How to Make Pesto Stay Green

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This recipe shares my tip about how to make pesto stay green for several days. It’s an easy recipe to make with fresh basil, and it freezes well.

Pesto in a jar

Pesto is one of my favorite things to make with basil from my summer farm share. But it isn’t always the most attractive thing to eat when it turns a dreary shade of dark greenish brown. I was so happy to learn how to make pesto stay a pretty shade of green for several days.

Two cups of pesto, one bright green and one turning brown

In the image above, I made two batches of pesto with the exact same ingredients and proportions. The one on the left stayed bright green for days, while the one on the right was brown within an hour of making it. The only difference between these two batches was the basil preparation. The key is to blanch the basil in boiling water before making the pesto.

For the bright green pesto on the left, I blanched the basil leaves in boiling water for 30 seconds before mixing the ingredients together in my blender. That single difference yielded a dramatically different result. Not only is the blanched version prettier, but it also tastes creamier. 

How to Make Pesto Stay Green

Basil leaves in boiling water

Step One: Blanche the basil

Boil a large pot of water, and add the basil leaves. Leave them in the boiling water for about 30 seconds. I like to use a fine mesh sieve to easily remove the basil from the pot after the 30 seconds.

Basil leaves in an ice bath

Step Two: Transfer basil to ice water

Remove the blanched basil leaves from the boiling water and place them in a large bowl of ice water.

Pesto ingredients in the blender

Step Three: Blend the pesto

Place the basil, walnuts, garlic, olive oil, parmesan cheese, and salt in a high-powered blender. Process until it has a smooth texture. Transfer the pesto to a jar and store it in the refrigerator for a few days, or freeze for later.

This recipe freezes well. I place it in an ice cube tray in the freezer so I can save it in small portions. One ice cube-sized serving of this pesto is the perfect amount to spread on sandwiches.

Use this delicious basil pesto sauce as a sandwich spread or a pizza topping. You can also use it to make pesto cream cheese spread, pesto pasta salad, or roasted pesto chickpeas. The flavor is a great boost to so many different recipes!

And try my homemade basil oil for another delicious way to use basil.

How to Make Pesto

This tutorial shows how to make pesto that stays green.
Print Recipe
Pesto in a jar
Prep Time:5 minutes
Cook Time:0 minutes
Total Time:5 minutes

Recommended Equipment


  • 4 cups basil leaves loosely packed
  • 1 cup walnuts or pine nuts
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs freshly grated parmesan cheese optional
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  • Blanch the basil leaves in a large pot of boiling water for 30 seconds, then transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. I like to use a fine-mesh strainer to place the basil in the water so it's easy to transfer it to the ice bath.
  • Combine all the ingredients in a high-powered blender or food processor and mix until well combined. Taste and adjust the salt as needed. If you skip the parmesan cheese, the pesto may need a little more salt.
  • Store in the fridge and use within a few days, or store in the freezer for several months.

Approximate Nutrition Info

Calories: 66kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 0.2mg | Sodium: 42mg | Potassium: 51mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.2g | Vitamin A: 320IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 0.4mg
Servings: 16
Calories: 66kcal
Cost: $.24 per serving

This recipe may contain affiliate links. A purchase or click through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us at no additional cost to you.

How to Make Pesto Stay Green: Price Breakdown

This pesto recipe costs a total of $3.88 to make, or $.24 per tablespoon. Learning how to make pesto stay green is a big win when you have lots of fresh basil available during the summer.

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