Pesto salmon is an easy oven-baked dinner requiring only five ingredients that can be on the table in less than 25 minutes. It’s a healthy dinner full of flavor and perfect for weeknight cooking.

Oven baked pesto salmon on a plate with fresh basil leaves.
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Pesto is one of my favorite ways to transform a meal. It can be used in so many ways to liven up the flavors of a simple dish and you don’t even have to make your own to do so. Using store-bought prepared pesto is one of the best weeknight dinner hacks to save on time.

Pesto potatoes and pesto couscous are both easy and delicious ways to level up your side dish and this pesto salmon recipe accomplishes the same thing with the main course.

Salmon is a staple protein in our house and we try to eat it weekly to incorporate more fish into our diets. As a nutritional powerhouse full of healthy fats, B vitamins and one of the few foods high in vitamin D, it’s a great choice. 

If you shop at a big box store like Costco or BJ’s, they both offer frozen wild sockeye salmon filets that can be a life saver for busy weeknights.

Pesto brings a vibrant, liveliness to the baked salmon that not only tastes delicious, but also helps keep it moist and tender as it cooks in the oven.

This recipe goes over the pesto salmon specifically but you can easily turn dinner into a one-pan meal by taking a page from this sheet pan turmeric salmon recipe and baking everything together at once.

Ingredients to make pesto salmon recipe in small bowls on marble surface.

Here’s what you’ll need to make pesto salmon

With just five ingredients (three if you don’t count salt and pepper!) in this easy salmon dinner, you’ll find yourself coming back to this recipe time and time again. Because it’s a short list, the quality of the ingredients is important. Choose the best options you can.

  • Salmon filets — Both fresh and frozen salmon will work here. If using frozen salmon, let it thaw to room temperature before using. The quickest way to do this is by placing frozen salmon (assuming it’s sealed in plastic) in a bowl with lukewarm water for about 20 minutes.
  • Olive oil — We like to use extra virgin olive oil in all our cooking.
  • ​Salt and pepper —Used to season the salmon before coating with pesto.
  • Pesto — You can choose store-bought basil pesto or make your own. We have a few more unique pesto recipes such as arugula pestoradish greens pesto and citrus pesto that would all be great paired with salmon as well.

My Pro Tip

Recipe Tip

Look for wild-caught salmon when possible. Sockeye and Coho are popular varieties that are typically more affordable than King salmon. Wild varieties are leaner and more nutritionally dense than farmed salmon with a better omega-3 fat profile. 

How to make this baked pesto salmon recipe

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Drizzle some olive oil on the bottom of a baking dish or pan.

Pat the salmon filets dry with a paper towel then place on the pan with the skin side down. Season the salmon generously with salt and pepper.

Spread the prepared pesto sauce on top of the salmon, covering the entire surface area of the fish evenly.

Bake the salmon for about 12 minutes until flaky but moist. The cooking time will depend on the thickness of your salmon filets. For thinner filets, check the fish around 10 minutes. For thicker filets, you may need up to 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven, garnish with fresh basil, if desired and serve.

A wooden spoon with a filet of baked pesto salmon.

What to serve with pesto salmon

If you want to turn this into a sheet pan meal, here are some vegetables that can bake alongside the salmon:

  • Cherry tomatoes and red onions — Toss with some olive oil and vinegar before baking and season with salt and pepper.
  • Zucchini and summer squash — Chop into small pieces and squash will cook perfectly in the same time the salmon takes.
  • Broccoli and carrots — Add these to the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes before adding the pesto salmon for another 10-15 minutes. 

Roasted potatoes or rice also go well with this baked salmon. Try our air fryer red potatoesair fryer baby potatoes or this basil brown rice with peas dish which pairs nicely with the flavors of the salmon as well.

Pesto salmon would also be delicious over a salad for a lighter meal or a great way to enjoy leftovers for lunch. You can take a peek at our green salad collection and find a recipe you like.

Pesto salmon on a plate with roasted potatoes and salad.

