Homemade Creamy Pesto Sauce Recipe (VIDEO)

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Homemade Creamy Pesto Sauce Recipe – This effortless homemade pesto sauce is rich, creamy, and packed with bright summer flavors. Make the creamiest, dreamiest basil pesto sauce in just 5 minutes with only a handful of simple and fresh ingredients!

Close up of creamy pesto sauce in a jar.

Why We Love This Creamy Pesto Recipe

Bright and zesty pesto tastes just like summer. It is packed with garden-fresh basil, a hint of lemon, and lots of garlic. There is no real cooking necessary, so it’s perfect for preparing on a hot day when you don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. You can even make a large batch to keep in the fridge and enjoy for several days.

While our family is a big fan of classic basil pesto, I wanted to create a richer sauce to elevate all of that herb-y, garlic-y goodness. This Creamy Pesto Sauce recipe features the best, bold pesto flavors we love, plus a smooth, crave-able creaminess that will make any true pesto lover rejoice!

There is no better way to describe this pesto sauce than as purely decadent.

When we say “creamy” we mean that it is actually made with cool, delicious heavy cream. Combined with pine nuts, pecorino (or parmesan) cheese, and extra-virgin olive oil, you will love how wonderfully indulgent this sauce tastes – while also being tangy and light.

The creamiest, dreamiest pesto sauce is delicious to enjoy in any number of ways, like chilled as a zippy dip or tossed with pasta and served warm or cold for a satisfying dinner or side dish.

Try our recipe for Creamy Pesto Sauce and add some excitement to your favorite foods!

Pesto cream sauce in a jar with a spoon taking a scoop from the jar.

What Ingredients You Need

The best basil pestos are made with simple, fresh ingredients. This recipe is a great way to use up that abundance of basil you have grown this summer and includes many items you likely already have on hand. A handful of simple ingredients. 

Here is everything needed to make our Creamy Basil Pesto Sauce:

  • Fresh Basil leaves – the main ingredient for this sauce
  • Pine nuts – create a rich creamy texture in the recipe
  • Pecorino cheese – or parmesan
  • Garlic cloves – you can add as much or as little as you would like
  • Lemon zest – It brings a freshness to the recipe
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – oil complements the pine nuts creaminess
  • Heavy cream – A great combining ingredient 
  • Salt and pepper – Season to taste

If you don’t enjoy or can’t find pine nuts, you can substitute walnuts, almonds, or pistachios in this pesto recipe for a similar mild flavor and great texture.

Fusilli pasta coated in pesto and served in a white bowl with parmesan on top.

How To Make the Creamiest Homemade Basil Pesto

This easy pesto recipe takes only 5 minutes to make, with no cooking required!

Set out a food processor. Place the basil leaves, pine nuts, pecorino cheese, garlic clove, and lemon zest in the food processor. Cover and pulse until finely ground.

Then add in the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper. Pulse again until a smooth, thick pesto sauce is formed.

Add 3/4 cup heavy cream. Pulse just a few times to incorporate the cream. Add an additional 1/4 cup of heavy cream if needed. However, if the sauce is too thick, you can thin it out with a little water.

Taste, then salt and pepper as needed. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Tips & Tricks

  • Only use the lemon zest! Lots of pesto recipes call for using lemon juice as well, but adding lemon juice can cause the cream in this recipe to separate. The lemon zest will still add lots of lemon flavor without all the acid!
  • Use high-quality olive oil! For the best flavor, I recommend using a high-quality olive oil. This can really impact how this pesto tastes!
  • If you or someone who is going to eat this pesto is allergic to nuts, you can add sunflower seeds instead! Or, simply skip the nuts entirely.

Get the Complete (Printable) Homemade Creamy Pesto Sauce Recipe Below. Enjoy!

Homemade pesto with cream in a jar.

How To Enjoy This Creamy Pesto 

You want to be sure that you don’t cook the pesto sauce directly, as this would greatly change the lovely, fresh flavor. Instead, you either want to incorporate the raw pesto into cooked (and at least slightly cooled) dishes, serve chilled, or enjoy at room temperature.

This vibrant pesto sauce is perfect for serving as a cold dip with seasonal veggies, crackers, pita and/or baguette slices.

It is fantastic as a unique sandwich spread, on both cold cut sandwiches and hot paninis.

We love topping homemade pizzas with creamy pesto for a fun, fancy pizza party night.

And, of course, this creamy basil pesto sauce is excellent with many different types of pasta. Combine with a hearty pasta like fusilli or tortellini, serve warm, or chill and enjoy a refreshing pasta salad.

We recommend you make our fabulous Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta with creamy pesto as an easy weeknight meal this summer! Very tasty creamy pesto pasta recipe.

Pesto pasta in white bowls with a jar of pesto next to them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I add water to my pesto sauce to thin it?

Yes! You can add a bit of water to the food processor as you are making this pesto. If you are making pasta, you can also add extra water to thin out the sauce. Cook your noodles to al dente and reserve a little bit of the pasta water. Then, in a skillet, add a few spoonfuls of pesto cream sauce to the pan. Heat it up on medium heat and add the cooked pasta to the skillet. Stir and see if you need any pasta water to thin out the sauce a little bit! Add more sauce as needed, too.

What kinds of noodles work best with creamy pesto?

I like to use short noodles with lots of curves so that they soak up the creamy pesto! Try using cavatappi, fusilli, rotini, or mafalda pasta!

Is this recipe gluten-free? Is it low-carb?

Yes, this homemade pesto sauce recipe is completely gluten-free! While it is fairly high in fat, it is low carb and can be enjoyed on a keto diet. Try pairing it with your favorite gluten-free pasta or tossed with zoodles!

How long do leftovers last?

Store your homemade pesto sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5-7 days!

Can I freeze this sauce?

This recipe does not do well frozen due to the cream in the sauce. Thawing will change the texture of the sauce!

What can I do with a jar of pesto sauce?

You can store this sauce in a jar in the fridge for up to a week and use it as an ingredient in many different recipes! Besides making pasta, you can use it as a spread on a sandwich, mix it into a salad dressing, use it as pizza sauce, toss it with vegetables, or mix it into sour cream-based dips!

Overhead shot of pesto pasta in a white bowl with a fork.

Looking for More Easy and Fresh Summer Recipes?

Check the printable recipe card below for the nutrition information including calories, protein, sodium, and fiber percentages.

Creamy Pesto Sauce Recipe

Homemade Creamy Pesto Sauce Recipe – This terrifically easy homemade pesto sauce is rich, creamy, and packed with bright flavor. Make the creamiest, dreamiest basil pesto sauce in just 5 minutes with only a handful of simple and fresh ingredients!

Servings: 8 servings

  • Set out a food processor. Place the basil leaves, pine nuts, pecorino cheese, garlic clove, and lemon zest in the food processor. Cover and pulse until finely ground.

  • Then add in the olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon ground pepper. Pulse again until a smooth, thick pesto sauce is formed.

  • Add 3/4 cup heavy cream. Pulse just a few times to incorporate the cream. Add an additional 1/4 cup of heavy cream if needed. However, if the sauce is too thick, you can thin it out with a little water.

  • Taste, then salt and pepper as needed. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
This recipe makes approximately 2 cups of creamy basil pesto.

Serving: 0.25cup, Calories: 305kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 32g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Cholesterol: 45mg, Sodium: 112mg, Potassium: 96mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 803IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 105mg, Iron: 1mg

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