What to do with Leftover Pesto

There are countless varieties and brands of pesto, but the most common is green pesto, made from blended or crushed basil, pine nuts, garlic, some cheese, and a little oil. 

The issue with store-bought pesto is that it only has a shelf life of around 2 weeks, even less if you forget to keep it in the fridge. Unless you are willing only to eat pasta for 2 weeks straight, you will likely need a way to use up your leftover pesto. 

6 Things to do with Leftover Pesto

Many dismiss using pesto for anything other than its typical pasta or salad dressing as they think its rich, slightly grassy flavour will not fit other uses.

However, there are a lot of layers to pesto which can be exploited in a whole variety of ways, such as: 

1) Pizza Topping

Why not marry two extremely Italian dishes and top your pizza with your leftover pesto?

Suppose you were to go to any Italian restaurant or even the frozen pizza section in your local supermarket, you’ll find a variety of pizza that uses pesto as a topping choice.

Pesto embodies many of Italian cuisine’s essential flavours, such as garlic and cheese, making it the ideal topping for a cheese-loaded pizza. Especially if that cheese is goat’s cheese paired with kale or spinach. 

You don’t have to buy a pesto-topped pizza to use your leftover pesto. Instead, add the pesto to the top of whatever pizza you have on hand and spread it evenly to ensure a pesto punch in every slice. 

Pizza Topping With Pesto

2) Meat Marinade

Despite its simple ingredients, pesto is full of flavour. There is the rich sharpness from the cheese and pine nuts, the light herbiness of the basil and, of course, salty garlic uniqueness from the ample garlic and salt.

These are all flavours often found together in heavy meat marinades for pork and chicken.

Save yourself the money and hassle of finding the perfect ingredient combination to achieve such flavours and reach for your leftover pesto instead. 

The pesto will be thick enough to stick to the meat and allow its flavours to soak into it properly. Though if you want to tenderise your protein, then you will need to add a slight acidity yourself to do so.

Just try not to add too much extra liquid otherwise, the pesto will be too thin to work as an effective meat marinade. 

3) Breading 

Whether you are breading some delicate fish or a tender chicken breast, there is something addictively satisfying about the crunch and crispiness of a well-breaded protein.

Most breaded recipes don’t instruct you to flavour the bread coating before breading your protein of choice, but doing so could be just the thing you need to push your dish to new heights. 

One way to flavour your bread coating is to mix the dry breadcrumbs with your leftover pesto before packing the coating onto your fish or meat.

You could even add a little lemon to brighten up the pesto further, making it more pronounced in the bread coating. This is an especially good method to use when breading fish. 

4) Savoury Dip 

It is already quite common for pesto to be used as a salad dressing, but why not take the pesto a step further and turn it into a light, savoury dip that you can serve alongside an array of snacks.

Trying to serve you leftover pesto as it is will not make for a very good dip. However, by adding few generous tablespoons of cream cheese, you can create a perfectly textured, ideally balanced dip. 

For even more texture, add a few roughly chopped pine nuts to the dip or sprinkle in a little more basil to add some brightness to the dip. 

Pesto Dip

5) Puff Pastry Snack

As established above, pesto has plenty of flavour by itself. Use this flavour as the base for some healthy pastry snacks that can be the perfect thing to nibble on late at night or with your lunch. 

All you need to make some pastry pesto snacks is your leftover pesto, store-bought puff pastry and some pine nuts if you are feeling ambitious. 

Roll out the puff pastry and slather your leftover pesto on the pastry. Roughly chop the pine nuts and sprinkle them on top of the pesto. Then cut the pastry into strips and roll it into pinwheels. Bake at 200C for 15 minutes and enjoy hot or cold. 

6) Potato Salad Topping

Pesto and salad go so easily hand in hand that pesto is used in salads as often as in pasta.

But pesto does not need to be reserved for one specific kind of salad. It can easily be used in various salads, though it works especially well in potato salad. 

By itself, pesto will not taste that great in a potato salad. You will need to add some mayo and a little lemon juice to make the pesto both brighter and a better consistency, helping it coat the potatoes and work with the other ingredients in the salad.

Pesto can liven up an otherwise dull potato salad and give it some much-needed colour, even when mixed with the mayo. 

Leftover Pesto FAQs

Do you still have questions about what to do with leftover pesto? Then these FAQs might help you out:

Can You Freeze Pesto?

Yes! Pesto can be frozen for around 3 months in the slots of an ice cube tray. Spoon pesto into a tray, top up with a drizzle of olive oil and then pop them into the freezer.

How Long Does Leftover Pesto Last?

When kept in an airtight container or jar with a tight-fitting lid, pesto will last for around 2 weeks in the fridge.


We have verified the information on this page using the following resources:

BBC Good Food

The Guardian

How to Microwave Pizza

How to Microwave Pizza

Ross Young
What to Serve with Panzanella

What to Serve with Panzanella

Lewis Crutch

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