What Does Pesto Taste Like?  A Detailed Answer

Do you enjoy eating tasty, fresh food? Then you must try pesto, the reigning Italian sauce! The internet is awash in pesto. Pesto pasta, pesto salad, etc. Are you yet to try it and wondering what pesto tastes like? If so, you should read this article.


The flavor of pesto is earthy with a touch of nuttiness. The flavor of pesto is quite well-balanced and subdued. Because it contains cheese and olive oil, it has a slightly salty and creamy flavor.

Having pesto sauce only once will make anyone a lifelong fan. It has a very mild flavor. People love eating it all throughout the world. It is frequently used as a spread, dip, and pasta sauce.

Do you have second thoughts about eating pesto? If so, read on because we will discuss pesto flavors in great detail. Let’s examine pesto’s flavor, uses, health advantages, and more.

 What Is Pesto?


Pesto is a green multi-purpose sauce that originated in Italy. Pesto sauce has a long history and has been used since the 16th century. Pesto is also called Genovese. The pesto comes from the word pestare, which means “to crush.”

Pesto has basil, garlic, salt, olive oil, and cheese as its main ingredients and has a rich flavor. Even though it has a very vibrant flavor, it is one of the easiest-to-make Italian sauces. 

Pesto is widely used as a pasta sauce. Other than that, it can also be used as a side dish or a topping for both vegetable and meat and fish dishes. While tasty, pesto is also very healthy, thus making it one of the most loved sauce varieties worldwide. 

What Does Pesto Taste Like?


Pesto is a sauce that looks very healthy. It is green and is made of one of the healthiest ingredients. But what about taste? Are you intrigued to know the taste of pesto?

Pesto has a very mild nutty, earthy flavor with a hint of spiciness. The taste of garlic and basil is the first thing you’ll taste when eating pesto. Pesto has a very balanced flavor and a very creamy texture to it. This comes from the olive oil and cheese present in it.

In short, we can say that pesto has a garlicky, creamy taste with a hint of earthy notes. It easily blends into most recipes and pleasantly enhances the dish’s overall taste and aroma.

Even though pesto is a sauce, it doesn’t have a smooth texture. The original pesto was made using mortar, so the pesto’ texture would be a little chunky.

The thickness of pesto can be anything between thick and thin. That will depend upon the amount of olive oil used in the sauce. Many people prefer different consistency, and it’s a personal choice. 

Does Pesto Sauce Taste Good?


You must have heard people saying multiple things about pesto and its taste. While some people complain that it is spicy, others think it is bitter. But is that how it is?

The pesto sauce has a very good taste to it. Pesto sauce generally has a very vibrant and delightful herbal flavor. It’s very creamy with a hint of garlic and nuts, and it’s a perfect sauce for all your favorite dishes. 

Is Pesto Supposed To Taste Bitter?


It is a popular assumption that pesto tastes bitter. If you go to a restaurant where the cook doesn’t know how to make pesto, you can make this happen. 

Despite being a healthy condiment, pesto has a bitter taste. But mishaps in mixing can make your pesto bitter. The most common one is over grinding of olive oil.

Olive oil contains polyphenols, and when olive oil is blended, polyphenols come into action and impart an extremely bitter flavor to your dish. So next time you make pesto, blend the herbs separately and add olive oil to it.

Another reason could be the herbs you use in it. Some herbs taste bitter, and if they’re used more than other ingredients, the pesto could taste bitter. 

Why Is Pesto Spicy?


Pesto has a very light spicy taste to it. It comes from the main ingredients of pesto, which are garlic and basil. Even though pesto has a slight spiciness to it, the presence of cheese and olive oil in it rightly balances it out.

But if you think your pesto is too spicy, you can always dilute it with olive oil or lime juice. 

What Causes Pesto To Taste Like Soap?


Regardless of their excellent color and great ingredient list, some pesto might taste soapy. But if pesto doesn’t contain any artificial ingredients, then where does this taste come from?

Cilantro! Cilantro is responsible for the soapy taste in your pesto. But this soapy taste is not recognized by everyone. Only some people can perceive the soapy taste of cilantro. If you are one of them, get a cilantro-free pesto next time.

Why Does Pesto Taste Like Grass?


Seeing the vibrant green color and reading the ingredient list, we can assume that pesto has a grassy flavor. But when people first hear grassy, they assume it to be raw and tasteless. But is that what pesto tastes like?

Pesto does have a little grassy undertone! This comes from the olive oil and herbs used in preparing this dish. However, correctly prepared pesto only has a mild grassy flavor.

 But if it tastes too much like grass, then that’s not the right taste of pesto. If your pesto tastes grassy, it could be due to the incorrect combination of herbs. A good pesto always has a balanced flavor.

Does Pesto Taste Like Cheese?


Parmesan cheese, or Pecorino cheese, is one of the important ingredients for making pesto. Hence, pesto will have a light, creamy, cheesy flavor. However, the cheesy flavor is not too prominent in a well-balanced pesto.

