What Does Pesto Taste Like? What Does Pesto Go With?

what does pesto taste like
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Pesto is an Italian sauce that is used for intensifying flavors in many dishes, especially the Italian ones. People tend to combine it with many things because it is a creamy sauce that can be added to many dishes, not only pasta. But, what does pesto taste like, and what are the dishes in which this sauce can be used? 

Pesto has a rich, strong and earthy flavor. The dominant taste is a fresh mix of garlic and basil since they are the main ingredients. In addition, pesto comes with a creamy and green texture. The sauce’s creaminess comes from the cheese used in the pesto recipe along with olive oil.  

Pesto is one of the most common sauces used in Italian cuisine, and that is why most of the special Italian dishes are spiced up with this sauce. It is no secret that this is an exceptionally delicious sauce that we are talking about, but to be experienced properly, you need to know how to use it in dishes. 

Below, I have included significant information about pesto and its features, so you would know how to combine it to accent its taste and smell precisely.

Does Pesto Taste Good? 

If we consider that pesto is an Italian sauce, we can assume that we are talking about a delicious delicacy from the best and the most popular cuisine in the world. 

If you have assumed this, you are definitely on the right track. Pesto is one of the most delicious sauces for pasta and many other meals. Even people who do not like garlic would really enjoy the uniqueness of this Italian specialty. 

There might be some claims that pesto tastes like grass, but do not consider this a bad thing. Everything that is based on plants is usually very delicious and healthy as well. And, if you consider the fact that pesto is popular worldwide, it is only logical that its popularity is because it contains an amazing taste. 

However, pesto can be done according to different recipes, and therefore, you may notice that there can be variations of the sauce in different regions. Nonetheless, when it comes to the traditional recipe for pesto, it goes without saying that it is just one of the richest and the creamiest sauces that intensify the flavors of particular dishes. Even when the ingredients vary, this sauce can turn out delicious since its main feature is the creaminess of its texture. 

In order to understand the complexity of the taste of pesto sauce, you have to look into the ingredients of which it is made. As I said, the most popular type is the traditional pesto sauce, although some variations can be delicious as well. 

What Ingredients Are in Pesto?

You can find a lot of recipes for pesto sauce, and there might be some variations in ingredients. However, the base ingredients do not usually differ, i.e. they are almost always included in every pesto recipe. Therefore, whenever you look into recipes for this sauce, you will most likely see that the main ingredients are herbs and garlic. 

Garlic And Herbs 

Garlic is the most important ingredient in pesto sauce. However, you mustn’t exaggerate its presence. Garlic’s role is to give a special flavor to the sauce, but not to dominate it. Therefore, if you have tried pesto, you have probably noticed that garlic is not really felt inside of the sauce, and its smell is just like a subtle scent. 

Garlic is generally a strong ingredient, so if used in larger amounts, it will definitely overpower the other ingredients included in pesto. This means that you need to be careful if you intend to make homemade pesto.

In addition, when it comes to the other base ingredient found in pesto, you will probably notice the presence of either basil or parsley. According to the traditional Italian pesto recipe, basil is the ingredient that should be included because the uniqueness of basil is the main factor that produces such flavors inside the sauce. 

However, some recipes include both parsley and basil, so again, the end result is different but remarkable.

If you want to be on the safe side and know what to expect from either of the ingredients, you should know that basil gives the sauce a more fresh and sweet taste. On the other hand, parsley will make pesto mild, but if you combine them you will end up with a sauce characterized by some kind of spiciness. You may also opt for other herbs, such as cilantro, sage, mint, kale, and tarragon, although these are not so common.


Now, it is important to move further and talk about how pesto gets its creamy and rich taste. Cheese is mainly responsible for the creaminess of the pesto sauce, but different types of cheese can influence different flavors. However, most pesto recipes do not call for any special cheese as long as it is aged, salty, and hard. 

Some of the most popular types of cheese included in pesto sauce recipes are Asiago, Pecorino Romano, Parmesan, and Grana Padano. These are all proven to work well with the other ingredients included in pesto. In other words, when one of these types of cheese is combined with garlic and herbs, the result is magnificent. 


Nuts are considered the optional choice in your recipe. Therefore, you may or may not use nuts in your pesto if you do not want to. However, it is important to point out that nuts are regarded as the special and the secret ingredient in pesto, and due to their presence, this sauce has such a unique taste. 

Pine nuts are usually the most common choice when it comes to pesto sauce. When pine nuts are blended, they give the perfect creamy texture, and when blended with other pesto ingredients, they contribute to the creaminess and give the sauce a velvety structure. 

However, if pine nuts are not your cup of tea, you might use almonds, cashews, or walnuts. 

What Does Red Pesto Taste Like?

Some people say that there is not a huge difference between red and green pesto, but that is not true at all. Although they might give similar scents due to the presence of the same ingredients, they still differentiate quite much. The main reason for this is the presence of tomatoes in red pesto sauce. 

