Best Pesto: Top 6 Store-Bought Sauces, Ranked

Whether it’s used as a pasta sauce, a spread for sandwiches, or a flavorful addition to soups and salads, pesto adds a freshness and depth that can elevate a meal. This delectable condiment — traditionally made from a blend of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and olive oil, boasts a rich and nutty flavor that is versatile and distinctive. It’s not hard to whip up a batch of pesto in your food processor, but if you don’t have any fresh ingredients — the best pestos at the grocery store are easy to pick up in a pinch.

Beyond its culinary appeal, pesto’s health benefits, particularly from the olive oil, are noteworthy. Olive oil has been shown to help prevent dementia, heart disease, and cancer.  That is true even in small amounts, making it the perfect excuse to pick up some pesto. If you’re new to the world of pesto sauce or unsure about which pre-made options are the best, fear not — we’ve conducted extensive research online to identify the best pesto that is most frequently recommended across eight food enthusiasts. Did we miss one you keep in your pantry for the times you don’t feel like making it fresh? Let us know in the comments below.

➡️ How Our “Best Of The Best” Lists Are Created

StudyFinds’ “Best of the Best” articles are put together with the idea of taking the work out of common consumer research. Ever find yourself searching for a product or service on Google and reading multiple reviews to find items listed across many of them? Our Best of the Best lists are created with that process in mind, with each item ranked by how frequently it appears on expert reviews or lists. With Best of the Best, you are getting consensus picks — making them truly the best of the best!

A spoonful of pesto
A spoonful of pesto (Photo by Nathalie Jolie on Unsplash)

1. Kirkland Signature Basil Pesto

Kirkland Signature Basil Pesto
Kirkland Signature Basil Pesto

If you’re looking for a jarred pesto that hits all the right flavors and textures, look no further than Kirkland Signature. AllRecipes gives it a thumbs up, praising its coarse texture, vibrant flavor, and ability to deliver the true taste of fresh garlic, basil, and parmesan.

The flavor of this brand is unbeatable! Sporked is impressed by its richness, earthiness, and use of high-quality olive oil. They also appreciate the prominent pine nut flavor and the balanced sharpness of pecorino romano cheese. They even point out that it avoids the common pitfall of being overly garlicky.

The Daily Meal is equally impressed, calling the pesto “unbelievably fresh, creamy, herbaceous, and perfectly balanced”. They add that fans find it so tasty and convenient that making it from scratch becomes unnecessary. They also mention its affordability, making it a great value for the price.

2. Alessi Pesto

Alessi Pesto
Alessi Pesto

Craving homemade pesto but short on time? Kirkland Signature offers a convenient solution that reviewers commend for its authentic taste and quality ingredients. Mashed says this is the perfect easy alternative to homemade versions. They appreciate the brand’s commitment to using traditional ingredients like basil, olive oil, cheese, pine nuts, and garlic, and avoiding unnecessary fillers. This focus on simplicity translates into a wonderfully natural taste, according to their review.

Today also praises the pesto’s purity of ingredients. They mention the distinct flavors of each component, further emphasizing its authenticity. They conclude that this pesto proves you don’t need unnecessary additives to achieve great taste.

The Daily Meal adds another layer to the praise, describing the pesto as “tasty and straightforward” with a balanced texture. They appreciate the fine-tuned texture that avoids being either too smooth or overly coarse. You won’t be disappointed with this brand!

3. Buitoni Basil Pesto

Buitoni Basil Pesto
Buitoni Basil Pesto (

For those who prefer a smooth and balanced pesto experience, Buitoni’s refrigerated option is the perfect choice. Taste of Home describes it as a “jewel green” pesto with a harmonious blend of ingredients, where no single flavor overpowers the others. This creates a delightful experience when spread on crostini or incorporated into various recipes.

Sporked adds that Buitoni’s pesto strikes a pleasing balance between creaminess and chunkiness, further enhanced by its thick consistency. This makes it perfect not only for pasta dishes but also as a flavorful topping for fish or chicken.

You’ll find this pesto in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Eat This, Not That! says this is a good sign for freshness. They also acknowledge the use of high-quality ingredients, listing basil and extra virgin olive oil as the first two on the list, followed by pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and garlic.

