Where is Pesto in the Grocery Store? Buying Tips and How to Use

Pesto is easily identifiable from other sauces due to its green appearance and thickness. The best part about this sauce should be its versatility. You can easily use it in different recipes to enjoy your foods.

If pesto is something you have always wanted, then you would be asking yourself, where is pesto in the grocery store?

Not to worry as this guide gives you an idea of where you can easily get pesto in a grocery store and how it can help you achieve better health.

What is Pesto?

Pesto is a sauce made from fresh basil, pine nuts, cheese, garlic, and olive oil. These ingredients are pounded to form a thick green paste.

Pesto is Italian for pounded, so you get the idea of how the sauce got its name.

For years now, pesto has been used in different applications to add flavor to the meals or even simply make your sandwich better. As such, you can always find multiple applications for pesto.

Types of Pesto

If you are new to using pesto, it is worth learning more about the different kinds of pesto available right now. Here are a few options to keep in mind.

  • Jarred pesto

As the name suggests, these are pesto pastes in glass jars. They are usually the cheapest you can buy right now and will have an impressive shelf life too. You can simply store the jarred pesto in your cupboard unless you open it. If you open the jar, then it has to be stored in the fridge.

  • Fresh pesto

Fresh pesto lacks additives and preservatives. Always check the label ensuring it is what you are looking for. This type of pesto must always be refrigerated whether at the store or home.

You will notice it is mostly liked by chefs since it gives off a garden-fresh flavor. Such include pine nuts and herbs that will pop your taste buds.

Even if it seems like a lot of work to keep refrigerating the pesto sauce, always consider trying out fresh pesto occasionally. It will give your taste buds something different to experience.

Differences Between Pesto, Picada, and Pistou

You are likely to come across picada and pistou being compared to pesto a lot. So, what is the difference between these sauces?

Pistou is referred to as the Provençal version of pesto. This is because it contains garlic, basil, and olive oil just as pesto. However, pistou does not have nuts and cheese. That is the biggest difference and how you can tell the two apart.

Since pistou lacks nuts and cheese, it would be a great pesto alternative for those with dairy and nut allergies. Also, pistou will likely be less creamy and more garlicky than pesto.

Picada is also closely related to pesto only that it does not have cheese. As such, picada will mostly have blanched peeled almonds, hazelnuts or pine nuts, olive oil, and flat-leaf parsley.

Picada can still have some other additions such as bread, roasted chili peppers, paprika, and black pepper.

Where is Pesto in Grocery Store

When you get into a grocery store, check the aisle with jarred pasta sauces. You are also likely to get it among the specialty sauces in the grocery store too.

The ones you find in the pasta sauces aisle will be the shelf-stable pesto. However, if you need fresh pesto, check it out in the refrigerated pasta sauces area. Sometimes you would also get it near specialty cheese or bakery products.

If the grocery store has the vegan or health food section, it could still be among them. It is worth checking out such a section as you can find more than vegan pesto. Sometimes you may opt for some other substitutes because of nut and dairy allergies.

You can still source for pesto in different stores other than the closest grocery store. Some of the stores that sell pesto include Amazon, Walmart, Whole Foods, Safeway, Publix, and Kroger.

Potential Health Benefits of Pesto

Since pesto is used by many people around the world, you might be intrigued to understand why this is the case. Below are some of the potential health benefits of pesto to make you consider getting some for your family.

  • Pesto has antioxidants

The antioxidants are great for protecting your cells against the free radicals. These are the molecules that can damage the cells in your body.

Sometimes when free radicals become too many in your body, they can easily lead to early skin aging, loss of hair, bone loss, cancer, and other conditions. So, antioxidants are crucial to prevent damage of cells in the body.

Ingredients such as vitamin E and vitamin C in pesto are great antioxidants. Each time you consume pesto, you will generally improve your health.

