40 Versatile Variations of Pesto: Fast, Fresh & Fantastic!

Pesto is a flavorful green sauce made from fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. It has a strong, aromatic taste and bright green color. Pesto can be used as a sauce, a spread, or an ingredient to add flavor to other dishes.The classic way to use pesto is tossed with pasta. However, there are many other ways to enjoy pesto that we’ll explore here. You can use it in Instant Pot and slow cooker meals, vegan recipes, hand pies, chicken wings, salads, main courses, soups, appetizers, and more. Pesto doesn’t have to be made with just basil and pine nuts. We’ve got recipes using sun-dried tomatoes, wild garlic, capers, kale, parsley, arugula, cilantro, walnuts, almonds and more. Check out these 40 pesto recipes!

Basil Pesto

Low FODMAP Basil Pesto
Photo Credit: Dédé Wilson from FODMAP Everyday®.

Everyone needs a basic recipe for basil pesto and we love our rendition. Make sure you have high quality Italian pine nuts. Get the recipe for Basil Pesto.

Salmon with Basil-Caper Pesto

Salmon with Basil Caper Pesto 2. jpg
Salmon with Basil-Caper Pesto. Photo credit: Annie Martin.

Salmon is such a great weeknight dinner and this one combines the heart-healthy fish with a tangy fresh basil and caper dressing. Did you know that capers are actually berries? Who knew! Keep a jar in the fridge and you will find uses for them! Get the recipe for Salmon with Basil-Caper Pesto.

Vegan Kale Pesto

horizontal image of vegan low FODMAP kale pesto in a brown bowl, held by woman's manicured hand over stove surface
Vegan Kale Pesto recipe. Photo Credit: Dédé Wilson from FODMAP Everyday®.

Our Kale Pesto happens to be vegan – taking advantage of “cheesy” nutritional yeast. The body of the pesto if made up of the expected basil but with hearty kale and flat-leaf parsley as well, which lends balance to the other two bold greens. We do like pesto with pine nuts, which this uses, but we provide options for other nuts and seeds. Get the recipe.

Pesto Chicken Wings           

pesto chicken wings on yellow plate, overhead shot
Pesto Chicken Wings. Photo Credit: Dédé Wilson from FODMAP Everyday®.

Pesto is not just for pasta, and once you try the classic garlicky basil sauce slathered on chicken wings, this might become your favorite new way to enjoy it. Get the recipe for Pesto Chicken Wings.

Vegan Parsley Pesto

low FODMAP parsley pesto in a clear glass bowl
Photo Credit: Dédé Wilson from FODMAP Everyday®.

This pesto features the bright flavor and color of flat-leaf parsley along with garlic-infused oil and toasted pine nuts. Get the recipe for Parsley Pesto.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

overhead view of low FODMAP sun-dried tomato pesto in glass bowl; pine nuts and basil alongside on dark surface
Photo Credit: Dédé Wilson from FODMAP Everyday®.

Pesto does not just mean basil. Here we have Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto for a completely different taste – and color – sensation. Get the recipe for Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto.

Pasta with Tuna & Sun Dried Tomatoes

overhead image of Low FODMAP Pasta with Tuna & Sun Dried Tomatoes in white bowl on red plate
Photo Credit: Dédé Wilson from FODMAP Everyday®.

I developed this dish to show you how you can make a hearty, delicious dinner using pantry ingredients like pasta and canned tuna and that a great dinner can get on the table in the time it takes to boil water and cook pasta. Get the recipe for Pasta with Tuna & Sun Dried Tomatoes.

Basil Walnut Pesto

Basil-Walnut-Pesto Meeta Arora-3.
Photo credit: Meeta Arora.

Fresh Basil Walnut Pesto can be made in 10 minutes with just 5 ingredients – Fresh basil leaves, walnuts, garlic, romano (or parmesan) and olive oil.  Get the recipe for Basil Walnut Pesto.

Easy Wild Garlic Pesto

Photo credit: Stephanie Gravalese.

