Two Pesto Recipes

Basil and cilantro pesto recipes video (scroll down for printable recipes)

Pesto is one of the best possible ways to use a buttload of fresh herbs. Don’t limit yourself to basil! Here are two pesto recipes: classic basil pesto with Parmesan and pine nuts and a spicy cilantro pesto with fresh jalapeños and lemon juice. Try either of them over pasta, or on a sandwich; as a dip for fresh bread or crackers or vegetables; stir the cilantro pesto into cooked rice or add a spoonful of it to a bowl of beans; add basil pesto to vegetable soups. Use either on some homemade flatbread pizza for a kid-friendly dinner.

Both recipes freeze well. Hold back a little of the oil when you make the pesto, then pack tightly into small containers and cover the top with the remaining oil. This forms a seal to keep oxygen out and will stop the pesto from oxidizing and turning brown. Adding a little lemon juice to the basil pesto will keep it green, too.

You might also like this kale pesto that goes great on noodles!
basil pesto

Classic Basil Pesto Recipe


Basil Pesto

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 3 reviews

  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x


  • 4 ounces basil (2 cups packed leaves)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, walnuts or pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, optional


  1. Combine basil, oil, nuts, cheese, garlic and salt in a food processor or chopper and pulse until finely chopped. Add a couple tablespoons of water and pulse until the pesto is as thin as you like. Taste it and add the lemon juice if you want.
  2. Store pesto in a small covered container in the fridge. Pack it tightly then pour on a thin layer of more olive oil to keep it from oxidizing and turning brown. Pesto can also be frozen this way.

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Cilantro Jalapeño Pesto


Cilantro Jalapeño Pesto

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 3 reviews

  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x


  • 12 bunches cilantro, large stems cut off (about 2 cups packed leaves)
  • 12 jalapeños, chopped (seeded for less heat)
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 6 tablespoons neutral oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons toasted coconut flakes, optional


  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or chopper and pulse until combined. Add a tablespoon of water if you want it thinner.

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basil pesto cilantro pesto


  1. Steven McGarvey on September 5, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    First of all, your baby is AWESOME; he almost steals the show. Hilah, you look great. The kitchen here in the Los Angeles area looks fantastic, and I am jealous. The quality of your video is so much better too, WOW. I like this a lot. Keep on making some good videos for us all. Congrats and keep Baby on the show too if possible.

    • Hilah on September 7, 2015 at 9:31 am

      Thank you, Steven! 🙂

  2. Clay on September 6, 2015 at 7:51 am

    Great looking Kitchen. Thanks for the reminder of Summer Bounty ideas.. I have a lot of Basil and more of some Thai Basil.. Ready Freeze some Pesto..

    • The Other Randy on September 6, 2015 at 6:41 pm

      Thai basil! I’ll bet using it in a mash-up of Hilah’s two recipes would make a terrific South-East Asian pesto.

      • Hilah on September 7, 2015 at 9:32 am

        I was thinking the same thing!

  3. The Other Randy on September 6, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    I’m beginning to suspect why a friend of mine hates pine nuts (she’s never gone into the reason) so I’ve been using walnuts to make pesto for several years. With pine nuts costing as much as they do, I’ll probably never ever go back to using them, but I’m going to have to try using pecans. I’ll bet they’d be great in the cilantro pesto, as well.

    I like your immersion blender/food processor! A couple of years ago I bought one because I got sick and tired of pouring hot soup into a countertop blender. Mine came with the food processor/mini-chopper, too. But I never used it until a couple of months ago. Now I’ll probably only using the Waring blender to make piña coladas. My favorite immersion blender trick is Serious Eat’s 2-Minute Mayonnaise.

    • Hilah on September 7, 2015 at 9:34 am

      Oh yeah, maybe that is why! It’s awful, I tell you. But it also made me think that it would be one of the best diet tricks if you wanted to just stop eating for a couple of days. It makes everything that bad.

      Do try with walnuts and pecans. Pecans are a little sweeter and I love them. Also try toasting them first! Yum.

      I just started using the mini chopper when my food processor got too beat up. I haven’t missed the FP yet, I think because I’m usually just cooking for two anyway and don’t really need a large capacity chopper.

  4. Terry on September 7, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    Looks so good. My pizza place makes a great greek pizza with pesto, a good sausage, red onions, mushrooms, artichokes and mozzarella and feta cheese. I made in my electric fry pan by cooking the onion, mushroom and sausage and setting aside, then adding the dough mix and topping it with pesto, then the meat mixture then the artichokes and finally the cheese. It is excellent. Got the dough recipe from FB called stovetop pizza.

    • Hilah on September 8, 2015 at 9:09 am

      That sounds like a really good combination, Terry!

  5. moz on September 8, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    Chef Baby looks like he might be a lefty! Flint for president! We seem to be electable…

  6. Diana on February 1, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    I’m going to make your chili cheese enchiladas tonight with the cilantro rice. My brother left his basmati rice when he moved out and that’s the only rice I have in house right now. I’ve not eaten this before and, as I recall, it kind of stank when he cooked it. Do you think it would be okay with the cilantro pesto or should I not bother? Thank you for your advice.

    • Hilah on February 1, 2016 at 2:25 pm

      Hey Diana!
      I have never considered basmati rice to be “stinky” … it has a very unique scent and flavor as far as rice goes, and I think it would be a great pairing with this cilantro pesto. But probably not if you don’t like basmati rice on its own, know what I mean?

  7. Diana on February 1, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    Thanks for your quick response. I’m going for it. Perfect. I used the cilantro stems for the charro beans. Now I’ll use leaves for this.

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