This basil pesto butter is a wonderful combination of butter, pesto and parmesan with the option of adding garlic. There is so many amazing ways to use this butter and it’s a great way to use up a bounty of basil.

  • It’s seriously full of flavour.
  • Quick and easy to make.
  • Can be frozen for use any time.
  • Adds flavour to any dish.
  • So many ways to use it!

If you’ve been wanting to try making compound butter, this one is a great place to start. Just 3 or 4 ingredients with the option of making your pesto from scratch too, it’s so simple and so full of flavour.

Make your own pesto using this fresh basil pesto recipe.

A log of pesto butter on a chopping board with some disks cut from it.

What is compound butter and what is pesto butter?

Compound butter is the combining of butter with other ingredients to make a flavoured butter. Many flavourings can be added to butter, like pesto, to make numerous different flavours. Compound butter makes a wonderful instant sauce for everything from pasta to steak.

With that in mind, regular pesto butter is just butter with pesto added. Mine goes one step further – and this makes all the difference – by adding parmesan. This stuff is seriously delicious.

Ingredients you’ll need

Ingredients for basil pesto butter on a baking tray.

Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.

  • Butter: You really need to use unsalted butter for this. Why use unsalted butter vs salted butter? Parmesan is already quite a salty cheese and depending on if you buy your pesto, it may already have salt added. By using unsalted butter, you can determine the saltiness of your pesto butter.
  • Pesto: I definitely recommend making your own homemade basil pesto for this. Traditional pesto is a combination of basil, olive oil, pine nuts, parmesan and garlic but other herbs work too and even nuts, like almonds or cashews.
    Homemade pesto definitely has the best flavour and vibrant colour but if you want to buy it, get your favourite. If you don’t have a fave, try the ones in the fridge section first.
  • Parmesan cheese: Adding some parmesan makes all the difference here and takes it to another level. It doesn’t make it taste cheesy but adds a richness and umami that can’t be beat. Make sure to use block form and grate it yourself. Definitely do not use the shelf-stable variety.
  • Fresh garlic: This is totally optional. You do not need to add garlic to this unless you love it and particularly want a garlic pesto butter. I love it with the garlic and add up to 3 cloves depending on how I’m using it (that’s in addition to the garlic already in the pesto). That amount makes it the strength of a good garlic bread. This butter is still fantastic without the extra garlic.

Note: If making your pesto from scratch, the parmesan and garlic are used in that and then again in creating the butter itself. In this case, you can add the additional cheese and garlic to the pesto as your making it.

How to make pesto butter (step-by-step)

A collage showing how to make pesto butter.

Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.

  1. Make the pesto: While you don’t have to, homemade does taste best and making pesto from scratch literally takes 10 minutes, including prepping the ingredients.
  2. Mix everything: You can use a food processor if you like but I just make mine in a bowl, mashing it with a fork. Add the softened butter, pesto, parmesan and garlic (if using) to a bowl or plate and use a fork to mash it together until well combined.
  3. Roll: Spoon the mixture onto a sheet of plastic wrap, and nudge it back and forth until you have roughly a log shape. Roll it up and twist the ends like a candy wrapper. Tie one side, then roll and twist the other end until the butter is a firm log and tie off the other end.
  4. Store: Chill it in the fridge for 1-2 hours or in the freezer for 45-60 minutes. If you aren’t using it the same day, store it in a ziplock bag, or airtight container. Once the butter is solid, you can cut disks and freeze them for use whenever you need them.

Tips and tricks

There really isn’t anything tricky about this easy compound butter recipe.

  • Softened butter: The butter must be softened so that you can easily mix it together.  
  • Keep it fresh: Use fresh basil leaves and if you’re adding the optional garlic, make sure that’s fresh too.
  • Use another pesto: Any pesto will work in this recipe. You can try a sundried tomato pesto too, for instance.
6 disks of pesto butter stacked up.

How to use flavoured butter

There are numerous ways to use compound butter like this one.

  • Sit on top of cooked steaks so it melts gently over the top.
  • Saute prawns or chicken pieces, then add the butter to melt and coat as a sauce.
  • Use on bread and bake to make a pesto bread. I use this one on my pesto garlic bread.
  • Melt it through cooked pasta.
  • Add it to cooked vegetables, like beans, while they’re still hot. Once it melts, give them a mix.
  • It’s great with cooked salmon.
  • Add it to grilled cheese sandwiches.
  • Spread it over corn on the cob.
  • Stir it through steamed potatoes or add to roast potatoes in the last 5 minutes of cooking.
  • Use it as part of a sauce – where a sauce calls for butter, use your pesto butter instead.

Keep in mind if you’re adding this basil butter to something after it’s been cooked and you added garlic to it, that garlic will remain raw. If you want to cook that garlic, just add it to the pan in the last 2-3 minutes of cooking, so that it has time to melt and the garlic will cook.

Yield and storage

This recipe makes about 1 ½ cups of compound butter.

Store this butter in an airtight container or ziplock bag, in the refrigerator for 2-3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

If freezing, cut the solid log into coins or disks. Lay out a sheet of baking paper and place 4-5 disks side by side but not touching along the bottom edge. Fold it over, so they are now covered with baking paper. Repeat over and over until you have a “roll” of disks. Freeze in a ziplock bag. This way you can just take as many as you need at a time.

Disks of pesto butter next to some fresh basil.

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Disks of pesto butter on a sheet of baking paper.

Pesto Butter

5 from 2 ratings
Basil pesto butter is that summer flavour of pesto mixed with butter to make a flavourful compound butter. It’s quick and easy to make and great on everything from garlic bread to tossed through pasta.

Ingredients

  • cup softened butter (150g / 5oz)
  • ½ cup fresh basil pesto
  • ½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1-3 medium cloves garlic, minced (OPTIONAL and to taste, notes)

Instructions
 

  • Combine the softened butter, pesto, parmesan and garlic bread in a bowl mixing well with a fork.
  • Spoon the pesto butter onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Use the plastic wrap to move it back and forth until it's a rough log shape, then roll it up. Twist the ends, like a candy wrapper, to seal the butter inside. Tie one end with a knot, then roll while twisting the other end until the butter is tightly wrapped. Tie that end off.
  • Place the butter in the fridge. Chill for around 1-2 hours or chill in the freezer for 45-60 minutes.
  • Use at will for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. If freezing, once solid, slice into disks and freeze those so you can use as much or as little at a time as you need.
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Notes

  1. Garlic: This pesto butter is fantastic as a garlic butter. If you enjoy garlic, you’ll love having a bit in this. It’s also totally optional, so leave it out if you want a pure pesto butter or don’t enjoy garlic.
    • Keep in mind if you did add garlic, that garlic will remain raw unless the butter is cooked with the dish. If you don’t like raw garlic flavour, it only needs to 2-3 minutes of cooking to take the raw edge off the garlic, so just add it to the pan towards the end to melt into the dish.
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