This pesto salmon recipe is perfect for long summer days when you just don’t know what to make for dinner. In less than 20 minutes, you can have a flavorful and healthy dinner on the table that everyone (even your kiddos) will love!
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Why you should make this baked pesto salmon recipe now!
This pesto salmon recipe has only 2-ingredients, pesto and salmon. If you make your own pesto, you’ll need a few extra ingredients, but ones you likely already have in the pantry or the fridge. Additionally, this recipe makes a quick and simple weeknight meal that’s good for you.
It’s naturally gluten free, high in protein and beautiful to look at, making it a win-win-win. I love when that happens. And the leftovers of this pesto salmon recipe are almost as good as the first time you make it, so make double and have dinner (or lunches) all week long.
Additional Information on the Ingredients:
- Pesto: you can either use store bought or homemade. I typically make a double batch of homemade pesto and then freeze it in 4 oz mason jars. One of those jars defrosted is the perfect amount of pesto for this recipe.
How to make Pesto Salmon
First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet.
Then, if you have a large piece of salmon(I like to buy mine at Costco so they are often HUUUGE), portion them into pieces that are about 2” wide. This helps everything cook faster and more evenly.
Place salmon fillets onto your baking tray and pat them dry with a paper towel.
Next, spread about 1 teaspoon of pesto on top of the salmon pieces.
Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake until the fish is cooked to about 145 degrees Fahrenheit (to get the right internal temp use an instant read thermometer). I like to cook it to just 145 degrees and then let it rest a few minutes before serving it. (I’m not recommending eating under cooked proteins, however, I also do not like to over cook fish).
Once the fish is out of the oven, you can add another dollop of pesto to the top of each piece of fish before serving.
Serve over rice, a big salad or for something fancy over risotto, and enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
We like to eat baked pesto salmon two different ways. I like to serve either over a simple lemon risotto or rice pilaf if I'm looking to make a bit heartier of a meal. It also goes great over a big leafy green salad for a totally stress-free dinner. A side of sautéed spinach, roasted cauliflower or steamed green beans are also great options for side dishes.
Yes, you can make it on the grill. If you are going to grill the salmon, I would suggest leaving it as one whole piece with the skin on. Oil your grill grates, place the salmon on the grill then spoon on the pesto. Let it cook until the salmon reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Then take it off the grill, slice, and serve over a bed of greens or rice, garnish with fresh basil leaves. This method would be perfect in the summer for an easy weeknight dinner.
This recipe is great all year long, but especially good in the summer when you can make homemade pesto to go with it. I also love serving it for room temperature for brunch and the pesto salmon flatbreads are great for a Sunday dinner on the deck. This salmon dish would also be great for a holiday brunch or served over a big green salad at a potluck with friends.
How to avoid overcooking salmon
Salmon can become over cooked quite easily. To make sure you get a tender flaky salmon each and every time follow these easy tips:
- Use fresh salmon or salmon that was frozen at purchase and completely thawed through.
- Make sure the pieces of salmon are all approximately the same size and thickness
- Use a thermometer checking the internal temp as the salmon cooks, checking thinner pieces before the thicker ones
- When the thermometer reaches 145 degrees at the thickest part of each piece, pull the salmon out of the oven immediately. Since the cooking time on each piece is based on the size of the fillet, the fish may come out of the oven at different times...that's okay!
How to use and store leftovers
If there are leftovers from this salmon recipe, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. I would not suggest freezing this basil pesto salmon recipe. The leftovers can be eaten as it or repurposed into another easy weeknight meal.
Here are two delicious ways you can repurposed the leftovers:
- Pesto salmon flat breads using naan (we love the Trader Joes’ version). With the toasted or baked naan as the base, spread some hummus on the bottom, flake the cooked salmon with pesto over the hummus and then top with pickled red onions and feta cheese. It’s so good and perfect for a quick lunch or healthy dinner.
- You can also flake the leftover salmon and toss it with farfalle pasta for a delicious salmon pesto pasta salad. Make sure the pasta is seasoned well with a little salt, some lemon zest and toss in some pine nuts for crunch and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for some acid. Yum!
One more simple tip
If you are using my homemade pesto recipe, make it ahead of time and keep it in 4 oz mason jars in the freezer. Simply top the pesto with a piece of plastic wrap to keep it from discoloring and put the lid on.
It will stay good in the freezer up to 6 months. When you are ready to use it, simply defrost it on the counter or pop it into the microwave for about 30 seconds (with the lid off 🙄).
Any leftover pesto can be put back in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Looking for more simple fish recipes? Try these:
When you try this recipe and love it 😍 let me know by leaving a comment below or 5 ⭐ rating!
Easy Pesto Salmon Recipe
- 1 lb fresh salmon (if you have extra hungry people for dinner, you can increase the amount of fish and pesto accordingly)
- 4 oz pesto (homemade or store bought)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place a piece of parchment paper on a baking tray.
- Portion the salmon filets into pieces that are about 2-3” wide and spread about 1 teaspoon of pesto onto each piece of fish.
- Put the baking tray in the oven and bake until the fish is cooked to about 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from oven.
- Once the fish is out of the oven, you can add another dollop of pesto to the top of each piece of fish before serving. Serve over rice, a big salad or for something fancy over risotto, and enjoy!
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