Spicy Basil Pesto

Spicy Basil Pesto ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

Spicy Basil Pesto ~ Serrano pepper takes the world’s freshest sauce from simple to sassy in one fell swoop ~ stir it into freshly boiled pasta, spread it over grilled fish, spoon it on a baked potato, or soak it up with a torn piece of bread, it makes all other sauces obsolete.

Spicy Basil Pesto ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

spicy basil pesto is the original awesome sauce

Of course I make it all summer long, but to tell you the truth I enjoy it most during the cooler months — it’s a real palate refresher after a heavy diet of chilis and casseroles. And the great thing is you can get all the ingredients year ’round, so you never have to be without a freshly made jar of this stuff. Next to tomato, it’s got to be the most versatile sauce out there.

Spicy Basil Pesto is a kicked up version of the most versatile sauce on the planet! ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

How can you look into that green abyss and not want to dive in? I love pesto 🙂 It’s gorgeous and I want to keep it that way ~ no brown pesto for me. I have the easy secret to keeping pesto bright green ~ it’s lemon juice! lemon juice not only adds to the flavor of the pesto, it prevents it from discoloring over time.

Spicy Basil Pesto from theviewfromthegreatisland.com

you don’t need a recipe for pesto!

You can use your instincts and add the ingredients by eye, you simply can’t go wrong. No two pesto recipes will be the same, and that’s a great thing. By adding a little of this, or a little of that, you can customize it endlessly. Your pesto can be thick or thin, cheesy or vegan, nutty or not. Today I dropped a Serrano chili into my processor and created something really special. This got raves all around, it’s spicy but not too much.

Spicy Basil Pesto is made with a Serrano pepper for a wonderful kick! ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

what you can do with your spicy basil pesto

  • Dress hot or cold pasta.
  • Spread it on roasted chicken, salmon, steak, or pork.
  • Use it as a salad dressing.
  • Use it as a mayonnaise replacement in chicken or shrimp salad.
  • Serve it as an appetizer dip with bread or veggies
  • Drizzle over grilled vegetables
Spicy Basil Pesto ~ theviewfromgreatisland.com

TIP: Do you want to know a secret? The way to get the BEST pesto is to use LIVING basil, that is, just picked from your yard, or from a potted plant that you can buy at most grocery stores these days. The color and flavor is superior.

TIP: Going without a recipe is scary for some, it feels like jumping out of a plane without a parachute, but it’s so worth it to develop a few dishes that you can whip up without being tied to a phone, computer, or book. Pesto is the ideal place to start, you can’t screw it up!

TIP: Shape matters, so choose a pasta that will embrace your sauce, I prefer rotini because it grabs and holds more of this zesty Spicy Basil Pesto than any other.

3.86 from 50 votes

Spicy Basil Pesto

Spicy Basil Pesto ~ Serrano pepper takes the world's freshest sauce from simple to sassy in one fell swoop ~ stir it into freshly boiled pasta, spread it over grilled fish, spoon it on a baked potato, or soak it up with a torn piece of bread, it makes all other sauces obsolete.
Course sauce, condiment
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Yield 1 cup
Calories 78kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 1 clove garlic peeled
  • 1 Serrano pepper
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • a couple of good fistfuls of fresh basil leaves about 2 packed cups
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • olive oil start with 1/2 cup, add more as needed to make a loose sauce
  • salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste


  • Drop the garlic clove into a food processor while it is running, and run the machine until the garlic is finely minced.
  • Trim the stem off the hot pepper and slice it in chunks. Add it to the machine, seeds and all, while it is running, and wait until it is finely minced.
  • Next add the pine nuts and Parmesan cheese and process until everything is smooth. Add the basil and lemon juice and pulse, scraping down the sides of the machine a few times, until the basil has broken down. Drizzle in the olive oil while processing. Process until the pesto is as smooth as you like. It can be chunky or smooth, it’s your choice.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add more olive oil if you want a looser pesto.
  • Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container, and use within 10 days.

Cook’s notes

  • This is a small batch recipe, double or triple the ingredients for more.  For a small batch I use my mini food processor, but move up to your full size machine for larger amounts.


Serving: 1Tbsp | Calories: 78kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 11mg | Potassium: 26mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 0.1g | Vitamin A: 168IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 0.3mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although theviewfromgreatisland.com tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    August 31, 2022 at 9:43 am

    5 stars
    Basil, and a dozen more spices are growing crazy this year! Thanks for these recipes! We are amazed at the great tastes we get from your recipes! Thank you!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      August 31, 2022 at 9:47 am

      Thanks so much Christine <3 When I looked out and saw my basil plant toppling over from its own weight, I knew I had to act 🙂

  • Reply
    Martha Hacker
    August 31, 2022 at 8:33 am

    5 stars
    The kitchen is my happy place too and I have a mound of basil. Looks like pesto with pasta today! Thanks for the yummy recipes!!

    • Reply
      Sue Moran
      August 31, 2022 at 9:48 am

      I LOVE my pesto spicy, thanks Martha!

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