Pesto Aioli may become your favorite summer condiment. Fresh basil pesto mixed with homemade mayonnaise for a creamy, herby spread or dip you'll love!
It’s summer—have you figured out what to do with all the basil? I love to grow fresh basil in containers within easy access of my kitchen. That way I can grab a few leaves to chiffonade over a plate of caprese salad or avocado toast. And sometimes when the windows are open, and the breeze hits just right, that glorious basil smell comes wafting in. But what happens when your basil plant takes off, and suddenly your basil leaf garnishes aren’t even making a dent? Or you buy a huge bunch of basil from the store for a recipe, and find you’re still left with most of it when you’re done? Well that, my friends, is Pesto Aioli time.
Pesto Aioli is the summer condiment that takes your meal from so-so to sublime. You’ll start by making basil pesto, which is quite easy with the use of a mini food processor. Next, you’ll make your own mayonnaise. Combine the two, and you’ve got a delicious dip or sandwich spread that you’ll want to eat with pretty much everything. For ideas, read on!
How do you make Pesto Aioli?
The first step is to make your pesto. Follow these easy instructions in my Simple Lemon Basil Pesto recipe, then report back right here!
Next, begin the aioli. Whisk together 1 egg yolk, 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, and ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt in a small-medium bowl. I like to use a glass bowl so I can really see what is happening.
Very slowly, begin to drip ¾ cup of neutral oil (vegetable, grapeseed, etc.) into the bowl with the egg mixture, whisking constantly and vigorously. You are making an emulsion, and emulsions are very tricky. At the beginning, you must literally add the oil drop by drop, making sure it is incorporated before adding more.
The mixture will thicken little by little at first, and then faster and faster. Once you have added about ¼ cup of oil, you can speed up the rate at which you are adding the oil.
Continue to whisk constantly, taking a break if your arm tires. If your bowl is moving around a lot, try putting a damp kitchen towel under it.
After about ½ cup has been added, you can speed up a little more until all the oil is incorporated. If the aioli is too thick, add a teaspoon of water at a time to loosen it up to what you desire. Note that this recipe includes a raw egg yolk, so look for pasteurized eggs if this concerns you.
Now whisk in 2-3 tablespoons of pesto and let sit for at least 10 minutes, to allow the flavors to meld before serving.
How long will Pesto Aioli last in the refrigerator?
Pesto Aioli will keep up to 3-4 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you have leftover pesto, that will also last a few days in the refrigerator. It’s best to store with plastic wrap on top of the pesto, since the pesto will lose some of its vibrant green color over time.
Isn’t there an easier way to make this?
Ha! Of course there is. You can replace either the pesto or the aioli (or both) with store-bought versions. Aioli is really just mayonnaise, after all. If you’re going the store-bought mayonnaise route, my favorite mayonnaise brand is Hellman’s (or Best Foods in the Western U.S.).
As for pesto, there are lots of good options out there—I tend to look for ones with the smallest number of ingredients, and nothing I can’t pronounce. As always, I think the homemade versions have better flavor—the fresh herbs really come through in homemade pesto, for example. But when time constraints prevent doing the whole thing yourself, feel free to cut yourself a break, and buy one or the other.
Is Pesto Aioli vegan?
This recipe is not vegan, since I am using an egg yolk to make the aioli and parmesan cheese in the pesto. However, if you’re looking for a vegan version, I would suggest searching for a vegan mayonnaise recipe on Google (there are plenty of them) or buying a “veganaise” at the grocery store. Hellman’s (Best Foods) even has a vegan version now! You can find or make vegan versions of pesto as well—try just substituting vegan "parmesan" in my pesto recipe for example.
How do I fix broken mayonnaise?
Making aioli or mayonnaise is definitely tricky. Go too fast when adding the oil, and it’s easy to end up with either separated mayonnaise or something that looks like it’s combined but is much thinner than mayonnaise is supposed to be. This often happens (to me at least) when trying to shortcut the by hand method and use an immersion blender or food processor.
The good news is that you can usually easily fix this with the addition of another egg yolk. Crack an egg yolk into a clean bowl, then slowly, slowly, a little at a time, whisk in the broken mayonnaise. This will usually help the emulsion to form again, and you’ll get a beautiful mayo without having to throw out your first batch.
