This Baked Pesto Salmon recipe is quickly becoming our new go-to way of cooking our favorite fish! In 25 minutes, you’ll have the most tender, flaky fish with just a handful of simple ingredients. It’s a weeknight hero in our household, earning rave reviews from everyone who takes a bite!

Salmon filets with pesto are served on a white plate.

Salmon and Pesto: Match Made in Heaven

I’ve had countless salmon dishes, and trust me, I’m a fan of them all. But truth be told, none of them have stolen my heart quite like this Baked Pesto Salmon did!

We had an overabundance of basil bursting from our Aerogarden. So what did we do with it?! Made a homemade basil pesto, of course. But let’s be real: there’s only so much pesto risotto and creamy chicken pesto gnocchi one can handle in a week.

And then it hit me: why not slather that green goodness over some salmon fillets and pop them in the oven?

Wow!!” was all I could mouth when I tasted the first bite.

Why This Pesto Salmon Captured Hearts

  • The fish comes out super flaky thanks to a simple baking method.
  • It only takes a handful of basic ingredients to get loads of flavor. The lemon juice and zest add a pop of brightness.
  • Unlike most other recipes, you’ll save some of the sauce to add on at the end for even more fresh, zesty goodness!
  • With a little help from a store-bought pesto, you’ll have this masterpiece on the table in just 25 minutes!
  • Or, if you’re feeling fancy (and trust us, it’s worth it), whip up your own homemade pesto for an extra dose of flavor.
  • It’s such a versatile main dish that goes with so many different side dishes. We love to pair it with a heartier side like Roasted Yukon Potatoes or Air Fryer Carrots and a green vegetable like Roasted Asparagus or Air Fryer Broccoli.
Salmon, pesto, lemon, and seasonings are the main ingredients of this dish.
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Notes About the Ingredients

  • Salmon. A quick glance at the seafood department reveals a wide selection of salmon, usually. It’s ok to be picky! My favorite is Verlasso. It is sustainably farm-raised but has amazing flavor. In general, wild is healthier for you and not quite as fatty while farm raised is more tender but not as nutritious.
  • Pesto. Look for a fresh-made carton from the store for the best and quickest option. In Texas, Central Market has an amazing one! Trader Joe’s and World Market also have one. The jarred pesto sauce is usually not as fresh and often too oily. Or, make your own pesto if you have the time.
  • Lemons. You’ll need both the juice and the zest for the most flavor.
  • Red pepper flakes. Completely optional, but it helps to balance out the light and bright flavors with a subtly spicy kick.
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How to Make Baked Pesto Salmon

Please see the recipe card below for ingredient amounts and more detailed instructions.

1. Prepare the Salmon and Sauce

It’s very important to cut the salmon into 4- to 5-ounce fillets. This ensures they cook evenly. Remove the skin if preferred.

Spread the fillets in a 9×13-inch baking dish, leaving at least 1 inch between each piece.

Add the prepared pesto sauce, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes (if using) to a small bowl and whisk well. Brush about 2 teaspoons of sauce over each piece of salmon with a pastry brush.

Should I remove salmon skin before baking?

You do not need to remove the skin! In fact, it slides off so easily after cooking the fillets in the oven. If you have picky eaters, just remove it before serving.

Pesto sauce is brushed over salmon filets.

2. Bake in the Oven

Place the pan in a preheated 425℉ oven and bake for 16 to 18 minutes. The fish should flake easily with a fork when it’s fully cooked.

Serve the salmon with a healthy side and some fresh chopped parsley or basil chiffonade.

Tip for Perfectly Cooked Salmon

  • It’s easy to tell when salmon is fully cooked! It should flake easily with a fork. You can also check the internal temperature, it should be 145℉.
A spatula lifts a pesto salmon filet out of the baking dish.

Can I use a different type of fish instead of salmon?

Absolutely! Feel free to swap out salmon for your favorite fish in this recipe. While salmon’s bold flavor meshes wonderfully with pesto, varieties like trout, cod, or halibut can also shine. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time to suit the thickness of your fillets and keep a close watch to prevent overcooking.

FAQs

Can I use store-bought pesto or should I make homemade?

Both homemade and store-bought work great! Store-bought pesto is much easier, but making it yourself allows you to customize the flavors and get the freshest taste. Choose whatever you prefer.

Can I use frozen salmon for this recipe?

You can definitely use frozen salmon when making this dish. However, be sure to let it completely thaw first.

How should I store leftovers?

If you have leftover pesto salmon, keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 to 3 days. For the best results, reheat it gently in the oven or microwave.

Can I freeze Baked Pesto Salmon?

You can freeze baked pesto salmon for an easy meal later. For the best results, wrap individual portions in foil, then place them in a freezer-safe container. It should keep for up to 3 months. Let the salmon thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.

What sides pair well with Baked Pesto Salmon?

This versatile dish goes with so many sides! Choose your favorite and dig in.

Go green with Green Beans with Vinegar, Sautéed Green Beans, Crispy Smashed Broccoli with Parmesan, Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower, or Roasted Asparagus.

Or, try Roasted Cherry Tomatoes.

If you want a heavier side, choose Duchess Potatoes, Roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes, or Baked Sweet Potatoes.

You can also choose a grain, like White Rice, Instant Pot Wild Rice, or Coconut Rice.

A fork digs into a pesto salmon filet.

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 3 votes

Baked Pesto Salmon Recipe

This Baked Pesto Salmon recipe is quickly becoming our new go-to way of cooking our favorite fish! In 25 minutes, you'll have the most tender, flaky fish with just a handful of simple ingredients.
Salmon filets with pesto are served on a white plate.
Yield 4 servings
Prep 8 minutes
Cook 17 minutes
Total 25 minutes
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Ingredients 

  • 1-1 ¼ lbs. salmon
  • ¼ cup pesto sauce prepared
  • ½ lemon juice and zest
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Fresh parsley or basil finely chopped, optional

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Cut salmon into four 4- to 5-ounce fillets. Remove the skin, if preferred. Place salmon in a 9×13 inch baking dish with at least 1 inch of space between each filet.
    1-1 ¼ lbs. salmon
  • Whisk together the prepared pesto sauce, lemon juice and zest, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, spread 2 teaspoons of the sauce over each piece of salmon, reserving the remaining for serving. Make sure to coat all sides of the filet.
    ¼ cup pesto sauce, ½ lemon, ½ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. black pepper, ⅛ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Bake salmon in the preheated oven for 16-18 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve with finely chopped fresh parsley or basil.
    Fresh parsley or basil
Last step! If you make this, please leave a review letting us know how it was!

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 3 votes

Video

Notes

Prep-Ahead Instructions: If you’re making your own basil, you can whip it up a few days in advance.
Storage Directions: If you have leftover pesto salmon, keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 to 3 days. For the best results, reheat it gently in the oven or microwave. You can freeze baked pesto salmon for an easy meal later. For the best results, wrap individual portions in foil, then place them in a freezer-safe container. It should keep for up to 3 months. Let the salmon thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.

Nutrition

Calories: 266kcal, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 29g, Fat: 15g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 79mg, Sodium: 449mg, Potassium: 720mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 420IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 47mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Tips & recipes for getting yummy — and healthy — meals on the table.

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