Basil Pesto

Update 2/18/19: Welcome to KetoCook! I have been developing ketogenic recipes since 2010 for my daughter who successfully manages Dravet’s Syndrome (epilepsy) with the ketogenic diet. You will find most of the recipes on this site make 1 serving. This is because her version of the ketogenic diet is so strict, nutritional requirements are met to the gram using a software program called the KetoDietCalculator. Please feel free to multiply the recipes to make larger servings. I am also in the process of adding standard measurements to many of the recipes, but this takes time! You can find many more recent keto recipes I have developed at the Charlie Foundation. It has been one of the biggest honors of my life to work with Jim Abrahams and continue the mission of the Charlie Foundation by developing and photographing recipes, writing eBooks and managing their social media outlets. I also consult with Cambrooke Therapeutics on their KetoVie Cafe line of prepared ketogenic foods available by mail. I hope you find this site useful on your keto journey!

Originally posted on 4/23/13

Pesto is certainly not a new recipe or idea… however, this recipe is now in the KetoDietCalculator under the “fat” category! You can make a big batch of this and weigh out just a small amount to add to a keto meal.  It’s a great way to add a LOT of flavor and increase the fat of a meal.  This was my standard recipe for pesto, the only change I made was using macadamia nuts instead of pine nuts.  You can’t even tell the difference.  I am using a 4oz clam-shell package of organic basil from Trader Joe’s.  4oz equals 114g, however, when I weighed the entire bunch of basil, it was closer to 130g.  Remove the thick stems to reduce it to 114g. I also recommend weighing the basil before washing it so you are not weighing excess water.  Store this in the refrigerator after making, you will know if you are using good quality olive oil if it solidifies when it is cold.  Stir very well before serving.  IF for some reason, your family will not eat the entire batch within 1 week… FREEZE IT! Weigh 10g servings in ice cube trays… once it is frozen,  transfer it to a baggie for long term storage.  You can use 1 cube at a time!  Hope you all enjoy!!

Makes about 1 pint

Ratio: about 9.62:1

Basil Pesto_edited-1


114g or 1 4oz package fresh basil

75g or 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, pulp and seeds removed

38g or 1/4 rounded cup whole unsalted macadamia nuts

25g or 1/4 level cup grated parmesan cheese (hard variety, not the green can!)

200g or 1 cup really good olive oil

salt/pepper/garlic powder


Combine the first 4 ingredients in a food processor.  Pulse a few times until the basil is finely minced and the cheese and nuts are evenly distributed.  Pour the oil in about 1/4 cup at a time.  Once all the oil is added, scrape the sides and add seasonings.  Let the food processor run until all ingredients are combined evenly.  You want this to be on the “smoother” side opposed to “chunky” since it is important to equally distribute the ingredients for ketogenic meals.

Store this in the refrigerator and stir very well before serving.  It is normal for high quality olive oil to solidify when it is cold.


  1. Hi Dawn, I am using fresh basil from the garden, 114g seems like a ton of basil. Are you adding the stems?

    • Hi Tina,
      It is a lot of basil! I do use some of the more tender stems, ones from the top of the plant… Not “woodier” ones from the bottom. I would say, this is about the equivalent of 1 fully mature plant. Try half the recipe first! Hope this is helpful, dawn

  2. Curious to know what kind of keto meals you serve pesto in? I can imagine over chicken and tomatoes as shown…

    • HI Lori, We eat pesto on almost everything! My favorite is sauce on pizza instead of tomato. We mix it into mayo as well to use as dip for veggies. Also, we eat it on all types of meat and fish and just use it as a dipping sauce. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

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