How to Freeze Pesto Sauce

By Polly Conner
May 11, 2021

Can you freeze pesto? Absolutely! Using our 10+ years of freezer cooking experience, we are sharing anything and everything you need to know about freezing pesto.

frozen pesto in a freezer bag

Thriving Home loves pesto.

Rachel and I laugh because as we were developing healthy, freezable recipes for our cookbook called From Freezer to Table, we constantly gravitated towards anything with pesto in it. Probably because of its big, fresh flavor that freezes well. The fresher the better too! I’m convinced that in a taste test, 10 times out of 10 I could identify homemade, fresh pesto from store-bought pesto.

Since I can kind of be a pesto snob, I am doing my best to make my own pesto, stock up and freeze portions for months to come.

Pssst…. If you already have your pesto on hand and just want to know how to freeze it, scroll on down a bit.

What is Pesto?

It wasn’t well into my 20s that I had my first taste of pesto. It just wasn’t a common ingredient in rural Missouri so growing up, I had no clue what it was. Sheesh, I was missing out!

So what actually IS Pesto?

It’s a typically bright green sauce that originated in Genoa, Italy. The word “pesto” is the past tense of the Genoese verb “pestare,” which means “to crush.” The fact that pesto is typically made by crushing the ingredients with a mortar and pestle probably has something to do with that too.

-Delish

Since you likely don’t have the ability to make it like the original Italians did, you will be happy to know that fresh pesto can be made in the your food processor. Just follow our homemade pesto recipe and you will be so happy with yourself.

Ingredients for fresh pesto

Store Bought Pesto vs. Homemade Pesto

Friends, there just isn’t even a comparison. Homemade Pesto is just SO much tastier than store-bought pesto. The canned pesto from the store is more oily and lacks the fresh taste of basil that just can’t be replicated.

If you must buy it from the store, we recommending getting refrigerated pesto if possible.

Because of the superiority of fresh pesto, I am a HUGE HUGE HUGE advocate of making tons of fresh pesto when basil is in season and freezing it to use all year long. We have an entire post and video on How to Make Fresh Pesto so be sure to hop over to that post and read up on how to make it.

Fresh pesto with pinenuts on top

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How to Freeze Pesto

I’ve been making and freezing my own pesto for years. I’ve tried all sorts of different ways to freeze it and have narrowed down what works (and what doesn’t!)

These containers will work great for freezing pesto:

I prefer to freeze my pesto in smaller amounts so I don’t thaw out any that I won’t use.

small portions of pesto in a container for freezing

Will pesto change color after freezing?

To prevent that fresh green color from turning darker, top your pesto with a bit of oil to prevent it from air exposure. It’s worth noting that this isn’t necessary. The flavor will be the same despite the color but if you want to preserve that fresh pesto look, adding a bit of oil to protect it will be a step you’ll want to do.

pouring olive oil over pesto to prep for freezing

Freeze it uncovered for about an hour or so, until solid, pop out of the container, and place the portions in an air-tight freezer bag or container. (Here are our favorite freezer containers.) You’re done!

small portions of pesto in a freezer bag
Print

How Freeze Fresh Pesto

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Processor
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Is there anything better than fresh pesto? Now you can freeze it and savor the flavor.


Ingredients

  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ¼ cup pine nuts (sub: walnuts)
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (plus a bit more for freezing)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, combine the basil, garlic, pine nuts, and cheese and pulse until coarsely chopped.
  2. Add ½ cup of olive oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Now use your yummy fresh pesto to make some of these recipes:

Cheesy Pesto Bread

Cheesy Pesto Bread

Chicken Pesto Pasta

Chicken Pesto Pasta

Turkey Pesto Panini

Turkey Pesto Panini

Pesto Burgers

Pesto Burgers

What Else Can You Freeze?

Wondering what else you can stock up on and freeze? Here are quite a few articles that might help you out!

How to Freeze Tortillas

How to Freeze Butter

How to freeze Muffins

How to Freeze Bananas

How to Freeze Zucchini

How to Freeze Rice

How to Freeze Avocados

How to Freeze Cheese

How to Freeze Pesto

How to Freeze Quiche

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2 replies
  1. Kami Mauldin says:

    Is it best to thaw the frozen pesto in the fridge overnight, or can you cook with it frozen? I’m sure it might depend on the recipe. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Rachel says:

      It’s definitely best to defrost pesto slowly in the refrigerator. I’ve tried defrosting in the microwave and the consistency gets weird. Hope that helps!

      Reply