Can You Freeze Pesto?

Last updated on July 28th, 2022 at 09:45 pm

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If you’ve made too much pesto or you’d like to make some in advance for future meals you might be wondering how long it will last and whether you can actually freeze it. Afterall, we all know that things stored in the freezer will last longer but not everything can be frozen. 

So if you have extra pesto can you freeze it? 

Pesto can be frozen and will actually last in the freezer for up to one year. You will need to be sure to store it in an airtight container or freezer bag. 

To freeze your pesto, the most popular method is to portion the sauce into ice cube trays. Once they are frozen you can store them in a Ziploc freezer bag in your freezer. If you don’t have ice cube trays available, pesto can also be frozen in small jars or plastic containers for up to 12 months. 

If you choose to use freezer safe mason jars, leave about 3/4″ of space at the top of the jar. Either way, be sure to pour a thin layer of olive oil over the sauce to prevent the pesto from oxidizing and changing color.

The reason you should portion the pesto before you freeze it is so you can defrost only as much as you’ll need to cook at one time. When you’re ready to use the pesto sauce just put it in your refrigerator overnight. 

The thinner the frozen sauce, the quicker it will defrost. 

Pesto sauce is very versatile and delicious! Here are some easy ideas for how to use it:

  1. Toss with hot pasta
  1. Dess a cold potato or pasta salad
  1. Stir into vegetable soup
  1. Use as a topping for grilled meats and fish
  1. Spread onto sandwiches
  1. Scoop onto slices of toasted baguette or crackers

What Is The Best Way To Freeze Pesto?

If you find that an ice cube sized portion of pesto is too large for your recipe, here’s another idea. When freezing your pesto use a small baking sheet (like a quarter sheet pan or even a toaster oven tray) lined with wax or parchment paper. Then pour your freshly made pesto into it, spreading it evenly to about a 1/4-inch thickness. 

Then gently press another piece of wax or parchment paper on top and place it in the freezer for a few hours to firm up. Once frozen, place the pesto sheet in a small zip-top freezer bag, label it, place it in the freezer. 

That way whenever you need pesto, just pull out the bag and break off as much or as little as you need. Plus, the pesto defrosts even faster since it’s a thin sheet instead of a dense cube.

On the other hand, if you have a large family or decide that ice cube portions of frozen pesto are too small, then you can use muffin tins. Keep in mind that you don’t need to grease the muffin pan prior to adding the sauce because pesto contains olive oil. 

After they are frozen you’ll just need to carefully remove them with a butter knife. 

Is It Better To Freeze Pesto With Or Without Cheese?

If you’re looking for ways to fine tune your pesto dish to your liking, here’s a few ideas. Finely grated parmesan cheese gives pesto a distinctive salty nutty bite, it also acts as a thickener. You can also use asiago or pecorino romano cheeses in place of parmesan. 

Another idea is to add olive oil, fresh basil or even cream. Garlic is also a yummy addition to add another layer of taste to your pesto. However, the texture of garlic, along with some of its delicious bite, deteriorates when frozen. 

So, if you’re planning on freezing your pesto for later it’s best to only use basil and olive oil. On the day you plan on eating the pesto you can add cheese, coarsely chopped pine nuts, and finely minced garlic to the pesto while your pasta is cooking.

Freezing pesto is really simple whether you choose the ice cube or baking sheet method. 

Keep in mind, when you’re freezing pesto sauce it is highly recommended to freeze pesto without the cheese, garlic and pine nuts. This will help your pesto last longer in the freezer and taste fresher when you add the extra ingredients on the day you plan on eating it.

Can You Freeze Pesto Pasta?

If you’re preparing a pesto pasta dish you might be wondering what the best pasta (noodle) is to accompany your sauce. Because it is an oil-based sauce, pesto is served best with longer cuts of pasta, like the corkscrew shape of Fusilli. 

Pesto works best with Bucatini, thinner Spaghettini, and Fettuccine. Angel Hair pasta, also known as capellini, or “fine hair,” is the perfect choice when you want to pair a light, refined sauce with a delicate cut of thin pasta.

So, we’ve talked about freezing pesto sauce by itself to use in future recipes but what if you have leftover pesto pasta? Can you freeze that? 

You can freeze the pasta together with pesto or meat sauce. Keep in mind that if your pasta and sauce contain cheese or garlic it will not last as long in the freezer compared to the basic basil and olive oil  pesto sauce. 

When you’re ready to serve the frozen pasta you’ll want to reheat it in the oven using an oven-safe dish.

How Can You Tell If Pesto Has Gone Bad?

If you’ve forgotten to date your frozen or refrigerated pesto sauce you might wonder how to tell if it is still safe to eat. 

If your presto smells like old oil or smells funny it has become rancid and you should throw it out. Eating rancid pesto probably won’t make you sick, but it will not taste nearly as good as fresh pesto.

 If your pesto looks and smells okay, give it a taste to confirm before you add it to your pasta.

Why Does My Pesto Taste Bitter?

If you’re preparing fresh pesto sauce and find that it tastes bitter the most likely culprit is the olive oil. Extra-virgin olive oil contains bitter tasting polyphenols coated by fatty acids, which prevent them from dispersing. 

If the olive oil is emulsified in a food processor, these polyphenols get squeezed out and the liquid mix will turn bitter. 

To avoid this problem add 1/4 cup of water until your pesto forms a thick paste. Then stir in the olive oil and parmesan cheese by hand and voila – no more bitter pesto!!

Keep in mind this might also happen when you’re making homemade mayo or dressing and avoid the food processor for these recipes as well.

What Ingredients Are In Pesto Sauce?

If you’re considering starting a garden, a great herb to grow is basil because it is so versatile. You can use Thai basil for curries and other Thai dishes. Original Basil for panini, caprese salads and the joy of all joys – fresh pesto sauce.

The most popular variety of pesto is made by “crushing” basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and some hard cheese in a food processor or blender. However, sometimes using a food processor results in bitter pesto so you can also use a mortar and pestle or add the olive oil after you’ve mixed the other ingredients in the food processor.

From personal experience, what I would NOT recommend is adding basil to strawberry ice cream! Our family decided to try the Cold Stone Creamery flavor of the month a few years ago and it was a really awful flavor combination.

Is Pesto Or Tomato Sauce Healthier?

Not everyone has the time to cook pasta sauce from scratch. Using store bought pasta sauce can be a big time saver. But not all pasta sauces are equal on the nutrition front. 

Some are high in sodium and others are packed with cholesterol-raising saturated fat. So it’s a good idea to consult the label before deciding which pasta sauce to buy.

If you’re looking for a healthy pasta sauce, you should choose one that is tomato-based. Most are low in saturated fat and all offer plenty of vitamins A, C, and lycopene (an antioxidant that’s linked with protection from prostate cancer). The main ingredients are tomatoes, water, vegetable oil, salt (often lots of it) and spices. Keep in mind that extras such as cheese, meat and cream add calories, salt, and fat (especially saturated fat).

Alfredo, vodka and pesto sauces are higher in fat and calories than most tomato-based sauces.

Alfredo and vodka sauces contain cream, which sends the saturated fat numbers soaring. Pesto sauces are high in fat, but it’s mainly unsaturated fat from vegetable oil and pine nuts – these are healthy fats. There will be some saturated fat if Parmesan cheese is added. 

Most pesto sauces have 50 to 90 calories per tablespoon. Keep in mind that pasta sauce nutrition labels normally use a serving size of 1/2 a cup even though most people use at least one cup on their noodles. So you might need to double the numbers for a more accurate nutrient count.

Hannah R.

Hey, I'm Hannah and I'm the founder of Get Eatin'.

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