Which is the best olive oil for pesto?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “which is the best olive oil for pesto?” with an in-depth analysis of which is the best olive oil for pesto. Moreover, we will also discuss how you can add olive oil to pesto and the substitutes for olive oil in the pesto.

Which is the best olive oil for pesto?

Extra virgin olive oil is the best for pesto. It doesn’t need to be expensive, but it should be extra virgin olive oil, not just regular olive oil. You don’t cook a pesto, so the flavor of the olive oil will stand out.

Why is extra virgin olive oil the best for making pesto?

Because pesto is such a strong sauce, anything you do to reduce its pungency just a little and steer it toward a sweeter, rounder-flavored sauce will help. That includes selecting a good, extra virgin olive oil; using Pecorino Sardo cheese instead of Romano; and not toasting the pine nuts.

Can you use regular olive oil in pesto?

In a traditional basil pesto, the garlic goes in raw, but in many of these recipes, its heat is reduced by blanching it in oil or roasting it to let the other flavors shine. Similarly, you can use regular olive oil, not extra-virgin, because the latter can mask subtle flavors and tends to become bitter in the food processor.

What makes the pesto turn out bitter?

Extra-virgin olive oil contains bitter-tasting polyphenols coated by fatty acids, which prevent them from dispersing. If the oil is emulsified in a food processor, these polyphenols get squeezed out and the liquid mix turns bitter.

How do you stop pesto from getting bitter?

Strong flavors can help overcome slight bitterness in pesto. Add more cheese, garlic,, or extra nuts to help counteract the bitterness. If the basil is to blame, try mixing it with an equal part of non-bitter greens, including more basil or some spinach.

What can you add to pesto to make it better?

  • Add more basil leaves. 
  • Add more garlic.
  • Add roasted garlic. 
  • Add more pine nuts.
  • Add bacon.
  • Add blue cheese.
  • Add roasted bell peppers. 
  • Add roasted tomatoes.

Why should you add extra virgin olive oil to pesto?

Sweet, rich pine nuts are the standard in basil pesto, but you could substitute another mild-flavored nut, such as walnuts or almonds. Choose extra-virgin olive oil for the best basil pesto. Usually preferable is a mild, fruity oil rather than a peppery one since the sauce already gets some heat from black pepper and raw garlic.

What can you substitute for olive oil in pesto?

Olive oil is traditional and delicious, but a neutral oil like canola or grapeseed could be swapped in if you didn’t want olive oil’s particular grassiness distracting from other flavors.

How do you make pesto sauce with olive oil?



  • Place pine nuts in a toaster oven on a pan and toast until golden brown and fragrant. Be careful not to blacken. Alternatively, toast nuts in a heavy skillet, shaking frequently, until golden brown and fragrant.
  • Place basil, pine nuts, garlic, and salt in a food processor work bowl fitted with a steel blade. Process until smooth. With the motor running, add California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil in a steady stream. During processing, if necessary, stop the food processor and use a spatula to scrape the downsides. Transfer pesto mixture to a bowl. Add cheese.
  • If making pasta, reserve ½ cup of cooked pasta water. Add ¼ cup of hot pasta water to pesto and Parmesan cheese mixture to melt the cheese. Add additional water to adjust pesto to desired consistency.
  • Toss pasta with pesto. Freshly grate additional Parmesan cheese atop individual pasta servings, if desired.

Can you replace sunflower oil with olive oil in pesto?

Yes, sunflower oil can be used in place of olive oil in the pesto. It works as a 1on 1 substitute for olive oil. Find an organic version of this oil if you can. The organic version has a neutral flavor and is pretty interchangeable with olive oil, which has a stronger, more robust flavor.

Which oil is better than olive oil?

Canola oil has a higher smoke point than olive oil and a neutral flavor, so it is better for higher heat cooking, such as roasting and frying.

Does pesto have butter in addition to olive oil?

Yes, it does. In a couple of recipes, including Marcella Hazan’s in The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, a small amount of butter is worked into the pesto in addition to the olive oil.


In this brief guide, we have answered the question “which is the best olive oil for pesto?” with an in-depth analysis of which is the best olive oil for pesto. Moreover, we have also discussed how you can add olive oil to pesto and the substitutes for olive oil in the pesto.



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