This Roasted Garlic Pesto Sauce is made with oven-roasted garlic in place of regular garlic. The roasted garlic caramelizes in the oven, creating a creamy, smooth flavor that adds a delicious twist to your traditional pesto. Mild and perfect for those sensitive to raw garlic, you'll want to put this on everything!
Pesto sauce is a summer staple in our house. I make big batches of it in late summer when my basil pots are overgrown. I then freeze it so I can enjoy it all winter long. Pesto is easy to make. Just throw all the ingredients in a food processor and presto- you've got pesto!
Traditional Italian pesto is made with raw garlic. However, the taste of raw garlic isn't for everyone. Roasting the garlic in the oven mellows out the sharp flavor found in garlic, and makes it easier to digest. Plus, no garlic breath!
Bonus- roasted garlic can be used in place of regular garlic for just about anything. Its creamy, nutty, and smooth flavor is rich and pairs perfectly with meats, fish, soup, pizza and so much more. So make a big batch today- you know you want to!
What is pesto?
Authentic Pesto is an Italian sauce made up of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, cheese (such as Parmesan), olive oil, salt, and pepper. Traditional pesto is made using a mortar and pestle (hence the word pesto- meaning "to crush"), but modern pesto is made using a food processor for easy blending.
Basil pesto is the most common, however, these days, you will find endless variations of pesto such as kale, spinach, and arugula to name a few. Either way, they are all easy and delicious to make.
What you will need
- Basil- Fresh basil.
- Roasted garlic- Instead of the usual raw garlic, you will first roast the garlic in the oven until it's nice and carmelized.
- Grated cheese- Parmesan is common, but you can use any hard cheese such as Locatelli or Pecorino Romano.
- Nuts- I often use pine nuts, but they are expensive. I have made pesto with walnuts, pecans, and pistachios, so any of those will work. To enhance their flavor, try toasting the nuts first. Sometimes you can even buy nuts already toasted.
- Olive oil- Choose a good one with a bold, fruity flavor.
- Salt and pepper
You will need some aluminum foil for roasting the garlic. For the pesto, you will need a food processor or blender. Because this makes a small batch, I prefer my food processor for mixing.
How to make roasted garlic pesto sauce
Pesto is very simple to make. Roasting the garlic is an added step, but so worth it.
Preheat the oven to 425℉. Remove the papery skin from the garlic head. Using a knife, cut ¼ -½ inch off the top of the garlic, exposing the cloves. Drizzle with olive oil, and wrap in aluminum foil.
Roast the garlic in the oven for 40-50 minutes, until the garlic is golden brown, soft and caramelized. Allow to cool slightly before handling.
Add all the ingredients to a food processor, and pulse on high until blended, adding more olive oil as needed to achieve the consistency of a sauce.
Use sauce immediately or store in a tight fitting jar.
If you plan on freezing your pesto, don't fill your jars to the top. You want about a half inch at the top because the sauce will expand as it freezes.
Try toasting your nuts for added flavor. You can toast them in a non-stick pan for a few minutes on medium. Just watch them closely so they don't burn!
How to use garlic roasted pesto
- As a pasta sauce.
- Spice up your eggs.
- Add it to sandwiches, by mixing it with butter or mayo for a fresh spread.
- Drizzle on top of pizza.
- Blend it into soups.
- Elevate the flavor of roasted vegetables.
- Make a pesto dip with some Greek yogurt.
Variations and substitutions
- Any flavorful green can be substituted for the basil. Try using kale or spinach, or a combination of greens. Just make sure the greens are fresh for the best taste. You can even make a Thai version using Thai basil.
- Experiment with different nuts. Pine nuts can be expensive, so use what you have on hand. Pistachio and walnut are great options.
- Cheese- Instead of Parmesan, try Locatelli or Pecorino Romano, or a combination of cheeses.
- Garlic- To make traditional pesto, just skip the roasted garlic and use 2-3 cloves of raw garlic to taste.
You can store freshly made roasted garlic pesto sauce in airtight containers or tight-fitting jars in the refrigerator for up to one week.
If freezing, leave about a half inch at the top of the jars (the sauce will expand as it freezes). Freeze for up to 6 months. When ready to use, thaw the pesto, and freshen it up by adding a little olive oil.
Roasted Garlic Pesto Sauce
- aluminum foil
- food processor
- 1 head garlic
- olive oil for drizzling
Roasted Garlic Pesto Sauce
- 4 cups fresh basil, loosely packed
- 3 cloves roasted garlic
- ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ⅓-½ cup olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher or fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425℉. Remove the papery outer layer from the garlic. Using a knife, cut about ¼-½ inch off the tops of the garlic to expose the cloves. Drizzle with olive oil to coat, and wrap the garlic in aluminum foil. Place directly on the rack or a pan, and roast for 40-50 minutes until golden brown, soft, and caramelized. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.1 head garlic, olive oil for drizzling
Roasted Garlic Pesto Sauce
- Remove 3 cloves of garlic from the roasted garlic by squeezing it until the cloves pop out. Add the garlic and the remaining ingredients to a food processor and mix until blended, adding more olive oil as needed to reach a sauce-like consistency. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if needed.4 cups fresh basil, loosely packed, ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese, ¼ cup pine nuts, 3 cloves roasted garlic, ⅓-½ cup olive oil, ¼ teaspoon Kosher or fine sea salt, ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper