Pesto Pasta

Fresh, hearty, and herbaceous: this pesto pasta is indulgent with healthy ingredients, from beautiful basil to tangy parmesan and nutty pine nuts for a most delicious dish!

Pesto Pasta

Looking for a fresh meal that’s deliciously indulgent while also being packed with healthy ingredients? Then you’ve arrived at the right place.

Today, we’re making Pesto Pasta that’s herbaceous, beautifully green, just the right amount of salty, and packed with fresh basil, creamy pine nuts, and tangy parmesan. This recipe will make dinner easy and delicious.

And, if you’re looking for more easy past dinner recipes, you have to try my wonderfully easy Garlic Butter Pasta and my bright & flavorful Tomato Basil Pasta.

Fresh, Hearty, Whole Ingredients

My favorite way to make pesto pasta is with the fewest amount of ingredients for the biggest taste. This pesto pasta recipe is packed with flavor, but includes the fewest amount of ingredients.

  • Penne pasta – if you’d like you can swap the penne with macaroni, fusilli, and more!
  • Homemade pesto – this is a recipe for vegan pesto that can easily be made with your parmesan of choice.
  • Fresh basil
  • Pine nuts – you can use any kind of nut. Some people like using almonds, while others prefer walnuts.
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Parmesan – you can use freshly-grated parmesan, dairy-free parmesan, or nutritional yeast.
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Closeup photo to show texture of this Pesto Pasta Recipe

How to Make Pesto Pasta

We’re going to learn how to make pesto pasta with a few simple and easy steps. Follow along below to see me go step-by-step.

Remember, this is just a visual overview. The recipe with precise ingredients and instructions can be found lower in the post, in the recipe card. 

How to Make Pesto Pasta Sauce

If you’re wondering how to make pesto pasta sauce for pasta, here’s how to do so.

The first step in this recipe is making my vegan pesto. If you’re not vegan, you can choose to use freshly-grated parmesan, or use store-bought pesto sauce.

Click here for the exact pesto recipe.

Add all pesto sauce ingredients to a food processor. This includes garlic, fresh basil, parmesan, pine nuts, olive oil, and salt and pepper.

Two photos showing How to Make Pesto Pasta – blending pesto ingredients in a food processor

Blend everything together except half of the basil. Then, add in the remaining basil and blend until chunky.

Two photos showing How to Make the sauce for this recipe – adding basil

Blend while slowly adding in olive oil, stopping when you get the desired texture.

Now, store your homemade pesto in an airtight container in the fridge while you prepare the pesto pasta recipe.

Two photos showing How to Make the sauce for this recipe – adding oil

Make the Pesto Pasta

First, bring a large pot of water to boil. Then, add in a big pinch of salt. Cook until nearly tender. Set aside ¼ cup pasta water for later.

Drain pasta, then toss with olive oil.

Two photos showing How to Make Pesto Pasta – cooking pasta and tossing with oil

Next, pour pasta water over pasta. Using a heatproof spatula, toss until pasta is coated.

Two photos showing How to Make Pesto Pasta – tossing with pasta water

Now, go to the refrigerator and grab your jar of pesto sauce. Pour the pesto over the pasta. Then, toss the pasta with pesto.

Two photos showing How to Make this recipe – coating pasta with pesto sauce

Continue tossing with the spatula until every piece of pasta is evenly coated in pesto sauce.

Two photos showing How to Make this recipe – finishing the dish

Lastly, transfer pesto pasta into serving plate. Then, garnish with basil and pine nuts.

Top with vegan parmesan and salt & pepper to taste. Enjoy the best ever pesto pasta recipe!

How to use pesto from a jar with pasta

If you’re wondering how to use pesto from a jar with pasta, here’s the quick overview.

Simply grab your favorite pesto, cook pasta according to the package directions, and then toss the pasta with the pesto.

Add more pesto if you like your sauce on the heavier side, less if you like it less saucier.

If the pesto sauce from a jar is too thick, drizzle some olive oil over your pasta to thin it out. If it’s too thin, add in some parmesan to thicken it.

If you feel like making it homemade instead, try my pesto recipe.

