This is a variation of our pesto base recipe. Classic basil pesto with pine nuts is delicious, but did you know that you can make pesto with any variety of nuts and greens? Almonds are great in pesto and are often a more affordable option for budget-conscious consumers. This almond basil pesto is great on pasta, vegetables, and fish, and is a perfect sauce to make and keep on hand!
Three Must-Know Cooking Skills
For recipe success, learn how to:
Culinary Tips for Making Basil Almond Pesto
When measuring the basil, gently pack the leaves into the cup, but don’t pack so much that the leaves fall out of the cup.
Depending on the size of your food processor or blender, you might need to double the recipe. The jar/bowl needs to be full of enough ingredients to properly blend.
Be careful with the amount of fresh garlic you use – it has strong flavor! It’s better to start with less and then add more to taste.
Process until you reach your desired texture. For a smooth and creamy pesto sauce, process for longer.
Different pesto recipes may have slightly different ratios, but the ingredients will generally be the same: greens, olive oil, nuts, cheese, garlic, and salt.
- Basil: substitute some of or all of the basil with spinach, kale, or arugula. You can also add or substitute a few tablespoons of fresh parsley to make an almond parsley pesto with basil.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: substitute infused extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil. We don’t recommend using vegetable oil, as this is not a heart-healthy oil.
- Parmesan: substitute Grana Padano, Pecorino Romano, asiago, or aged cheddar. We think that cheese blocks taste best, but we recognize the added convenience of pre-shredded cheese.
- Almonds: we think that Marcona almonds taste best in pesto, but you can also use toasted, sliced, or slivered almonds. Feel free to substitute pine nuts, cashews, pecans, or walnuts. If using pine nuts, sliced or slivered almonds, reduce quantity to 1/4 cup. We don’t recommend using peanuts in pesto, as they have a very distinct taste.
- Garlic: substitute ½ teaspoon garlic flakes, ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic, or ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder.
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Pesto Recipe Variations
To reduce the pungency of the garlic, roast it in the oven with the peel on. Remove the peel after roasting.
For a more complex flavor, toast the almonds before adding to the blender.
Add lemon juice and/or zest to brighten the flavor.
To make this almond pesto vegan, leave out the cheese. To maintain some of the umami flavor, add 1 Tablespoon of nutritional yeast.
Need some pesto recipe inspiration?
Are you nuts for pesto too? Use our base recipe to make it your own, or try out these other variations!
Use these kitchen tools for recipe success!
Health Benefits of Homemade Basil Pesto
Learning how to make pesto sauce from scratch is a great way to expand your culinary horizons. Almond basil pesto is a healthy sauce, dip, or spread that can boost the nutritional quality and flavor of a dish. The featured ingredients in this recipe are basil, almonds, and extra virgin olive oil.
Leafy green herbs are rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that promote health and help fight diseases. Blending basil into a healthy pesto recipe is an easy way to help promote your health.
Nuts of all varieties contain plant-based protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Almonds in particular are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is a key component of the Mediterranean Diet. It contains high amounts of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and polyphenols which may reduce inflammation. Additionally, certain nutrients require fat for absorption; using extra virgin olive oil in pesto can boost the nutritional quality of a dish. (1, 2)
These are some of our favorite recipes with pesto, but use your creativity to use it in whatever dish sounds delicious to you!
Pesto Storage Recommendations
Pesto oxidizes in the refrigerator which turns its beautiful bright green color to olive green. This doesn’t necessarily affect the flavor – it just doesn’t look as pretty! To help preserve some of the color, drizzle olive oil on top of the pesto before refrigerating.
Alternatively, cover the pesto with plastic wrap and let it touch the surface so that it doesn’t have any contact with the air.
Pesto also freezes well. For easy use and thawing, freeze pesto in small servings (a silicone ice tray is great for this). When ready to eat, simply pop one or two cubes out, thaw, and use as normal!
Want more healthy sauce recipes?
Try out these easy and delicious recipes!
Almond Basil Pesto
- 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup shredded parmesan
- ½ cup whole almonds (or ¼ cup slivered/sliced)
- 1 medium garlic clove
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Place basil, oil, parmesan, almonds, and garlic in a blender or food processor and puree until fairly smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- To store, pour into a container and top with a little extra virgin olive oil to keep your pesto nice and green. Enjoy!