This bright green baked pesto salmon recipe is mouthwatering and made with just 3 ingredients. Baked salmon and homemade pesto together make a wonderful combination that's healthy to eat, easy to make, and ready in less than 20 minutes, perfect for a quick lunch or dinner.
🌟 Why this recipe works
Salmon is one of the world's most sought-after fish - and for a good reason too! It's incredibly healthy with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and other nutrients contributing to a healthy heart and body.
Its bright red color and sweet, juicy flavors with a flaky fleshy meat texture make salmon an irresistible treat for any occasion. Combined with nutty, salty basil pesto, your taste buds will be dancing.
I love salmon recipes in any form, whether it's baked, broiled, grilled, raw in sushi, or smoked - it's always delicious and moist.
However, this pesto salmon recipe is the easiest meal I have ever made, with only pesto and seasoning required to elevate the salmon flavor and a baking dish to bake it in. This recipe is very similar to my baked chicken pesto.
You can even throw in a few cherry tomatoes, cook some pasta, and sprinkle some parmesan cheese over the cooked salmon for a flavorsome Mediterranean family meal even the kids will love.
Pesto salmon is the perfect recipe for busy parents to prepare during the week because it's fast, uses minimal ingredients and kitchen equipment, making washing up a breeze afterward.
🍽 Key Ingredients
Pesto salmon is such an easy recipe to make using 3 ingredients and a baking dish.
Pesto sauce - Make your homemade pesto using this easy recipe with fresh basil, nuts, garlic, and olive, or use store-bought pesto if you prefer.
Salmon - Quality is everything when it comes to meat and fish recipes, so make sure to buy fresh salmon fillets that have a bright red color for maximum flavor.
Seasoning - A light seasoning of Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper is all that is needed to bring out the juicy salmon flavors.
Bake the salmon with 1 cup of cherry tomatoes for a taste of the Mediterranean.
🍽 How to make
This baked pesto salmon recipe is so easy to make in 20 minutes. All you need to do is follow my step-by-step instructions of seasoning the salmon fillets, basting them with pesto, and cooking them. It's that easy!
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (160 degrees Celsius).
Coat the salmon fillets with salt and pepper.
Spoon 1 ½ tablespoons of the prepared basil pesto over each fillet and spread it with the back of a spoon or knife so that it's lightly coated with bright green pesto.
Lay the salmon fillets on a casserole dish or baking tray, make sure they aren't touching.
Cook salmon for 12-15 minutes for medium. To give the salmon skin a lovely crisp and golden brown color, turn the oven to broil and heat for 45 seconds to 1 ½ minutes, with the salmon about 5 inches away from the heating element. Keep an eye on it - so it doesn’t burn.
Serve with a squeeze of lime or lemon juice on top.
💭 Cooking tips
Brine the salmon
Brining the salmon results in juicer meatier flesh and prevents the albumin (the white protein that forms on top of salmon during cooking) from seeping out. Mix 4 cups of water with 3 tablespoons salt and let the salmon fillets sit in the salted water for 20 minutes before cooking.
📖 Recipe Variations
These three baked pesto salmon variations are just as simple and even tastier.
Air fryer pesto salmon
If you have an air fryer at home, you can use it to make your salmon crispy on the outside and juicy in the middle. Preheat your machine to 400°F, brush the salmon fillets with olive oil, air fry for 8 - 10 minutes, and top with fresh basil pesto.
Pesto salmon in puff pastry
This variation uses 2 sheets of puff pastry to bake the salmon in for a deliciously buttery crunch.
Spread the pine nuts pesto sauce in the middle of the puff pastry, lay the salmon fillet on top, then spread more pesto on top of the salmon before encasing it with the remaining layer of puff pastry. Brush the pastry with egg wash, and bake salmon in preheated oven at 375°F for 40 minutes until golden brown.
🥗 What to serve with
Delicious salmon recipes like this baked pesto salmon are best served with light side dishes, like salads, pasta recipes, or air-fried veggies.
Pesto salmon with vegetables
Use whatever veg you have fresh in the pantry to add to the baked pesto salmon. I like steamed vegetables, crispy sweet potatoes cubes, brussel sprouts in air fryer, sauteed asparagus, or skillet green beans. Any healthy veg that will bring color and flavor to the salmon pesto.
Choose light salads to pair with pesto salmon. A few suggestions that work well are couscous salads, chickpea salads, or a simple arugula salad with parmesan cheese and pine nuts. Also, I highly recommend to pair this dish with my copycat longhorn brussel sprouts recipe. YUM!
Try this cauliflower rice recipe with garlic, cilantro, and lime for an easy and fragrant rice dish without carbs. It's inspired by the Mexicans, takes less than 20 minutes to prepare, and has abundant flavor.
🙋 Frequently Asked Questions
What is good to season salmon with?
Salmon takes on many different flavors, from sweet to savory and spicy. Adobo seasoning is a wonderful spice that is savory and spicy, BBQ spice, lemon zest & garlic powder, or just a simple rub of kosher salt and black pepper will bring out the salmon flavors.
What is the grey stuff in salmon?
If you have ever wondered what the stuff is between the flesh and skin, it is a layer of fat that is perfectly safe to eat and doesn't affect the flavor of the meaty flesh.
🧊 Storing and ♨️ Reheating
Leftover baked salmon is easy to store and can be reheated in a microwave, oven, or air fryer.
Fridge - Transfer the cooled contents to an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Freezer - To freeze pesto salmon, place the fillets in an airtight container with aluminum foil under it.
Reheating - Preheat an oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 5 -6 minutes or in an air fryer at the same temperature for 3 minutes. Alternatively, you can use a microwave on medium-high power for 1 minute.
🍳 Related Recipes
Try one of these healthy pesto recipes as an dinner, appetizer, side-dish, or snack.
👪 Serving Size
Two baked pesto salmon fillets are enough for 2 servings, or you could prepare more fillets to cater to more guests - you would also need more pesto sauce as each slice requires 2 spoons.
The summer is coming - and I need to make more salmon recipes like this for healthier eating because salmon is such a wonderful fish that's so nutritious, affordable, and delicious.
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Baked Pesto Salmon
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (160 degrees Celsius).
- Coat the salmon fillets with salt and pepper.
- Spoon 2 tablespoons of the prepared basil pesto over each fillet and spread it with the back of a spoon or knife so that it's lightly coated with bright green pesto.
- Lay the salmon fillets on a casserole dish or baking tray, make sure they aren't touching.
- Cook salmon for 12-15 minutes for medium. To give the salmon skin a lovely crisp and golden brown color, turn the oven to broil and heat for 45 seconds to 1 ½ minutes, with the salmon about 5 inches away from the heating element. Keep an eye on it - so it doesn’t burn.
- Serve with a squeeze of lime or lemon juice on top.