Strawberry Basil Pesto Recipe

What do you do when your deepest desire is a little homemade pesto in your sandwich, but you discover with a sinking heart that you have but a handful of basil? Sure, you could go out and buy more, certainly, yes, that would be the sensible thing to do. But what if you can’t go out for some reason, say, because you’ve just painted your toenails, or because you’re expecting a delivery, or perhaps both?

Well, you open the fridge, and try to think out of the box: no fresh herb to speak of, no salad green either, but there, on the lower shelf, a small basket of ruby strawberries, batting their eyelashes up at you. Strawberries from Sologne, to be exact, with an oblong shape and a tingly flavor of fraises des bois.

As a few restaurant desserts have already proven, strawberries and basil are a felicitous pairing (think chilled strawberry soup infused with basil, or sliced strawberries atop a basil sorbet) so that will do.

And while you’re at it, why not replace the pine nuts with almonds? Strawberries enjoy their company so much.

And so the strawberries join their new pals for a little ride in the mixer — the mortar and pestle method would be a bit messy, you fear. You kind of hoped the resulting pesto would be at least a little pink, but it turns out the basil won’t have it that way.

Still, the pesto is baby green with teeny flecks of pink when you look really closely, and this is pleasing enough. You taste it, and rejoice at the balance of flavors: the basil continues to dominate — it is a strong-headed herb — but the strawberries add a flowery, acidulated undertone that brightens things up nicely.

The batch doesn’t make much, but since you feel this pesto won’t keep quite as long as the traditional one — more fresh ingredients, less olive oil — it’s just as well.

Two slices of levain bread receive a light toasting and a healthy spread of pesto, upon which strips of crimson jambon de montagne (dry-cured ham) and sliced tomatoes are layered.

The sandwich is assembled, sliced in two diagonally, and heartily enjoyed, just in time for the delivery guy to ring your neighbors’ door bell — however precisely you describe which door is yours, your explanations are unfailingly misinterpreted. Perhaps it would help if you actually had your name on your door, like normal people do?

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Strawberry Basil Pesto Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Makes about 1/2 cup.

Strawberry Basil Pesto Recipe


  • 35 grams (1/3 cup) freshly grated Parmesan
  • 35 grams (1/3 cup) whole blanched almonds, toasted
  • A small handful (about 1/3 cup) fresh basil leaves
  • 5 small strawberries (or 3 large), hulled
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt, freshly ground pepper


  1. Combine the Parmesan, almonds, and basil in a mixer or blender, and process in short pulses until the mixture forms a paste.
  2. Add the strawberries and olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and mix until smooth.
  3. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  4. Transfer into a jar, close tightly, refrigerate, and use within a few days.


  • Use in sandwiches, on canapés and crostini, toss with pasta, etc.
  • Be sure to use fragrant and full-flavored strawberries: if they're a bit bland, I'm quite sure they'll get lost in the battle.

This post was first published in June 2006 and updated in July 2016.

  • Sounds great! I cannot wait to try it at home when strawberries don’t cost 10 dollars for 4 like here in Tokyo. Now that I think about it, this original pesto could be nice on sushi, instead of wasabi. Just an idea? maybe not!

    • josh

      Tastes amazing – I used Avocado Oil instead of olive, lovely rich taste with extra strawberries. Best Pesto I have ever tasted.

      • Happy to hear it, Josh! And the avocado oil suggestion sounds wonderful indeed.

  • manidipa

    This is brilliant! THANK YOU, Clotilde. Was just hoping for a savoury strawberry dish, and voila! you’re a godsent…

  • That’s a great idea to test very soon!…

  • A very surprising recipe ! Interesting…

  • What a lovely thought. I’m not sure which I’m more taken by, the pesto or the idea of basil sorbet.

  • Alisa

    Whoa! What a good idea. I’m on it!

  • Aminda

    As soon as my basil takes off (it’s slow going around these parts in Ohio) I’ll be making this. Can’t wait!

  • Necessity is the mother of invention & all that … love this!

  • sounds salivatingly good! i’ll try this as soon as i can get my cousin to bring me fresh berries from the mountain city of baguio.

    clotilde, try this with mangoes, if you can get them there. i don’t know if you can find philippine “carabao” mangoes from guimaras. these mangoes can usually be interchanged with strawberries in a recipe. just as lusciously yummy!

  • I am so surprised that it didn’t turn pink! What delicious combinations- love how you added the almonds! Yum!

  • Ooooh! Ça a l’air délicieux!

  • I’ve got basil growing…I’ve got strawberries…I’ve got guests coming too! Viola! This sounds amazingly fresh and yummy. You should stand and stare at your refrigerator more often!

  • holycow, what a cool recipe! yum.

  • gisele

    Mmm…sounds gorgeous.

    I must try this when summer and lots of fresh produce arrive!

  • I’ve never heard of this combination before, let alone try it. You have piqued my interest as you so often do! I can’t wait to try this for myself – both strawberries and basil are in abundance at the local markets here in Santa Monica these days… Yum!

  • Coco Harris

    As for the pesto and sushi suggestion, we have a restaurant here in Santa Cruz that makes what is basically a sushi pesto roll. It includes basil, chopped macadamia nuts, minced garlic, and cream cheese, all rolled into an inside-out maki. So good!

