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Can You Freeze Pesto?

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By Ross Young

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Stirred through pasta or spread over bruschetta, pesto is quintessentially Italian. It’s the ultimate fresh sauce. But can you store pesto in the freezer, or will it split and turn rancid?

Can You Freeze Pesto?

Yes, you can freeze pesto for up to 3 months. Spoon portions of pesto into an ice cube tray, seal with a drizzle of olive oil and then freeze. Once the tubes are solid, they can be stored in a freezer bag.

Does Pesto Freeze Well? Yes

Can You Refreeze Pesto? No

How to Freeze Pesto

The best way to freeze pesto is to use an ice cube tray as your container. Just follow these instructions to freeze it efficiently: 

  1. Fill Ice Cube Tray: Most standard ‘slots’ on an ice cube tray are around 2 tablespoons in size. This makes them perfect portion sizes for pesto. Once you’ve knocked up a quick batch of pesto, you need to fill each ice cube slot up.
Filling an Ice Cube Tray with Pesto
  1. Seal with Oil: Now, put a very small layer of olive oil across the top of each cube. DO NOT mix it in. Instead, leave it to sit on top of your pesto. This will act as a barrier to the air. It can help prevent the pesto from turning brown.
Sealing Pesto With a Layer of Olive Oil
  1. Wrap and Freeze: Once the tray is filled, and the pesto is sealed, carefully wrapped the tray in clingfilm and place it into the freezer.
Freezing Pesto in an Ice Cube Tray
  1. Bag Up: Once your pesto is frozen solid, remove the frozen pesto cubes from the ice cube tray and put them into air-tight plastic bags.
Bagging Up Cubes of Frozen Pesto

Although pesto can also be poured directly into bags, containers or even jars you’ll have to use it all in one go. Thawing and then refreezing the pesto can result in the pesto becoming mushy, diluted and tasteless.

That’s why having pesto cubes on hand is a neat way to both preserve and use your pesto efficiently. 

You can even try using other herbs in your pesto, such as parsley, if you’re feeling experimental.

But How Do You Stop It Turning Brown?

Unfortunately, the soft green leaves of basil that are used to make pesto are inevitably going to turn brown in the freezer. By sealing it in a little olive oil, you can prevent some of this browning.

But it is not entirely avoidable.

The good news is that the flavour won’t degrade when the pesto turns a little brown. It can still be used in soups, stews and sauces to add a pesto hit of flavour. You just won’t want to use it to dress salads or to drizzle over chicken, for example.

How Long Can You Freeze Pesto?

Pesto without the oil coating can last for about 2 to 3 months in the freezer. Meanwhile, coated pesto cubes are safe to consume for 4 to 6 months before they tend to lose their colour. 

Beyond this, they will remain safe to eat but will have degraded so much in flavour that there would be no point in using them.

How Long Does Pesto Last in the Fridge?

Pesto that is kept in an airtight jar with a thin layer of oil to seal it will keep in the fridge for around 2 weeks.

How Do You Defrost Pesto?

You don’t need to defrost pesto if you are planning to cook with it. Take out your frozen pesto cubes and put them directly into your hot pot or pan. Continue stirring until your pesto regains its nice creamy texture.

Should the pesto turn a little more soggy or watery than you’d like, you can always add a couple of drops of oil. You could also try some crushed herbs or green to revitalise its texture.

If you want to use pesto as a dip, you can thaw your pesto by letting it sit at room temperature for about half an hour. If you need to speed up the process, you can toss the pesto into the microwave.

This will only take a matter of seconds so keep a close eye on it. However, it’s worth noting that microwaved pesto should not be re-frozen, either. 

Can You Refreeze Pesto?

We’d strongly argue against refreezing pesto.

If you refreeze pesto, it can become quite mushy and turn an unappetising brown colour. Instead, use the ice cube method we have outlined above so you only ever defrost the portion size you need.

Does Pesto Freeze Well?

When freezing cubes of pesto and tossing it into pasta, you’ll be hard-pushed to tell the difference. There can be some discolouration if oxidation occurs while the pesto cubes are in the freezer.

But if used within a few months, the flavour will still be almost as good as freshly made pesto. 

If you’ve still got questions about freezing pesto or pesto in general, then these may help:

Can You Freeze Pesto Pasta?

Yes, you can freeze pesto pasta… But it’s not going to freeze that well. Instead, we would advise freezing pesto on its own before boiling up some pasta and stirring through a cube or two of your frozen pesto.

Can You Freeze Pesto in Glass Jars?

You can freeze pesto directly in glass jars. There are actually glass jars that are made for the freezer. You want to make sure they have a good seal on them. Fill them up with your pesto, leaving around a thumb’s width from the top of the jar free. Cover the pesto in a layer of olive oil and then seal tightly.

Can You Freeze Homemade Pesto?

Yes, homemade pesto can be frozen in the same way as shop-bought pesto. Portion it out into an ice cube tray, seal with oil, wrap it in clingfilm and then freeze.

Can You freeze Pesto From a Jar?

Of course! If you got some shop-bought pesto in a jar, decant it into an ice cube tray and freeze it into cubes. Once solid, pop those cubes into a resealable freezer bag.

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