Pesto Season -- Freezing Tactics?

Now an empty-nester, I find I don’t have as many mouths around as needed to keep up with the Basil. I wanted here to sound out my thinking about a freezer approach. It makes sense to me that I should simply mash the leaves with some olive oil and freeze that as cubes, reserving the rest (pine nuts, parm, salt) for after the thawing.

I’d also welcome thought on proportions in final pesto. I always just kind of eyeball it, but I do know it turns out a bit better or less so from time to time.

p.s.: thinking of doing something akin for Chimichurri.


Watching because my basil plant is going like gangbusters on my deck, and I don’t want to lose it. My inclination would be to combine the basil leaves with the pine nuts and oil, and freeze in cubes or dollops on parchment paper that way, adding the Parm and salt later. The freezing would help any rancidity from the pine nuts occurring, I think.

But I’ll be interested in what others say.

Finished pesto freezes fine.



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When I make a batch of pesto Genovese (that is the only kind I make), I mix it all up, place in an ice cube tray of 1/4 c. portions, cover and freeze. The cubes then get put in the freezer in a double zipper bag for use later. When needed, I just pull what I need out and defrost at room temp. Smaller cubes have been made in the past; they are handy when making pesto mayo. I have heard that some just make up the basil, garlic and olive oil base and freeze and then add the parma and nut ingredients later at the time of serving.

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I also have 0 problems freezing finished Pesto. I freeze in 6oz Deli Containers with a layer of Olive Oil on the top.


Always freeze completely finished pesto and it’s absolutely fine. Some of it I’ll freeze in small plastic tubs - maybe 1 cup or less. The rest I freeze in one of those large silicone ice cube trays - I think they hold about 1/4 cup or so. Handy for when you don’t need a lot. I can’t imagine why we’re told not to add the cheese and other stuff until the end. When I thaw my pesto it’s exactly as it was when fresh - texture, taste, everything.


Pesto freezes great, but I like the idea of basil leaves and olive oil which can be used in other applications. (Just check whether leaves would turn black, otherwise process into a pate with the oil.)

I find that strong flavors linger in my ice cube trays, so either have a set reserved for just these kind of things, or use a ziplock bag instead - if you flatten it out to a thin layer, you can break off a piece in lieu of a cube. (I’ve also used my finger or a chopstick to make even indentations when it’s half frozen, to make snapping off easier later.)


I think your original approach is sound, especially if you use basil/EVOO for more than pesto… but finished pesto will freeze just as well.

My biggest issue is that stuff like this sticks horribly in my current ice cube trays, and makes cleanup kinda a mess. So I freeze it in Talenti gelato pint containers I always keep/wash/reuse. They have an airtight lid, seem to be dishwasher safe (heated dry off), and are essentially free if you like Talenti gelato.

Also use these for leftover chili, marinara, stock, etc.

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I actually do both. Fully prepared pesto and some basil chopped up with olive oil. I do the olive oil/basil in cubes and store them in a container in the freezer. Perfect to toss into something that needs basil. Frozen basil isn’t really a substitute for fresh, but since it’s my own home grown, I forgive its faults.

I had this issue too, until I finally started weighing my ingredients. I settled on 6 parts basil, 2 parts each cheese and nuts, 1 part garlic and about 4 parts oil, plus salt to taste. I often buy 1 lb boxes of basil at Restaurant Depot, which end up yielding about 12 oz of leaves after removing stems. So, the recipe is:

12 oz basil leaves
4 oz cheese
4 oz nuts
2 oz garlic
8 oz oil (sometimes more or less depending on moisture level in other ingredients)

This makes a pretty thick pesto - I thin it with additional oil if I want a drizzle-able sauce, but we often use it as a spreadable condiment for grilled meats so I prefer to make it thicker and thin only if needed. It is easy to vacuum seal that way, too.


I’ve frozen fully made pesto for years with no problems and to much winter delight. However….I got two enormous bunches of basil yesterday and decided to just blitz the basil with olive oil, roasted garlic and a little salt. Into the freezer it went in little 1/2 cup plastic containers, which have proven to be a good size/amount for my cooking.


Your post motivated me to get off my duff and process the current batch of basil which was ready in my garden. I’ve been procrastinating for days, and was close to losing it to the heat. My thanks!

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