4. Barilla’s Rustic Basil Pesto

Barilla's Rustic Basil Pesto
Barilla’s Rustic Basil Pesto (

Many like this brand’s pasta and red sauce, but the experts agree the pesto is pretty good too. If you’re looking for a pesto with a twist, Barilla’s Rustic Basil Pesto is worth trying. Mashed praises its balanced sweetness and saltiness, highlighting the prominent basil flavor with a subtle touch of garlic, making it a great choice for those seeking a classic pesto experience.

Insider acknowledges its oily texture, similar to other brands like Classico, but appreciates its improved mouthfeel. They also mention the presence of a hint of citrus and added olives, adding an interesting dimension to the flavor profile.

Sporked likes Barilla’s Creamy Genovese Pesto, describing it as “creamy pesto butter”, emphasizing its richness, creaminess, and herbaceous taste. They compare it to spreading pesto made with butter, highlighting its “luxuriousness” and “alfredo-like quality.” It might not be a traditional pesto, calling it “more of a pesto sauce,” but they still highly recommend it for its unique and enjoyable taste.

5. Mezzetta Basil Pesto

Mezzetta Pesto
Mezzetta Pesto

Mezzetta’s Basil Pesto stands out as a top contender among reviewers, particularly for its outstanding flavor and fresh ingredients. Mashed raves about its “complex flavors” that “taste like homemade” every time, with the fresh basil aroma shining through in every jar. They recommend it wholeheartedly, urging shoppers to not miss out if they see it on the shelves.

The Daily Meal highlights the unique twist of using almonds in this pesto. While not a traditional ingredient, they appreciate the added “woodsy nuttiness” and subtle crunch it contributes to the texture. Additionally, the inclusion of rosemary adds a “pleasant fragrance” and increased complexity to the overall flavor profile.

Sporked describes Mezzetta’s pesto as having a “rustic” character, ideal for spreading on toasted bread or enjoying in sandwiches. They praise its “bold, sharp flavor” and “enhanced herbiness” attributed to the rosemary, suggesting it caters to those who prefer a more pronounced and distinctive pesto experience.

6. Classico Traditional Basil Pesto

Classico Traditional Basil Pesto
Classico Traditional Basil Pesto

Classico is a familiar brand for pasta sauces and its pesto rounds out our list. While it doesn’t rank as high as the other brands, The Daily Meal describes it as having a “fairly assertive taste of garlic and cheese,” suggesting a bolder flavor profile compared to other options. This might appeal to those who enjoy a more pronounced and zesty pesto experience.

Mashed notes that this pesto is nut free, making it a safe choice for individuals with nut allergies. However, they acknowledge that this omission might not please “pesto purists” who believe nuts are an essential ingredient. They conclude by questioning why the absence of nuts is an issue if the product still delivers a “true pesto taste.”

Today mentions that Classico’s pesto is “notoriously rich and decadent,” but unlike other similarly rich sauces, you can “eat it in excess without feeling nauseated.” This suggests that despite its boldness, the sauce manages to achieve a balanced and enjoyable flavor profile that allows for greater indulgence without feeling overwhelmed.

How to choose a store-bought pesto sauce:

  • Quality of Olive Oil: Opt for brands using extra-virgin olive oil for its superior taste and health benefits.
  • Cheese Quality: Authentic pesto uses Parmesan (Parmigiano-Reggiano) or Pecorino cheese.
  • Color: The color of pesto is a good indicator of its freshness. It should be a vibrant green.

Also, be sure to check the use-by date to ensure freshness. Once opened, you should store it in the refrigerator and use it within a few days.


Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links in which we receive a commission if you make a purchase.

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About the Author

Amy Chodroff

Amy Chodroff is a recovering Morning Radio Show Host and award-winning broadcaster who recently retired from DFW’s Morning News on KLIF in Dallas. Fondly known as the “Chief Googler” by her friends, it was a seamless transition for StudyFinds to enlist her expertise for their “Best of the Best” franchise. Amy has an innate curiosity and a penchant for thorough research before any purchase and she’s constantly on the hunt for top-notch products. Outside of her digital explorations, Amy loves to explore the world with her husband and is the proud mother of two adult daughters. You can also find Amy on the pickleball court, perfecting her dink and drop shots.

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    Rare Earth – Get Ready, album version.
    Black Betty – Ram Jam, album version.
    Grand Funk RR – T.N.U.C.
    Santana – Soul Sacrifice
    Emerson, Lake and Palmer – Tank

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