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • It’s quick and easy with just three main ingredients yet healthy and full of bright, bold flavors.
  • You can easily customize it with your favorite pesto recipe.
  • It’s a versatile meal that can be paired with an abundance of different side dishes.
  • ​Leftovers taste delicious!
  • Kids can get involved without making a mess by helping to spread the pesto on the salmon.

Storage tips 

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. 

Reheat the a salmon in the microwave, oven or air-fryer at a gentle temperature. You may want to add more pesto to the salmon before doing so to help keep it moist.

Pesto salmon filets garnished with basil on a white plate.

Is pesto good for you?

Pesto recipes, including store-bought pestos, typically contain high levels of fat due to the olive oil, nuts and cheese. Since these are primarily sources of unsaturated fat, however, it may have some heart health benefits

How do you keep salmon moist?

In this recipe, the pesto acts a natural barrier to keep the salmon from drying out as it bakes in the oven. You can also rub some olive oil on top of the fish before baking if you aren’t coating it in pesto to help keep the fish moist.

A fork with a piece of cooked salmon.

More salmon recipes we love

Sriracha honey salmon vegetable packets — This easy salmon recipe uses foil packets to create individual portions of salmon and vegetables in a spicy honey sauce.

Dijon dill salmon salad — A favorite for a tasty and nutritious lunch, this salmon salad is great on toast, over lettuce or in a wrap.

Seared salmon with tomato corn salsa — Perfect for the summer season, a simply seared salmon filet is paired with a ripe tomatoe, fresh corn and basil salsa.

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5 from 13 votes

Easy Baked Pesto Salmon

Servings: 4 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Total: 22 minutes
Oven baked pesto salmon on a plate with fresh basil leaves.
Smothered in pesto and simply baked in the oven, this pesto salmon recipe is a quick and easy weeknight seafood dinner that will become a family favorite.

Ingredients 

  • 4 salmon filets, 6 ounces each
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup prepared basil pesto, divided

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Drizzle the olive oil on the bottom of a large baking dish. Place the salmon filets, skin side down in the dish. Season the filets with the salt and pepper.
  • Spoon the prepared pesto evenly on the top of each piece of salmon and use the back of a spoon to spread it all over the surface area of the fish.
  • Bake the salmon for about 12 minutes until flaky and cooked through but not dry. This will depend on the thickness of your filets. For thinner filets, check the fish around the 10-minute mark. Thicker filets might need up to 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven, garnish with fresh basil and serve warm.

Nutrition

Serving: 1SERVINGCalories: 393kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 35gFat: 26gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 96mgSodium: 655mgPotassium: 836mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 694IUCalcium: 72mgIron: 2mg

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

Additional Info

Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Mediterranean
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Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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Recipe Rating




12 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made this for dinner last night, which was timely because I just harvested a bunch of my sweet basil earlier this week! I love the flavors and the salmon was cooked perfectly!

  2. 5 stars
    I love this recipe! So easy and delicious. Perfect when I crave for some salmon. I am also thinking of serving this at a small party soon. Looks elegant and tastes amazing.

  3. 5 stars
    The best baked pesto salmon recipe I have come across! Followed the recipe and they came out amazing — perfectly moist and tender. I’ll be making this again when my parents come over next week. So delicious!

  4. 5 stars
    The pesto kept the salmon incredibly moist and flavorful as it baked in the oven. Such a satisfying and flavorful meal!

  5. 5 stars
    Added some cherry tomatoes and red onions to the baking sheet, as suggested, and they roasted perfectly alongside the salmon. Such a convenient one-pan meal! Wondering if I can use another type of fish instead of salmon for this recipe. Will trout or cod work?

  6. I love quick and easy dinners like this! I hear ya on the working out part, after working out for 2+ hours its hard to make yourself cook dinner when you could eat your arm off lol!

  7. Go you with all your weights and PR’ing. You’re basically my strongest most bad ass friend. Also this dish looks pretty darn tasty and quick. Both things I look for in a weeknight recipe :)