But if you are a lover of cheese, there is no harm in adding some extra spoons of grated cheese to your pesto. However, too much cheese can dim the spicy, herbal flavor of the pesto.

What Does Pesto Taste Like In Pasta?


Pesto pasta is a favorite cult food. The light yellow pasta in green pesto sauce looks so delicious. Many people love pesto pasta so much that nowadays, it is widely available all around the world.

Pesto pasta has a very neutral flavor. The pesto provides a herbal, earthy taste to the pasta while enhancing its aroma. Even though pesto is a vibrant sauce, it gets easily mixed up with other ingredients. Hence, pesto pasta has a balanced flavor.

What Does Red Pesto Taste Like?


Green pesto is great; it has a balanced flavor, slight bitterness, and creamy texture. There is no way one will not like this sauce. But if you are a spice lover like me, you might feel a lack of spiciness.

If you do, then red pesto is the right one for you. Red pesto is the spicy version of normal pesto. Besides the basic ingredients like basil, olive oil, and garlic, It has sun-dried tomato and smoked red pepper as its main ingredients. 

The slight citrusy taste from the tomatoes and the spicy, smoky flavor of red pepper will make you fall in love with this spicy version of pesto. This single condiment offers you the spiciness you need to level up your food and the right amount of nutrition.

What Does Kale Pesto Taste Like?


From the beginning of this article, we have discussed basil leaves’ importance in pesto. Basil leaves are the ones that provide a minty, sweet flavor to the pesto. But what if we don’t have basil leaves?

When life doesn’t give you basil leaves, look for kale! Kale is the best substitute for basil when it comes to pesto. Kale has a more peppery flavor when compared to basil. Therefore, kale pesto will have a more spicy flavor.

What Does Pesto Mayo Taste Like?


If somebody asks you to choose between mayo and pesto, it’ll be too tough, right? So why compromise when you can have both in a single dish? Yes, pesto mayo is the perfect dish if you like pesto and mayo.

Pesto mayo has a slightly earthy, garlicky flavor and sweet, buttery mayo flavor. It has a smooth consistency similar to mayo and is a very easily spreadable dish.

It is extremely easy to make pesto mayo. Just mix pesto and mayo in equal quantities, and you are good to go. However, if you want, you could add a little lime juice to it for the perfect burst of flavors.

What Does Arugula Pesto Taste Like?


Arugula is one of the most readily available basil substitutes in pesto. But does a flavor change happen when we substitute basil with arugula? Yes, arugula as an herb has a little bitter flavor.

Hence, an arugula pesto will have a bitter taste to it. The bitter flavor of arugula is not too strong. The olive oil and cheese in pesto will evenly balance out this flavor.

Why Does My Pesto Taste Weird?


Sometimes, when we make or buy pesto, it will taste weird. We might have used the freshest ingredients and kept all the quantities just right. What could possibly have happened?

Over grinding is the reason for the bad/ weird taste of pesto. Many people make pesto into a thick, smooth sauce. However, that’s not the right texture for pesto. Pesto has a chunky texture, and there is a reason for it.

When ground overtly, many herbs, like basil, might develop a slightly bitter taste. Another mistake is the grinding of olive oil with other ingredients. Olive oil also delivers a weird taste to the food when ground thoroughly.

Hence, next time you are making pesto, keep its chunky texture. But if your store-bought pesto tastes weird, check its expiry date, and if it hasn’t expired, check with the store before eating it.

Different Types Of Pesto And Their Taste


Pesto is an extremely versatile sauce, and there are a lot of varieties of pesto. I think you can adjust the pesto’s flavor according to your taste palate. All varieties of pesto use olive oil, basil leaves, and cheese as their base ingredient. The ingredient that is added extra to it is what makes it special.

Name Of The Pesto Key Ingredient Used (Other Than The Basic One) Flavor Profile
Pesto Agli Agrumi Almonds, oranges, and lemon Nutty, tangerine flavor
Pesto Alla Trapanese Almonds, tomatoes. Nutty and sour flavor
Pesto Modenese Lardo, rosemary, or thyme Have a hint of umami flavor with a spicy undertone
Pesto Rosso Sun-dried tomatoes, almonds, roasted red pepper. Smoky Flavor
Salsa Verde Parsley and bread crumbs Slightly sweet with a hint of spiciness.
Pesto di Rucola Pepper Spicy
Parsley Pesto Parsley, Anchovies Spicy and herbal in flavor
Pesto di Pistacchio Pistachio, Lemon zest Sweet and Citrusy

How To Make Delicious Pesto?


After reading all this about pesto, you might feel it’s hard to make pesto sauce. But what if I tell you that you don’t have to be a chef to make this delicious sauce? This pesto sauce is so easy to make that even kids can prepare it.

Ingredients Needed

  • Fresh Basil
  • Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Cheese

Other than these, you can also use any fresh herbs of your choice

Method To Make Pesto

  1. Chop all the fresh ingredients like basil and garlic into small pieces. If you want, you can use a mortar, but otherwise, add all these with the pine nuts into a blender and blend them.
  2. Add olive oil, salt, and cheese to the mixture. Always add salt after adding cheese, as the cheese might already give a salty flavor to your dish.
  3. Fresh pesto is all ready to use.

