24 Delicious Ways to Use Pesto

updated May 24, 2024
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Platter of pesto pasta salad with plates, forks, and napkins
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell

Fresh basil pesto is a delightful summer treat. While we love it tossed with fresh pasta, of course, we’ve also found that this fresh and flavorful sauce can be a versatile ingredient in all sorts of other dishes!

While you can buy tasty pesto at the store, it’s one of the easiest sauces to make at home, especially in the summertime when basil is plentiful and cheap. You can add a bit of heavy cream for a creamy pesto sauce or go dairy-free for a vegan pesto.

And while summertime brings an abundance of basil, the traditional herb in pesto, don’t be afraid to try other herbs or greens instead. Break the rules and make it with garlic scapes, sun-dried tomatoes, or walnuts and arugula. Yes, it’s technically not a true Italian pesto anymore, but since it’s summer, I think we can relax the rules and just focus on making a tasty sauce instead.

Mix pesto into creamy dips, use it as a pizza sauce, spread it on sandwiches, add it to your favorite salads, toss it with roasted summer vegetables, and use it as a sauce for grilled chicken or grilled fish.

From pastas and salads to pizzas and savory tarts, here are 24 ways to use pesto this summer.

1 / 24
Pesto Pasta

It might be the simplest dinner of all time! You can use either homemade pesto or store-bought pesto. Serve alongside garlic bread or a big green salad an easy weeknight dinner.

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2 / 24
Pesto Pasta Salad

Nothing says summer like tendrils of pasta, fresh mozzarella pearls, juicy tomatoes, and crunchy cucumber dressed in a basil pesto sauce. It's the perfect pasta salad for summer potlucks.

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3 / 24
Pesto Pizza

Upgrade pizza night with a tasty pesto base. Homemade pesto is delicious and a snap to put together, but it’s not necessary for this recipe. Any store-bought pesto you enjoy can be used here.

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4 / 24
Creamy Chicken Pesto Pasta

If you love a good basil pesto pasta and have a soft spot for creamy sauces, you are going to love pesto chicken pasta. An easy side dish, like a simple arugula salad, a fresh tomato salad, or some garlicky broccolini, rounds out this pasta dinner.

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5 / 24
Trenette al Pesto

Creamy tender, diced potatoes and crisp green beans add additional layers of texture and freshness combined all together in a dish that is another comforting way to enjoy flavorful pesto. 1 cup of store-bought basil pesto can be used in place of the homemade pesto in the recipe.

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6 / 24
Pesto Salmon with Burst Tomatoes

Your favorite store-bought pesto jazzes up salmon fillets in this flavor-packed skillet dinner.

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7 / 24
Caprese Couscous Salad

This quick, almost no-cook side dish features couscous, pesto sauce, cherry tomatoes, and mini mozzarella balls.

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8 / 24
One-Pot Pesto Tortellini with Broccoli

Here, a few smart cooking tricks elevate just 3 ingredients into a spectacular one-pot meal that really, truly wows.

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9 / 24
Pesto and Goat Cheese Tarte Soleil

This pull-apart puff pastry tart, stuffed with garlicky pesto and creamy goat cheese, looks fancy, but is secretly a breeze to pull off.

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10 / 24
Pesto Chicken Salad

Juicy, shredded chicken is tossed with a creamy combo of fresh pesto and mayo, and studded with sun-dried tomatoes for extra richness.

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11 / 24
Veggie Supreme Pizza

With a pesto-meets-ricotta white sauce and just enough mozzarella and Parmesan to hold the veggies in place, this pizza also hits all the right notes for a delicious, veggie-packed dinner in every single bite.

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12 / 24
Pesto Tortellini with Roasted Vegetables

An easy 5-ingredient recipe for cheese tortellini with pesto and a mix of roasted vegetables.

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13 / 24
Vegetable Pesto Puff Pastry Tart

Layers of veggies, feta cheese, and pesto sit atop buttery puff pastry.

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14 / 24
Summer Baked Potatoes with Ricotta, Blistered Tomatoes & Pesto

Baked potatoes get a summertime twist thanks to creamy ricotta, juicy tomatoes, and vibrant basil pesto.

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15 / 24
Stovetop Pesto Macaroni and Cheese

Tender shells and sharp cheddar keep it classically comforting, while a thick swirl of bright, vibrant pesto keeps it light with a sweet, herby punch.

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16 / 24
30-Minute Pesto Chicken with Burst Cherry Tomatoes

A quick and easy recipe for chicken breasts coated in pesto and baked with cherry tomatoes.

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17 / 24
Summer Vegetable Grain Salad

A light, wholesome quinoa summer salad packed with veggies and tossed in a pesto vinaigrette.

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18 / 24
Lemon-Garlic Whipped Feta with Pesto

An extra-creamy dip that's ideal served with pita chips, crostini, or vegetable crudité and a bottle of your favorite rosé.

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19 / 24
Mediterranean Tuna and White Bean Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette

An easy recipe for an Italian-inspired tuna and white bean salad with fennel, radicchio, and arugula in a tangy pesto vinaigrette. It’s the ultimate no-cook dinner for these warm summer nights.

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20 / 24
Easy Oven-Baked Risotto

Move your pot to the oven to serve creamy restaurant-style risotto with a fraction of the effort. Our version has crispy pancetta, pesto, and peas for a savory bite.

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21 / 24
French Bread Pesto Chicken Pizza

Layered on crispy French bread with fresh cherry tomatoes, sautéed chicken, and mozzarella cheese, it’s probably one of the fastest things (like 20 minutes fast!) to make for dinner that everyone at the table will be on board with.

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22 / 24
One-Pot Creamy Mushroom Pesto Pasta

In this 20-minute weeknight dinner, vibrant pesto and creamy mascarpone cheese combine to create a silky sauce that clings to the noodles.

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23 / 24
Creamy Pesto Spaghetti Squash

Homemade creamy pesto is a fast, flavorful way to upgrade mild-mannered spaghetti squash. It’s great as a super-fast summer main dish, or served alongside your favorite protein.

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24 / 24
Pesto Cream Tteokbokki

Chewy Korean rice cakes doused in a creamy, herbaceous-meets-spicy pesto sauce with bits of bacon and tomato.

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