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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

Ingredients 

  • 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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Instructions 

  • 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 ;)

Nutrition

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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57 Comments

  1. I am right there with you on being picky and I have grown to like all of those things too. I wouldn’t touch anything that had bell peppers in it! Your pesto looks truly amazing!

  2. Great photos, Julie! I noticed that you’re using the white boards! I really need to get on that and make some too.

    As for my tastebuds, they have DRASTICALLY changed since I was younger. I never went near pastrami but now it’s one of my favorite things ever! I wasn’t much of a bell pepper person either but now I love them and I’ve been meaning to make red pepper pesto but I just never got around to it. I will have to make this soon! It would be so amazing tossed in some spaghetti or something.

  3. So glad you posted this recipe Julie! After the twitter teaser over the weekend! I love roasted red peppers but have never had it in/as pesto. Just beautiful!

  4. Oh man! I have just recently come to love bell peppers (capsicum as they call it in NZ…) and suddenly have a craving for this pesto! Oh yum! :) Sooooo looking forward to the pasta recipe!!!

  5. I would say I am the same way, but I can count on one hand the foods I won’t eat. Yep, not picky at all here!!! This pesto looks amazing, and I have 4 red pepper plants in the garden this year! Can’t wait!

  6. I’m the same way – there are so many foods I wouldn’t have touched years ago that I’ve really come to love recently! Sadly, red peppers are still on the “eh” list for me because this pesto looks amazing!!

  7. I think it’s an understatement to say that I LOVE red pepper pesto! Great photos…love the new boards!

  8. My taste buds are always surprising me with new found taste lovers! Bell peppers and I have always been tight – this pesto would surely rock my world!!

  9. Oh gurrl! This sounds amazing!:) and my tastebuds have completely changed from when I was growing up! I used to only eat very basic foods like chicken fingers and baked potato, haha:) I had no idea they still changed every 7 years though. That’s neat. This pesto sounds amazing and I’m salivating at the idea of the pasta you are going to share with us soon!