What can I do with pesto aioli?
You can use pesto aioli in most places you would usually use mayonnaise. Use pesto aioli instead of mayo to make chicken salad or egg salad with a twist. May I suggest this Egg Salad with Bacon recipe? Or, use it as a spread on your burger or sandwich du jour. This pesto aioli makes a next-level summer BLT. Blend it into mashed potatoes or serve on top of a potato frittata. Mix it with some dijon mustard and serve as a sauce for crab cakes. It also makes a great sauce for pasta salad—try it instead of using pesto + mayo in this Pesto Tortellini Salad with Chicken.
But this aioli is so good you’ll want to use it by itself and not just as a component in your dish. It makes a fantastic dip for a crudité platter, or for a bowl of chilled shrimp. Steam artichokes and dip their leaves in aioli to eat. Or serve with regular or sweet potato fries instead of ketchup. You can also toss it with steamed green beans or asparagus, or serve with roasted cauliflower.
Other Summer Recipes
If you love summer foods as much as I do, you might want to check out some of my other favorite summer recipes.
- Burrata Caprese with Peaches
- Tomatoes Provencal
- Summer Orzo Salad
- Rosé Spritzer
- Zucchini Stir-Fry with Tofu
- Chicken Curry with Coconut Milk and Zucchini
- Fig Salad with Blue Cheese
- Easy Zucchini Gratin
- Salade de Tomates
- Black Bean and Corn Salad
For the Pesto
- ¼ cup of pine nuts (about 34g)
- 1 cup of packed basil leaves (about 28g)
- 2 t. lemon juice
- ¼ t. kosher salt
- 2 T. grated Parmesan cheese (about 10g)
- 1.5 oz. olive oil
- 1 small garlic clove (optional)
For the Aioli
- 1 egg yolk, room temperature
- 1 t. Dijon mustard
- 1 t. lemon juice
- ¼ t. kosher salt
- ¾ c. neutral oil, such as vegetable oil or grapeseed oil
- To make the pesto: Toast pine nuts in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently. Watch carefully, as pine nuts turn quickly from toasted to burned. Let cool.
- Combine cooled toasted pine nuts, basil, lemon juice, salt, parmesan cheese, olive oil, and garlic clove (if desired) in a small food processor.
- Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides a couple of times. You may need to tip the processor over a bit to blend it better if the blade does not quite reach the bottom. When finished, you’ll have about ½ cup of pesto.
- To make the aioli: Whisk together egg yolk, dijon mustard, lemon juice, and salt in a small-medium bowl. I like to use a glass bowl so I can really see what is happening.
- Very slowly, begin to drip the oil into the bowl with the egg mixture, whisking constantly and vigorously. You are making an emulsion, and emulsions are very tricky. At the beginning, you must literally add the oil drop by drop, making sure it is incorporated before adding more. The mixture will thicken little by little at first, and then faster and faster.
- Once you have added about ¼ cup of the oil, you can speed up the rate at which you are adding the oil. Continue to whisk constantly, taking a break if your arm tires. Place the bowl on a damp kitchen towel if it is moving around while you whisk.
- After about ½ cup of oil has been added, you can speed up a little more until all the oil is incorporated.
- If the aioli is too thick, add a teaspoon of water at a time to loosen it up to what you desire.
- Whisk in 2-3 tablespoons of pesto and let sit for at least 10 minutes, to allow the flavors to meld before serving.
- Pesto Aioli will keep up to 3-4 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Leftover pesto will also keep for a few days in the fridge, but cover it with plastic wrap to help stop the top layer of pesto from browning.
- This recipe includes a raw egg yolk, so look for pasteurized eggs if this concerns you.
- For a vegan version of this recipe, use a vegan mayonnaise in replacement of the homemade aioli.
- To fix a broken mayonnaise, crack an egg yolk into a bowl, then whisk in the broken mayonnaise very slowly. It should come back together for you!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 305Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 29gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 187mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 1g
Nutrition information is provided as a general reference for users courtesy of the online nutrition calculator Nutritionix.