This vibrant homemade basil and lemon pesto recipe is made without nuts, making it kid-friendly, and lunch box friendly for school, too! Ready in 5 minutes with the help of a high-powdered blender or food processor. Freezes wonderfully!

A jar of kid-friendly basil lemon pesto sauce with a white spoon.
If it’s one thing I’m good at – it’s killing basil plants.

I am pretty sure I have bought 5 different basil plants throughout the summer and it’s sad to say, but none of them are alive right now. I mayyyyybbbbbe, if I am rounding up, got 10 good basil leaves off of all of them.

I want to say ‘it’s them – not me‘ but who I am kidding, it’s totally me!

So in honor of your basil plant that is growing into a small fragrant bush, I made this delicious basil + lemon pesto recipe for you. I don’t want you leave you in a tricky situation where you have too much basil on your hands, no would I?

This 5 ingredient basil is fresh, citrusy and earthy with just the right amount of parmesan-ie goodness.

Bonus – it can all be whipped up in less then 5 minutes.

Double bonus – it is made without nuts! So you can pack this away in your kiddos lunch box and not worry about the nut patrol busting you!

Triple bonus – I also give you a modification in case you love nuts to bulk up your pesto and don’t have to worry about silly things like Nut Free Zones. It’s real people – the zone is real, I read the signs and am slightly scared.

To me, the key to making such a vibrant and tasty pesto is using the lemon, so don’t shy away from it or heavens forbid don’t use the lemon juice in the squeezable yellow plastic jar!!! <——– this is a deal breaker on our friendship!!

Get a real lemon and squeeze it, I factored your squeezing time into the 5 minutes of work, so it should be all good.

Why the lemon, again? First of all, the lemon plays off the basil, gives the pesto more depth and balances it out all in one go. Secondly, it makes the pesto stay bright green! Look at that greenness! It’s kinda freaking me out how bright it is. Seriously #nofilter people!

Another deal breaker is if you have a lemon tree and a basil bush – it’s would so be over between us;)

Ways to include this pesto into your everyday life:

  • Summer Pesto Egg Scramble – add a spoonful of pesto, some chopped avocado and tomatoes into your scrambled eggs right before they are done – easiest way to fancy up your morning egg dish
  • Fresh Pesto + Peach Summer Salad – mix pesto with cold pasta, chopped cherry tomatoes, feta, pine nuts, finely chopped spinach and grilled peaches altogether. The grilled peaches and pesto are delish together!! Trust!
  • Basil Aioli Dip – whip some pesto with a little mayonnaise for a basil aioli that you can pretty much use on everything you eat – on sandwiches, as a french fries/chicken strip/fish stick/veggie dip, marinade for chicken, white fish or salmon or even as a spread on your avocado toast.
  • Colorful Pesto Pizza – spread onto your pizza dough for a ‘green’ pizza. I love to add sliced heirloom tomatoes, olives (not on hubby’s half!), fresh corn, red pepper flakes and a pile of mozzarella.
  • Pesto + Pistachio Chicken Salad – mix with some cooked chopped chicken, red onion, chopped pistachios and some plain Greek yogurt for a chicken salad that is great over greens or your favorite roll.
lemon basil pesto in a glass jar with a spoon.

Get the recipe: Basil + Lemon Pesto

5 stars (2 ratings)
An easy and vibrant Basil + Lemon Pesto that is so good you will want to put it into anything and everything you make for the rest of the summer!! 


  • 2 cups basil de-stemed*
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese**
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper


  • Add the basil, lemon, garlic, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to a food processor or blender. Pulse a few times to get the ingredients chopped.
  • Run your machine at full speed while drizzling in the olive oil. Let run for 20-30 seconds or until your ingredients are well incorporated.


Yield – 1 1/2 cups
Storage – in fridge for 5 days or freezer for 3 months
* this roughly equals 2 small or 1 large store bought container.
** If you would like to add nuts to this pesto, I recommend adding 1/4 cup pine nuts or almonds and reducing the parmesan cheese to 1/4 cup.
Calories: 198kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 20g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 6mg, Sodium: 139mg, Potassium: 44mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 487IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 117mg, Iron: 1mg

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