I love basil and I've been so happy to start posting some great basil recipes on this page (and if you haven't already, check out my pesto and basil aioli recipes and spinach tortellini salad with pesto vinaigrette) Then, take a deep breath and inhale this basil cream sauce recipe.
The post contains helpful tips and tricks to make sure you're successful in your first attempt. But if you're in a rush, please use the link above to jump to the recipe card at the end!
💭 Why you'll love this recipe
- Simple, fifteen minute recipe, but super versatile. I could probably just stop here and it'll speak for itself. But I put this on everything - pasta, tacos, salads, enchiladas, lasagna, you name it .
- Great way to use up fresh or frozen basil. I love freezing basil when it's in abundance during the summer, and use it in this condiment later during the year when it's not in season!
- Can be made from scratch or with premade pesto. You can also jazz up some pesto you already have and turn it into this delicious recipe!
📋 Ingredients and notes
You'll need fresh basil leaves, heavy cream, pine nuts, shallot, avocado oil, garlic cloves, all purpose flour, fresh lemon juice and zest, salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. If you want to shortcut the process, you can also use storebought pesto, along with heavy cream, flour, shallots, and lemon juice and zest.
📖 How to make basil cream sauce
Prepare the roux and cream sauce
Heat avocado oil on a skillet on medium heat. Add shallots and sauté for until aromatic. Then, add minced garlic, and sauté for about 30 seconds. Add heavy cream (or coconut cream) and some flour to allow it to thicken into a creamy sauce that can coat the back of your spoon.
Process basil with a bit of the cream sauce
- While the cream sauce is cooking down, add basil, pine nuts and garlic cloves to a heat-proof blender or food processor, and pulse to combine. Add remaining avocado oil to emulsify.
- Then, transfer half a cup of the cream sauce from the skillet to the blender and blend it all up into a smooth consistency.
- Add this back into the skillet, then add a teaspoon of lemon zest, a teaspoon of salt and red pepper flakes, and half a teaspoon of pepper to finish the sauce. Serve over your favorite pasta!
Your basil cream sauce is ready! Anytime you want a creamy, pesto type flavor, you can use this sauce in your pasta! Love serving this with other fresh spring and summer vegetables (like asparagus and snap peas!)
👩🏽🍳Top tips and FAQs
Yes! You can use dill, parsley, oregano. I've also used thyme, cilantro, and chives in the past. Check out my basil substitutions post as well.
The recipe can be made vegan by using coconut cream instead of heavy cream. You can also make it gluten free by using corn starch or cassava flour instead of flour while making the roux.
Pasta comes to mind first, but you can also use this as a sauce for enchiladas, as a base for lasagna, or even add it to tacos!
🍴 Serving and storage suggestions
When stored in an airtight container, the basil cream sauce lasts in the fridge for a couple of days. But if I were to be completely honest, I put this on everything so it rarely ever lasts that long!
If you like this recipe, check out my other fun pasta recipes:
Basil Cream Sauce
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil, divided
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup heavy cream, substitute with coconut cream if vegan
- 1 tablespoon flour, substitute with GF flour as needed
- 1 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Heat a tablespoon of avocado oil on a skillet on medium heat. Then, add finely diced shallots and sauté for about 1 minute until it's aromatic. Then, mince and add 3 cloves of garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds (you can also use 3 teaspoons of minced garlic instead).
- Then, add a cup of heavy cream (or coconut cream) along with a tablespoon of flour and allow it to cook down for about 5 minutes until you get a thick creamy sauce that can coat the back of your spoon.
- While the cream sauce is cooking down, add a cup of basil along with a tablespoon of pine nuts and three garlic cloves to a heat-proof blender or food processor, and pulse to combine. Add the remaining tablespoon of avocado oil to emulsify this sauce.
- Transfer half a cup of the cream sauce from the skillet to the blender and blend it all up into a smooth consistency. Add this back into the skillet, then add a teaspoon of lemon zest, a teaspoon of salt and red pepper flakes, and half a teaspoon of pepper to finish the sauce. Serve over your favorite pasta!
- You can also add other herbs while making the cream sauce or substitute the avocado oil with butter - I find that using a neutral oil like avocado oil helps avoid splitting when stored in the fridge.
- To reheat the recipe, simple simmer in a skillet. I recommend not reheating in a microwave if you can avoid it!
- This cream sauce pairs really well with a number of cheeses - Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, and Asiago are all great pairings. It can also be served over a number of pasta dishes, but my favorite is to serve it with tortellini and short pastas!
- If you're strapped on time, you can also use premade or storebought pesto to make the sauce (so instead of combining basil, garlic, pine nuts and avocado oil in the blender, you can just use pesto!)