Pesto aioli is a simple but flavor-packed sauce that's perfect on sandwiches, burgers, and as dip with fries. You can make it using homemade or store-bought pesto and just a 5 main ingredients!
If I'm not serving fries with barbecue sauce, I'm probably using this pesto aioli or chipotle ranch dressing. That's because pesto aioli requires just a few simple ingredients to make and it's absolutely packed with flavor!
Pesto and mayo are stirred together with garlic, lemon juice, and a touch of salt to make my version of pesto aioli. Aioli is just a combination of mayonnaise and garlic, but it's a great base for dipping sauces. Adding pesto gives aioli a bright green color and herby basil flavor.
About this recipe
- Pesto aioli requires just 5 ingredients. You can use storebought pesto to save on prep time or use homemade pesto.
- You can easily make vegan pesto aioli by using your favorite vegan/egg-free mayo. I like to use Hellman's vegan mayonnaise.
- This is the perfect dipping sauce for fries or roasted potatoes, and it's an easy way to add flavor to portobello burgers and sandwiches.
What is aioli?
Aioli is a sauce that originates from the South of France and traditionally uses a combination of egg yolks, lemon juice, mustard, and olive oil along with garlic. This mixture is super similar to mayonnaise but is not technically mayonnaise.
However, for simplicities sake, my pesto aioli recipe uses mayonnaise instead of egg yolks, olive oil, and acid. If we are being honest, most aiolis in the US are basically garlic-seasoned mayonnaise. But that just doesn't sound as appetizing as aioli, does it?
For a more traditional approach to pesto aioli, try this aioli recipe in place of the mayonnaise and crushed garlic.
- Pesto: This is an Italian staple made with basil, pine nuts, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and garlic. I usually use homemade pesto but storebought pesto works just as well.
- Mayonnaise: A lot of pesto aioli recipes feature homemade mayonnaise, but I am all about convenience so I use extra virgin olive oil mayonnaise or vegan mayo.
- Lemon juice: This adds a touch of acidity and smooths out the aioli. I recommend using fresh lemons for the best flavor. For extra brightness, try adding the zest from a lemon in addition to the juice.
- Garlic: Raw minced garlic is essential in aioli. Start with just two cloves and adjust to taste, as raw garlic is much stronger than cooked garlic. I recommend using fresh garlic, not jarred garlic.
How to make pesto aioli
Mix together the mayonnaise, pesto, and two cloves of minced garlic. Add just 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to thin the aioli. Add additional lemon juice to thin it further, or add lemon zest if the sauce doesn't need to be thinned further but could use some extra brightness.
I don't recommend using dry basil in pesto. If you are short on basil, substitute half with spinach. Or just use store-bought pesto.
I don't recommend freezing pesto aioli.
Leftover pesto aioli is best used in 3-4 days. Keep refrigerated in a closed container. Enjoy chilled.
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Easy Pesto Aioli
- 1 cup olive oil mayonnaise or vegan mayo
- 3 tablespoons pesto
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice from ½ lemon
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, pesto, minced garlic, lemon juice, and salt.
- It will be a relativley thick sauce. For a thinner sauce, add another 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
- Garnish with freshly ground black pepper. Taste for salt and garlic. Enjoy!