Pesto is a classic sauce that can be added to a variety of dishes to give them a burst of fresh basil flavor. Whether you are using it as a dip or adding it to pasta it can add a new dimension to almost any dish. Basil, one of the main ingredients, creates a special limitation to cooking with pesto. When attempting to heat pesto, the basil can develop an undesirable bitter flavor. Luckily there are a few techniques that can help you heat pesto indirectly and preserve the flavor.

Things You'll Need

Add Pesto to Pasta

Cook pasta and drain.

Return the pasta to the pot that you cooked it in.

Place a saucepan onto the burner and turn it to its lowest setting. Add pesto and stir constantly just until its consistency changes from thick to thin. Remove from heat immediately so as not to overcook.

Add heated pesto to the pasta and toss to coat evenly. Serve hot.

Pesto Bread

Cut a loaf of French bread in half lengthwise.

Use a spatula to spread pesto in a thin coat over the bread.

Lightly brush olive oil over the top of the pesto with a basting brush.

Set oven to 450 degrees F. Place the bread directly onto the baking rack.

Remove as soon as bread has browned and crisped. Serve with a main course that also uses pesto, if desired.


  • Don’t overheat pesto: The basil will turn bitter and black.

  • Pesto can be substituted for the usual tomato sauce in most dishes.

  • Garnish your dish with fresh basil leaves for an aesthetically pleasing touch.