Pesto Substitutes

Pesto Substitutes

This article provides an overview of pesto, what it tastes like, its availability, alternative names, and of course what other ingredients make pesto substitutes.

What is Pesto?

Pesto is a thick green sauce originating in Genoa, the capital city of Liguria, Italy. It consists traditionally of crushed garlic, pine nuts, salt, basil leaves, and hard cheese such as parmesan cheese, all blended together with olive oil.

The name originates from the Genoese verb pestâ, which means to ‘crush’ or ‘pound’.

What does Pesto taste like?

Pesto has an intensely rich herbaceous flavor, from the basil, and a salty, savory, pungent flavor from the cheeses and pine nuts. Traditional pesto should notably garlicky, with a delicious grassiness from the olive oil.

Is Pesto readily available in Supermarkets?

Pesto should be readily available in most supermarkets, often located in the condiments and sauces aisle or in a fresh form, in the deli section.

What are some alternative names for Pesto?

Pesto is also commonly known as Pesto alla Genovese or Genoese Pesto. 

What is a good substitute for Pesto in recipes?

Luckily, there are a number of great substitutes for pesto. These include:

  • Pesto has a unique and complex flavor profile that is hard to match. Therefore if you need a substitute, it is best to make your own, which is in fact surprisingly easy.
  • The next best option would be to use basil or parsley oil, especially if used as a marinade or vinaigrette. Another option would be Chimichurri, although it does lack the basil element.