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This irresistible pesto bread is crispy outside and soft inside, with a subtle delicious pesto flavor. It’s also economical, easy – no stand mixer required – and fun to make.
And freshly baked pesto bread tastes and smells amazing, it goes beautifully with just about anything savory, and looks lovely on your table.
Ready to bake?
This recipe is perfect all year round and for any occasion, from spring gatherings to those days when you crave only crusty bread and hearty soups. It’s delicious any time like these focaccia with olives, easy Italian focaccia or quick panini bread.
We’re talking of fresh bread out of the oven after all, what’s not to love?! It’s heaven.
My mum used to make this pesto bread around Easter, and it was so good. I’ve simplified her recipe reducing the kneading to the minimum, and using quick, convenient store-bought pesto.
The result is a pesto bread easy to make and utterly delicious! And don’t feel daunted by those fancy shapes, they don’t have to be perfectly executed. You can shape each roll into spirals or make single or double knotted rolls. I promise, once they’re baked they will look lovely. And more importantly, you’ll devour them in no time!
List of the ingredients
- Basil pesto (fresh or store-bought)
- All-purpose flour or spelt flour
- Active dry yeast (or instant yeast, see notes)
- Olive oil
- Salt flakes & sesame seeds (optional)
How to make pesto bread
(Note: this is a quick description with step-by-step photos, the full recipe is at the bottom of the page)
- Mix flour and salt in a large bowl.
- Dissolve yeast and sugar in water.
- Then stir the water, the oil, and one beaten egg into the flour.
- Mix the ingredients with a spatula.
- Knead on a surface for a couple of minutes, until smooth.
- Let the dough rest in a warm place for 1 hour.
- Then stretch it out into a large rectangular shape.
- Spread the pesto on half of the rectangle, and fold it.
- Using a handy pizza cutter, cut lengthwise into 4 long stripes as I did here (they make 4 large rolls). You can also cut them crosswise in half (to make 8 stripes/rolls) and shape them into small spirals.
- If you keep the stripes long, fold each stripe into a loose knot leaving space in the center.
- Wrap the right end of the dough up and over the loop
- Wrap the left end down and under the loop. Try to squeeze into a nice rounded shape.
- Brush with egg wash using a pastry brush, sprinkle with seeds, and bake for about 15-20 minutes!
Recipe notes & tips
PESTO BREAD INGREDIENTS
FLOUR: all-purpose, bread flour, light spelt flour work well in this recipe. You can also mix white flour with whole-grain flour to get health benefits from the whole grains.
YEAST: I used dry active yeast in this recipe, but instant yeast works just fine. Follow the manufacture’s directions, skip the sugar, and wait until the dough doubles in size.
OLIVE OIL: use good olive oil or extra virgin olive oil to improve flavor and texture.
PESTO: freshly made pesto is best – I’m stating the obvious – but good quality store-bought pesto works just fine. You can also swap basil pesto for sun-dried tomato pesto, it’s delicious!
SEEDS: sesame, chia, poppy seeds, they’re optional, but they make the rolls pretty and add extra flavor too.
HOW LONG DOES THIS PESTO BREAD KEEP?
Pesto bread is best the day it is made but can be stored in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 2 days.
It freezes very well too. Defrost at room temperature, then reheat in the oven for a few minutes and serve warmed and crispy.
HOW TO SERVE BREAD PESTO?
Serve with hearty soups, or salads such as cannellini bean salad or Italian tomato salad.
But pesto bread goes well with just about anything savory. It’s absolutely delicious with Italian antipasti, fresh mozzarella cheese like in this marinated tomato salad, or fresh or sun-dried tomatoes. The sky is the limit!
More bread and pizza from the oven:
If you make these easy pesto bread rolls, or if you have any questions, let me know by leaving a comment. I would love to hear from you! x
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- 2 ½ cup (375 grams) all-purpose flour or whole-grain flour (see notes)
- 1 ¼ tsp fine salt
- ½ cup + 2 Tbsp (150 ml) water, lukewarm
- 1 tsp dry active yeast
- ½ tsp sugar
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ cup (100 grams) basil pesto
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 2 Tbsp seeds (sesame, chia, poppy…) (optional)
- ½ Tbsp salt flakes (optional)
Make the dough
- In a large bowl, place flour, salt and mix until well combined.
- In a small bowl or jug, mix lukewarm water with yeast and sugar. Let it rest for a couple of minutes until foamy.
- Then pour the liquid into the dry ingredients, add the beating egg and olive oil, and stir with a fork until roughly combined.
- Trasfer the dough onto a work surface, and knead for a couple of minutes until smooth. You might need an extra Tbsp of water, trust your judgment here, but overall the dough should be easily pliable.
- Once you shape the dougn into a ball, place it back into its bowl, cover with a damp cloth (to prevent its surface from drying out) and let it rest in a warm place until it doubles in size (about 1 hour).
Shape the bread rolls
- Once the dough is ready, place it onto a large sheet of parchment paper.
- Stretch it out with your fingers into a rectangular shape (about 10 x 12 inches).
- Spread the pesto on half of the rectangle, then lift the other side of the parchment paper and fold the other half of the dough over the one covered with pesto. Gently flatten the rectangle with your fingers.
- Cut the rough edges, than with a pizza cutter cut the rectangle lengthwise into 4 large stripes. At this point, you can cut the 4 stripes crosswise in order to get 8 stripes in total. This will give you 8 smaller rolls rather than 4.
- If you keep the stripes long, wrap the dough around your fingers into a loose knot leaving space in the center. Wrap the left end of the dough up and over the loop. Wrap the right end down and under the loop. Try to squeeze into a nice rounded shape. If you cut the stripes shorter, you can easily shape them into spirals.
Topping & baking
- Place each roll on to a bakin pan lined with parchment paper, brush them lightly with some egg wash (to keep them moist), and let them rest for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 420°F/220°C.
- Before putting the rolls in the hot oven, brush them again with egg wash and sprinkle with seeds, and salt flakes if you wish.
- Bake them for about 15-20 minutes until golden.