps slow down the oxidation process and preserves the flavors. Make sure the container is tightly sealed to minimize air exposure.
  • Olive oil layer: When storing pesto, it’s a good practice to drizzle a thin layer of olive oil over the top of the pesto. This helps create a protective barrier, preventing air from coming into contact with the surface of the sauce. It also helps preserve the vibrant green color. Remember to give the pesto a gentle stir before each use to evenly distribute the oil.
  • Visible changes: Over time, homemade pesto may darken slightly in color. This is a natural occurrence due to the oxidation of the basil leaves and other ingredients. However, as long as the pesto smells fresh and doesn’t show signs of mold or off-putting odors, it is usually safe to consume.
  • Freezing: If you have more pesto than you can consume within a week, you can freeze it for longer-term storage. Transfer the pesto to an airtight container or ice cube trays and freeze. Frozen pesto can last for several months. When ready to use, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight or defrost it briefly in the microwave.

It’s important to note that the quality of pesto may deteriorate slightly over time, with flavors and textures gradually diminishing. For the best taste and texture, it’s recommended to consume homemade pesto within the first week of preparation.

Troubleshooting about making Pesto in a Food Processor

When making pesto in a food processor, you may encounter a few common issues. Here are some troubleshooting tips to help you overcome them:

  • Pesto is too thick: If your pesto turns out too thick and doesn’t have a smooth consistency, it might be due to using too little olive oil or overprocessing the ingredients. To fix this, you can gradually add more olive oil while the food processor is running until you achieve the desired consistency. If the pesto becomes too runny, you can balance it out by adding a few extra basil leaves, grated cheese, or nuts to thicken it.
  • Pesto is too runny: If your pesto ends up too runny or watery, it could be because you added too much olive oil or other liquid ingredients. To thicken the pesto, you can add more basil leaves, cheese, or nuts to absorb the excess liquid. You can also incorporate a handful of breadcrumbs or toasted bread crumbs to help bind the ingredients together.
  • Pesto has a bitter taste: Sometimes, pesto can taste bitter, especially if the basil leaves are overprocessed or if you included too many of the stems. To counteract the bitterness, try adding a small pinch of sugar or a squeeze of lemon juice to balance the flavors. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Additionally, using fresh, high-quality ingredients and avoiding overprocessing can help prevent bitterness.
  • Pesto has turned brown: If your pesto has turned brown or lost its vibrant green color, it’s likely due to oxidation. To prevent this, make sure to blanch the basil leaves in boiling water briefly, then transfer them to an ice water bath to preserve their green color. Also, ensure that the pesto is properly stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, with a thin layer of olive oil on top to create a barrier against air exposure.
  • Pesto lacks flavor: If your pesto lacks flavor, it may be because you didn’t use enough garlic, cheese, salt, or other seasonings. Taste the pesto and adjust the ingredients accordingly. Add more garlic for a stronger kick, more cheese for a richer taste, and salt and pepper to enhance the overall flavor. You can also experiment with adding other herbs or spices to elevate the taste profile.

Remember, making pesto is a versatile process, and it may require some adjustments to achieve the desired taste and consistency. Feel free to experiment with ingredient quantities and flavors until you find the perfect balance that suits your preferences.


In conclusion, making pesto in a food processor is a convenient and efficient way to create a delicious sauce packed with fresh flavors. By following the steps outlined in the earlier instructions, you can easily process the ingredients into a vibrant green pesto with a smooth or slightly chunky consistency, depending on your preference.

Using a food processor allows you to quickly blend together the basil leaves, garlic, nuts, cheese, and olive oil, resulting in a flavorful and versatile sauce. The food processor helps save time and effort compared to traditional methods like hand chopping or using a mortar and pestle.

To achieve the best results when making pesto in a food processor, ensure that you use high-quality and fresh ingredients. This includes fresh basil leaves, high-grade extra-virgin olive oil, quality Parmesan cheese, and toasted nuts. Adjust the quantities of ingredients to suit your taste preferences, and don’t hesitate to experiment with additional herbs or spices to add unique flavors.

Remember to troubleshoot common issues such as adjusting the consistency if it’s too thick or runny, balancing flavors, preventing browning, and adjusting seasonings. These troubleshooting tips will help you overcome any challenges that may arise during the pesto-making process.

Overall, making pesto in a food processor provides a convenient and effective method to create a versatile sauce that can be used in various dishes, such as pasta, sandwiches, salads, and more. Enjoy the fresh and vibrant flavors of homemade pesto prepared effortlessly in your food processor.

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