5 Surprising Facts About Pesto: Is Pesto Keto Friendly?

Introduction: Is Pesto Keto Friendly?

Are you a fan of the delicious and versatile pesto sauce? Do you follow a keto diet and wonder if pesto is keto-friendly? Look no further! In this article, we’ll explore the exciting world of pesto sauce & answer the question: Is pesto keto friendly?

First, talk about pesto sauce and why it’s so popular. Pesto sauce originated in Genoa, Italy, and is made from fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. It’s typically prepared in a mortar and pestle, but many people now use food processors or blenders for convenience. Pesto sauce is well-known for its bright green color and fragrant aroma, and it’s often used as a sauce for pasta dishes or a spread for bread. Its popularity has spread beyond Italy, and you can now find pesto sauce in grocery stores worldwide.

Now, Let’s talk about the keto diet and its restrictions. It’s a low-carb, high-fat diet that aims to put the body in ketosis. the diet has gained popularity due to its potential benefits, such as weight loss & improved blood sugar control. However, following a keto diet requires careful attention to the macronutrient ratio, focusing on high-fat and low-carb intake. In this article, we’ll explore what a keto diet is and its restrictions and answer the question: Is pesto keto friendly? Let’s dive in!

What is a keto diet?

Custom Keto Diet

So, what exactly is a keto diet? It’s a low-carb, high-fat diet that puts the body in ketosis. Ketosis occurs when the body doesn’t have enough carbohydrates to use for energy, so it starts burning fat instead. this process can lead to weight loss, improved insulin sensitivity, and other health benefits.

However, a keto diet also has its drawbacks. It can be challenging to stick to, especially in social situations where carb-heavy foods are often the norm. additionally, it may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with certain medical conditions. It’s always best to consult a healthcare provider before starting any new diet.

To follow a keto diet, one must pay close attention to the macronutrient ratio in their meals. This means consuming high amounts of fat, moderate protein, and very low carbs. It can be challenging to achieve this balance, but it is possible with the right foods and planning. In the next section, we’ll discuss whether or not pesto fits into this macronutrient ratio & whether it can be a keto-friendly option.

What is pesto sauce made of?

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Pesto sauce is a popular and versatile Italian sauce (1) that can be used in various dishes. Traditionally, pesto sauce is made with a handful of fresh ingredients, including basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. these ingredients are combined in a food processor or mortar and pestle until they form a smooth & creamy sauce. The result is a deliciously fragrant and flavorful sauce that can enhance pasta dishes, sandwiches, and more.

While traditional pesto sauce is made with the classic ingredients mentioned above, there are also many variations of pesto sauce. Some popular variations include sun-dried tomato, spinach, and even red pesto. these variations can be made by swapping out some of the traditional ingredients for different ones, such as using sun-dried tomatoes instead of basil or adding roasted red peppers to make a red pesto sauce. No matter the variation, pesto sauce is always delicious & adds flavor to any dish.

For those who are watching their carb intake, it’s important to note that while pesto sauce is generally low in carbs, the exact carb count & macronutrient ratios can vary depending on the recipe and ingredients used. for example, traditional pesto sauce typically contains around 1-2 grams of carbs per tablespoon, while variations like red pesto may have slightly more. However, pesto sauce is generally high in healthy fats and can be a great addition to a low-carb or ketogenic diet.

Is pesto keto friendly?

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Alright, let’s talk about pesto sauce and keto diets! If you’re following a keto diet, you know that carbs are the enemy. The whole point is to limit your carb intake & force your body to use fat for fuel. that’s because when you eat carbs, your body breaks them down into glucose, your primary energy source. But on a keto diet, you’re trying to get your body into ketosis, which burns fat for fuel instead.

So, where does pesto sauce fit into all of this? The classic pesto sauce ingredients are basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. This is a keto-friendly combination – lots of healthy fats & not too many carbs. however, the carb count can add up quickly, especially if you’re eating a lot of pesto sauce. So, while it’s not necessarily off-limits on a keto diet, you must be aware of your consumption.

Not only does pesto sauce taste great, but it’s also a nutritional powerhouse! According to a recent article on our blog, ‘You Are What You Eat,’ incorporating more nutrient-dense foods like pesto into your diet can positively impact your overall health. So why not try making your homemade pesto sauce?

