Pesto Uses (20+ Recipes with Pesto)

9 August 2022 | Last Updated: 17 October 2022 By Aleksandra

Pesto sauce has countless uses. If you’re looking for ways to use pesto other than pasta sauce, check out our ideas and recipes using pesto! Adding pesto sauce to a dish is the simplest way to add a ton of flavor without much effort!

Parsley pesto pasta in a frying pan.

Types of pesto

There are many more types of pesto besides the traditional and most popular basil pesto.

Check out also our other pesto recipes:

other ingredients that make delicious pesto: carrot tops, radish greens, beet greens, kale, and roasted red peppers (with walnuts).

#1 Pasta sauce

The best way to use pesto is of course as a pasta sauce. Toss it with al dente pasta, some vegetables or protein and you have a perfect easy meal. Here are some of our favorite recipes:

parsley pesto pasta (the photo is shown above)

shrimp pesto pasta

Shrimp pesto pasta in a green bowl.

burrata pasta

Burrata pasta on a white plate.

#2 Spread for sandwiches

One of my favorite sandwiches of all time is Caprese panini made with toasted bread, spread with pesto, and topped with tomatoes and mozzarella. You can spread pesto on toast, bruschetta, focaccia, crostini, sandwich, flatbread or panini. It’s also delicious in a grilled cheese sandwich!

#3 Topping for pizza

You can use pesto for pizza two ways – either as a pizza topping (that won’t be baked) or as a pizza sauce (that will be baked with pizza). Pesto as a pizza topping is actually my favorite pizza topping – it works great with any type of pizza. It’s also great on this pizza toast or Puff pastry pizza bites.

Pizza toast on a beige wooden board.

#4 Burger sauce

Have you tried topping your burgers with pesto? You should! It works great with classic beef burgers and also vegetarian or mushroom burgers.

#5 Pesto vinaigrette (salad dressing)

It’s the easiest way to add a ton of flavor to your salad. Simply thin out your pesto with water to make it more spreadable and you have an amazing salad dressing.

A simple and delicious pesto salad idea: arugula + mini mozzarella balls + cherry tomatoes + pesto vinaigrette.

#6 Salad topping

Dollop some pesto on a salad, for example, this Caprese salad for a delicious twist on it.

#7 Pasta salad dressing

Pesto can be used as a cold pasta salad dressing. Try this delicious pesto pasta salad!

Pesto pasta salad on a white plate.

#8 Potato salad dressing

We absolutely love this Italian-inspired potato salad with pesto dressing, eggs, green beans, and crispy prosciutto.

Pesto potato salad on a blue plate.

#9 Casserole sauce

This pesto chicken bake is made with a sauce consisting of pesto, heavy cream, and milk. It’s an easy way to make a flavorful sauce for a baked casserole. Toss it with pasta, some protein, and vegetables of your choice and you have an easy dinner for a couple of days.

Pesto chicken bake in a casserole dish.

#10 Filling for puff pastry

I used basil walnut pesto for this Puff Pastry Christmas Tree. It’s an easy, quick to make, and delicious appetizer! If you’d like to make this recipe but in a more universal shape, use this puff pastry cheese straws recipe and use pesto instead of just cheese.

Puff pastry Christmas tree on a piece of parchment paper.

Another great idea is puff pastry tomato tart: spread puff pastry sheet with pesto and some cheese, bake, then top with fresh tomatoes.

#11 Topping for baked salmon (baked pesto salmon)

Try this easy dinner idea – top salmon fillets with pesto and breadcrumb parmesan topping, then bake in the oven. This baked pesto salmon is super delicious!

Baked pesto salmon in a green baking dish.

#12 Perfect sauce for vegetables

Pesto sauce is delicious with ANY vegetables. We love it with these cauliflower steaks, roasted carrots, or any other roasted veggies.

#13 Add it to a soup

This may sound like a weird one – but it really works! There is a French soup called Pistou Soup that uses a condiment similar to pesto (called pistou) that is stirred into a hot soup. I sometimes use pesto in this recipe and it’s so good. It makes the broth extremely delicious.

Soupe au pistou in a blue plate.

#14 It’s great with any protein

No matter if it’s chicken, fish, eggs, or steaks – basil pesto will go with it just perfectly. It transforms a simple pan-fried / baked / steamed / grilled protein into a delicious meal.

Try it with this chicken Caprese, pesto chicken, or green shakshuka.

#15 Sauce for wraps or crepes

We love pesto chicken wraps (pan-fried chicken, tomatoes, mozzarella and Swiss cheese, and pesto sauce wrapped in tortillas) or savory crepes filled with chicken, vegetables, and pesto.

#16 Pesto dip

Use pesto on its own as a veggie dip – serve it with celery sticks, carrots sticks, or bell pepper strips.

Combine it with cream cheese – it makes an easy and delicious dip.

Try also this hummus dip – traditional hummus flavored with pesto!

Another great dip/condiment is this pesto mayo.

#17 Make pesto butter

Combine soft butter with pesto and you’ll have a flavorful compound butter! Use it on bread or with baked fish.

#18 Stuffing for chicken breast

Flatten chicken breasts with a meat mallet, spread with pesto and sprinkle with cheese, roll up, cook in a pan on all sides until golden then cover the pan and cook over low heat until the chicken is cooked through – delicious!

Try also these prosciutto-wrapped chicken tenders with pesto.

#19 Add it to mashed potatoes

I actually haven’t tried this one but it sounds really delicious!

#20 Topping for a tart or quiche

Try this asparagus quiche with a dollop of basil pesto on top!

#21 Pesto cream sauce

A delicious sauce for pasta or gnocchi – combine pesto with heavy cream and you’ll have a flavorful sauce that goes with almost everything!

#22 Pesto risotto

Add a dollop of pesto to a risotto for a flavorful side dish.

#23 Pesto zucchini boats

Tomato and Pesto Stuffed Zucchini Boats are light, fresh, and so easy to make! They can be served as a vegetarian main dish or as a simple side dish.

Pesto Uses (20+ Recipes Using Pesto)

Pesto sauce has countless uses. If you're looking for ways to use pesto other than pasta sauce, check out our ideas and recipes using pesto! Adding pesto sauce to a dish is the simplest way to add a ton of flavor without much effort!
A collage of 4 photos showing dishes with pesto.
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Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 1 cup
Calories 587kcal
Author Aleksandra


  • 2 cups (packed) (45g) basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup  (45g) Parmesan cheese
  • 1 very small clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon (10g) pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Wash the basil leaves in cold water and pat them dry.
  • Add all the ingredients, except the olive oil, to a food processor bowl. Pulse until thick paste forms.
  • Add the olive oil and pulse slowly at low speed or whisk in the olive oil by hand, until thick sauce forms.
  • Season to taste with salt, you can also add more olive oil if you want thinner consistency of your pesto.
  • Enjoy!
Course Appetizer, sauce
Cuisine Italian
Diet Vegetarian
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