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Can you make dried basil pesto? And does it even taste good? Someone asked us this question, and we set about to find out!

Dried basil pesto
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Can you make dried basil pesto? When someone asked us this question, our first thought was: why on earth would you want to? Fresh basil is one of the most delicious flavors on the planet: it’s peppery and herbaceous — not to mention a beautiful bright emerald green. Dried basil, on the other hand, tastes bitter and is a dull brown color. It’s also tough, with a texture kind of like a pile of brittle autumn leaves. So dried basil pesto? Not sure. But it got us to thinking…why not find out? As a little experiment, Alex and I took a stab at a recipe. Was it good? Keep reading to find out!

Dried basil pesto
Here’s the color difference: basil pesto vs dried basil pesto

Why make dried basil pesto?

That’s a great question. If you want to make classic pesto, we implore you: make our best basil pesto recipe! Head to your local grocery and find some fresh basil. Or grow your own at home. Or make a different type of pesto, like kale pesto. Or spinach pesto.

However, I suppose we can imagine a scenario where you really want to make a pesto with only pantry ingredients. And you don’t have any store bought pesto on hand…and you can’t order it from Amazon Prime because there’s an epic snowstorm.

So then — then would you want to make basil pesto? You read the part about how it tastes bitter, is dull brown, and has the texture of fallen leaves? OK, keep reading.

Dried basil pesto

How to make dried basil pesto

As an experiment, Alex and I mixed up a batch of dried basil pesto using the same method of traditional basil pesto, substituting the dried basil for fresh. We added dried basil, Parmesan cheese, nuts, garlic, and a little lemon juice to a food processor. We whizzed it up and it made a dull looking brown paste. (No surprise.) We took a taste, and…

Oddly enough…it tasted kind of, good? While it’s really nothing to look at, dried basil pesto is kind of tasty. I mean, what wouldn’t be with Parmesan and garlic? It does have a bit of a bitter aftertaste, but it’s actually not too bad. A huge surprise to us, for sure!

As you can see above, the color difference is quite stunning: so if you can swing it, fresh basil is absolutely worth it.

But if you promise you have no access to fresh basil, here’s how to make dried basil pesto:

  • Throw dried basil into a food processor with Parmesan cheese, garlic, cashews, lemon juice, and salt. Blend for a few seconds until combined.
  • Add olive oil in a steady stream until a thick sauce forms! Store 1 week in the refrigerator or several months frozen.
Basil pesto
Fresh basil makes our basil pesto and vegan cashew pesto bright green

Pesto recipes!

Outside of this dried basil pesto, we have several more pesto recipes that we’d recommend making:

Other sauce recipes

From homemade teriyaki to barbecue sauces, we’ve got dozens of fantastic sauce recipes here on A Couple Cooks! Here are some of our favorites:

This recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

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Dried basil pesto

Dried Basil Pesto

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 8 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 12 tablespoons 1x


Can you make dried basil pesto? And does it even taste good? Yes, through we recommend making it with fresh basil if at all possible! Here’s our recipe for dried basil pesto.


  • ¼ cup raw unsalted cashews, pine nuts, or walnuts
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 medium garlic clove, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil


  1. In a food processor, place all ingredients but the olive oil. Blend for a few seconds until fully combined.
  2. With the food processor on, add the olive oil in a steady stream. Continue to blend until combined and a thick sauce forms. Store 1 week in the refrigerator or several months frozen.
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Blended
  • Cuisine: Italian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. D ross says:

    I dry my pesto basil on a rack. It does not go brown . I pick it and wash it. Cold water. Then rack it. When it is dry it is still green and crispy..
    I put it in a coffee grinder and turn it into a coarse powder. It does not go brown.
    Excellent on tomatoes from the garden. Well everything.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I make a tub of your dried basil pesto at least once a month. We use so much pesto on a regular basis that fresh basil pesto wasn’t practical or within our means. Thank you!

  3. Rani says:

    A BIG THANKS! Now I know what to do with basil from my 2 plants. I have been sharing with friends and neighbors. Drying them will SAVE SPACE, be handy when needed and can share with family who appreciate the herbs.

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