This post has been updated for photos and content. The recipe hasn’t changed.
Looking for a good baked salmon recipe? Baked Salmon Pesto is a four ingredient meal that’s ready in twenty minutes. If you’re looking for a healthy weeknight dinner that the whole family will LOVE, My pesto crusted salmon IS IT.
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.
This easy Baked Salmon Pesto is a regular during the weeknights because it’s a four ingredient meal that takes less than 30 minutes. I got your attention, didn’t I?
Baked pesto salmon – A four ingredient meal
We love this simple pesto crusted salmon recipe because it’s so quick and easy and it tastes fabulous. And with only 4 ingredients, it’s a no-brainer for easy weeknight dinners.
Ingredients for pesto crusted salmon
- Salmon Fillets – I get mine at Costco.
- Fresh Breadcrumbs – I like using sturdy sourdough bread to make the crumbs.
- Grated Parmesan Cheese – best from a chunk of real Parmigiano Reggiano.
- Pesto – store-bought is fine. Homemade is better.
I recommend slicing the salmon filets into individual portions before baking to give you nice even looking cuts for presentation.
(Ok, you don’t HAVE to do this, but slicing it BEFORE baking, gives you lovely even cuts. AFTER it bakes, the salmon will flake as you’re slicing it and it won’t look like it does in these pictures. It’s not the end of the world, but if you’re a food blogger appearance matters…)
This pesto salmon make couldn’t be simpler to make and it’s something the kids can help with from spreading on the pesto, to topping with the parmesan breadcrumb topping.
How to make pesto crusted salmon:
- Mix fresh breadcrumbs and grated parmesan cheese together in a bowl.
- Slice the salmon into individual portions.
- Spoon your favorite pesto sauce over the fillets.
- Top with the parmesan breadcrumb topping.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
To give the pesto crusted salmon a golden, crunchy topping, set the oven to broil and cook for 1-2 minutes until browned.
Don’t walk away while it’s browning — it goes pretty quickly.
The best pesto 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 definitely want to use it.
Here are four of my favorite homemade basil pesto recipes. Feel free to use any of them on this pesto crusted baked salmon.
- Spinach Basil Pesto with Almonds
- Homemade Basil Pistachio Pesto
- Pesto with Pine Nuts
- Basil Walnut Pesto
Each of these pesto recipes 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 at the ready for this simple seafood dinner anytime.
How healthy is salmon?
Salmon is prized for its health benefits and while farmed salmon is good, wild Coho, Sockeye or Atlantic salmon is even better. The highlight reel of salmon’s nutritional benefits include:
Omega-3 fatty acids (decreasing blood pressure, lowering inflammation, 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.
For gluten free fish:
I’ve had several people ask if they can skip the breadcrumb topping in this pesto crusted salmon (presumably they’re gluten-free or avoiding carbs).
My answer to that question is if you’re not going to use the cheese and breadcrumb topping, I’d recommend baking the salmon first and then spooning the fresh pesto sauce over the cooked fish.
I’ve found that without the breadcrumb coating, baking pesto “naked” creates a weird “skin” that turns an unsightly “pond-scum color” – which I like to avoid. Bake the fish and top it with pesto sauce, instead.
That said, you really want the crunchy topping... It’s golden, crunchy and flavorful, adding another dimension to this simple dish.
Also try these gluten free options:
- Gluten-Free Breadcrumbs
- Crushed Potato Chips
- Crushed Corn Flakes or Rice Krispies
- Almond Meal
Lower temperature – moister fish
I bake the salmon at a lower temperature than you might expect — only 325°– to assure that the salmon stays moist and flaky.
The lower temperature also helps to minimize the gooey white stuff that invariably oozes from the fish when it’s baked.
The white stuff is called albumin and it’s harmless, but unsightly. Cooking at a lower temperature reduces the amount of albumin leaked.
This salmon pesto recipe can easily be doubled or tripled depending on the size of your crowded it would be great for company or even a festive Easter dinner, thanks to it’s scaleability.
What to serve with Pesto Crusted Salmon:
- Summer Squash and Courgette Salad with Pesto
- Ultimate Mac and Cheese
- Tomatoes Provencal
- Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower
- Creamy Dijon Asparagus
More Salmon Recipes:
- Spiced Pan Seared Salmon
- Crunchy Salmon Cakes
- Hoisin Maple Asian Glazed Salmon
- Plank Grilled Salmon with Tomato Fennel Ragout
Parmesan Pesto Baked Salmon – Only 4 Ingredients
- 4 6-ounce salmon fillets pin bones removed
- 6 tablespoons pesto
- 1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese grate with a microplane grater if possible.
- Preheat the oven to 325°. Place a piece of tin foil on a rimmed baking sheet. Lay the salmon fillets on the baking sheet, not touching. Spoon 1 1/2 tablespoons of pesto over each fillet and spread it with the back of a spoon or knife so that it's lightly coated with pesto.
- In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese until evenly distributed. Top each of the salmon fillets with a coating of the breadcrumb mixture.
- Cook the salmon for 12-15 minutes for medium. To get the crust a golden brown, turn the oven to broil and heat for 45 seconds to 1 1/2 minutes with the salmon about 5 inches away from the heating element. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.
- Serve immediately.