Food RecipePesto Salmon | The Recipe Critic

Pesto Salmon | The Recipe Critic

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Pesto Salmon is the BEST salmon you will ever make! Smothered in fresh basil pesto and soaked in roasted tomatoes, this salmon is then baked to perfection for a juicy and tender salmon fillet.

I think salmon is my favorite fish. It’s really simple to make and it’s a great fish to season. If you love salmon like me, you’ve got to try this Salmon Piccata, this sweet and savory Asian Glazed Salmon, or this amazing Garlic Brown Sugar Glazed Salmon.

Pesto salmon in a pan with tomatoes lemons and fresh basil.

Recipe for Salmon with Pesto

Once you try this pesto salmon, you are going to be hooked! I like to use a fresh basil pesto, but there are so many great options at the grocery store too. Salmon is a great fish to try if you are making fish for the first time. The key is to not overcook it! You want the internal temperature to be 135 degrees. It also matters what fillet you choose. There are tips for choosing the best salmon fillet piece in my tips box.

I think that pesto and salmon were made for each other! I love pesto on so many things, like this pesto alfredo chicken casserole and this easy baked pesto chicken. It turns out, I think pesto is my favorite on salmon. It adds such a bright and fresh flavor to the fish, as well as adds moisture. It’s the perfect ingredient!

Ingredients

These six ingredients come together to make the juiciest and most delicious pesto salmon you’ll ever have! It’s so simple to make and loaded with flavor. All of my kids loved this dish, which is saying something! It’s not fishy at all, and it’s so tender. It just flakes with your fork! It’s actually perfect on top of salads, with rice, or cauliflower rice to keep it lower in carbohydrates! You can find measurements below in the recipe card.

  • Olive Oil: I like to cook my fish in olive oil because it has a great flavor and won’t brown like butter.
  • Salmon Fillet: The key to choosing the best salmon filet is included in the tip box below.
  • Cherry Tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes are really sweet and have acid that helps keep the salmon tender and juicy.
  • Kosher Salt: High quality salt will taste better and make a difference in the dish!
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper: I like to grind some fresh pepper over the top for a little extra spice.
  • Basil Pesto: This is the key to your pesto salmon! You can make it yourself at home, it’s super simple! Or there are lots of great fresh options at the store too.
Process photos showing the salmon fresh in the pan, and then seared and being topped with pesto.

Pesto Salmon Recipe

There is nothing tricky about this pesto salmon recipe! It is really easy to cook a perfectly juicy and tender baked salmon fillet with just a few tips. I like to sear the salmon in a skillet and then finish it off in the oven. That way the salmon skin is nice and crispy, but the fillet doesn’t get over done.

  1. Prep: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Drizzle: Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet or cast iron pan.
  3. Pat Dry: Pat the salmon fillet dry with paper towels and then place it in the middle of the skillet.
  4. Add Cherry Tomatoes: Add the cherry tomatoes to the skillet to surround the salmon fillet. Then drizzle the remaining olive oil over the tomatoes and salmon.
  5. Season: Season the salmon and tomatoes with salt and pepper.
  6. Bake: Bake the salmon and tomatoes for about 15 minutes or until the tomatoes start to blister and soften.
  7. Add Pesto: Spread the pesto sauce over the salmon and then continue to bake for an additional 5-8 minutes.
  8. Bake: Bake until it registers 135 degrees Fahrenheit when a thermometer is inserted at the thickest part of the salmon.
  9. Garnish: Garnish with fresh basil and parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
A picture showing how easily the salmon flakes with a fork in the pan.

Tips for Cooking Pesto Salmon

I absolutely love cooking salmon! It’s a great piece of fish that is healthy and full of nutrients. It also has a mild flavor so all of my family can enjoy it together. Here are a few tips that I’ve picked up over the years of cooking salmon.

  • How to Pick the Right Fillet: Poke it! Sounds weird, but you can actually tell a lot about the quality of the fillet by feeling it. It should be firm and the flesh should spring back. It should not smell at all, and it should have a nice bright pink-orange color. If it is a pale pink, it is not as fresh.
  • Seasoning Your Salmon: The pesto really does most of this for you! It’s the perfect marinade and seasoning all in one. Don’t underestimate how much flavor the tomatoes add either! They are super great at infusing the dish with juicy sweet flavor. Other than those ingredients, all you really need is a little salt and pepper. You could squeeze some fresh lemon juice to finish it off, and then add a little lemon zest to the pesto!
  • What Pan to Use: You could use whatever pan you have on hand. A lot of the time I will choose a cast iron skillet because they heat up really evenly and hold heat really well. You can use a non-stick pan if that’s what you are used to cooking with!

A delicious and flaky pesto salmon fillet in a pan being pulled apart by a fork.

Storing Leftovers

Pesto salmon is super tasty leftovers! The only tricky part is reheating the salmon without drying it out and overcooking it. Sometimes I will just eat it cold to keep it nice and tender, and it’s great that way!

  • In the Refrigerator: You can store your leftovers in an airtight container for up to two days in the refrigerator.
  • To Reheat: I like to wrap my salmon in parchment paper with butter inside and put it on a pan in an oven preheated to 175 degrees and reheat it as slowly as you can! I know it sounds like a lot of extra work but it will taste exactly like the day you made it.


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large oven-safe skillet or cast iron pan.

  • Pat the salmon fillet dry with paper towels and place it in the middle of the skillet.

  • Add the cherry tomatoes to the skillet to surround the salmon fillet. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the tomatoes and salmon.

  • Season the salmon and tomatoes with salt and pepper.

  • Bake the salmon and tomatoes for about 15 minutes or until the tomatoes start to blister and soften.

  • Spread the pesto sauce over the salmon and continue to bake for an additional 5-8 minutes.

  • Bake until it registers 135 degrees Fahrenheit when a thermometer is inserted at the thickest part of the salmon.

  • Garnish with fresh basil and parmesan cheese. Enjoy!



Serves: 3

Calories315kcal (16%)Carbohydrates6g (2%)Protein21g (42%)Fat23g (35%)Saturated Fat4g (20%)Polyunsaturated Fat3gMonounsaturated Fat9gCholesterol54mg (18%)Sodium1021mg (43%)Potassium684mg (20%)Fiber1g (4%)Sugar3g (3%)Vitamin A942IU (19%)Vitamin C23mg (28%)Calcium58mg (6%)Iron2mg (11%)

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

Course Dinner

Cuisine American

Keyword pesto salmon, salmon recipe





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