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This roasted red pepper pesto is sweet, garlicky, and the perfect addition to pasta, pizza, and your favorite crusty bread.

roasted red pepper pesto topped with basil in a glass jar with saltine crackers on the side
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I like to think of this recipe as the holy grail of pestos. Yes, it has basil in it, but it also has something even better: roasted red peppers. Roasting brings out the best in red bell peppers, adding a smoky flavor and making the crisp flesh tender and sweet. Combine those flavors with pesto and you’ve got yourself a sauce that you’ll want to keep on hand at all times.

Like most pestos, roasted red pepper pesto is great for tossing with pasta (try this recipe!), but why limit yourself? If you’re entertaining, you can put together an epic spread of crudités and rosemary bread with red pepper pesto, pistachio pesto, and olive pesto for dipping. Use this pesto in place of pizza sauce or swap it for the mashed avocado on a piece of toast. 

close up shot of roasted red pepper pesto in a glass jar

What You’ll Need

If you don’t count the salt, pepper, and oil (which you probably have on hand anyway!), you’ll only need 4 ingredients for this roasted red pepper pesto.

  • Red bell peppers – While you can buy roasted red peppers in a jar, making your own is best for this recipe because the end result is much more flavorful.
  • Garlic
  • Pine nuts – Pine nuts are definitely a love-it-or-hate-it kind of ingredient. Walnuts or almonds could be used instead.
  • Basil leaves – After you wash them, give them a spin in your salad spinner or pat them dry with a paper towel.
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil

Can I Add Parmesan?

A traditional basil pesto is made with parmesan cheese. If you like, you can add some grated parm before you process the ingredients, but this pesto is definitely flavorful enough on its own without it!

overhead shot of roasted red pepper pesto in a small white bowl surrounded by saltine crackers

How to Make Roasted Red Pepper Pesto

This recipe is so easy to make, you’ll never want to buy store-bought pesto again! Here’s what you’ll need to do.

Prepare. Preheat your oven to 400ºF. Cut the peppers into large pieces and place them on a baking sheet with the skin side down. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt.

Roast the peppers. Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast the peppers for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the peppers are soft and the skin is starting to char.

Toast the pine nuts.
While the peppers are roasting, lightly toast the pine nuts in a small skillet set over medium heat.

Make the pesto. Combine the roasted peppers, garlic, pine nuts, and basil in your food processor. Turn it on and drizzle olive oil through the feed tube; continue to process until the pesto reaches a smooth, thick consistency, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Tips for Success

Here are a few tips and tricks to make sure this recipe turns out perfect.

  • Watch the pine nuts. Nuts and seeds can burn super fast on the stovetop, so keep an eye on the pine nuts while you’re toasting them in the skillet. Stir them often, too, to make sure they toast evenly.
  • Don’t be afraid to add a lot of oil. It’s the secret to getting a rich, creamy pesto.
  • No food processor? You can make this roasted red pepper pesto in a blender instead.

How to Store

Store roasted red pepper pesto in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Can This Recipe Be Frozen?

Yes, you can freeze roasted red pepper pesto, so you might want to double the recipe and keep some on hand for easy dinners. Freeze it in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months; let it thaw in the fridge or place the freezer bag in a bowl of hot water to thaw it quickly.

saltine cracker being dipped into roasted red pepper pesto
4.58 from 7 votes

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto

Sweet, garlicky and a little bit smoky, this roasted red pepper pesto is packed with flavor!
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 1 small jar


  • 2 large red bell peppers, de-seeded and membranes removed
  • 1 clove large garlic
  • 2 tablespoon pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • ½ cup (12 g) loosely packed basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil
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  • Preheat oven to 400 °F (204 °C)
  • Slice the red bell peppers into large pieces and place skin side down on a large baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over the bell peppers and sprinkle some salt. Place in oven for 20-25 minutes until peppers are soft and the edges slightly transparent. The skin that was touching the baking sheet should be slightly blackened, too.
  • Meanwhile, lightly toast the pine nuts in a skillet on medium heat.
  • In a food processor, throw in the bell peppers, garlic clove, pine nuts, and basil.
  • Turn on the food processor and drizzle olive oil through the feed tube and mix it until a nice thick consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Keep in an airtight jar for up to 2 weeks, if it lasts that long ;)


Serving: 1Jar, Calories: 459kcal, Carbohydrates: 19g, Protein: 5g, Fat: 39g, Fiber: 7g, Sugar: 9g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Great tasting pesto without cheese, yay! Thank you for this recipe. I can’t have garlic but was able to substitute a pinch of asofoetida/hing sauteed in olive oil for a little garlic-like flavor and used sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts which worked out well. Finally I can have pesto again, cheers!

  2. I can’t eat tomatoes or dairy anymore so finding interesting sauces to go with pasta is a nightmare. I just made this and it’s delicious and is going to make my life so much easier thank you :)

  3. Made this at the weekend and it came out really well. I made it exactly as the recipe, as I generally try to do first time around, and see no reasons to be changing it. I used to buy it in a jar, but haven’t seen it in an age and it just occurred to me the other day to have a go at making it. We ate it with bread, mostly with herby soft cheese, which was a perfect match. Will unquestionably be making this again. Thanks :)

  4. This recipe looks great – but I have two questions. First, you don’t use parmesan cheese (not a mistake in the recipe)? And second – do you remove the pepper skins after roasting? Thank you!

    1. hi! yes, not a mistake that there is no parmesan cheese (you can add some if you prefer!), and i didn’t remove the skins just because they’re already so soft that when you blend them together, they get a nice roasted flavor. if you prefer to remove them, you can do that as well.

  5. I didn’t know pesto could be made with peppers until I saw a cooking show the other day. I looked up the recipe and found yours. I only had an orange pepper so I used it. I also roasted the garlic with the peppers. and used Pecorino Romano instead of parmesan. It was wonderful and it’s all gone!