  • sounds like a very nice sushi! thanks, now I feel much better about my crazy idea!

  • delightful. I consistently let my basil run into a poor condition. Lately my fresh mint plants are allowing me to stttretchhh that basil into a pesto-ish substance. Your idea of adding a fruit is wonderful. The mint will also enjoy its unfettered march across the garden.

  • J. Bo

    I’ve done the basil/mint/cilantro mix for years now (a Thai inspiration), but it never occurred to me that basil and strawberries would fly…

    On your recommendation, I’ll give it a shot; my instincts (and your menu suggestion– jambon de montagne, indeed!) tell me I’m in for a treat!

  • Mungo

    Hey – I thought you might like to see this little mention (if you haven’t already) ’tis fame indeed when The Guardian knows all about you (for those lacking in UK knowledge – The Guardian is a British newspaper rather than some kind of strange all-knowing guiding force),,1793596,00.html

  • Dang, I have all those ingredients. I am so making it tonight! (To go along with the seven layer bean dip I plan to eat for dinner, go me. lol)

  • Angelique

    The combination sounds a bit strange, but you never know until you try, ou bien?
    I read, you started to work as a restaurant consultant, which sounds interesting, but frankly I don’t have a clue what it means ;) What do you do?

  • I love the little story and the picture is beautiful and makes me want ‘plonger mon petit couteau a beurre’ dedans and ‘tartiner’ some slices of fresh bread with this unusual pesto!!!


  • RobinKate

    I have often gone home from the store with basil and strawberries and the smell has made me think I should combine the 2. Now I have a recipe to start with. Thanks


  • Alex

    Mine is a bright screamin’ pink. Maybe I used too much strawberry (but it tastes good!) or else mine were slightly too ripe (I used the squishier ones in my box). I also subbed some goat feta for the parmesan because that’s what I had, and I like feta/strawberry/basil combos.

  • Lara

    the pesto is delicious, it works

    Clotilde, how, I am raging jealous, do you write such beautiful English when it is not your mother tongue?

    My French will never get that good, how did she do it? I must know!!

  • Caroline

    Wow! That sounds delicious. I would never have come up with that combination by myself. I’ll that recipe very soon, I’m sure.

    BTW, amongst your many adoring fans (me included, of course) is this journalist who has written about you and your blog here in the UK:

    I love that I’ve been reading your blog well before the UK media have caught on. :-)

  • I just now made this, and it is delicious! I stuck with pine nuts because I didn’t have any almonds on hand, but next time I will try it with almonds. Great recipe. The best part was cleaning my blender with a piece of baguette afterwards, hehe. Yummy

  • anne

    Bonjour Clotilde!

    I have just seen your recipies in Elle today! Felicitations!

    a faithful reader

  • Dayna

    I JUST made a batch of this pesto, and, POUF! A bright fuschia concoction was born!!! I used fresh from the farm straberries which are at their peak in Quebec right now – thank you for the suggestion!

  • DELICIOUS! This is a really amazing pesto recipe. As you stated, the pink color of the berries does not really come through and the taste is delicate and refreshing. An absolute keeper. Thanks for the genius inspiration.

  • Julie Desjardins

    What a fantastic combination!

    Just made the recipe, but I couldn’t resist putting more strawberries… As someone said, the Quebec strawberries are at their peak right now and they just looked too good. I also used goat feta, as someone else did.

    Made a greek salad (tomatoe, cucumber, some black olives and some onion) with the rest of the feta… What a summery, simple dinner!

    Have I said before how much I love this blog?!

  • I just tried this combo tonight for dinner. The strawberries add a floral note to the pesto making it much more delicate in flavor compared to regular straight basil pesto which I find is more robust. I added a squeeze of lemon juice and substituted the almonds for pistachios because that’s what I happened to have in my cupboard – they worked wonderfully. I served this pesto with pasta and laced in prosciutto and basil leaves. A very summery meal indeed! Thanks for the inspiration.

  • A very surprising recipe!

  • I also tried it and it tasted great.. thanks for posting it here..

  • Gudrun

    Wow,this pesto is very, very delicious and originelly. My whole family loves it, too.

  • Sarah

    I tried your gelee au chocolare last nite and it was fab.
    Had fresh raspberries on hand,put those in the bottom of the dish.
    Delicious- I had to substitute the agar-agar with gelatin powder,equal amt- because that is what I had on hand-Like choc mousse but lighter- no eggs or heavy cream!!

  • This is definitely thinking outside the box. I love the idea, though…

  • mjammi thx for posting this pesto like that is my favorite with pasta.

  • Nikki

    The pesto turned out lovely. I used purple basil, which allowed the pesto to retain a nice berry color.

    So tonight, I mixed the pesto into a bowl of chicken and farro. Yummy. Tomorrow, I plan to spread it on multi-grain baguette with gruyere cheese. Thanks!

  • this is very interesting! i wonder what pasta could go with this sauce?

  • That looks amazing. I love strawberries. Easily my favorite fruit/vegetable.

  • wow. I love the combination of strawberries and basil. can’t wait to try this.

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