 How Can You Use Pesto?


 Pesto is so vibrant and open to experimenting that pesto can be added to anything and everything. There are multiple ways in which pesto can be used. Some of the common ways are

  1. As a pasta sauce,
  2. As a spread on crackers and bread
  3. As a marinade for chicken and beef dishes
  4. side dish for eggs and vegetables.
  5. As a side dish.

How To Store Pesto The Right Way?


Pesto, like most sauces, goes bad. Not just that, when compared to other sauces like mayonnaise, pesto has a chance to go bad even earlier due to the presence of oil and herbal content in it. 

Therefore, storing it properly for prolonged shelf life is very important. The storage of pesto will depend upon whether it is a homemade one or a store-bought one.

Store-Bought Pesto

  • Store-bought pesto can be kept at room temperature or in the refrigerator when unopened.
  •  Once you open the jar, always make sure to keep the lid closed and keep it in the refrigerator.

Homemade Pesto

  • Due to the absence of preservatives, homemade pesto has a very short shelf life. Hence, once it is prepared, always keep it in the fridge.
  • Also, the freshness of pesto will be gone within a few days, so always try to use pesto within two or three days.
  • Always store the pesto in a container with too much space. The olive oil in pesto will react with air, and the pesto might develop a rancid taste.
  • If possible, always prepare a fresh batch of pesto.

If you are a die-hard fan of pesto and cannot afford to make pesto every alternate day, I have a tip for you. The best way to store pesto without losing its flavor is to freeze it.

Frozen pesto might have a texture change. However, the taste will almost remain the same. Hence, next time you have some leftover pesto with you, freeze it!

How Long Does Pesto Last?


Pesto, when compared to other condiments, has a short shelf life. When stored properly, freshly prepared homemade pesto can last up to 5 to 8 days. However, they may decay easily if you haven’t used the freshest ingredients.

Store-bought pesto, however, has a longer shelf life. While the pesto you pick from the refrigerated section might go bad, the unrefrigerated one will have a good shelf life. You can safely use refrigerated pesto sauce a day or two more than its expiry date.

How To Tell If Pesto Has Gone Bad?


Pesto uses herbs as its primary ingredient. Therefore, the chance of pesto getting spoiled is very high. So, even if you have stored it very well, make a quick check for any signs of spoiling before using it. Given below are some of the signs a spoilt pesto will have.

  1. Change in color: Pesto is green and will remain green when it is fresh. Any other color, like light yellow or brown, is an indication to toss it away.
  2. Mold: Not just humans but pests like mold also love it. If you see any sign of them, show some mercy and leave it to them while you make some fresh ones for yourself.
  3. Bad Smell: Pesto has a refreshing herbal flavor. But if the pesto turns smelly, your pesto has gone bad.

Health Benefits Of Pesto 


Pesto, as we have seen, carries a lot of herbs in it. It is not only tasty but also a very healthy dish to eat. There are multiple health benefits of pesto, some of which are listed below.

  1. Anti Inflammatory: The ingredients like olive oil and pine nuts present in the pesto have anti-inflammatory properties and are good for our bodies.
  2. Lower Blood Pressure: The garlic in pesto has the ability to control blood pressure. Eating pesto will keep your blood pressure in check.
  3. Reduces Blood Sugar: The basil present in the pesto has many advantages. It’s an age-old known medicinal leaf and has many medicinal properties. Keeping the perfect sugar level in the body is one of them.

Pesto, as we discussed, uses fresh herbs as its main ingredient. Hence, with every herb used, the medicinal property of the dish varies. However, whatever its ingredients, pesto is always a healthy dish.

Nutritional Content Of Pesto


Now that we have learned pesto’s health benefits let us look at its nutritional content. Since pesto is a sauce, we use it in a minimum quantity. Even then, it has a fair share of nutrition to offer us.

Nutrients Amount
Calories 263
Protein 6 g
Fat 24 g
Carbs 6 g
Sugar 0. 1 g


Pesto has a vibrant earthy garlicky taste to it. Pesto is something any of us can make at home. It’s so easy to make and has many health benefits. Even though it’s a simple sauce, it has the power to bring the best flavor to all the dishes to which it is added.

Hence if you haven’t tried pesto yet, give it a try and let us know what you think about this super cool, vibrant sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is so special about pesto?

Pesto is a dish that is widely used as a sauce in Italian food. Pesto is not just flavorful but is also very healthy.

How do you explain pesto?

Pesto is a sauce that uses basil leaves, olive oil, peanut, and cheese as its main ingredient. It has an earthy spicy flavor and is famous throughout the world.

What do you eat pesto with?

Pesto can be eaten as a sauce, spread as well as a dip. Hence it would go with bread, crackers, and pasta

How is pesto traditionally used?

Pesto is traditionally used as a pasta sauce.

Can you eat pesto straight from the jar?

Yes. There is no harm in eating pesto straight from the jar, however, it always tastes better when used as an ingredient.