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Is store-bought pesto keto-friendly?

Pesto avec basilic et roquette - Barilla - 190 g
Pesto avec basilic et roquette – Barilla – 190 g

So, you’re on a keto diet and wondering if store-bought pesto is keto-friendly? Let’s break it down.

Typically, store-bought pesto is made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese(2). These components are usually deemed suitable for a keto diet because they contain low carbohydrate content. Regardless, some store-bought pesto may include additional ingredients like sunflower oil or fillers that could add extra carbs. It’s always a good idea to check the ingredient list & nutrition label to make sure.

About the macros, store-bought pesto typically contains around 1-2 grams (3) of net carbs per serving. This makes it an excellent option for keto dieters looking for a flavorful way to add healthy fats to their meals. Plus, the basil in pesto sauce is packed with antioxidants and other nutrients that can support overall health.

Many choices exist if you’re looking for a keto-friendly store-bought pesto brand. Some popular brands include Rao’s, Mezzetta, and Classico. Just make sure to double-check the ingredient list and nutrition label to make sure it fits within your macro goals.

Five surprising facts about pesto sauce

A. The origins of pesto sauce and its history

Pesto sauce has a rich and fascinating history that dates back centuries. Its roots can be traced back to the Italian region of Liguria, where Genoese sailors first made it. the word “pesto” comes from the Italian verb “pestare,” which means “to crush,” referring to the traditional method of making the sauce by pounding ingredients with a mortar and pestle.

The earliest known recipe for pesto sauce can be found in a cookbook from the 19th century, but it is believed that the sauce has been around since ancient Roman times. Over the years, the recipe for pesto sauce has evolved, with regional variations popping up all over Italy & worldwide. today, pesto sauce is a beloved condiment that can be found in kitchens and restaurants all around the globe. Whether you’re drizzling it over pasta, spreading it on pizza, or using it as a dip for bread, pesto sauce is a delicious and versatile ingredient that has stood the test of time.

B. Different types of pesto sauce and their regional variations

Did you know that pesto sauce has regional variations? That’s right, depending on where you go in Italy, you might find different types of pesto sauce. For example, Ligurian pesto, the most traditional and well-known pesto, is made with basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and pecorino cheese. but in Sicily, they make a pesto called “alla trapanese,” which uses almonds instead of pine nuts & includes tomatoes.

And get this, in the southern region of Calabria, they make a pesto called “agliata,” which is made with garlic, walnuts, hot peppers, and vinegar. that sounds like it packs a punch! So, if you’re a fan of pesto, why try out some of these different regional variations & see which one you like the best? It takes your pesto game to the next level!

C. Pesto sauce as a nutritional powerhouse

Did you know that pesto sauce is delicious and packed with nutrition? The traditional pesto sauce made with fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese is an excellent source of vitamins & minerals. Basil, the main ingredient in pesto sauce, is loaded with antioxidants that help to fight inflammation in the body. Pine nuts are rich in healthy fats, protein, and fiber, while garlic is known for its immune-boosting properties.

Olive oil, another key ingredient in pesto sauce, is an excellent source of healthy monounsaturated fats, which have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. Additionally, Parmesan cheese provides calcium and protein, making pesto sauce a well-rounded & nutritious condiment. With all of these health benefits, it’s no wonder pesto sauce has become a staple in many households worldwide.

D. Pesto sauce is a versatile ingredient in the kitchen, including keto-friendly pesto pasta, chicken, and pizza

Pesto sauce is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many dishes in the kitchen. It can be a great addition to pasta, chicken, and pizza. If you are following a keto diet, you might be surprised that you can still enjoy these dishes with pesto sauce. For example, you can make keto-friendly pesto pasta using zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash instead of traditional pasta. you can also make keto-friendly chicken by marinating chicken breasts in pesto sauce and grilling them. And for pizza, you can use pesto sauce as a base instead of tomato sauce & top it with your favorite keto-friendly toppings such as mushrooms, peppers, and cheese.

