16 Jarred Pestos, Ranked Worst To Best

Pasta nights are a weekly occurrence in many households. What's not to like about a simple, affordable meal that everyone in the family will enjoy? If you are anything like us, you might be torn over whether to include marinara or pesto sauce on your plate on any given night. We love them both, but some evenings just call for a fresh herbal pesto. Pesto gets its name from the Italian verb pestare, meaning to pound, according to Saveur. The sauce is traditionally made using a mortar and pestle, the latter which also owes its name to the Italian language. 

Any sauce can be a pesto if it contains nuts, oil, and herbs. When we talk about pesto in the US, we are usually referring to a classic Italian sauce made of basil, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. When we aren't making a homemade pesto for our pasta nights, we look for a jarred pesto that contains classic ingredients, isn't overly oily, and is fresh with no rancid oil flavor. While we most often serve pesto over pasta, it can be used in so many other ways. We love having it with fish, chicken, hummus, and even on sandwiches.

Feeling a little underwhelmed by the jarred pestos you've purchased in the past? Take a look at the list below for our ranking of the various options available. You will finally no longer have to settle for disappointment when you purchase jarred basil pesto.

16. Trader Giotto's Pesto alla Genovese

Trader Giotto's (aka Trader Joe's) Pesto alla Genovese contains a list of rather odd ingredients including potatoes. Yes, that's right ... potatoes. We are stumped by this starchy ingredient add-in which is definitely not a traditional ingredient in Italian pesto. Our guess is that the potato provides a textural feature that acts as a thickener. In addition to pine nuts, this pesto also contains cashews which contribute to the extra nutty flavor and chunky texture. As for oils, sunflower comes first although olive oil is also included in the list of ingredients.

Besides the odd fact that potatoes are included in the sauce, this pesto has a rancid and metallic flavor, according to many reviews on Amazon. It is overly salty and tastes of chemicals, making it just plain bad. While we like that this basil pesto comes in a small jar which prevents waste, we cannot in good conscience recommend this pesto. We recommend skipping Trader Giotto's basil pesto and looking for another option.

15. 365 Whole Foods Market Basil Pesto

Whole Foods 365 Basil Pesto is made from basil, olive oil, sunflower oil, cashews, Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, potato starch, pine nuts, and garlic. Yet again, we see another jarred pesto that contains potato starch. While these ingredients are odd, they are also all organic if that is of importance to you. Nonetheless, we are shocked at the long list of ingredients in this jarred pesto from Whole Foods, of all places. We had suspected that 365 Organic would have the freshest pesto with the least amount of ingredients.

As far as the taste of this jarred pesto, we were equally disappointed. This pesto is very oily and greasy and it tastes bitter like pureed spinach, although spinach is not one of the many ingredients. We would even go so far as to say this jarred pesto is horrible. We'd recommend seeking out other brands if you are looking for a solution for your pasta night because this one has very few redeeming characteristics.

14. Prego Basil Pesto

According to their website, Prego is a brand owned by Campbell's that makes many pasta sauces including vegetable, meat, and creamy Alfredo options. We recognize the brand as a household name, growing up with the various offerings whipped together as a quick cheap meal. Prego's Basil Pesto is unique in that it is completely nut-free. For people with nut allergies, this makes it a potentially great option to try. Most jarred pestos, or homemade ones for that matter, contain nuts of some sort so Prego basil pesto is a welcome alternative.

The Walmart reviews are fairly mixed and although the product receives 4.2 out of 5 stars, various people comment that the taste is not great. This pesto is very oily and contains a bitter or sour taste, reminiscent of rancid oil. One reviewer remarked that the addition of lactic and citric acid, rosemary extract, and oregano did little to help the flavor.

13. Regioni d'Italia Basil Pesto Sauce

Regioni d'Italia Basil Pesto Sauce is yet another product that curiously contains potatoes as ingredients. Who knew so many brands utilized starchy spuds as an ingredient in their basil pestos? We are shocked about the departure from the classic recipe. While this brand contains olive oil, it also contains sunflower oil, which Healthline remarks is too high in omega-6 fatty acids and can lead to increased inflammation in the body. Health-minded folks tend to dislike sunflower oil, preferring to opt for extra virgin olive oil instead.

As far as texture, the addition of cashews as well as pine nuts helps to create a nutty textural crunch that is quite pleasant. The overall flavor of this jarred basil pesto, however, isn't so fresh and the oil tastes like it has gone bad. If you have any other options available, we would recommend choosing them over this one.

12. Compagnia Sanremo Basil Pesto

Compagnia Sanremo's Basil Pesto contains a DOP recognition for its basil and cheese ingredients, meaning that they come directly from a specific region of Italy. If you are not familiar, DOP translates literally to Protected Designation of Origin, per La Cucina Italiana. Basically, the DOP label is intended to celebrate and certify authentic ingredients so that consumers and producers are on the same page regarding quality and production.