Garlic mustard pesto is a great beginner recipe for new foragers and one of the early spring plant species that starts the foraging season in my area. Unfortunately, garlic mustard isn’t going away anytime soon. It’s one of the most invasive weeds in North America and has been identified as a weed in almost every state. Get the recipe for Easy Wild Garlic Pesto.

Vegan Pesto Pizza With Roasted Tomato

Photo credit: Alexandra Caspero.

Having pizza night this week? Trying whipping up this deliciously light vegan pesto pizza! This pizza recipe is incredibly fresh and flavorful thanks to the roasted tomatoes, homemade vegan parmesan cheese, fresh basil, and pumpkin seed pesto. Plus, it’s quick and easy to make at home, making it perfect for a quick weekday dinner or a special weekend treat. Get the recipe for Vegan Pesto Pizza With Roasted Tomato. 

Pesto Orzo Salad

Photo credit: Meeta Arora.

Sun-Dried tomatoes, basil leaves, and fresh mozzarella make this Pesto Orzo Salad a summer favorite. It’s fresh, flavorful, and so easy to make! Perfect for a picnic, potluck, or weeknight meal. Get the recipe for Pesto Orzo Salad.

Gnocchi with Basil Pesto

Photo credit: Meeta Arora.

A quick and delicious meal, Gnocchi with Pesto Sauce. This can be prepared in less than 20 minutes for a tasty satisfying dinner for those busy weeknights. Get the recipe for Gnocchi with Basil Pesto.

Vegan Pesto Pasta

Photo credit: Alexandra Caspero.

Vegan Pesto Pasta! The perfect pasta for summer. Homemade vegan pesto tossed with roasted Farmer’s Market vegetables and rigatoni. A must-make! Get the recipe for Vegan Pesto Pasta.

Pappardelle Pesto with Vegetables

Photo credit: Meeta Arora.

This Pappardelle pasta is quick and simple to put together. With the delicious pappardelle noodles, flavorful pesto, and nutritious vegetables, you get a restaurant-quality meal at home in under 30 minutes. Get the recipe for Pappardelle Pesto with Vegetables.

Avocado Pesto Hummus

Photo credit: Alexandra Caspero.

You’ve got to make this dip! Avocado Pesto Hummus with homemade parmesan crisps. Perfect on sandwiches or as a dip. Get the recipe for Avocado Pesto Hummus.

Gnocchi Pesto Soup

Photo credit: Alexandra Caspero.

I still eat soup in the summer. And, even though it’s not technically summer yet, I’m going to make the case for this soup. Even though it’s warm outside.

It’s soup without being too stew-y. This bright, very green recipe manages to be both comforting and light. With pillows of gnocchi, zucchini and lots of basil, it’s the perfect recipe to make when you want something healthy (that’s not a salad). Get the recipe for Gnocchi Pesto Soup.

Cilantro Pesto

Photo credit: The Gracious Pantry.

This cilantro pesto is perfect for pastas, meats or even mixed in with rice! Get the recipe for Cilantro Pesto.

Instant Pot Pesto Pasta

Photo credit: Meeta Arora.

This Instant Pot Pesto Pasta is an easy recipe perfect for weeknight meals. Spaghetti tossed in pesto sauce along with sun-dried tomatoes and a drizzle of lemon juice. Make this as a one-pot dish in just 20 minutes in the Instant Pot. This is my favorite way to eat spaghetti! Get the recipe for Instant Pot Pesto Pasta.

Baked Pesto Chicken

Photo credit: The Gracious Pantry.

This baked pesto chicken is not only super fast and easy to make, it’s totally delicious and makes it super easy to serve chicken yet again. Get the recipe for Baked Pesto Chicken.

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto

Photo credit: The Gracious Pantry.

This roasted red pepper pesto is a delicious condiment, dipping sauce or pasta sauce that cooks up fast and easy! Get the recipe for Roasted Red Pepper Pesto.

Spinach Salad with Pesto Dressing

Photo credit: The Gracious Pantry.

This spinach salad with pesto dressing is simply delish! Get the recipe for Spinach Salad with Pesto Dressing.

Arugula Pesto Salad

Photo credit: Alexandra Caspero.

