Pesto salmon is an easy, healthy dinner that’s just as perfect for a date night in as it is for a weeknight meal! Tender, flaky salmon is paired with herbaceous pesto and Parmesan breadcrumbs for a dinner packed with flavor.
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Somehow, even seafood haters love salmon. Whether it’s salmon’s milder flavor or flaky texture, dishes like One-Pan Baked Salmon and Asparagus and Asian Salmon are always a winner. This pesto salmon recipe is another meal destined to be a hit!
Pesto salmon is made by combining fresh salmon filets with basil pesto sauce, adding a crispy, cheesy panko topping, then baking the filets in the oven until they’re golden brown on the outside and delightfully flaky inside.
The result? A perfectly cooked salmon filet that is absolutely packed with flavor—and a dinner that’s loaded with protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fats. Plus, it’s an easy Lenten meal that comes together in under 30 minutes!
Easy Pesto Salmon Recipe
The basil pesto complements the natural taste of salmon while adding so much bright, herbaceous flavor. The combination of pesto and salmon creates an unforgettable dish that’s both light and delicious. If you’re looking for a restaurant-style meal to make for a date night in, this is it!
In addition to date night, this pesto salmon is great for just about any occasion, from an intimate dinner with friends to a busy weeknight meal when you’ve only got a few minutes to get dinner on the table. Add some steamed broccoli on the side and you can have an entire meal in under 30 minutes.
See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Olive oil
- Salmon filets – About 6 ounces each, with the skin on.
- Kosher salt
- Lemon – You’ll need the zest of the whole lemon. You can save the rest and cut it into wedges for serving if you’d like.
- Black pepper
- Basil pesto – Use your favorite store-bought variety.
- Grated parmesan cheese
- Panko breadcrumbs
- For a gluten-free version, replace the panko breadcrumbs with almond meal or gluten-free panko.
- Try using a different kind of pesto for a twist on the original. Arugula pesto or cilantro pesto would both be delicious!
How to Make Pesto Salmon
- Prepare: Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and drizzle it evenly with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Season the salmon: Dry each salmon filet with a paper towel, then place the skin side down on the baking sheet. In a small bowl, stir together the salt, pepper, and lemon zest, then use this mixture to season the tops of the filets.
- Add the pesto: Spoon the pesto onto the filets and use a spoon to spread it so it covers the top of the fish.
- Add the breadcrumbs: In a small bowl, mix together the parmesan and the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle this mixture over the top of the pesto, then drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the tops.
- Bake: Place the pan in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the salmon is cooked through, but still flaky inside. Rest for 1 to 2 minutes before serving.
If you’re using a probe thermometer, the internal temperature of the salmon will read 145ºF when it’s done cooking.
How to Store Leftover Pesto Salmon
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, place the pesto salmon filets on a baking sheet and warm in a preheated oven at 350ºF for 8-10 minutes, or until heated through.
Pesto salmon pairs nicely with a bright, acidic side salad or roasted vegetables. You can also whip up a batch of Instant Pot rice or make orzo, toss it with pesto, and serve it with the pesto salmon.
Salmon pairs well with a variety of flavors, including citrus, herbs, and spices. The addition of pesto in this recipe adds an herbaceous flavor that can’t be beat! Garlic, ginger, capers, and lemon juice can also be used to enhance the flavor of salmon.
Season your salmon right before cooking. This will help the seasoning stick and ensure that the flavor comes through in each bite.
Some of the best vegetables to serve with salmon are roasted Brussels sprouts, asparagus, and green beans. For a more colorful plate, try adding tomatoes, bell peppers, or carrots for a vibrant mix of flavors!
Pesto salmon pairs best with a white or light red wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir. The acidity in the wine will help to cut through the richness of the pesto and enhance the flavor of the fish.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 4 salmon filets about 6 oz each, skin on
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Zest of one lemon
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup basil pesto
- 4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
- Preheat an oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
- Pat each salmon filet dry with a paper towel, then place skin side down on the baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix together the salt, pepper and lemon zest. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the filets.
- Spoon the pesto onto the filets and spread to the edge of each with a spoon.
- In a small bowl, mix together the parmesan and the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over the top of the pesto. Drizzle each with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the salmon is cooked through but still flaky inside. If using a probe thermometer, the internal temperature will read 145 F when done.
- Let rest 1 to 2 minutes before serving.