Homemade Creamy Pesto Sauce
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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!
Pesto Cream Sauce
There are two types of people in the world: People who like pesto and those who are just wrong. *wink*
We are most definitely pro-pesto people around here.
I mean, how can you not love a herbaceous, easy, and oh-so-versatile pesto sauce?!
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 really 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!
The Best Creamy Pesto
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!
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 – creates 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.
How To Make the Creamiest Homemade Basil Pesto
This easy pesto recipe takes only 5 minutes to make, with no cooking required!
- First, set out a food processor. Place the basil leaves, pine nuts, pecorino or parmesan cheese, garlic clove, and lemon zest in the food processor. Cover the pulse until finely ground.
- Then add in the extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and ground pepper. Pulse again until a smooth, thick pesto sauce is formed.
- Next, add the heavy cream, pulsing just a few times to incorporate the cream. If the sauce is a little too thick, you can thin it out with a bit of water. Add a few drops at a time and continue to pulse until the creamy pesto is just the right consistency.
- Taste, then stir in salt and pepper as needed.
Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 5 days total.
Because it includes heavy cream, I do not recommend that you freeze this creamy sauce.
Get the Complete (Printable) Homemade Creamy Pesto Sauce Recipe Below. Enjoy!
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is This Recipe Gluten-Free? Low Carb?
Yes, this recipe is completely GF-friendly. Try it with your favorite gluten-free pasta or tossed with zoodles.
While fairly high in fat, the creamiest pesto is low carb. You can enjoy it on a keto diet!
How Long Do Leftovers Last?
This recipe can be stored 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; freezing and thawing 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 refrigerator for up to a week and use it as an ingredient in many recipes…
- Smear on a sandwich
- Mix into a salad dressing
- Replace the tomato sauce on a pizza with pesto
- Toss with vegetables
- Mix it into sour cream-based dips
Looking for More Easy and Fresh Summer Recipes?
- Chicken Pesto Pasta Recipe
- Panini Sandwich with Creamy Pesto Sauce Recipe
- Creamy Chimichurri Sauce Recipe
- Avocado Stuffed Shells Recipe
- Italian Summer Pasta with Orange and Basil Recipe
- Wild Rice Salad with Blueberries and Herbs Recipe
- Stuffed Zucchini Boats with Quinoa and Pine Nuts Recipe
- Chicken Quinoa Bowls with Romesco Sauce Recipe
- Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto & Fontina Fondue Recipe
Check the printable recipe card below for the nutrition information including calories, protein, sodium, and fiber percentages.
Homemade Creamy Pesto Sauce Recipe
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves packed
- ½ cup pine nuts
- ½ cup grated pecorino cheese or parmesan
- 1 clove garlic peeled
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3/4 – 1 cup heavy cream
- salt and pepper
- 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.
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I really enjoyed this pesto recipe! Exactly what I was looking for, a creamy, dynamic pesto. Only thing for me personally, is next time I think I would ditch the olive oil entirely. I only added 1/2 of 1/2 cup, but I think the heavy cooking cream more than does enough to carry this sauce without the need for oil.
So good! I doubled the garlic but otherwise made no changes – found myself wanting to just eat it by itself with a spoon, no pasta needed!
I made this and it is super good. Just like I had in the restaurant! I used extra garlic as
you suggested . Awesome!
Delicious pasta sauce. I added about half the amount of olive oil the recipe called for, but used half olive half truffle infused olive oil. Added the sauce to penne with mushroom and bacon.
Great recipe, thank you!
Have made this a few times, it is a super legit recipe. Very tasty, doesn’t take that long. I add chicken breast seasoned w salt pepper garlic and onion powder with linguine and it is bomb AF
Everyone enjoyed this. The only addition I made was a tablespoon of sugar because I felt it needed a bit of a sweet quick. I used this as a sauce for Arancini (Sicilian rice balls) and I used the remaining sauce for a roasted pork tenderloin the next day. Very good – thank you!
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I love pesto and have been making it for quite some time. I had the creamy version in Italy and wanted to try at home. Your recipe tasted very good but a tad bit too creamy for me. I would use less cream and more garlic. I used 2 cloves. Otherwise I found it to be very good! I also enjoyed the addition of the lemon zest.
Thanks very much
Agree–adding more garlic improves the flavor. Only 1/2 cup cream was plenty for me. Thanks for sharing the recipe!
Love this creamy pesto recipe! So easy to make and so delicious!
Can you freeze this recipe? Not sure how the cheese would thaw.
Honestly, it’s better if you don’t. It definitely changes the texture a bit. ;)
a nice change from my own pesto recipe, a garden variety one, so thank you!
We love making pesto but this creamy version takes it to a whole new delicious level! Perfect!
This is really amazing!! Such a new staple at my house!
The perfect pesto sauce