This salad is all about summer. If you haven’t have arugula pesto before, you’re in for a treat! Slightly peppery than its basil counterpart, arugula pesto adds the perfect bite to this grain and bean salad. I used walnuts since pine nuts are too expensive to be used in anything but special foods. Get the recipe for Arugula Pesto Salad.

Sicilian Tomato Almond Pesto

Photo credit: Nicole Gaffney.

This easy Sicilian Tomato Almond Pesto recipe is amazing tossed with pasta, smeared on bread, or paired with grilled meats, fish, and vegetables. Get the recipe for Sicilian Tomato Almond Pesto.

Lemon Pan-Fried Potatoes with Chive Pesto

Photo credit: Alexandra Caspero.

The perfect side dish for the holidays. Vegan and gluten-free. Get the recipe for Lemon Pan-Fried Potatoes with Chive Pesto.

Better Than Starbucks Turkey Pesto Panini (Copycat)

Photo credit: Emily Dingmann.

Love the Starbucks turkey pesto panini and wondering if you can make it even BETTER? Yes, you most definitely can. This turkey panini has major layers of flavor: melty provolone cheese, flavorful pesto, deli turkey, and roasted red peppers for a little punch. Just like my tomato mozzarella panini (also a Starbucks copycat), I add a ton more filling than the version you’ll get at Starbucks so it’s extra-delicious. Get the recipe for Better Than Starbucks Turkey Pesto Panini (Copycat).

Red Pesto Pasta with Roasted Vegetables

Photo credit: Emmeline Kemperyd.

Done in under 30 minutes with just 15 minutes of active prepping & cooking this red pesto pasta is packed with veggies & flavor. Easy to make with homemade or store bought pesto – and with a great recipe for the homemade version included. Get the recipe for Red Pesto Pasta with Roasted Vegetables.

Easy Basil Almond Pesto

basil almond pesto.
Photo credit: Stephanie Gravalese.

Basil almond pesto? Finally, a pesto recipe without pine nuts! This basil almond pesto recipe comes together in just a few minutes and is an excellent option for fresh pesto without pine nuts which can be pretty expensive. Get the recipe for Easy Basil Almond Pesto.

30 Minute Pesto Chicken, Kale + White Bean Soup

Photo credit: Nicole Gaffney.

This 30 Minute Pesto Chicken, Kale + White Bean Soup is the perfect cozy recipe to whip up on a cold night when you want something healthy and easy. Get the recipe for 30 Minute Pesto Chicken, Kale + White Bean Soup.

2-Ingredient Crockpot Pesto Chicken Thighs

Photo credit: Emily Dingmann.

You won’t believe how simple and easy this crockpot pesto chicken recipe is! Made with just chicken thighs and pesto (plus salt and pepper!), this chicken essentially cooks itself in the slow cooker, leaving you with pieces of chicken that have tons of flavor and are super juicy. Then serve these pesto chicken thighs as a part of a meal or pair with pasta or rice and a veggie for a simple, nutritious, and delicious meal. It’s also delicious in sandwiches like turkey pesto panini or tomato mozzarella panini. Get the recipe for 2-Ingredient Crockpot Pesto Chicken Thighs.

Lentil Pasta With Arugula Pesto

Photo credit: Emily Dingmann.

It’s not just any bowl of pasta though. It’s LENTIL pasta. And it’s ARUGULA pesto. Yums all the way around because it’s absolutely delicious and it’s absolutely good-for-you. Get the recipe for Lentil Pasta With Arugula Pesto.

Shrimp Zucchini Pasta With Avocado Pesto Alfredo

Photo credit: The Gracious Pantry.

This shrimp zucchini pasta with avocado pesto alfredo is delicious and low-carb! Zucchini noodles are really becoming a favorite around this house. Even Mini Chef can’t seem to get enough of them. In fact, I’m down to my last bag of pasta because we simply prefer zucchini. It’s light, filling, filled with nutrients and you don’t feel like you have a brick in your tummy when you’re done eating. Get the recipe for Shrimp Zucchini Pasta With Avocado Pesto Alfredo.

Italian Chicken Pesto Sandwich

Photo credit: Xoxobella.

