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Pesto alla Genovese: The Best Authentic Italian Basil Pesto

The Best Authentic Italian Basil Pesto (Pesto alla Genovese)

  • Author: Megan Faletra
  • Prep Time: 30 min
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


Want to learn how to make an authentic Italian Genovese Pesto or Pesto alla Genovese? Using traditional Italian methods this basil pesto is the real deal.


Units Scale
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts (I often prefer to use walnuts, but choose pine nuts for a traditional recipe)
  • 2 cups of fresh basil or 1 large bunch
  • 1/31/2 cup parmesan cheese freshly grated
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt


  • Finely chop basil, garlic, and nuts into tiny pieces.
  • Add chopping ingredients to a large mortar and pestle (or a large bowl) and begin to slowly add the olive oil, salt, and parmesan cheese, while grinding the ingredients together using the mortar and pestle or a large spoon.
  • Continue until all ingredients are well combines and a vibrant pesto sauce has formed.
  • Taste as you go and add more olive oil, salt, garlic, or parmesan to meet your personal preferences.
  • Spoon pesto into glass jars and top with a layer of olive oil.
  • Store in the refrigerator for ~1 week, or in the freezer for homemade fresh pesto all year long
  • Note: See instructions above for tips on making pesto using a food processor.


This pesto will keep in a refrigerator for up to a week and will keep in the freezer for about a year if you place it in an airtight container. My recommendation is to make a big batch during the summer when pesto ingredients are fresh and in season to enjoy all year round.