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Can you freeze pesto? Absolutely! Using our 12+ years of freezer cooking experience, we are sharing anything and everything you need to know about how to freeze fresh pesto.
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.
What is Pesto?
Pesto is a traditional Italian sauce that is typically made from fresh basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and extra-virgin olive oil.
The ingredients are traditionally ground together using a mortar and pestle, which is where the sauce gets its name (pesto means “to pound” or “to crush” in Italian).
However, nowadays, pesto is more commonly prepared using a food processor or blender for convenience.
Store Bought vs. Pesto
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 recommend 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.
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!)
Choose the right container
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.
Add pesto and top with oil
Scoop the desired amount of pesto into the freezer friendly container.
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.
Freeze the pesto
Freeze the pesto until solid. If you want, pop the portions out of the container, and place the pesto in an air-tight freezer bag or container. (Here are our favorite freezer containers.)
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If the pesto is exposed to air, yes, it will change color but not flavor. That’s why we suggest topping it with a little extra olive oil after putting it in your freezer container.
This really depends on how you package it. Keep in mind that air is the enemy of freezer meals. The less air the pesto is exposed to, the longer it will last. If packaged well, pesto will still be good for up to 6 months or more!
Yes and no. You could refreeze pesto but we’d recommend only thawing out what you need. The reason is, each time you freeze and thaw pesto, it can affect the flavor, texture, and overall quality.
Did you make this? Snap a photo and tag us on Instagram at @thrivinghome so we can see your creations and cheer you on!
- 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/4 cup pine nuts (sub: walnuts)
- 1/2 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
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- In a food processor, combine the basil, garlic, pine nuts, and cheese and pulse until coarsely chopped.
- Add 1/2 cup of olive oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Scoop the desired amount of pesto into a freezer friendly container with air-tight lid. (Here are our favorite freezer containers.) To prevent that fresh green color from turning darker, top your pesto with a bit of oil to prevent it from air exposure.
Freeze the pesto until solid. If you want, pop the portions out of the container, and place the pesto in an air-tight freezer bag.