Are you wondering how to use pesto ... besides pasta? You'll find over 30 mouthwatering recipes using pesto here—from appetizers to side dishes to entrees, and so much more!
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Pesto is one of my all-time favorite recipe ingredients. It's absolutely full of flavor and can make pretty much any dish a little more exciting.
If you've only eaten this yummy sauce with pasta, then you'll probably be surprised by how versatile it is! From appetizers to entrees, there are so many recipes that would benefit from a little basil zip.
Is all this talk making you hungry? Then you're in luck, because I've rounded up over 30 recipes using pesto that you're going to want to try ASAP. These dishes go way beyond pasta, but don't worry, you'll find a few of my fave pastas here, too!
Keep scrolling to read all my tips for cooking with pesto ... you'll find general ideas first, then the recipes come after that.
How to Use Pesto
Before we get to the recipes, let's talk about pesto itself.
First things first ... if you're not already super familiar with it, pesto is a zippy basil sauce that's popular in Italian cooking. It's traditionally made with fresh basil, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and garlic, although variations abound.
There are sooo many ways to use pesto. Of course, there's pasta, but it can also be used in appetizers, on pizza, and even in salads. You can treat it as an integral part of the meal or more of a condiment ... so feel free to get creative!
You'll find more pesto recipe ideas below, so keep reading.
Store Bought vs. Homemade
Although you can buy this sauce pre-made, there really is no comparison when it comes to flavor.
Homemade is the best ... by leaps and bounds! The goods news is that you can make pesto from scratch in about five minutes. It really couldn't be simpler or quicker to prepare. I promise that it's worth the (minimal) effort.
Of course, sometimes it's just too convenient not to grab store bought. And in a pinch, this refrigerated pesto is my fave.
Types of Pesto
When it comes to this classic sauce, you're probably thinking in terms of the basil stuff. And while that's certainly the most popular variety, there are many different types of pesto.
Here are a few pesto recipes to use when trying out the dishes below:
- Classic Basil Pesto
- Cilantro Pesto
- Mixed Herb Pesto
- Basil-Spinach Pesto
- Creamy Pesto
- Kale Pesto
- Macadamia Nut Pesto
- Rosemary Pesto
FAQs about Pesto
Since you're already wondering how to use pesto, here are some frequently asked questions to help you learn more about this tasty basil sauce.
Do you heat up pesto sauce?
Pesto should not be heated, because heat causes the basil to oxidize and turn brown. Instead, let the heat of the pasta (or whatever you mixing the sauce with) warm it up.
Can you eat pesto cold?
You can definitely eat pesto cold. It's delicious in pasta salads, spread on sandwiches, stirred into dips, and so much more.
What pasta is pesto best with?
Pesto works with almost any type of pasta, from strands of spaghetti and capellini to shapes such as penne or fusilli.
Is pesto sauce healthy?
Pesto is made with healthy ingredients like fresh basil, olive oil, and garlic. However, it is high in fat, so you'll probably want to enjoy it in moderation.
How long does pesto last?
Homemade pesto sauce should last about two to three days in the refrigerator. You can also freeze it for up to three months. For best results, top refrigerated pesto with a thin layer of olive oil to prevent it from discoloring.
Can you freeze pesto?
Yes, pesto can be frozen. Freeze larger portions in an ziptop plastic bag or small container. Smaller amounts can be frozen in an ice cube tray, then transferred to a ziptop bag for longer storage.
A big bowl of Cilantro Pesto Pasta with Roasted Vegetables.
30 Recipes Using Pesto
Okay, enough chatting about this classic sauce ... let's get to the pesto recipe ideas!
I hope you find tons of pesto uses here that you'd never even thought of before. Be sure to let me know which ones you can't wait to try in the comments.
Appetizers and Snacks
Set the stage for what's to come with a delicious pesto-infused appetizer.
The bright, bold flavors of this sauce are a natural in dips. Serve pesto on its own for dipping bread or with raw or grilled veggies, or try mixing it with sour cream, Greek yogurt, cream cheese, or even goat cheese to make a yummy spread. Try this pretty layered Pesto Dip from Dinner at the Zoo if you want to impress guests.
Pesto pairs so well with tomato and mozzarella. Try drizzling it over these Caprese Skewers for a quick appetizer.
Spread on toast or bruschetta. This Bruschetta with Ricotta and Pesto from Floating Kitchen looks so delicious!
Toss with Popcorn like The Endless Meal did. Yum!
Did you know that pesto can be used as a salad dressing?
Simply thin it with a little extra olive oil and vinegar (or lemon juice) to make a zesty salad dressing. I'd pair this dressing with a crunchy lettuce like romaine, grape tomatoes, olives, and bocconcini (mini fresh mozzarella balls).
A spoonful of pesto makes a delightful addition to a bowl of soup!
There's even a classic French soup that calls for it. Give this Soupe au Pistou recipe from David Lebovitz a try, and let me know what you think.
Don't stop there though ... here are some other soup recipes that would be wonderful with a dollop of this boldly-flavored basil sauce:
Pesto makes an excellent sandwich spread. I love it on almost any sandwich, even in grilled cheese!
Try this Hummus Sandwich which uses a delicious mixed-herb pesto that has so much flavor. Spread it on this simple Caprese Sandwich with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella (find the recipe at the end of the travel guide). Or make this unique Halloumi Sandwich, which has a tasty pesto-mayo spread.
Another sandwich you'll love this Veggie Pesto Sandwich from Good Cheap Eats ... it's packed with tasty ingredients!
This easy sauce is the perfect way to perk up a simple side dish! Here are a few ideas to try:
- Mix with (or drizzle over) steamed or roasted vegetables.
- Pair it with bread and cheese in this Pesto Pull-Apart Bread like The Cooking Jar did.
- Stir a spoonful or two into mashed potatoes.
- Toss it with veggies and bake, like Love & Lemons did with this Crispy Baked Zucchini.
My favorite way to use pesto is in a delicious main dish. It's so versatile!
Let's start with the classics ... it doesn't get more traditional than pasta. This simple Pesto Pasta is the BEST way to use this sauce, and it's beyond easy to make. Or try it in this Pesto Gnocchi, which only takes 15 minutes to make! I also love this scrumptious Kale Pesto Pasta, and this Pasta with Roasted Vegetables which uses a unique cilantro pesto.
It's also wonderful stirred into risotto. Try this Pesto Risotto with Sauteed Mushrooms from Jo Cooks if you need a good recipe.
Have you tried pesto on pizza instead of tomato sauce? It's scrumptious, and you'll love these recipes:
- Green Pizza with Pesto, Feta, Artichokes, and Broccoli
- Pesto, Feta, and Veggie Pizza
- Caprese Pizza (brush the crust with pesto instead of olive oil)
- Grape, Feta, and Pesto Pizza
- Grilled Pizza (paired with mozzarella and grilled cherry tomatoes)
- Kale Pesto Pizza
- Roasted Pumpkin Pizza
More Pesto Recipe Ideas
Here are a few other ways to cook with pesto:
- Mix with softened butter, then serve with corn on the cob or fresh baked bread.
- Add to an omelet or drizzle over scrambled eggs. This Pesto Breakfast Skillet from Naturally Ella looks scrumptious, too!
- Stir into mayo to make a dipping sauce for french fries.
I hope you found some creative ideas for how to use pesto! There really is so much you can do with this versatile sauce. So tell me, what is your favorite way to use it?