This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please visit the disclosures and privacy policy page.
Aug 21, 2022

Pesto Bread

The swirl in this pesto bread is filled with basil, parmesan, and garlic, along with pine nuts. The bread smells so good when it is baking. 

Pesto Bread loaf and slices on a wooden plank.

The combination of basil, garlic, Parmesan, and olive oil in this pesto bread adds just enough richness so that a slice stands on its own, but it's not really overwhelming. 

You can actually use this bread for sandwiches too. Think of any sandwich on which you might like a drizzle of pesto... This recipe marries the flavors in this loaf. 

Pesto Bread with a swirl of pesto on a table.

The bread is super easy to make, and the pesto flavors melt a little into the bread when the bread is baking. 

Ingredients in This Pesto Bread

For the bread you will need flour, yeast, water, salt, and a little bit of olive oil. 

For the pesto, I used the traditional ingredients, of basil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, olive oil and pine nuts. You can certainly get creative with the the pesto, either skipping the pine nuts or substituting walnuts or another type of nut. 

You can try celery leaf pesto or even pistou, a French take on pesto

Homemade pesto in a small bowl.

I've very excited that I got to use the basil growing in a pot in my back patio. For years I've tried to grow it but it never lasted. We finally have managed to keep one alive for several months! This one is a little hardier than most and can withstand our hot summers. 

Plus, the leaves don't seem to get dark after chopping them, which is nice. 

Fresh basil leaves on a marble surface.

I used about a cup of leaves, an ounce of freshly grated Parmesan, 3 tablespoons of pine nuts, and three cloves of garlic, which I combined in a mini food processor. I had a little left over after spreading the pesto on the bread dough. 

You can keep any leftover pesto in the refrigerator, but be sure to bring it to room temperature before serving. 

Pesto Bread dough spread with pesto.

To shape this bread, just stretch the dough out to a seven inch by 10 inch rectangle and spread the pesto over the dough. Next, roll it up like you would cinnamon swirl bread. 

This bread is great for serving with pasta and soups. It is also great toasted or for garlic toast. Plus, it's also fabulous for turkey or grilled cheese sandwiches. 

Pesto Bread slices on a wooden round board.

This dough is pretty sticky so it's a good idea to sprinkle your work surface with flour when getting ready to shape the loaf. 

I used a 8 inch by 4 inch bread pan, which is slightly smaller than a standard loaf pan and is meant for a 3/4 pound loaf. You can use a 1 pound loaf pan, but your loaf will be slightly shorter. It will still taste the same. 

Pesto Bread on a wooden board.

This is an updated post, with new photos and a printable recipe card. This was originally published in August, 2014. 

This week's Sunday Funday theme is fresh basil! Be sure to check out the recipes that include basil from all of the participants. 

Pesto Bread sliced on a board.

Pesto Bread

Pesto Bread
Yield: 16 servings
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Prep time: 30 MinCook time: 40 MinInactive time: 1 H & 20 MTotal time: 2 H & 30 M
The swirl in this pesto bread is filled with basil, parmesan, and garlic, along with pine nuts. The bread smells so good when it is baking.


For the Dough
  • 11 1/4 ounces (2 1/2 cups) bread flour, plus about 2 tablespoons more to bring the dough together
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup warm water, approximately 110 degrees F
  • 1 T olive oil
For the Pesto
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 ounce (about 1/4 cup) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


To Make the Pesto
  1. Process the basil leaves and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Add the Parmesan cheese and garlic and process until the mixture looks like green sand.
  3. With the food processor running, slowly add the olive oil until combined. Stir in the salt and pepper.
To Make the Bread
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together 1 cup of the flour and the rest of the dry ingredients.
  2. Add the warm water and olive oil and stir with a large spoon or dough whisk.
  3. Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix by hand between additions, until you have a shaggy mass.
  4. Move the bowl to the mixer and mix with the dough hook, adding flour by the tablespoon until the dough just clears the sides of the bowl. Knead for about 8 minutes.
  5. Place the dough into an oiled bowl or dough rising bucket, cover, and let rise until doubled, about 40 minutes.
  6. Spray an 8 inch by 4 inch bread pan with spray oil.
  7. When the dough is doubled, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and press it into a 7 inch by 11 to 12 inch rectangle.
  8. Spreat the pesto mixture over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border all around. You may not need all of the pesto. Starting with one of the shorter sides, roll the dough up, sealing the seams and ends, and place the log into the prepared pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.
  9. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. When the dough reaches the top of the pan (after about 30 to 40 minutes), remove the plastic wrap, and bake for 40 minutes.
  10. Cool on a wire rack in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely.

Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)


Sat. Fat (grams)


Carbs (grams)


Fiber (grams)


Net carbs


Sugar (grams)


Protein (grams)


Sodium (milligrams)


Cholesterol (grams)

Did you make this recipe?
Tag on instagram and hashtag it # karenskitchenstories

Would you like to comment?

  1. This bread would make awesome toast to go with an herbed omelette too. Yum! And who cares about a gap? It is a sign of being homemade and matters not to me.

    1. Thanks Renee! An herbed omelette sounds perfect!

  2. I was just remarking quietly to myself, since the hound doesn't count, that your swirl was just perfect. Mine always seem to turn out lopsided. Then I read your comment about the gap. Gap, smap. That is one perfect loaf, Karen! I'll bet the house did smell divine while those were in the oven.

  3. What a show stopper! I love the swirl in the center of the bread. I know that my kids would eat this loaf in a day..LOL Thank you for sharing this month.

    1. Thanks so much Sherron. It's always a cliffhanger when you slice one of these breads open.

  4. I cannot resist to pesto. Great interpretation of herb bread theme.

  5. What perfectly spiraled loaves! Your bread sounds amazing!!

  6. So pretty, Karen. Love the delicate pesto swirl and it looks so perfectly fluffy. A fantastic loaf for our August theme!!

    1. I so love your comments Lora. It was fluffy!! =)

  7. The pesto swirl on this bread is pure perfection! What a great bread, Karen! So, so pretty!
    Renee - Kudos Kitchen

  8. We were thinking alike this month!

    Love your pesto bread ... it looks almost too perfect to eat ... but let's be real ... I would love a giant slice slathered with butter!

  9. Karen, Karen, Karen. Your breads always look so darned perfect! Some of my breads had gaps so big they could have housed a family of squirrels. Yours, however? Gap? What gap? Beautiful (as always)!

    1. Robin, Robin, Robin. You always make my day. Seriously.

  10. ooh a pesto bread sounds delicious! definitely would recreate this recipe (if only i could get over my yeast phobia...)

  11. This looks delicious and the swirl is very attractive!

  12. I love adding pesto to breads and rolls but haven't for ages. This bread is beautiful and perfect and what great crumb! I have to try these!

  13. A beautiful loaf, Karen. Love pesto bread sooo much. Tempted to bake one. Love that lovely pesto swirl in the bread.

  14. That's a beautiful bread, love the pesto flavor in it!

  15. All of your bread is amazing but nothing compares to this pesto bread with homemade BLT's!

  16. I could probably eat this entire loaf myself with a bowl of marinara sauce!

  17. What a lovely loaf of bread. I make a lot of pesto this time of year from my herb garden and think I would love to try out this recipe.

  18. This is gorgeous loaf. A great variation to have in your kitchen. Nothing much else needed.


I would love to hear from you! If you comment anonymously, be sure to leave your name in your comment.