Thai Basil Pesto Recipe

Thai Basil Pesto Recipe

Written by Becky

As my friend Carol and I made our annual batch of pesto to freeze for the winter, we discovered a new pesto that we now will be creating every year, Thai Basil Pesto. As we tasted it we both had only one conclusion, next year we are growing more Thai Basil! It was the best pesto I’ve ever tasted and I’m savoring my three small bags of in to use on special occasions this winter. This stuff is like gold!!We found the recipe on and altered it only slightly by using both lemon basil and thai basil, to make two batches. You could also try making it with regular basil and I think it would still be delicious. As for it’s uses, I made a big bowl of soba noodles and vegetables, tossed them in a light sauce then topped each individual plate with a small dollop of the pesto to mix in. You could also use it in homemade spring rolls, over chicken and rice, mixed in with stir fried vegetables or as a condiment on top of any Asian flavored soup. Don’t be afraid of the fish sauce in the recipe, the amount is very slight but I promise it adds to the flavor. Also, dark sesame

oil is preferred over light. We did a taste comparison and decided the dark sesame oil has a more deep flavor.

Hope you enjoy this pesto as much as we did! With so many pesto varieties out there, what’s your favorite pesto combo?

Thai Basil Pesto Recipe

Thai Basil Pesto Recipe

Thai Basil Pesto Recipe

A unique spin on pesto using thai basil and peanuts.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Condiment
Servings 8 servings


  • 2 cups fresh Thai basil leaves, packed
  • 2 tablespoons dry-roasted peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves


  • Place all ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth. Spoon into small ziplock bags and freeze until ready to use. Or refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Comments (46)

    • Thai basil is more peppery and has a subtle anise flavor. In this recipe I think you could use regular basil and still enjoy the unusual pesto flavor because of all of the other ingredients so if you can’t find Thai basil just use the basil you can find. Thai Basil is also purple in some varieties. Hope that helps!

  1. i always used thai basil for stir fry, maybe i can try out your recipe since italian basil is very expensive in my country. thanks for sharing.

  2. I made this pesto with soba noodles and stir-fried veggies. What a nice combo of flavors! Instead of red pepper flakes, I used a lesser amount of dried/ground home grown Hawaiian chili pepper…as it’s much spicier. Will definitely be making this again, as my thai basil is going off!!

  3. I am such a great fan of pesto (I live in Italy) and soooooooooo excited to have found your recipe as I have just ordered a packet of thai basil seeds to grow in my garden !!! My favourite pesto (until now, as I still have to try yours!!) is sage pesto. As I have always plenty sage leaves in my garden and used not to know what to do with it until I found this recipe.
    I simply put in the blender:
    50 sage leaves washed and without the stem
    50 g of pine or cracked nuts (any type you wish really, I prefer myself a mix of almonds, wallnuts and hazelnuts ..)
    2 Tbsp of grated parmesan
    salt and pepper
    1/2 glass of olive oil

    I freeze this pesto in small plastic party glasses and use one glass each time I cook pork fillets.(We are a family of 5)
    I cook pork fillets in a dry pan on both side and when the pan starts to be too dry because of the lack of oil I add the pesto.
    My family swears by it and my kids think this is the best way to serve pork!
    It is such an easy thing to use when there is no time for cooking!!
    To try it is to adopt it! Enjoy

  4. Any growing tips for Thai Basil? I haven’t had much luck growing it but I’ve only tried hydroponically. I might try it in my new aquaponics setup. I wish I had some land to grow on.

    • I wish I had a tip to give you but I used some from my friend’s garden last year and it seemed to just grow similarly to regular basil. Hope you have better luck with it this year!

  5. Oh wow, oh wow!!!

    This was fabulous! I marinated some tofu, soaked some pad thai noodles, cut up some green beans, onions, and garlic, and made a fabulous stir fry with noodles.

    Seriously yum.

  6. This is genius! I was wondering what to do with my flourishing Thai basil bush & just made this recipe (I doubled it). I couldn’t wait to try it so I thought “how can I use this NOW?” I pulled out some leftover rice (I cook it al dente) & coconut milk from the pantry. I sautéed about a tbsp of the pesto then put about 1/4 cup coconut milk and let it bubble. I added 1.5 cups of cooked rice and a few splashes of chicken stock. Seasoned with salt and OMGosh it’s soooo good! I can imagine having some sautéed veggies and maybe a piece of fish along side this delicious coconut milk rice. Thanks so much for the inspiration.
    P.s. I froze the pesto in an ice cube tray for future use.

    • freeze immediately after making it or use right after making it. The leaves will oxidize quickly and become brown. I find my pesto stays more green if I freeze it in ice cube trays first then place the cubes in bags. When I freeze in plastic bags more air gets in quickly I think. Hope that helps!

  7. Looks fantastic! I’m planning to try this with my thai basil plant that in the morning.

    For the person wondering about dark color…. When I make “regular” pesto, I toss the leaves in boiling water for about 30 seconds before adding to the pesto and it keeps them from oxidizing so the pesto stays a nice bright green

  8. Can I say…AMAZING!!!! added it to chicken stir fry and my husband and i LOVED IT!!!! WHich is great since my thai basil bush is HUGE and didnt know how to use it beyond a few leaves in my stir frys!!

  9. Hi,

    Thanks for the wonderful recipe 🙂

    I swapped the vinegar with lime juice and it turned out really good. Lime is used more often in thai dishes than vinegar. With lime in the recipe it makes also makes good base for a quick green curry dish.

    Will be checking out your other recipes soon.

  10. Delicious recipe, thank you. To prevent pesto from darkening, parboil the leaves for 10 seconds before adding them to the blender. The pesto will remain very green, and it does not take away from the taste.

  11. Made it. It was fantastic with fresh pasta. I assumed you meant 2 cups packed basil, but is it Thai sweet basil, or regular Thai basil. I can buy two types here.

  12. Tried this today for the first time. Excited to have a Thai pesto recipe since I grew 3 different varieties of Thai Basil plus my Italian basils and I’m being overrun with basil at the moment. This recipe is pretty tasty, I made it as written using Holy Basil. I think next time I will cut the sweetener by 1/2 as its a little too sweet for my tastes. Also, I think I’ll add a dash of fish sauce. I want to try this using Thai Siam Queen Basil too, since that is my personal favorite and I have an abundance. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  13. 5 stars
    Absolutely the BEST! Just harvested all of my Thai basil and am now wishing I had planted more. I did not have any peanuts, so used some natural peanuts only crunch peanut butter. Worked well.

    • That’s totally your call. Some prefer a mild pesto and some like it more upfront.I would probably add 2 tablespoons for 2 people or 1/4 cup for 4 people. If you’re boiling a whole package of noodles, start with 1/4 cup and add to taste from there. You could also mix it into a little coconut milk to make it creamy!

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