While it is readily available in jars from supermarkets, basil pesto is simple to master at home. There are generally only five ingredients - basil, of course, pine nuts and garlic, plus olive oil and parmesan. This recipe uses the traditional method of pounding using a mortar and pestle, but some pesto recipes suggest using a food processor to speed up the preparation time.


Skill level

Average: 3 (193 votes)


  • 40 g pine nuts
  • 1 bunch basil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 80 ml (⅓ cup) olive oil, approximately
  • 40 g parmesan, freshly grated

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Makes 1 cup

Slowly toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan, then take out and leave to cool.

Wash the basil, shake dry and pick the leaves from the stalks.

Peel, then crush the garlic, a little salt and the pine nuts in a mortar.

Add the basil and grind to a paste, then work in the grated parmesan.

Continue grinding, gradually adding the oil in a thin stream, to produce a creamy pesto. Season to taste with salt.