Authentic Pesto alla Genovese Recipe: The Best Way to Make This Classic Italian Sauce

We all know and love this aromatic and silky green sauce! Pesto alla Genovese originated in Genoa during the 16th century and has been a popular go-to for Italians since then. While its main use is to be paired with pasta, you can also use this pesto for dips and spread!

Pesto alla Genovese

Servings: 2 people
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes


  • Mortar and pestle
  • OR a food processor


  • 25 grams fresh basil leaves (about 1 cup of whole leaves)
  • 1/2 clove of garlic
  • 8 grams pine nuts (or 1/2 heaping tablespoon)
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1/8 cup Pecorino cheese (grated)
  • 3 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • couple pinches of salt


  • First, prepare the basil leaves by wiping them down with a damp cloth.
  • Next, peel the garlic and add it to a mortar and pestle along with a pinch of salt. Crush them together until the garlic turns into a cream like texture.
  • Add the basil leaves and another pinch of salt and start grinding the leaves against the walls of the mortar – keep doing this until the bright green liquid of the basil has been juiced out.
  • Add the pine nuts and continue to crush everything together until it turns into a creamy mixture again.
  • At this point, transfer the mixture to a seperate bowl and mix in both the Parmesan and Pecorino cheese until it is extremely well combined.
  • Lastly, add the olive oil until everything is completely mixed together.
  • Your pesto is ready to enjoy! You can store your pesto in the fridge for up to 2-3 days so long as its in an airtight container and the top is completely covered by a layer of olive oil.


  • If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can complete steps 2-4 in a food processor or blender.
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5 thoughts on “Pesto alla Genovese”

  1. 5 stars
    Note: the olive oil you use makes a really significant difference. Delicious either way but try to not use the bulk store brand stuff and you’ll get pretty different results Super good tho

  2. 4 stars
    The balance of flavors in this pesto recipe is spot on, dinner guests were impressed. Will definitely make again.

  3. 5 stars
    Basil, pine nuts, and the duo of Parmesan and Pecorino cheese- that’s ‘alla Genovese’. Other regions often use different herbs, nuts, or cheeses, altering the flavor profile but nothing quite hits the spot like the classic Genovese recipe – the balance is sublime. Flavor of Liguria right to your plate.

  4. 4 stars
    Made this pesto recipe for dinner last night seriously good. Never going back to the store-bought kind.

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