Exploring the best picks for basil pesto – just in time for summer picnic vibes!
Pesto, with its vibrant green hue and aromatic flavours, is a kitchen staple for many households. But with an abundance of options lining the shelves – and all at a pretty price! – finding that perfect store-bought basil pesto can be a challenge.
To help you navigate this delicious dilemma, we assembled some basil pesto options found on-shelf at our local stores and taste tested our way through them.
All samples were tasted without any packaging in sight and they were all tasted with small blocks of mozzarella cheese.
Pesto Princess Basil Pesto
Pesto Princess’ basil pesto was the crowd favourite for the Food24 team. This pesto was honestly just a vibe on its own! The sample had the most beautiful vibrant green hue and a good oil-to-goods ratio. The texture also had a lovely consistency to it and it was nicely balanced, giving it that real homemade, fresh feel.
The only thing that might put some off was that it was garlicky, but as most garlic lovers will agree, too garlicky is better than a bland, dull pesto!
Dubbed “the perfect pizza pesto”, it left our editor dreaming of a wood-fired focaccia slathered with basil pesto, topped with fresh burrata and a drizzle of olive oil – who wouldn’t want that from a biteful of basil pesto?
Cost: R79.99 for 130g
Serena Basil Pesto
The basil pesto from Serena was wonderfully herbaceous, although the basil flavour itself didn’t necessarily shine. It did, however, taste herby and fresh and the team thinks it’s a good all-rounder.
“If I am being honest, it could have a nicer colour to it. Some samples were quite heavy on the garlic, while others packed a cheesy punch, but this sample was a pretty good all-rounder if you’re looking to buy a herby pesto,” said our content producer, Bianca Jones, after tasting this sample.
Cost: R55.99 for 190g
Woolworths Basil Pesto
“Ah, yeah, that’s the Woolies one,” exclaimed Food24’s social media manager, Ishani Chetty, when tasting the sample for the first time. Unbeknownst to her, the sample was indeed from Woolworths!
The basil pesto from Woolworths was wonderfully vibrant and green, but it didn’t necessarily live up to its eye-catching appeal. This sample took a more subtle approach to its herbiness, but the flavour of the hard cheese came through beautifully, so if you’re a cheesy pesto lover, this is the sample for you! This was a flavour note the team quite quite enjoyed, with Bianca sharing: “Is that pecorino cheese coming through? It’s delicious … tastes like a cheese lover made this one and measured the pecorino with their heart!”
Cost: R69.99 for 125g
Checkers Basil Pesto
This sample had quite an obvious amount of visible oil separation, but it was without a doubt basil pesto, with a lovely classic flavour profile. The pesto also had quite a nice deep green colour to it.
Named the “toasties’ friend,” the team felt this basil pesto would add a serious amount of flavour to your favourite cheese toastie!
Cost: R59.99 for 125g
Campagna Basil Pesto
This pesto was more of an earthy muted green, so it was definitely missing that vibrant hue, especially when compared to the other contenders.
The Food24 team also found this sample to be quite bitter, noting that it oddly tasted more prominently of freeze-dried mint, which unfortunately overpowered the flavour of the basil.
Mediterranean Delicacies Basil Pesto
Although it had an aesthetically pleasing dark green hue to it, it was extremely dry, thick and more paste-like. It lacked a serious amount of oil and sadly did not taste much of basil.
The team was left wondering what the actual flavour of the pesto was: “Is it kale? Is it parsley? One thing is for sure – it’s not basil.”
Cost: R68.99 for 125g
Barilla Basil Pesto
This sample also had a very thick viscosity to it and the hue was more of an earthy muted green. It also tasted quite strongly of processed cheese, which unfortunately overpowered all of the herby basil notes. “Pesto? Maybe not. Green cheese spread? Yes!”
Prices correct at time of publishing. Food24 is not affiliated with any retailer or specific branch, and products may differ from store to store.
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The rules of Food24 Taste Tests:
– All tasters tasted and scored all samples. Each individual taster’s preference impacts the score they give.
– The samples were tested without packaging and were not easily identifiable.
– The samples were not labelled and were tasted in random order.
– This article is not sponsored in any way, and Food24 was not paid to come to any particular result.
Our taste tests are always unbiased and intended for your information. You may, however, have come to this article through various paid-for advertising.