Kids in the Kitchen: Basil Pesto

Kids in the Kitchen Basil Pesto preparation

We haven’t been able to get it together enough to work on actual preschool activities, but there are always opportunities to learn around here.  Lately, we have been learning in the kitchen together.  We have tried some new recipes and challenged G’s fine motor skills while working on following instructions.  The kitchen is always a great place for these (and other) skills to be honed.  And the results are almost always yummy!

I got a great deal at the grocery on a package of organic basil and I immediately thought of making pesto with G.  The process is so easy and I just knew she would love using the food processor.


I set up all the ingredients while she was napping and when she got up and had her hands washed, we got to work.

Basil Pesto - simple ingredients

First, we used our fine motor skills for tearing the leaves of the basil off of the stems.  I was pleasantly surprised that her tearing skills have greatly improved.  She enjoyed pulling the leaves and laying them in a pile.

Kids in the Kitchen Basil Pesto preparation

Then, we transferred the leaves to the food processor bowl.  We had a quick conversation about dropping them into the bowl because there was a blade at the bottom that was very sharp (safety first).

Kids in the Kitchen Basil Pesto in the Food Processor

Once the leaves were all torn and in the bowl, I put the lid on and let G push the “pulse” button until we reached a desired consistency.  We talked about the spinning and the cutting going on inside this amazing machine!  I also talked to her about the lid needing to be on and secure before the processor worked.

Kids in the Kitchen Basil Pesto-preparation

Then we added the pecans, Parmesan, and freshly cracked pepper.  I put the lid back on and secured it.  G could hardly wait to push the button again.  This time as she pushed the button, I poured extra-virgin olive oil into the feed tube and we watched our basil pesto come together, like magic!

Kids in the Kitchen Food Processor Basil Pesto ingredients

G was so proud of the finished pesto and obviously loved working with the small kitchen appliance.  I am already thinking of lots of things we can make together this way.  It is such a great introduction to working in the kitchen for toddlers (as long as there is close supervision).

We ended up using part of our basil pesto in some chicken breasts I flattened for dinner.  We used more of it as a sauce for the homemade gnocchi we had in the freezer for lunch the next day.  If you are making it and not using all of it immediately, remember to cover it with a layer of olive oil, to reduce browning (even if you are freezing it).   Here’s our thrown together recipe for basil pesto:

Basil Pesto

Basil Pesto


Note: all quantities approximate and to taste

1 lg pkg. basil (stems removed)

1/2 c. pecans

3/4 c. Parmesan cheese

1-2 tsp. fresh cracked pepper

1/2-3/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil.


  1. Add basil leaves to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until leaves are roughly chopped.
  2. Add pecans, Parmesan, and pepper to the bowl and pulse until minced.
  3. As you pulse the last few pulses, stream in olive oil to the bowl through the feed tube.  The mixture will come together and moisten.

To store: pour into a storage container and cover the top with a layer of olive oil to prevent browning.

Have fun!

1-2-3 Basil Pesto - Kids in the Kitchen

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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. evonne

    She is absolutely gorgeous!!! Looks like such fun! What a great teacher she has!

  2. Liz M

    So fun! This would definitely be a great thing to make together! And yummy too of course!

    I also wanted to let you know that I really enjoy your site. Because of this, I linked to your site as an additional resource in an eBook I just released titled “Preschool at Home: Creating a Custom Plan in Eight Easy Steps.” Definitely want to sent people here to see the great ideas you have!

    You can check out the eBook here –

    Thanks for all the work you do putting this site together!

    1. ussleah

      Thanks so much, Liz! The encouragement is greatly appreciated. I look forward to checking out your book!

  3. I love pesto. We make it constantly in the summer. Teaching kids to cook at early ages is great…it’s such an important life skill!

  4. I know my girl would love to help tearing the basil off the stems for pesto. What a great idea! Thanks for sharing at the Love to Learn Linky (we pinned it too)!

    1. ussleah

      Yes, sometimes it is the simplest things in the kitchen that my girls love doing. I think it gives them a sense of accomplishment! Thanks for stopping by and for the pin!

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