An Italian chicken pesto sandwich is a bistro-inspired, gourmet treat. Toasty bread pairs with juicy chicken and creamy pesto sauce in this recipe which makes an easy and quick dinner or lunch. This Italian sandwich, which is one of my favourites, can be made on ciabatta rolls or focaccia bread. The tender grilled chicken, creamy pesto sauce, fresh mozzarella, fresh tomato, and more, make this a deliciously satisfying meal. Get the recipe for Italian Chicken Pesto Sandwich.

Easy And Elegant Arugula Pesto Pasta With Almonds And Burrata

Photo credit: Cara, The Gourmet Bon Vivant.

This arugula pesto pasta is quick, easy and beautiful. The pesto comes together in less than five minutes in the food processor (not kidding), and after that, you just need to add a bit of pasta water, and the burrata for a kick-ass, gourmet meal that you can make any night of the week. Get the recipe for Easy And Elegant Arugula Pesto Pasta With Almonds And Burrata.

Basil Pesto Chicken Breast

Photo credit: Emily Dingmann.

You’ll love this summer fresh basil pesto chicken recipe! This is no boring old chicken dinner, this pesto chicken breast is topped with pesto, mozzarella cheese and baked until melty. Then it’s topped with a fresh tomato topping, highlighting the best summer flavors. Make this pesto mozzarella chicken with just 5 basic ingredients and 20 minutes. Get the recipe for Basil Pesto Chicken Breast.

Lentil Hand Pies with Walnut Pesto

Photo credit: Alexandra Caspero.

Lentil salad stuffed into homemade pie crust. Perfect for picnics, potlucks or lunches! Get the recipe for Lentil Hand Pies with Walnut Pesto.

Cauliflower Pesto with Crispy Tofu

Photo credit: Alexandra Caspero.

Cauliflower Pesto Pasta! Creamy, dairy-free pesto-cauliflower sauce with crispy seared tofu and whole-wheat pasta. Get the recipe for Cauliflower Pesto with Crispy Tofu.

Fettuccini with Arugula Pesto and Sweet Corn

Photo credit: Alexandra Caspero.

Fettuccini with Arugula Pesto and Sweet Corn – the perfect pasta for summer! Get the recipe for Fettuccini with Arugula Pesto and Sweet Corn.

Instant Pot Pesto Parmesan Pork Chops

Photo credit: Corrie Cooks.

Here’s a simple main dish to add to your weeknight dinner rotation: tender and juicy pork chops enriched with creamy parmesan cheese and topped with Italian pesto sauce. YUM! Get the recipe for Instant Pot Pesto Parmesan Pork Chops.

Air Fryer Parmesan Pesto Crusted Salmon Fillets

Photo credit: Xoxobella.

Fish comes out perfect when you’re using the air fryer and parmesan pesto crusted salmon fillets are no exception. This is a simple air fryer salmon recipe which includes parmesan, garlic and homemade pesto. If you love the flavours of Italy, you will definitely enjoy this pesto salmon that is a super quick salmon dinner. This Italian salmon recipe is the easy way to cook salmon fillet. Get the recipe for Air Fryer Parmesan Pesto Crusted Salmon Fillets.

Eggplant Pesto Stack

pesto stack.
Photo credit: Alexandra Caspero.

I recently had a similar version of this dish at Michelangelos, one of our favorite restaurants in Sacramento. It is my go-to dish there and I wanted to recreate it at home. Their version uses cheese in the layers but I wanted to make it healthier and lower-fat, using ricotta cheese in place. Get the recipe for Eggplant Pesto Stack.

20 Favorite Side Dishes To Pair With Burgers

macaroni slaw.
 Photo Credit: Dédé Wilson.

 Here are 20 of our favorite side dishes to pair with burgers, from oven-baked fries (2 kinds), green salads to hearty potato and pasta sides, even a quick stovetop mac and cheese. READ: 20 Favorite Side Dishes To Pair With Burgers

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  • Dede Wilson

    Dédé Wilson is a journalist with over 17 cookbooks to her name and is the co-founder and managing partner of the digital media partnership Shift Works Partners LLC, currently publishing through two online media brands, FODMAP Everyday® and The Queen Zone.

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