Other ingredients include olive oil, cashews, pine nuts, and salt. Surprisingly, this pesto does not contain any garlic, which may contribute to its odd flavor. Because of the DOP certification, we assumed the flavor of this jarred pesto would be incredibly fresh but instead the taste is disappointing. While not outright terrible, this pesto is definitely lacking in flavor, according to Amazon reviews. Don't be fooled by the fancy label on this one and keep on reading this ranking to discover which pestos we actually recommend.

11. Seggiano Fresh Basil Pesto Genovese

Seggiano's Fresh Basil Pesto Genovese is the only option on the list that is raw and vegan. This means that not only is this pesto void of any animal ingredients, most notably cheese, but this pesto has not been unpasteurized. According to Britannica, pasteurization is a process that many packaged products undergo before they are sold, which involves heating foods to kill off any pathogenic bacteria. This method of sanitation is incredibly important when it comes to foods that pregnant women or other immunocompromised individuals eat, in order to safely avoid foodborne illness, according to FoodSafety.gov.

Skipping the process means that the aroma of fresh basil is preserved, however, depending on your health you should proceed with caution. Although this brand of pesto tastes great, since it is unpasteurized, we've placed it in the middle of our rankings. The potential risks if this product isn't properly made and stored leave us hesitant to recommend it wholeheartedly.

10. Rao's Homemade Basil Pesto

Rao's Homemade Basil Pesto is reputed for its healthy and minimal ingredients. As a result, the company is also well-known for selling very expensive products due to their high quality. We find that the price tag on the marinara sauces is worth it because the product is incredibly fresh and tasty. While this is true for the brand's red sauce varieties, interestingly, the pesto contains an uncharacteristically large amount of ingredients. 

Rao's carries two types of pesto: basil and sundried tomato. The basil pesto is not made with olive oil, but instead contains sunflower oil which has some potential inflammatory effects. Additionally, it also contains potato flakes, sugar, dried glucose syrup, lactic acid, pine nuts, and salt. We are disappointed that the ingredient list in the jarred basil pesto is not nearly as simple as Rao's red sauce varieties. Since this brand tends to attract health-minded consumers, many reviews on Amazon note the same frustration.

9. Filippo Berio Classic Pesto

Filippo Berio is a brand that carries many olive oils, pestos, vinegars, and glazes. The selection of jarred pesto flavors that they offer is quite impressive including classic basil, sundried tomato, tomato and ricotta, grilled vegetable, and spicy tomato. We have our eyes on the grilled vegetable pesto ... yum!

As far as the classic basil pesto, according to the images on Amazon, the ingredient list is oddly similar to that of Rao's. It contains potato flakes, sugar, sunflower oil, and an acidity regulator called glucono delta lactone. Although the ingredients aren't ideal, the pesto is actually quite tasty. The Amazon reviews seem to reflect the same assessment, noting that this brand of jarred pesto is pricy but delicious, and some commenters even claim that they "can't stop eating it." A few reviews note that this pesto is a bit dry, so because of this concern and the questionable ingredients, we have placed this brand in the middle of the ranks.

8. Sam's Choice Traditional Basil Pesto Sauce

Calling all the garlic lovers — this brand is for you! Sam's Choice Traditional Basil Pesto Sauce has a definite garlic-forward taste. Since the pungent allium can be somewhat of a controversial flavor, if garlic is not your thing, then make a note to steer clear of this brand. However, if you are a garlic aficionado, Sam's Choice has your name all over it.

The Walmart reviews show that in fact, many people love the taste of this sauce. It is not overly oily, nor does it have a metallic or rancid oil flavor that sometimes plagues jarred pesto. However, in terms of ingredients, Sam's Choice's product also contains those darn potato flakes and high omega-6 fatty acids from sunflower oil. For people who are particularly health-minded and don't consider these ingredients nutritious enough to consume, then keep reading. We have some suggestions you are sure to like.

7. Rustichella d'Abruzzo Pesto alla Genovese

At this point in the ranking, we are beginning to explore some very tasty basil pesto options. While there are many delicious offerings, only a few are excellent enough to make their way to the top of our ranks. One such product is the Rustichella d'Abruzzo Pesto alla Genovese which comes in at our number seven spot. 

According to the images on Amazon, it contains basil, olive oil, salt, walnuts, pine nuts, Grana cheese, whey, garlic, cornstarch, wine vinegar, citric acid, and lactic acid. While it isn't entirely pure as far as the ingredients go, this basil pesto is rather yummy. It has an extra nutty flavor due to the inclusion of walnuts which is great if you're into that taste, but less so if walnuts aren't to your liking. The other characteristic to note about this pesto is that it is very oily. When you open a jar, we recommend giving it a good stir in order to allow the oil to incorporate into the rest of the pesto.

