Pesto Cream Sauce – Our Take On The Classico Pesto Recipe


Hot take: Pesto pasta sauce just might be the most superior sauce.

I know, I know; I’m Italian. How could I think that pesto is better than red sauce?

Honestly, in my opinion, it’s because it’s just so different from your traditional sauce. Plus, it has every delicious bit of authentic Italian flavors that you could think of.

A delicious combination of basil and olive oil. Grated Romano cheese. Garlic. What’s not to love?

I’ll have to be honest: I only recently started eating pesto.

I’m allergic to pine nuts, which are almost always included in most common pesto recipes. But luckily for me, we make a completely nut free pesto at Mortadella Head – and it’s a great recipe.

The pesto recipe we use is very similar to the Classico pesto recipe, but we also add a little twist to the original.

Instead of just leaving the pesto as is, with the garlic, cheese, basil, and olive oil, we also add some of our homemade garlic cream sauce to it; making the most perfect pesto cream sauce. It always turns out to be a deliciously creamy pesto pasta.

And today, we are going to show you how to make it.

What You’ll Need

Basil leaves: A whole bunch of fresh basil leaves is the absolute best way to make this delicious sauce. Get some from the supermarket or from your local farmers market if they’re open.

Olive oil: If there ever was a time to use a nice, high quality extra virgin olive oil, it’s now. Get a really good EVOO, one that you won’t mind tasting.

Grated Romano cheese: Parmesan cheese could work too, but personally I prefer Romano with this. It’s spicier and has more of a unique flavor than parmesan cheese, and compliments the flavors of the basil, garlic, and olive oil nicely.

Fresh minced garlic: Mince up some cloves yourself or with a garlic press. Whatever you do, don’t use jarred garlic.

Heavy cream: You won’t need a lot of this, but just enough to know it’s there.

How You Make It

Pulse the basil in a food processor until it’s chopped up.

Once the basil is pulsated, add the garlic and grated Romano. Pulsate the food processor several more times, until the ingredients are perfectly combined, using a spoon or spatula to get them off of the sides of the processor if necessary.

While the food processor is running, slowly add your olive oil in. By putting it in slowly rather than all at once, the oil is much less likely to separate. If you need to stop to scrape the pesto off of the sides of the processor, do so occasionally as necessary.

Heat a large skillet on the stove over medium heat, and add some olive oil.

When the olive oil is heated, toss in some minced garlic, and let simmer until fragrant.

garlic browning in a pan - it's the first step of our pesto cream sauce recipe

Once the garlic is ready, add some cream to your pan, and let heat. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.

pesto cream sauce simmering in a sauce pan

When everything is heated, add all of the pesto into the pan, and stir to combine the ingredients.

pesto cream sauce bubbling in a pan at the end of the cooking process

You’ll know your pesto is ready when everything is thoroughly mixed together and the sauce starts to thicken and bubble. Add the pesto cream sauce to your favorite hot pasta, top with more grated cheese and basil, and enjoy!

Pesto Cream Sauce FAQs

Q: I want to put nuts in my pesto. What should I add, and when would I add them?
A: Pesto is typically made with pine nuts, although I’ve seen some recipes that use walnuts, like oregano pesto. You would add the nuts at the beginning of the recipe, right when you’re adding the basil leaves, and pulsate together.

Q: What is the best way to store pesto?
A: It’s important to know that pesto doesn’t stay good for very long, probably only three days maximum. Store it in the fridge in an airtight container, topped with olive oil to make sure it doesn’t brown.

Q: I don’t eat cheese. Is there anything I can substitute it with?
A: Yes! You can nix the cheese and replace it with a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast. You’ll hardly be able to tell the difference.

Other Recipes To Try With This

Main Dishes

Tuscan Chicken: Take some chicken breasts and roast them in the oven with fresh mozzarella cheese. When about halfway done, top the chicken with some sliced tomatoes and roast in the oven. Top with pesto sauce, serve with bowtie pasta, and enjoy.

La Cosa Nostra: A true Mortadella Head staple! Throw some chicken cutlets onto a sub roll with roasted red peppers and prosciutto. Top with spring mix, tomatoes, balsamic vinaigrette, and a pesto drizzle. It’ll be delicious!

Side Dishes

Orzo Pesto Salad: One of my favorite pasta dishes! Toss this pesto with some orzo, feta, and chopped veggies. I like to use red peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and carrots. Let sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving. This is the ultimate summertime pasta salad dish.

Pesto as a dip: Serve this pesto on the side with some french bread or fresh veggies. It’s a great way to spice up your traditional appetizers.

Basil pesto cracker spread: Put this basil pesto out with some multigrain crackers. This combination is so unbelievably addictive.

Recipe Card

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Pesto Cream Sauce

  • Author: Mortadella Head
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1x



3 cups tightly packed basil leaves

1 cup grated Romano cheese

3.5 cloves of garlic, minced

½ cup EVOO

¼½ cup heavy cream

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp crushed red pepper


  1. In a food processor, pulsate the basil leaves until finely chopped.
  2. Add in grated Romano cheese and ¾ of the garlic, pulsate until thoroughly incorporated.
  3. Slowly add in the olive oil, stopping and scraping the sides of the food processor with a spatula as necessary.
  4. Heat a skillet over medium high heat, drizzling in olive oil once the pan is warm.
  5. Once the olive oil is heated, toss the rest of the garlic in, and let simmer until fragrant.
  6. Add the heavy cream into your pan, and let heat, seasoning with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper.
  7. Add in the pesto mixture once it’s warm, tossing in some grated Romano cheese along with it.
  8. You’ll know the sauce is ready when it starts to thicken and bubble at the top.
  9. Add the sauce to your favorite kind of pasta, sprinkling with some grated cheese and basil at the end.
  10. Enjoy!
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Category: Sauces
  • Cuisine: Italian-American

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