The possibilities are endless regarding using pesto sauce in the kitchen. you can experiment with different ingredients and flavors to create your unique dishes. Pesto sauce is a delicious addition to your meals and a great way to add extra nutrients to your diet. So next time you’re in the kitchen, consider using pesto sauce to add flavor & nutrition to your dishes, whether following a keto diet or not.

E. The benefits of making homemade pesto sauce

Making homemade pesto sauce can be a fun and rewarding experience in the kitchen. It is fresher and more flavorful than store-bought versions and allows you to customize the ingredients. you can adjust the amount of garlic, cheese, or nuts to suit your taste preferences & even experiment with herbs like cilantro or parsley.

Another benefit of making homemade pesto sauce is that it can be a more cost-effective option. Store-bought pesto sauce can be expensive, especially if buying organic or specialty brands. by making your own, you can save money while enjoying pesto sauce’s delicious taste and health benefits. Plus, you can make a large batch and freeze it later, making meal prep & weeknight dinners even easier. So why try homemade pesto sauce and see the many benefits it offers?

How to make keto-friendly pesto sauce

Are you ready to make some delicious and keto-friendly pesto sauce? Here’s a step-by-step recipe that will have you making the perfect pesto sauce in no time.

First, gather your ingredients:

  • Two cups of fresh basil leaves.
  • 1/2 cup of pine nuts.
  • Three garlic cloves.
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese.
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Next, toast the pine nuts in a dry pan until they are lightly browned, being careful not to burn them. Then, add the basil leaves, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and toasted pine nuts to a food processor and pulse until everything is finely chopped.

While the food processor runs, slowly pour the olive oil until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Finally, add salt and pepper to taste and pulse a few more times to combine.

Now that you have your delicious and keto-friendly pesto sauce, how can you use it? One excellent option is to use it as a topping for zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash for a low-carb pasta dish. You can also spread it on grilled chicken or use it as a pizza sauce for a keto-friendly pizza.

To store your pesto sauce, transfer it to a jar with a tight-fitting lid and keep it in the fridge for up to a week. You can also freeze it for up to three months by transferring it to an ice cube tray and freezing it. Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a freezer-safe container and thaw as needed.

Here’s another delicious keto-friendly pesto recipe.

Keto-Friendly Pesto Chicken Recipe :


  • Four boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup keto-friendly pesto sauce (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add the chicken breasts to the skillet and cook until browned, about 3-4 minutes per side.
  5. Remove the skillet from heat and spoon the pesto sauce over each chicken breast.
  6. Top each chicken breast with shredded mozzarella cheese.
  7. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  8. Serve hot and enjoy!

Now that you know how to make keto-friendly pesto sauce, the possibilities are endless! Enjoy your homemade creation and use it creatively in your keto meals.

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In conclusion, we’ve learned much about pesto sauce – from its fascinating origins in Genoa to its various regional variations and powerful nutritional benefits. It’s a versatile ingredient in the kitchen and can be used in multiple keto-friendly recipes, including pasta, chicken, and pizza.

While store-bought pesto sauce is generally considered keto-friendly, it’s essential to be mindful of the carb count and macros, especially if you’re on a strict keto diet. Making keto-friendly pesto sauce is a great way to ensure you use high-quality, fresh ingredients and can control the carb count to fit your dietary needs.

We highly recommend trying our step-by-step recipe for keto-friendly pesto sauce and experimenting with using it in your favorite keto-friendly dishes. And if you’re looking to take your keto journey to the next level, consider checking out the Custom Keto Diet program – a personalized meal plan tailored to your individual dietary needs and preferences. With the proper knowledge and tools, you can enjoy delicious and satisfying meals while staying true to your keto goals.


(1) Pesto

(2) The Best & Worst Pesto Sauces—Ranked!

(3) Is Pesto Healthy? Here’s What a Dietitian Says

Joseph Emb
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Hi there! I'm Joseph Emb, a nutritionist and certified personal trainer passionate about helping people reach their health and fitness goals. With over ten years of experience in the health and wellness industry, I've accumulated a great deal of knowledge that I love to share with my readers. I have a degree in exercise science and am proud to have been featured in reputable publications such as Men's Health and Women's Fitness. My goal with my blog is to inspire and empower others to take control of their health and live happier healthier lives.