6. Barilla Creamy Genovese Pesto

The Barilla brand is known for its pasta and pasta sauce products. While the company carries numerous marinara red sauce varieties, it produces two types of pesto: Creamy Genovese and Rustic Basil. The former contains sunflower oil, some olive oil, pine nuts, as well as cashews. The unusual creaminess of this pesto is due to the cheese and whey in the ingredients. 

The reviews on Barilla's website show the immense love that consumers have for this product. Many people note that the smooth consistency is a huge factor contributing to the fandom behind this product, attracting both adults and kids alike. Some reviews even mention that the creaminess balances out the pungent flavor of the herbs. The flavors are bright, savory, fresh, and not too garlic forward. You will likely be able to track down this jarred pesto as it is carried in most grocery stores. When you find it, know that you will be in for a good meal.

5. Barilla Rustic Basil Pesto

The other Barilla option is the Rustic Basil Pesto, which has a flavor that is more in line with the usual jarred offerings. It is devoid of creaminess but instead, features a classic combination of basil, nuts, oil, and cheese. Interestingly, this pesto also contains spinach in its ingredients, contributing to the extra green flavor and high nutrient content. Since we cannot taste the spinach, we will gladly accept the added nutrition.

The Walmart reviews show that this pesto is well-loved although the comments are somewhat mixed. Some people indicate that the pesto is a bit too sweet, whereas others think it is too salty. In fact, we find that this brand actually has the best balance of sweet and salty that we've found. People note that the flavor is very basil-forward, with not too much garlic to overpower the taste. If you are looking for a classic basil pesto to take home, this one will do just the trick.

4. Classico Traditional Basil Pesto

Classico Traditional Basil Pesto is certainly a popular option. According to the 2600 Amazon reviews, this brand has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. Not bad, Classico, not bad at all. Reviews note that this brand is actually nut-free, making it a great option for anyone with nut allergies. On the flip side, the lack of nuts really angers pesto purists. Our opinion? If it still tastes like pesto, what's the problem?

The many reviews also reveal the typical contradictions that you'd expect when sorting through close to 3000 opinions. Some people note that this pesto is flavorless, while many others describe it as extremely flavorful. Some comments indicate that the texture could be smoother, while others say that it is rightfully chunky. While there is some discrepancy over these details, all in all, this brand is rated highly. We also happen to love it.

3. Delallo Simply Pesto Traditional Basil

Delallo is a brand that sells many Italian specialty food products including pasta, pesto, salami, cheeses, olives, antipasti, sauces, oils, vinegars, dressings, gnocchi, polenta, and risotto. When it comes to pesto, Delallo offers a few flavor varieties including traditional basil, sundried tomato and cheese, sundried tomato and olive, and even the classic option sold in squeeze bottle form.

Consumer reviews about Delallo's Simply Pesto prove that people love the product's bright and simple flavor. Reviewers also mention that the quality is consistently high, which is a great point to consider when relying on a jarred product over a homemade recipe. Many people love the sole inclusion of olive oil in this product, and the fact that it steers clear of less desirable oils that are often included in packaged foods. We love Delallo's product for its minimal ingredient list, which really highlights the classic elements required for the simple sauce.

2. Alessi Pesto

Speaking of great ingredients, Alessi pesto is made from olive oil, basil, cheese, pine nuts, and garlic. We love that the brand includes the traditional ingredients you would find in homemade pesto and does not throw in any other unnecessary ingredients. We're looking at you, potato flakes! Thanks to the use of minimal ingredients, this pesto has a wonderfully natural taste. 

This jarred sauce is a great option if you are craving homemade pesto but don't quite want to get around to making one. While fresh basil grows rampantly in the summer, you might be more inclined to stick to storebought options in the winter. Another bonus is that the pesto is sold in small jars to prevent wasting. Leftover pesto doesn't last super well so it is better to only open a small jar for your purposes. Next time you want pesto pasta, simply open a new jar to keep the sauce fresh. You will not be disappointed by Alessi's product.

1. Mezzetta Basil Pesto

We've arrived at our number one ranking. Drumroll please ... our top jarred basil pesto spot goes to Mezzetta, a brand that carries olives, pickled peppers, hot sauces, and other specialties. Mezzetta Basil Pesto is undoubtedly our favorite option on the list thanks to its great flavor and fresh ingredients. 

This pesto contains extra virgin olive oil, basil, Parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, and almonds. No oils high in omega-6 fatty acids are to be found here — instead, Mezzetta sticks to high-quality olive oil. While the inclusion of almonds isn't completely traditional, we find that they really help to create the kind of chunky texture that we are looking for in a pesto. In terms of taste, Mezzetta basil pesto boasts fresh complex flavors which taste like a homemade product every time. Basil's herbal aroma really shines in this jarred product. If you see Mezzetta pesto on your supermarket shelves, snag it — we guarantee you'll love it!