Basil Arugula Pesto

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Once you make this Basil Arugula Pesto, you will never go back to store-bought pesto again! A few fresh ingredients and about 5 minutes and you have a fresh pesto you’ll be making over and over!

Basil Arugula Pesto in a small bowl with basil and Parmesan cheese

In all of my years of cooking, I have refused to make homemade pesto. Why??! Because I LOVE Cotsco’s Kirkland brand pesto so much and use it on everything, so I figured why waste the time??!

It was a leftover bag of arugula I had sitting in my fridge that convinced me to make this recipe. I thought I’d give it a try and see what happened. Friends, I can NEVER go back to Kirkland.

After making this homemade basil arugula pesto, I compared it to the Kirkland brand and it wasn’t even CLOSE. In short, this pesto is AMAZING! And I was shocked how easy it was!

This pesto is super versatile, too! With a batch of this sauce, you can make my Quick and Easy Tuna Pesto Pasta, my Easy, Creamy Pasta with Green Sauce and this amazing Caprese Pesto Orzo Salad!

Want another fresh take on pesto? You have to try this Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto!


The ingredients for this recipe are fresh and simple! And since we’re using a food processor or blender, there is no heavy duty chopping involved!

Basil: This recipe is a great way to use extra basil if you have an abundance in your garden! (I never have this problem because let’s just say keeping plants alive is not my forte!)

Arugula: People typically think of basil when making pesto but arugula gives the pesto this freshness that is just DIVINE!!!! Plus, it’s super cheap, and the bags they sell at the grocery store always have SO MUCH arugula in them! I will make a few salads and still have half the bag left. Making this pesto is a great way to use that up!

Garlic: A must 🙂

Lemon Juice: Adds such a great freshness and the amount in this recipe prevents the pesto from being bitter.

Parmigiano-Reggiano or Parmesan Cheese: I prefer freshly grated for maximum freshness and flavor, but pre grated works fine too–whatever you have on hand!

Olive Oil: This pesto does not have a TON of olive oil–I cannot stand super oily pestos! Any EVOO is fine but remember, the better quality the olive oil, the better quality the pesto 🙂

Salt: Just a pinch!

Ingredients needed to make Basil Arugula Pesto.


I was shocked at how easy this pesto is to make!

Step 1: Add basil, arugula, garlic, Parmesan and lemon juice to the food processor or blender. I use my Cuisinart 14 Cup Food Processor. If you are making a smaller batch, you can use a smaller food processor like this one or a Nutri Bullet. Blend for about 10 seconds.

How to make Basil Arugula Pesto Step 1. All ingredients in the food processor.

It should look like this when blended.

Basil, arugula and cheese blended in food processor

Step 2: Add in olive oil and salt. Then blend for 10 more seconds until olive oil is completely incorporated into the pesto. If the pesto looks too thick, add in a splash (about a tablespoon) of water and blend for a few more seconds. That’s it! DONE!

Blended with olive oil, salt and a splash of water:

Finished pesto in food processor


What causes bitter pesto?

If you have made pesto in the past, sometimes it can come out bitter because of one of the mirconutrients (polyphenols) contained in the olive oil. When this is blended in the food processor, this micronutrient can be released into the pesto and make it bitter.

Is Basil Arugula Pesto bitter?

Nope! I have combated any bitterness in this recipe by adding the appropriate amount of lemon juice and Parmesan cheese to ward off any bitter flavor! All you’ll taste is freshness 🙂

Can you make this pesto with nuts?

Absolutely. I have chosen to make this basil arugula pesto nut free but you can absolutely add nuts! Pine nuts are traditional but you can also try adding walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, pecans or even sunflower seeds. I’d start with a few tablespoons of nuts and see how you like the taste. You can always add more!

How do you use this basil arugula pesto?

Sooooo many options! You can just stir it into any pasta for a quick meal! You can also make my Caprese Pesto Orzo Salad that is perfect for summer grilling! Other options:

  • Use it on sandwiches like a spread
  • Use it as a dip for bread and veggies
  • Spoon it over eggs
  • Stir it into roasted or stir fried veggies
  • Spoon it over fish, chicken or steak
  • Stir it into mashed potatoes
  • Mix with butter to make pesto butter


This recipe makes about 1 heaping cup of pesto, so if you are mixing it in with a pound of pasta or my Pesto Orzo Salad, you won’t have too much leftover!

However, it will keep about 5-7 days in an airtight container in the fridge. I like storing the pesto in a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Pesto also freezes well!!! You can freeze it in the same airtight jar or container for up to 6 months.

I have seen other people pour the pesto into ice cube trays, freeze, then store the cubes in a freezer bag. I haven’t tried this, but but it seems like a great idea if you only think you will use a little pesto at a time.

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A spoonful of Basil Arugula Pesto.

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I hope you love this Basil Arugula Pesto! If you make it be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked it. Enjoy, xo!

Basil Arugula Pesto

Casey Rooney
Once you make this Basil Arugula Pesto, you will never go back to store bought pesto again! A few fresh ingredients and about 5 minutes and you have a fresh pesto you'll be making over and over!
4.80 from 5 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Appetizer, Salad
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 1 cup


  • 4 cups basil leaves
  • 4 cups arugula
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, halved
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp water, if needed (See Note 1)


  • Add basil, arugula, garlic and lemon juice and Parmesan to food processor or blender. Blend for about 10 seconds.
  • Add olive oil and salt and blend about 10 more seconds until olive oil is well incorporated (emulsified) into the pesto.
  • If your pesto is too thick, add 1 tablespoon of water, then blend 10 more seconds (See Note 1).


After you blend your pesto with the olive oil, if you think it’s too thick add a 1 tablespoon of water. Don’t add more than that, otherwise you will get a watered down taste. 
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4.80 from 5 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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  1. I love pesto pasta and when i tried this pesto sauce I was super tempted with its aroma. Me and my girls had a delicious pasta dinner because of your fantastic pesto sauce.

  2. Yum! I have so much garden basil that pesto has been big for me this summer. This recipe is not oily which is awesome. I love the addition of arugula and lemon juice. I added toasted pine nuts as well and once tossed with pasta added some pasta water until creamy. Also used an emulsion hand blender.

  3. Wow. I am impressed. You did finished it in two steps. I would definitely give it a try. I had one question though. I have some unfinished pesto left. Can we store them for a week maybe? or we cant?

  4. I’m with you on never wanting to make pesto because I also have a favorite store brand. Your recipe truly makes it sound so easy though! I’ll have to give it a try!