Pesto salmon is a delicious four-ingredient, 20-minute recipe you can easily scale according to the number of diners you have. This recipe is perfect for busy weeknights and fancy enough for company. Make this baked salmon with pesto tonight.
A recent survey of my readers confirmed that salmon is a staple protein in many people’s weekly dinner rotation. It’s easy to understand why. Salmon is healthy, easy to make and widely available, plus its fast cooking time makes it a no-brainer.
Everyone needs a few quick and easy recipes for nights when you don’t have time to cook, and this pesto salmon recipe is my ace-in-the-hole.
It’s a simple sheet-pan-baked salmon crusted with basil pesto and parmesan breadcrumbs. It takes 5 minutes of prep and 15 minutes in the oven; the results are fantastic.
Table of Contents
Why you’ll love this recipe:
You’ll love this salmon with pesto because it’s a no-brainer and makes you a dinner hero.
- You only need four ingredients.
- It’s a delicious main course that’s also healthy.
- You can customize pesto salmon according to your diet/preferences.
- Pesto crusted salmon is great for busy weeknights.
- Kids can help prep the salmon with pesto from spreading on the basil sauce to sprinkling on the breadcrumbs.
Ingredients for pesto salmon:
- Salmon Fillets – You can use fresh or frozen salmon fillets, preferably a fattier fish. If using frozen filets, thaw them first.
- Fresh Breadcrumbs – Pulse a slice of bread or even a hot dog bun through a mini food processor to make fresh breadcrumbs. Avoid using dried breadcrumbs; they won’t give you the same light, crunchy crust as the fresh.
- Grated Parmesan Cheese – best from a chunk of real Parmigiano Reggiano, but you can use pre-grated cheese.
- Basil Pesto – store-bought is fine. Homemade is better.
How to make pesto crusted salmon:
- Mix fresh breadcrumbs and grated parmesan cheese together in a bowl.
- Slice the salmon into individual portions and transfer to a foil lined sheet pan.
- Spoon your favorite pesto sauce over the fillets.
- Top with the parmesan breadcrumb topping.
- Bake the pesto salmon for 12-15 minutes in a preheated 400° oven.
- Slice the salmon fillets into individual servings before assembling them for a more uniform appearance—Salmon flakes rather than slices after it’s baked.
- If using frozen fish filets, defrost them before assembling and baking. Pat them dry to remove excess moisture.
What type of pesto should I use for baked salmon?
You can use store-bought pesto for this recipe, but if you’ve got a homemade pesto in your fridge, you’ll want to use it. Fresh, homemade pesto tastes brighter and has a vibrant green color.
Here are four of my favorite homemade basil pesto recipes. Any of them would be good on this herb and breadcrumb crusted baked salmon.
Each pesto recipe will last in the fridge for up to 10 days, but they can also be frozen, so you’ve always got a stash of fresh pesto ready for this simple seafood dish.
- Taste your pesto before using. If it’s got a milder flavor, season salmon fillets with salt and pepper before adding the fresh basil pesto.
- Make it gluten-free by using gluten-free breadcrumbs in the parmesan crust. Other gluten-free toppings include crushed potato chips, crushed corn flakes or rice krispies.
- Make it dairy-free using a vegan pesto and parmesan substitute or nutritional yeast.
- Add ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes to the breadcrumb mixture for a spicy kick.
- Roast a cup or two of cherry tomatoes on the same tray as the baked pesto salmon recipe. The tomatoes will burst and the juices create a fresh tomatoey sauce that can be served over orzo or couscous.
- Swap panko crumbs for fresh breadcrumbs for an ultra crunchy topping.
- For smaller appetites, slice a salmon filet into 4-ounce servings.
- Salmon and pesto sauce is a great combination, but you can also swap it for a sun-dried tomato pesto or black olive tapenade for a twist.
Salmon is prized for its health benefits, and while farmed salmon is good, wild Coho, Sockeye or Atlantic salmon is even better, with:
Omega-3 fatty acids for reducing blood pressure, lowering inflammation and reducing cancer risk.
Selenium (good for your bone health and reducing thyroid disease).
Potassium (reduces blood pressure and your risk for stroke).
B Vitamins and folic acid (All B Vitamins work together providing optimal functioning of the brain and nervous system).
See this article for even more health benefits.
Simple baked salmon seasoned with herbs, olive oil and lemon is a healthy preparation. This pesto salmon recipe has about 400 calories, only nine carbohydrates and 38 grams of protein per serving, so it’s pretty healthy.
The key is not to overcook the fish. A moderate temperature (375°-400°) and quick cooking time will ensure moist salmon.
This recipe can easily be halved, doubled or tripled, depending on the size of your crowd. For each salmon fillet, you need about 1½ tablespoons of basil pesto and 1½ tablespoons of breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese.
We like the salmon pesto recipe when it’s freshly made because the parmesan crumb crust is crunchy, and the fish is moist and tender.
If you have leftovers of the basil pesto salmon, they can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in a 350° oven for 8-10 minutes or microwave in 30-second bursts until hot.
What goes well with salmon?
- Summer Squash and Courgette Salad with Pesto
- Garlic Green Beans Recipe
- Ultimate Mac and Cheese
- Steamed couscous
- Tomatoes Provencal
- Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes
- Buttered Egg Noodles or Orzo Pasta
- Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower
- Steamed white or brown rice
- Creamy Dijon Asparagus
- Duck Fat Roasted Potatoes
More salmon recipes you’ll love:
Tried this recipe? Leave a rating and review.
Your comments and shares are invaluable to me and the thousands of readers who use this site daily. If you've made the recipe, leave a star rating and review. We want to hear how you liked it.
We'd love it if you shared the recipe with your friends on social media!
- mini food processor
- ¼ sheet pan
- 24 ounces salmon fillets (4 6-ounce fillets) you can use skin-on or skinless
- 6-7 tablespoons pesto
- ⅓ cup fresh breadcrumbs
- ⅓ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese grate with a microplane grater if possible.
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Place a piece of tin foil on a rimmed baking sheet and spray with vegetable spray.
- Lay the salmon fillets on the baking sheet so they don’t touch. Spoon 1½ tablespoons of basil pesto over each fillet and spread it with the back of a spoon or knife so it’s lightly coated with the herb sauce.
- Combine the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese in a small bowl. Top the salmon fillets with the breadcrumb mixture.
- Cook the salmon for 12 minutes for medium and up to 15 minutes to cook through.
Pin “Pesto Baked Salmon” for later!