Pesto Game-Changer: Discover the Magic of Roasted Garlic in My Basil Pesto Recipe

If you’re looking to add a burst of fresh, vibrant flavor to your meals, look no further than this simple yet delicious basil pesto recipe. With just a handful of ingredients and a few tweaks to the traditional basil pesto recipe, you can create a versatile sauce that will elevate any dish it touches. Plus, I’ll share my secret for taking this pesto to the next level: roasted garlic.

A white bowl full of homemade roasted garlic basil pesto.

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One of my favorite things about summer is the abundance of fresh basil in my garden, just waiting to be turned into a delicious batch of homemade pesto. There’s something so satisfying about harvesting the fragrant leaves and transforming them into a vibrant, flavorful sauce that can be used in countless ways. Whether I’m tossing it with pasta, spreading it on sandwiches, or using it as a marinade for grilled vegetables, pesto is my go-to condiment all season long. In fact, during the summer months, you can always find me firing up my food processor to make a fresh batch of pesto that almost always sits in my fridge, ready to add a burst of flavor to any meal at a moment’s notice.

Food processor with the ingredients for basil pesto.

Why You’ll Love Roasted Garlic in Your Basil Pesto

  • Incredible Depth of Flavor: Roasting the garlic mellows its harsh raw garlic taste into an incredibly rich, caramelized sweetness that adds nuanced depth to the bright basil pesto. The flavor is rounded, warm and luxurious.
  • Smooth, Velvety Texture: The roasting process breaks down the garlic’s fibers, allowing it to blend into an exquisitely smooth, almost creamy texture when incorporated into the pesto. It creates a luscious, velvet-like mouthfeel.
  • More Digestible: Roasted garlic is much easier on the stomach compared to raw garlic, so you can enjoy your pesto without any lingering garlic breath or digestive discomfort.
  • Nutritional Boost: Roasting garlic actually increases its antioxidant properties and concentration of beneficial compounds like allicin compared to raw garlic.
  • Pairs Perfectly: The mellow, caramelized notes of roasted garlic harmonize beautifully with the fresh, vibrant basil and rich olive oil and Parmesan in pesto.
  • Elevated Flavor Experience: Using roasted garlic cloves takes classic basil pesto from good to downright transcendent. It adds sophisticated warmth and complexity that elevates the entire dish.
  • Low-Effort Upgrade: Roasting the garlic is an easy step that requires minimal effort but yields maximum flavor payoff in your finished pesto.
  • Batch Cooking Friendly: You can roast a big batch of garlic at once and store it in the fridge to easily make multiple batches of supremely flavorful roasted garlic pesto.
All ingredients include roasted garlic.
A character drawing of an herb plant.

Shopping List:

Fresh Basil

Head of garlic


Parmesan cheese

Romano cheese

Pine nuts

Olive oil



Bowl full of basil.

Ingredients, Substitutions and Variations

  • Basil: Use fresh basil for best flavor. If substituting dried basil, use about 1/3 the amount called for fresh.
  • Garlic: Roasting the garlic adds incredible depth. However, you can substitute 2-3 cloves of raw garlic if preferred or pressed for time, adjusting to taste.
  • Nuts: Pine nuts are traditional and used in this Roasted Garlic Basil Pesto Recipe, but walnuts or pecans make a great budget-friendly substitute.
  • Cheese: Parmesan gives the classic flavor, but you can use pecorino Romano or a blend of the two. For a non-dairy option, use nutritional yeast.
  • Oil: Extra virgin olive oil is recommended for its flavor, but you can use a more neutral oil like avocado or grapeseed.
  • Herbs/Greens: Mix things up by incorporating herbs like parsley, arugula, spinach or kale along with the basil.
  • Extras: Boost flavor and texture with add-ins like sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, artichokes, olives or red pepper flakes.
  • Consistency: Add a touch more oil or a few tablespoons of pasta cooking water to reach your desired pesto consistency.
  • Storing: Leftover pesto will keep for 5-7 days refrigerated with a thin layer of olive oil poured over the top to prevent browning. Or freeze in ice cube trays for easy portioning.
Me holding basil.
A white bowl full of homemade roasted garlic basil pesto.

Roasted Garlic Basil Pesto Recipe

Stephanie LeBlanc
A vibrantly fresh basil pesto that's taken to the next level with the addition of roasted garlic, adding incredible depth of flavor and velvety smoothness. The roasting mellows the garlic into sweet, nutty richness that perfectly complements the bright basil. An easy way to elevate this classic sauce.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Side Dish
Servings 6 People
Calories 274 kcal


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper


  • Roast the garlic: Cut off top 1/4 of garlic head to expose cloves. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap in parchment paper first, the wrap in foil. Roast at 400°F for 30-40 mins until cloves are soft and golden brown.
  • Allow roasted garlic to cool slightly then squeeze 3-4 cloves out of skins into a food processor.
  • Add basil, pine nuts, cheeses, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to the food processor.
  • Pulse until mixture is well combined but still has some texture, scraping down sides as needed.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning as desired (more salt, pepper, lemon, etc.)
  • Use immediately tossed with hot pasta. Or, allow this fresh pesto sauce to cool completely then transfer to an airtight container. Top with a thin layer of olive oil to prevent browning and refrigerate for 5-7 days.


Pro Tips:
  • Roasting the garlic adds a rich, nutty flavor to the pesto that sets it apart from other recipes.
  • Using a mix of Parmesan and Romano cheeses provides a deeper, more complex flavor profile.
  • Toast nuts for deeper flavor
  • Add 1-2 tbsp pasta water to thin out pesto if too thick
  • Freeze pesto in ice cube trays for easy portioning
Tasty Variations:
  • Substitute walnuts or pecans for pine nuts
  • Add sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers or artichokes
  • Use a mix of basil and parsley or arugula
Spoon of fresh roasted garlic basil pesto.

Visit The Trick For Roasting Garlic Bulbs Without Aluminum Foil for a unique way to roast garlic.

This roasted garlic basil pesto is a game changer when it comes to adding flavor to your favorite dishes. Whether you’re tossing it with pasta, spreading it on sandwiches, making homemade pizza, using it as a dip, or including it in salad dressings, this pesto is such a good recipe that is sure to impress. Plus, with the added depth of flavor from the roasted garlic and cheese blend, you’ll never go back to store-bought pesto again. Give this recipe a try and discover just how easy it is to elevate your meals with homemade pesto!

I’m so excited to help you bring this and other pesto recipes to new and exciting herb-forward healthy recipes like my Roasted Zucchini with Pesto and Parmesan. For a unique and delicious pesto made with parsley visit my Zucchini Noodles With Parsley Pesto – Made From The Garden recipe!

Happy Harvesting!

My signature which is a drawing of me sitting.

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