Texas Pesto

Traditional pesto gets a Texas twist in this flavorful version featuring toasted pecans and Cotija cheese, perfect for slathering on bruschetta, tossing with pasta, jazzing up veggies, and so much more!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 20 tablespoons (Approximately 1 1/4 cups)
Calories 78kcal
Author Samantha at Five Heart Home


  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup (2-ounces) crumbled Cotija cheese
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil


  • Place the garlic in a large food processor or blender. Pulse until minced. Add the pecans and pulse until finely chopped. Add the basil, Cotija, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Process/blend until ingredients form a smooth paste, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl/blender as necessary.
  • With the food processor/blender on, stream in the olive oil, adding extra if you desire a thinner consistency. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, if desired. Serve immediately or store packed down in an airtight container.


  • To toast pecans, preheat oven to 350°F. Chop pecans to measure 1/2 cup. Spread chopped pecans in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until fragrant and light golden brown, watching carefully to prevent burning. Allow to cool completely.
  • Just like guacamole, pesto can quickly turn from a bright and lovely shade of green to an unappetizing brown color once exposed to the air. There are a few things you can try to inhibit this process:
    *make sure your basil leaves are completely dry;
    *make sure all of the stems are removed from your basil leaves;
    *add additional extra-virgin olive oil (which acts to preserve the basil, so the more you add, the more likely it will stay nice and green);
    *add additional lemon juice (though this will affect the flavor if you add too much);
    *don't leave out the salt;
    *pack the pesto in an airtight container for storage (with no air bubbles), then cover the surface of the pesto with a sheet of plastic wrap (touching the entire surface) before putting the lid on the container...or instead of using plastic wrap, pour a thin layer of extra-virgin olive oil over the surface of the pesto before putting on the lid.
  • If none of the above ideas keep the pesto as green as you wish, you can even try blanching the basil leaves (put the basil leaves in boiling water for 10 seconds, then plunge them into an ice bath, then completely dry them) before making your pesto to help retain the bright green color.


Calories: 78kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 3mg | Sodium: 71mg | Potassium: 21mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 140IU | Vitamin C: 0.7mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 0.2mg