  • Pesto has monounsaturated fats

These types of fats are good for lowering the LDL type of cholesterol and raise the good cholesterol in the body. As such, these fats will benefit your heart and other related body organs to ensure you can maintain the best health.

The American Heart Association recommends that most of the fats in your diet should be poly or monounsaturated types. This ensures you have healthier fats while at the same time getting less calories compared to the other types of fats.

  • Pesto has vitamins and minerals

Pesto also has the important vitamins and minerals crucial for your bone health and the body on overall. You will find most pesto products having calcium, iron, and potassium as the top minerals.

Some of the reasons you have these many minerals and vitamins is because of garlic, pine, and cashew nuts present in pesto.

Pesto is also known for having healthful doses of other crucial minerals such as manganese, phosphorus, and selenium.

A mineral such as manganese will support the development of connective tissues, improve your metabolism, and blood clotting. Selenium is also an antioxidant crucial for fighting the free radicals in the body.

As much as it might have some doses of vitamins A and K, pesto will not give you a high amount of energy-boosting vitamins.

Why Pesto is the Ultimate Sauce

You might be wondering, why is pesto sauce so famous? Here are some quick reasons why it is the ultimate sauce.

  • You can use pesto on sandwiches. Ditch the mustard or mayo and throw in some pesto sauce to see how it can be different.
  • Use pesto in your favorite food dips. Let us say you enjoy hummus; it can be a nice addition to the dip.
  • Pesto can be great for making the ultimate salad. You can forget about overly used methods for making a salad and opt for using pesto.
  • Pesto is still a nice choice for your pasta. The next time you are trying out some pasta recipes, consider getting yourself pesto too as part of the ingredients.
  • Dressing pizza with pesto might seem weird until you try it. Make sure not to overuse it on your pizza for the best experience.

Pesto Substitutes

Maybe you are allergic to nuts or dairy or for any other reason, you cannot use pesto. What would be the alternative? Below are some of the pesto substitutes you may want to consider.

  • Substitute the pine nuts with hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, or macadamia nuts.
  • Substitute basil with parsley, spinach, baby chard, carrot tops, mint, cilantro, marjoram, sorrel, and arugula.
  • Substitute parmesan with aged manchego, pecorino romano, or use of salty cheeses.

Using the different substitutes mentioned above can help in generating different flavor combinations.

How to Make a Better Pesto Sauce

Below are some quick tips you should have in mind when making pesto.

  • Always consider using fresh basil leaves.

The dried basil leaves always taste different than the fresh leaves. Also, the fresh basil leaves will have more moisture content and natural oils crucial for the pesto’s creaminess.

  • Toast your nuts

If you check out many pesto recipes, you notice the option of toasting the nuts. If you toast pine nuts, you get to add more flavor to your pesto. Still, the pesto can be flavorful even when you use them raw.

The raw nuts can still save you time needed for toasting and cooling. So, it is something that can vary from one person to another.

  • Always be gentle when working with basilleaves

The heat from the food processor, blender or when over chopping can easily make the basil leaves to oxidize and turn brown too. As such, you should not over-process the leaves if you want them to deliver on the best taste and flavor in the end.

  • Use salt too

Adding salt to basil will help break down the basil leaves when blending or pounding. This is important to help release a lot more of its oils and nutrients.

  • Citrus is also good

As much as citrus is not known as a traditional pesto ingredient, it will not hurt to have it as part of your pesto. It will help in brightening up your pesto.

  • Refrigerate the leftover pesto

In case you have some leftover pesto, consider refrigerating it for longer use. Make sure to cover the pesto in an olive oil layer. This is crucial to help it maintain its green color for longer.


Pesto generally makes your food better. It is why more people would always consider getting it for their different recipes they might have in mind.

Make sure to take your time comparing the different pesto brands to find the best depending on your needs. You can still make some at home to enjoy the benefits of pesto sauce.

Brian Lee
Founder of Darbaroud.com: I like to write about self-improvement and achieving excellence, and believe that it is these qualities that ultimately make people successful in life.

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