Pesto salmon is a simple yet flavorful dish to turn to when you’ve got pesto on hand. Simply spread pesto on top of the fish before popping it into the oven, and voila! You have a two-ingredient entree that couldn’t be easier to prepare.
I’m always on the lookout for quick, healthy weeknight dinners—especially ones with a lot of protein. There are lots of healthy dinner recipes to choose from, but easy salmon recipes are a go-to for me since salmon packs almost 40 grams of protein per 6-ounce serving.
Here’s everything you need to know about making baked pesto salmon.
Baked Pesto Salmon Recipe
This recipe from the Taste of Home Test Kitchen serves four and takes 20 minutes from start to finish.
4 salmon fillets (6 ounces each)
1/2 cup prepared pesto
Step 1: Prepare the baking sheet
Preheat the oven to 400°F. While it preheats, arrange the salmon fillets evenly on a greased rimmed baking sheet.
Step 2: Dollop the pesto on the fillets
Dollop the pesto evenly onto the fish, 2 tablespoons per fillet.
Step 3: Spread the pesto on the fillets
Spread the pesto dollops evenly over the top of each fillet.
Step 4: Bake the pesto salmon
Bake until the fillets just begin to flake easily with a fork, 12 to 15 minutes. Let the fish rest for a few minutes before serving.
How to Tell When Pesto Salmon Is Done
Take the pesto salmon out of the oven when the fillets flake easily with a fork. The internal temperature should reach 145° before you dig in. However, fish will continue to cook a bit with the residual heat from the pan even after you pull it out of the oven. Consider pulling the fish from the oven when it reaches somewhere between 125° and 135°, then letting it rest until it reaches 145°.
Tips for Making Pesto Salmon
What type of salmon fillets should you use?
While you can use skinless salmon fillets, skin-on is a great choice for baked fish. The skin acts as a barrier between the hot pan and the delicate fillet. Beyond that, it’s up to you whether you choose wild or farmed salmon at the grocery store. If you want more guidance on how to choose between the two, here are more tips on how to buy salmon.
If you pick up fresh salmon fillets, cook or freeze them within one to two days. You can also use frozen salmon fillets for this pesto salmon recipe. Our guide on how to cook frozen salmon walks you through all the details. You’ll need to pop the fish in the oven for a few minutes before you spread on the pesto and continue baking; otherwise, the pesto will slide right off the frozen fish in the oven.
Regardless of whether you cook fresh or frozen salmon, try to make sure that each fillet is about the same thickness so that it cooks evenly.
How can you make pesto salmon your own?
Make this baked pesto salmon your own by experimenting with the pesto. Keep it easy and use your favorite store-bought pesto brand, or whip up a from-scratch pesto like parsley pesto, arugula pesto or kale pesto.
If you’ve still got some pesto left in the jar when you’re done, put it to use in any of these recipes with pesto.
What do you serve with baked pesto salmon?
There are plenty of side dishes for salmon that would go well with this recipe, but it depends on how much time you have to prepare them. If you have a little time, orzo recipes such as orzo with spinach and pine nuts would be complementary. Most roasted vegetables would work nicely too, whether you prefer oven-roasted asparagus or Parmesan-roasted broccoli.
If you want to reserve your oven for just cooking the salmon, you can call upon these air-fryer vegetable recipes so that everything can be cooked at the same time.
How do you store baked pesto salmon?
Keep any leftover fish in an airtight container in the fridge. We recommend preparing your pesto salmon fresh every time if you can, simply because it’s so easy—but leftover pesto salmon will last three to four days in the fridge.