So you scored some delicious pesto for pasta night, and now you've got a surplus on your hands? Well, consider yourself #blessed because these ten pesto uses are pretty much perfection!

a glass jar of homemade pesto, from Shelf Cooking

We love pesto around here, but somehow, no matter how much we make or buy, there's also an awkward amount leftover. You guys know we'd never toss out perfectly good leftovers, so what DO we do?

*Note: When you click the links in this post, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

If you're wondering how to use pesto or whether or not you can freeze the leftovers, then this post is for you! We're going to share 10 of our favorite recipes using pesto, along with some tips and tricks for freezing all that flavorful goodness. Are you ready to do this?


We're going to share some of the most mouthwatering recipes you'll ever taste in just a minute, but first, let's address this frequently asked question right out of the gate. Can you freeze pesto? Why, yes. You can! Here's how:

  • In a Bag – If you want to freeze a decent-sized portion of pesto all at once, just drop it in a freezer-safe bag, pop it in the freezer, and use it within three months.
  • Ice Cubes – Want to divide that pesto into smaller portions for easy cooking? You can freeze your pesto in an ice tray. Once those cubes are frozen, remove them from the tray and place them in a bag or airtight container. Again, be sure to use it within three months.

Want to refrigerate your homemade pesto? You can! Just place it in a container with a lid, and be sure to use it within two to three days. Refrigerated fresh pesto doesn't last for long, so that's where these ten recipes using pesto come into play! Ready for them?! Here we go, you guys.


hummus made with pesto, from Shelf Cooking

Looking for the perfect party food? An app to munch on before dinner? Some after-school snacks? Well, these pesto use options are pretty legit:

  • Pesto Cream Cheese Bake – Set your oven to 375°F, then grab a block of cream cheese. Place the cheese on a baking sheet or in a glass dish, then spread pesto on top. Bake for 25 minutes, round up some crackers, and enjoy! It's SOOOOO good!
  • Veggie/Chip Dip – Ready to hit the easy button? It doesn't get easier than this! Just mix some pesto in a little sour cream or Greek yogurt and start dipping.
  • Pesto Hummus – Okay, we lied. It does get easier. Open up that container of plain hummus, mix in some pesto, and get ready for some “oooohs and ahhhhs.”

Wondering how to use pesto in main dishes? Well, wonder no more! We have a few mouthwatering ideas to share.


homemade pizza with pesto sauce, from Shelf Cooking

That leftover pesto might be just what you need to make dinner more exciting. You can't go wrong with any of these dishes:

  • Pizza – Skip the pizza sauce and top your crust with pesto instead! You could also make a white pizza and add a little pesto to this homemade Alfredo sauce! Top with shredded chicken and some spinach and mushrooms for a TASTY (and easy) dinner.
  • Macaroni & Cheese – Just when you thought macaroni and cheese couldn't get better, in comes pesto! Mix some of those leftovers into the sauce and prepare to drool. Use your family's favorite recipe, a box mac, or try this homemade macaroni and cheese.
  • Chicken Zucchini Casserole – You're going to love how delicious this easy pesto-filled chicken casserole is! It's the perfect way to use up any leftover pesto you have hanging out in your fridge.
  • Soup – Build your own soup from scratch and use your pesto as a seasoning. It's a dream come true on a cold night!
  • Chicken Salad – Making a batch of chicken salad? Take it up a notch with some pesto and crushed pecans. Measure with your heart and prepare to be impressed by the flavor explosion! Serve your chicken salad over greens or make a wrap.

Dang it, now we're hungry! We kind of want to run to the kitchen and make a batch of that chicken salad right this minute, but we won't leave you hanging. For our grand finale, we have three pesto uses that make perfect sides and also double as main dishes for our vegetarian friends.


homemade pesto with garlic and lemon, from Shelf Cooking

Did we save the best for last? Maybe! These pesto-filled sides are so dang good; you can make them into their own meal if you'd like.

  • Rice – Rice, rice baby! Plenty of people add cilantro or coconut to rice, but have you ever tried pesto rice? It's ridiculously good! Don't overthink it. Just make your rice per the package instructions, then mix in the pesto when you're done. It instantly elevates the dish!
  • Mashed Potatoes – Say whaaaaat? Yep. Just when you thought mashed potatoes couldn't get any better, they did. Mix one to two tablespoons of pesto into your next batch. You'll never go back! Need to make those potatoes vegetarian? Skip the milk and use coconut milk or veggie broth instead.
  • Salad with Pesto Dressing – Mix a quarter cup of olive oil with a tablespoon of lemon juice and one to two tablespoons of pesto, and get ready to taste one of the best salad dressing of your life. Your kids might even like a salad with pesto on top! Making a homemade vinaigrette is pretty fun, and it's so stinking easy.

Not too shabby, eh? And here's a bonus idea: Top your favorite veggies with pesto before you roast them in the oven. You can thank us later!


As you can see, it's so easy to turn leftover pesto into the star ingredient of your next favorite meal. A little goes a long way, but we don't think there's ever such a thing as too much pesto! So, measure with your heart and don't be afraid to experiment.

What do you love to make with pesto? Share your favorite recipes and ideas in the comments! And if you liked this post, be sure to give our Shelf Cooking Facebook page a quick “like!” We share tons of free tips there all the time.

Multiple leftover pesto recipes, from Shelf Cooking

Looking for more great ideas?

Ciao for now! The pesto's yet to come!