Pesto Salmon Recipe

pesto salmon with tomatoes and pasta

Pesto and salmon are a match made in heaven. In this pesto salmon recipe I’ll teach you how to make your own basil pesto from scratch and adjust the ingredients to properly pair it with rich and fatty salmon.

This is a great healthy meal option even if you want to eat it by itself to boost your protein for the day. But I love pairing it with some simple sides like sauteed veggies and an easy carb like buttered pasta or even rice. Best of all you can make 4 or 6 filets at a time and eat it for a few days since this reheats pretty well.

Types of salmon to use

atlantic salmon closeup

The types of salmon I like to use are wild-caught salmon like Sockeye Salmon, which is leaner and farmed salmon like King Salmon or Atlantic salmon, which are fattier. I always recommend using skin-on filets when baking, broiling, or grilling salmon. Keeping the skin on prevents the salmon from drying out and keeps the filets together when transferring them to and from the oven to the plates. 

atlantic salmon package label

Also note that this recipe is specifically for one-inch thick salmon filets, so the timing may need to change depending on if you use whole salmon or if your salmon filets are thicker or thinner. Check the internal temperature after four minutes if your filets are thinner than 1”. 

If your salmon is thicker than 1”, check the internal temperature at around seven minutes. Fully cooked salmon should measure 145 °F, but I like to remove them from the oven at around 135 °F and allow the residual heat to finish cooking on the counter. This prevents overcooking. 

Homemade pesto recipe for salmon

pesto closeup in food processor

This recipe uses a homemade pesto recipe because it’s easier to adjust the saltiness and flavor of the salmon. In the past, I’ve tried jarred pesto; however, I found it not salty enough to pair with the salmon. Pesto from jars can vary wildly in flavor, so it’s hard to recommend any specific brand. I started with my regular pesto recipe as the baseline and upped the salt and garlic amount because the salmon had a stronger flavor. 

pesto ingredients

This pesto recipe uses traditional ingredients like fresh basil, pine nuts, grated parmesan, garlic cloves, and salt. I like that this recipe lets you adjust the pesto to your liking. I prefer to taste test the pesto and adjust the ingredients. If you want more saltiness, add more salt or parmesan. If you want more savoriness, I like to add more garlic cloves. 

Best method to cook pesto salmon

baking pesto salmon in an oven

While I also like to broil salmon, I like traditional baking with this pesto salmon recipe. The best way to cook pesto salmon is traditionally baking it in the oven at 400 °F. This allows the salmon to cook more evenly and not burn the pesto topping. Some may say broiling is faster; however, I found that baking salmon filets is only two to three minutes longer than broiling salmon filets. 

What side dishes go well with salmon?

sauteed asparagus in a pan

Since the pesto salmon has a richer and bolder flavor, I like to pair this dish with sides like tangy cherry tomatoes and sauteed asparagus. Buttered pasta is also a nice side because you can top it with some of the extra pesto you have on hand. 

sauteed tomatoes in a pan

What you can use leftover pesto in

Pesto is a universal sauce that you can use in many things besides pasta or salmon. I like to dip it with fresh bread, pesto on eggs for breakfast, or add it for extra seasoning on sauteed green beans. Note that this pesto recipe for baked salmon is a little saltier than traditional recipes to pair with the bolder salmon flavor, so be mindful of how much pesto you use on other dishes.

pesto salmon with pasta
pesto salmon recipe icon

Pesto Salmon Filets

5 from 1 vote
Easily make your own pesto from scratch and bake it with salmon for another easy and satisfying savory dish during the week.
BY: Huy Vu
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
SERVINGS: 2

Ingredients

Salmon

  • 2 7 oz salmon filets one-inch thick minimum
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt on top of fish

Homemade pesto

  • 2 c fresh basil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • c pine nuts
  • c grated parmesan cheese
  • c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Equipment Used

  • food processor or strong blender
  • spatula
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • sheet pan
  • parchment paper

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 400 °F.
  • Place salmon filets on parchment paper on a sheet pan with the skin side down. Pat dry with paper towels.
    patting salmon dry with paper towel
  • Sprinkle with salt to season then set aside.
    salting filets of salmon
  • In a food processor (or blender), combine the pesto ingredients and blend until completely incorporated.
    basil pesto closeup in food processor
  • Cover the top of the salmon with pesto, about 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons per salmon filet.
    spreading pesto on top of salmon filet
  • Place the sheet pan in the oven in the middle rack and bake for 6-10 minutes. Test for doneness using an instant-read thermometer. If it reads 145 °F, it’s done.
    two salmon filets baking in oven
  • I like to take it out at 135 °F and let it sit on the counter for five minutes to reach the temperature. This prevents it from overcooking.
    pesto salmon with pasta
Nutrition Facts
Pesto Salmon Filets
Amount per Serving
Calories
555.71
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
56.3
g
87
%
Saturated Fat
 
8.68
g
54
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
11.79
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
31.62
g
Cholesterol
 
15.05
mg
5
%
Sodium
 
1748.68
mg
76
%
Potassium
 
265.41
mg
8
%
Carbohydrates
 
7.63
g
3
%
Fiber
 
1.34
g
6
%
Sugar
 
0.95
g
1
%
Protein
 
9.35
g
19
%
Vitamin A
 
1417.63
IU
28
%
Vitamin C
 
6.37
mg
8
%
Calcium
 
205.66
mg
21
%
Iron
 
2.4
mg
13
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Dinner, Ingredients, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: healthy, pasta, quick dinner
Did you cook this recipe?Tag @HungryHuy or #hungryhuy–I’d love to see it!

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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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