What to add to Pesto Pasta

Now that you’ve made this delicious pesto pasta, you’re wondering what to add to it. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Fresh Veggies: Fresh basil is the classic choice, but you can add arugula for an added bite, some spinach for iron, oven-roasted brussels sprouts for volume, and pretty much anything you prefer!
  • Garlic Confit: Love garlic? Then this one’s for you. Homemade garlic confit brings out the deep, rich, and delicious flavor of this ingredient. Bonus? It complements pesto pasta so wonderfully. Just add on top of this recipe, or smear on a piece of toast.
  • Nuts: I used pine nuts, but you can use almost any nut you prefer: walnuts, pecans… or try toasted slivered almonds!
  • Sun-Dried Tomatoes: My sister loves adding sun-dried tomatoes to pretty much any pasta recipe—and for good reason. It’s salty, tasty, and adds a beautiful red color to your dish.
  • Protein: Add any protein that you’d like! I’ve added tofu, tempeh, and so much more.
  • Crispy Breakfast Potatoes: Yeah, I said it! 😉 Have you ever tried potatoes + pesto? The combination is so utterly fantastic. Serve these potatoes on the side, or toss with pesto for a lovely treat.
The finished recipe in a pot with a yellow spatula

Pesto Pasta Q&A

You’ve got a few questions, like, “Is pesto pasta healthy?” and “How much pesto for 1 lb of pasta?” I’ve got the answers you’ve been looking for. 

Is Pesto Pasta Healthy?

Most pesto pasta recipes are made with an abundance of cheese and oil, and are therefore not terribly healthy.

In today’s pesto pasta recipe, I’ve used as little oil and parmesan as possible to make it on the healthier side without sacrificing taste.

As such, each 1/4 recipe serving is 14.5g of protein, 7mg cholesterol, 300mg sodium, and 35g of fat.

How much Pesto for Pasta?

How much pesto for 1 lb pasta? I do about 6 ounces of pesto per ½ lb of pasta. So that means 12 oz of pesto per 1 lb of pasta.

Use more if you like your pasta saucier, less if you like it lighter.

What to do with pesto besides pasta?

You can add pesto to the top of toasted baguettes, top a bowl of rice with some added protein for a quick meal, and toss pesto with salad for a low carb meal, and even use it as a sauce for pesto lasagna.

You can also use pesto as a sauce for homemade pizza, as a spread for a sandwich, wrap or panini, and use it as a dipping sauce for crackers, cheese, and so much more!

What to serve with Pesto Pasta

Dining table with this recipe plated and served with fresh basil

Tools You Need

The Besto Pesto Pasta!

I hope you have as much fun making these recipe as I did! If you make a recipe, please take a pic and share it on Instagram or Facebook, tagging me @beamingbaker and #beamingbaker. I truly love seeing it! ‘Til our next delicious adventure together…

Sending you all my love and maybe even a dove, xo Demeter ❤️

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a bowl of pesto pasta topped with basil

Pesto Pasta

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5 from 2 reviews


Fresh, hearty, and herbaceous: this pesto pasta is indulgent with healthy ingredients, from beautiful basil to tangy parmesan and nutty pine nuts for a most delicious dish!




Tools Needed

  • Food processor
  • Large pot with strainer
  • Oil pour bottle
  • Heatproof spatulas
  • Salt and pepper grinders
  • Pasta bowls


  • 1 recipe vegan pesto or 57 oz jarred pesto, to taste
  • A big pinch of salt
  • ½ lb penne pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup basil leaves
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ½ cup parmesan of choice
  • Salt and pepper to taste



  1. Prepare vegan pesto. Transfer to a small, airtight container. Cover with a thin layer of olive oil. Refrigerate until needed.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add in a big pinch of salt. Add in pasta. Cook until nearly tender, but still firm (al dente).
  3. Reserve ¼ cup pasta water.
  4. Drain pasta and keep in pot, removing from heat. Place on a heatproof surface.
  5. Drizzle olive oil over pasta. Toss to coat—this will prevent the pasta from sticking.
  6. Add pasta water to pot. Toss again to coat.
  7. Pour pesto over cooked pasta. Toss until well coated.
  8. Transfer into serving plates. Garnish with basil leaves and pine nuts.
  9. Top with parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!



Storing Instructions: Enjoy immediately. If needed, cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-3 days.

How to make Vegan: Make vegan pesto and use vegan parmesan for topping.

How to make Gluten Free: Use gluten free penne pasta and GF-certified parmesan.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Lunch, Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

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