Kalyn's Kitchen

Asparagus with Basil Pesto

Asparagus with Basil Pesto is about as quick and delicious as it gets for a low-carb side dish; just use purchased pesto if you don’t have fresh basil! 

PIN Asparagus with Basil Pesto to try it later!

Asparagus with Basil Pesto finished dish in serving bowl

For this week’s Friday Favorites post I’m spotlighting a much-loved recipe from the popular Five Ingredients category on the blog, where I feature tasty low-carb recipes with five ingredients or less. This Asparagus with Basil Pesto is a perfect combination that I stumbled on by accident years ago on a day when I had fresh asparagus and noticed a jar of pesto in the fridge. The pesto turned out to be fantastic with lightly cooked asparagus.

When I made the recipe again recently to take better photos, it was even better with my homemade Basil Pesto with Lemon, something I always make and freeze when my garden has an abundance of basil. But even if you use Kirkland Basil Pesto or another brand of purchased pesto, if you like these ingredients I promise that this will become one of your favorite ways to cook asparagus.

What ingredients do you need for this recipe?

  • salt (for asparagus cooking water)
  • fresh asparagus 
  • basil pesto
  • salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste

What is Pesto?

Pesto is an Italian specialty that originated in Genoa, Italy where it was used as a fresh sauce for on hot pasta. The traditional Pesto Genovese is made with fresh basil leaves, olive oil garlic, pine nuts, and Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (or both), but pesto has evolved into a fresh sauce that has endless variations. My personal favorite (and the one I make every year when I have an abundance of fresh basil) is Basil Pesto with Lemon, and that’s what I’d use for this recipe if I had some in the freezer. And Pesto is used in a wide variety of ways nowdays, check out Low-Carb and Keto Recipes with Pesto for more tasty ideas for using basil pesto!

Asparagus with Basil Pesto process shots collage

How to Make Asparagus with Basil Pesto:

(Scroll down for complete recipe with nutritional information.)

  1. When I have lots of basil I make big batches of pesto and freeze it in mini-muffin tins; then I seal the cubes in FoodSaver (affiliate link) bags so it’s easy to use take out a few when I need some pesto! If you’re using frozen pesto, try to take it out about 30 minutes before you make the recipe. (You can definitely use purchased pesto if making pesto isn’t happening in your world!)
  2. Start a pot of boiling, salted water; then trim the asparagus and cut on the diagonal into short pieces about 2 inches long.
  3. When the water comes to a boil, add the asparagus and cook not more than about 3 minutes (time it and test a piece!)
  4. Drain the hot asparagus into a colander placed in the sink.
  5. As soon as the asparagus has drained well, put in a bowl and add the pesto. Let it melt for a minute or two. Then toss the asparagus with the pesto.
  6. Serve immediately, with a little salt and pepper if you’d like! Yum!

Asparagus with Basil Pesto square thumbnail image of finished dish in serving bowl

More Favorite Ways to Cook Asparagus from Kalyn:

Favorite Low-Carb and Keto Asparagus Recipes
Barely-Cooked Asparagus with Lemon-Mustard Vinaigrette
Asparagus with Creamy Tahini-Peanut Dipping Sauce
Grilled Asparagus with Parmesan
Asparagus with Melted Gorgonzola and Pine Nuts

Asparagus with Basil Pesto finished dish in serving bowl

Asparagus with Basil Pesto

Yield 4 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Total Time 18 minutes

If you like asparagus and basil pesto, this Asparagus with Basil Pesto is a low-carb side dish you'll make over and over!


  • 1 tsp. salt (for asparagus cooking water)
  • 1 lb. fresh asparagus (or a little more)
  • 1/4 cup basil pesto (see notes)
  • salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste


  1. Fill medium sized pot with water, add a generous amount of salt (as if you were salting the water for pasta) and bring to a boil.
  2. Be sure asparagus is clean, then break off the end of one piece to see where the woody stalk starts.
  3. Trim the other asparagus pieces to that size, then cut asparagus on the diagonal into pieces about 2 inches long.
  4. When the water comes to a boil, add the asparagus and cook 2-3 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus. Don’t overcook, use a timer!
  5. When asparagus is lightly cooked but still fairly crisp, drain it into a colander placed in the sink.
  6. When the water has drained, put the hot asparagus into a bowl; add the pesto, and let it melt for a minute or two.
  7. Then toss the asparagus with the pesto and serve immediately.


I used my Basil Pesto with Lemon, but purchased pesto will also work just fine for this!

Recipe created by Kalyn when she had leftover pesto in the fridge and some lovely fresh asparagus.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 106Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 4mgSodium: 676mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 4g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.

If you make this recipe I'd love to hear how it turns out. Leave a star rating or share on social media with the hashtag #KALYNSKITCHEN, thanks!

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
This is a perfect side dish for any low-carb, Keto, or low-glycemic diet and all phases of the original South Beach Diet. If you’re strictly following South Beach you might want a bit less pesto.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Side Dishes to find more recipes like this one.Use the Recipes by Diet Type Index to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You can also Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Historical Notes for this Recipe:
Asparagus with Basil Pesto was first posted in 2007 (!) and last updated in 2021.

Asparagus with Basil Pesto Pinterest image

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    16 Comments on “Asparagus with Basil Pesto”

  1. I love this simple vegetable recipe – I usually have a stash of pesto in my freezer too. I like your updated photos – it's always fun to go back and look at older food photos.

  2. Thanks everyone. So glad people are liking this simple idea.

  3. So simple, but some of my favorites!

  4. Hope you are feeling better! That asparagus looks gorgeous. Love basil pesto as well! Must put in my "try soon" pile at the top!

    Happy Easter.

  5. My. Oh. My. I never thought of combining basil pesto with asparagus. Brilliant! I am predicting this will be my new asparagus obsession!

  6. I love asparagus! Thanks for the recipe.

  7. I tried the original basil pesto and didn’t like it too much. However, the sun dried version is just about the best pasta sauce I’ve ever eaten. It’s WONDERFUL. Find it if you can.

  8. Zoe, I love that idea. I’ll have to look for the Classico sun-dried tomato pesto,it sounds wonderful.

  9. I don’t like pesto, but I do like Classico’s sun dried tomato pesto — the same type as shown in your photo, but different flavor. It tastes mostly like tomatoes, not pesto. 🙂 Anyway, I used that instead, and it was delicious. It would be good with some parmesan cheese on top too.

  10. Thanks everyone. This was truly wonderful, even with pesto from a bottle.

  11. Hey Kalyn,
    You’re on an asparagus roll! I love all these variations.

  12. Kalyn, you sure knows how to spice up a simple asparagus dish !! What a great change of using pesto with crunchy fresh asparagus with basils 🙂

  13. Asparagus and basil pesto? You know? I have never had pesto on veggies. I am going to have to make another batch of pesto and try this…thanks!

  14. Wow, that will be on my table tonight!

  15. Mmm, can’t wait to try this.

  16. A great use for the last containers of pesto I have in my freezer from the summer harvest!