This 15-minute Pesto Salmon recipe is loaded with garlicky pesto butter and fresh lemon juice. It’s the perfect meal for busy weeknights.
Table Of Contents
If you love healthy and deliciously flavored dishes that are easy to make, then this Pesto Salmon is for you. I just love that it can work for a quick dinner or be an elegant main course served to guests.
- TASTE: This salmon is buttery, garlicky, and lemony, with a layer of herbaceous basil pesto sauce on top. These flavors are so tasty together.
- TEXTURE: Tender, flaky salmon and a smooth pesto butter sauce make this dish absolutely delicious.
- TIME: This Pesto Salmon recipe comes together in less than 20 minutes and that’s including the cook and prep time!
- EASE: It requires only 6 ingredients and is super simple to make!
What You’ll Need
- Basil pesto– You can make your pesto sauce or buy it from the store. Just make sure to purchase the fresh one that’s in the refrigerated section.
- Unsalted butter– Make sure it’s softened to room temperature.
- Garlic– Only use fresh. The powdered stuff won’t work here.
- Salmon filets– You can use wild-caught king salmon or Atlantic, both are full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
- Lemon juice– This adds a nice little tang that you don’t want to skip.
Add-ins and Substitutions
- Make it lighter- If you want to make it healthier, you can swap the butter for olive oil, but it will need to be drizzled instead of scooped onto the salmon filets.
- Substitute a whole filet- You can easily make this pesto salmon recipe with a full salmon filet. Just spread all of the pesto butter on top of the entire filet.
- Make it dairy-free- To make this recipe without dairy, use plant-based butter or olive oil for the butter, and choose a pesto that doesn’t have cheese or whey. Or make your own!
- Add tomatoes and Parmesan cheese- This zesty Pesto Salmon tastes yummy when baked with halved cherry tomatoes and topped with this salty, nutty cheese.
How to Make Pesto Salmon
- Mix up the butter pesto– Add the softened butter, basil pesto, and grated garlic to a small bowl and stir using a fork.
Pro Tip: You can easily make this pesto salmon recipe with a full salmon fillet. Just spread all of the pesto butter on top of the entire fillet. You may need to bake it a little longer though.
- Season the salmon– Place the salmon filets on a baking sheet lined with foil. Season the salmon with salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
- Top with pesto butter– Then add the pesto butter on top. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 10 minutes. Serve.
- Use unsalted butter- As the pesto is already seasoned, it’s best to use unsalted butter to better control the salt level. You can add it to your preference when you salt the salmon.
- Grate fresh garlic cloves- Doing this adds the best flavor and aroma to your pesto butter. Garlic powder and even pre-minced garlic just aren’t as good.
- Don’t overcook the salmon- You want to cook it until it’s pink and easily flaked when scraped with a fork. To avoid drying it out, use an instant-read thermometer to make sure it doesn’t exceed an internal temp of 145 degrees.
- Store extra pesto butter- If you love the flavor of this pesto butter mixture, make extra and store it in the fridge. You can spread it on fresh bread, add it to baked potatoes, or put it on a toasted homemade bagel.
Pesto is good in moderation. While it’s high in fat and calories, it contains lots of vitamins, minerals, and good fats that are good for cell health and your heart. So enjoy it occasionally, but not every day, to reap the health benefits while not overdoing it.
When you cook salmon fillets in the oven, they take 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The cook time will vary depending on how thick your salmon filets are, so it’s best to check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer to be sure they’ve reached 145 degrees.
This Pesto Salmon tastes delicious with all kinds of side dishes, pastas, and grains. It’s so versatile! Here are some great ways to serve it.
- Pasta: Enjoy this salmon with Easy Pasta Primavera Cheesy Baked Orzo, Garlicky Israeli Couscous, and Penne Alla Vodka.
- Potatoes: Serve your Pesto Salmon with a side of Super Creamy Mashed Potatoes, Scalloped Potatoes, Air Fryer Baked Potato, or Parmesan Roasted Potatoes.
- Greens: Pair this dish with Crispy Air Fryer Broccoli, Roasted Air Fryer Vegetables, Spinach Pomegranate Salad, or Cabbage Cucumber Salad.
- Grains: Place your salmon on a bed of Wild Rice, quinoa, farro, or Wild Brown Rice.
Make This Recipe in Advance
Make ahead: You can prepare the pesto butter days in advance and store it in the fridge. You can also cook the salmon a day ahead and store it in the fridge, reheating when you’re ready to serve.
Storing: Store any leftover Pesto Salmon in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days. Reheat it low and slow to avoid drying it out, warming for about 15 minutes at 275 degrees.
Freeze: You can freeze this salmon dish in an airtight freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw and then reheat in the oven. You may want to add some extra pesto butter to moisten and flavor the salmon filets.
More Scrumptious Salmon Dishes!
Full Recipe Instructions
- 1/4 cup Basil Pesto
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1-2 garlic cloves pressed
- 28 oz salmon fillet or four (7 oz fillets)
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- In a bowl combine 1/4 cup basil pesto, 1/2 cup softened butter, and 1-2 pressed garlic cloves using a fork.
- Scoop out the butter pesto using a medium-sized cookie scoop and place 2 scoops on each fillet.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 10 minutes. Serve with a squeeze of extra lemon juice on top.
- How to make it healthier- If you want to make it healthier, you can swap the butter for olive oil, but it will need to be drizzled instead of scooped onto the salmon fillets.
- Make it with a whole salmon fillet- You can easily make this pesto salmon recipe with a full salmon fillet. Just spread all of the pesto butter on top of the entire fillet. You may need to bake it a little longer though.
This recipe was originally posted on Jun 29, 2015, we’ve tweaked it a bit since then.