In addition, red pesto is spicier and peppery. This type of pesto is characterized by heavier flavors due to the presence of sun-dried tomatoes and roast peppers. These ingredients make the sauce richer in a way, but some people prefer the green one more.

what does pesto taste like

What Tastes Similar to Pesto?

Sometimes you might want to use pesto sauce in your cooking, but you realize that you do not have anything at your disposal. However, there are good substitutes that will take the place of pesto, and taste similarly. Even though it will not be the same flavor, it will still give you the chance to spice up your dish a little bit.

Therefore, I have listed some of the sauces and additives that might give you similar scents and flavors to those found in pesto.

Basil Oil 

Basil oil mostly consists of basil and olive oil. Due to basil’s strong scent, the basil oil sauce is particularly very similar to pesto sauce. Although it is not the same thing, it can come as a good substitute for pasta, vinaigrettes, and marinades. 


Gremolata is also a sauce that is based only on parsley. Gremolata also contains garlic, meaning that these two ingredients make this sauce really close to pesto. However, it also includes some citrus zest, where the flavors differentiate in comparison to pesto. 


Chimichurri is a sauce similar to pesto that comes from Argentinian cuisine. It also contains a creamy texture and a green color, but it does not use basil as a main ingredient. Instead, it uses cilantro and parsley

Due to the presence of oil and garlic, it can be said that this sauce is similar to pesto, and sometimes, it can be a good substitute for pasta. 

What Can You Eat With Pesto?

Since pesto has spread across the whole world, nowadays, this sauce is not only used for pasta and other Italian dishes. On the contrary, pesto is today commonly used in different meals, salads, and even snacks. 

You can see that many recipes call for pesto in really small amounts because this sauce intensifies the flavors and makes every dish taste better. 

Therefore, you can eat many different things with pesto, so you should not be surprised by the examples below. 

Salad Dressing 

Adding a little bit of pesto to your salad will result in a great new flavor in your dish. Sometimes, salads can have a really bland taste, but pesto can fix up everything. 

what does pesto taste like

Chips And Dip

Pesto is a great dip for your snacks, such as chips, nachos and vegetables. You can mix pesto with a little bit of greek yogurt and sour cream, and expect to obtain an extremely delicious dip sauce. 

what does pesto taste like

Breakfast Additives 

If your ordinary breakfast includes eggs, then you might be ready for some slight change. Topping your eggs with a little bit of pesto will make a great difference in the taste of your breakfast, and you will even feel like you are eating something totally new and different. 

what does pesto taste like

Meat Marinade 

Pesto works well in combination with different kinds of meat, so you should not miss a chance to try this. You can put pesto on chicken, pork, steak, and fish. 

what does pesto taste like

Pizza Topping 

You can try using pesto as a pizza topping instead of the regular marinara sauce. This will give your regular pizza a new taste, and this is probably something you need if you eat pizza frequently.

what does pesto taste like

How to Use Pesto? How Much to Use? 

You can use pesto in many different ways. However, you should be careful with the amount that you are using. 

If you consider the fact that pesto can have a really strong flavor, you are probably aware that you cannot use this sauce in large amounts. Usually, one teaspoon is enough for any kind of meal. 

However, different meals and dishes call for different usage of pesto inside them. There are many ways in which people use pesto sauce: 

  • Use pesto by spreading it on bread. 
  • Use pesto as a veggie or snack dip.
  • Use pesto with eggs.
  • Use pesto to make butter out of it (for this, you need additional ingredients).
  • Use pesto to add flavor to the soup. 

Is Pesto Bad For You? 

Pesto sauce is delicious, i.e. it is the finest delicacy originating from Italy. Therefore, when something is this delicious, it is usually questioned whether it is healthy. If we are speaking honestly, the most delicious food is usually high in calories and ingredients that are not really healthy. 

When it comes to pesto, it can be said that this sauce is high in calories. However, most of the ingredients included in it are significantly healthy. In other words, pesto has some healthy features that might be really beneficial for you. [1] Firstly, you have to consider that the main ingredients are fresh herbs, i.e. basil or parsley. 

Secondly, pesto contains olive oil and nuts, which are known as sources of protein and fiber. In addition, some of the pesto ingredients are linked with the prevention of some medical conditions and diseases, such as heart diseases, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, many types of cancer, etc. Also, many ingredients included in pesto are considered great antioxidants that will take care of your body. 

On the other hand, if you are allergic to nuts, you might not consume this sauce or some types of it. There are types of pesto sauces that do not include nuts in the pesto content. Therefore, it would be crucial to check the ingredients before you opt for some pesto sauce. 

If you have read the article entirely, you have a clear idea of what kind of sauce is pesto. It is considered one of the best Italian sauces with extremely delicious richness and creaminess. What is more, this sauce comes with many health benefits; therefore, there is no reason you should not give it a try.