Lemon Pesto

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This bright and zesty lemon pesto recipe comes together quickly with the use a food processor. It’s a great addition to pasta or bread!

Overhead of lemon pesto in a wooden bowl.

Pesto is such a great sauce to add to pasta and this lemon pesto is a must-try!

Unlike our creamy basil pesto, we use ground almonds to add flavor and heartiness. Parmesan is also added for extra richness.

We love a simple pesto sauce but want to add a little something extra to this one. We tossed in the zest and juice of one lemon and wow, was that a great choice.

The result is bright and herby with a touch of nuttiness from the almonds. It’s just so good.

Our favorite way to use this lemon pesto is over pasta with additional parmesan and red pepper flakes to top it.

If you are a fan of pestos, you might also like our red pepper romesco sauce!

It takes just a handful of simple ingredients to make lemon pesto.

Ingredients for lemon pesto.
  • Almonds – Unsalted almonds work best.
  • Garlic – Adds delicious flavor.
  • Basil – Fresh basil is the star here so pick the best-looking leave you can find.
  • Parmesan – The cheeses add a richness that just takes pesto to a whole new level.
  • Lemon – Adds a tangy brightness.
  • Olive oil – Select a good quality olive oil.
  • Salt and pepper – Needed to enhance the flavors.

How to Make Lemon Pesto

You can have homemade lemon pesto in just a few short minutes!

Be sure to check out the full recipe and ingredient list below

  1. Process the almonds until finely chopped. Add the garlic and blend for a few seconds.
  2. Add basil, parmesan, lemon zest and juice, salt, and pepper. Process, for a few more seconds then with the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil in a slow steady stream.
  3. Stop to scrape down the sides as needed.

Ways to use Lemon Pesto

  • Mix into freshly cooked pasta.
  • Serve over chicken breasts.
  • Serve it as a dip for fresh vegetables.
  • Serve it as a topping over freshly cooked vegetables.
  • Spread it over hot crusty bread.
  • Use it as a sauce for pizza.
Side view of lemon pesto in a wooden bowl.


To refrigerate lemon pesto, store it in a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Be sure to place a piece of plastic wrap over the pesto and press it down so it’s flush against the surface before topping it with a lid.

Yield: 1.5 cups

Lemon Pesto

Overhead of lemon pesto in a wooden bowl.

Homemade Lemon Pesto is one of the best ways to use up fresh basil. It's fantastic on pasta or bread and takes less than 10 minutes to make!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  • ½ cup whole unsalted almonds
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 cups basil leaves, loosely packed
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan
  • 1 medium lemon, zest and juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil


  1. Place almonds in a processor and process for 1 minute, until finely chopped.
  2. Add garlic and process for 10 more seconds.
  3. Add basil, parmesan, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper. Process, for 10 more seconds then with the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil in a slow steady stream.
  4. Once all the olive oil is added, stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Process again until the ingredients are almost smooth. Add up to ¼ cup more olive oil depending on how thick or thin you want the pesto.
  5. Place pesto in a jar with a lid and refrigerate until ready to use.


Make ahead tip

  1. The pesto can be made up to 1 week ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container.
  2. Or freeze for up to 1 year. Store in an airtight container. Or freeze in an ice cube tray then transfer to a ziptop freezer bag. When ready to use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 257Total Fat: 26gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 102mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 3g

The nutrition information provided is for convenience and as a courtesy only. It is not guaranteed to be accurate because nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator and input the exact ingredients you used in the recipe.

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One Comment

  1. Followed the recipe except using toasted pine nuts instead of almonds (I didn’t have almonds, but will try with almonds next time)… Turned out amazing…
    I use pesto as a dressing, not a sauce, so just drizzled it over some freshly cooked linguine, and added grilled king prawns and some freshly grated parmesan… Stunning!
    Thank you!