This pesto crusted salmon uses an easy recipe that is great for busy weeknights. It results in flaky salmon with a crispy Panko topping that is infused with pesto flavor.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- This basil pesto salmon is a great salmon dish for an easy weeknight dinner. However, it's ease doesn't take away from the fact that it is one of the best baked salmon recipes! It is a recipe that is also special enough to be served for a date night or other special occasions.
- There are only five main ingredients that you will need to make these pesto crusted salmon fillets.
- You don't need any special equipment to make this recipe (however, if you choose to make homemade pesto instead of buying a pre-made pesto you may need a food processor*).
- Fresh salmon filets - you can use fresh salmon or frozen salmon for this recipe. Both options are rich with heart healthy fatty acids and have great health benefits. You can also use both Atlantic salmon and sockeye salmon. Atlantic salmon is often a little easier to find than sockeye salmon. That being said, wild-caught sockeye salmon is much easier to find than wild-caught Atlantic salmon if wild salmon is important to you. What is most important when it comes to good quality salmon is how fresh it is.
- Pesto - there are several options for amazing pesto to use for this pesto crust salmon. If you don't want to make your own pesto, you can choose a store-bought pesto from the grocery store. We like the refrigerator varieties better than the jar varieties as they provide a fresher flavor. We love Costco's Kirkland Pesto (Sam's Club also has their own version) and the pesto from Trader Joe's. If you need a dairy-free pesto, Trader Joe's vegan pesto is also delicious. You can always make homemade basil pesto with parmesan cheese, pine nuts, basil, olive oil, garlic, and salt. You could even add some arugula to make an arugula pesto if you prefer that flavor over the basil. If you are looking for a homemade basil pesto that is dairy-free, give our easy pesto recipe a try! If you have leftover pesto that you are unable to use before it goes bad, you can freeze them in ice cube trays!
- Panko breadcrumbs - you should be able to find Panko breadcrumbs at any grocery store, however you can make fresh breadcrumbs if you have the time. There are also gluten-free varieties of panko breadcrumbs if necessary.
- Kosher salt
- Lemon zest + fresh lemon juice squeeze for serving
- Olive oil or avocado oil cooking spray
See the recipe card below for a complete list of ingredients and measurements.
Equipment You’ll Need
- Parchment-lined sheet pan
- Medium bowl
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Meat thermometer
Step by Step Directions
For the full recipe instructions, scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
In a medium bowl, combine pesto sauce, panko bread crumbs, salt, and lemon zest. Mix well until fully combined.
Place salmon skin side down onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Spray the salmon with olive or avocado oil cooking spray. Carefully spoon the breadcrumb mixture over the top of the salmon and use your fingers to firmly press the pesto panko crumbs into the salmon.
Once the salmon is fully covered with the pesto crust, place the baking sheet to the preheated oven. Cook for 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of your salmon filet, until the salmon reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest part. Once the salmon is fully cooked, turn the oven to the broil setting. Watch carefully as the salmon broils for 1-2 minutes until the crumbs are golden brown on top.
Tips & Variations
- If you are using frozen salmon for this recipe, make sure to thaw it safely before preparation. You can transfer it to the refrigerator the night before to thaw overnight or you can thaw it in cool water about an hour before meal preparation.
- Ensure that the whole fillets are free of any lingering pin bones. Gently remove any bones that may have been left behind in your salmon pieces.
- Feel free to season the salmon a little bit before adding the pesto crust on top. You could add a little bit of table salt (not too much since there is salt in the pesto crust), black pepper, and/or garlic powder.
- A great way to elevate this baked pesto salmon recipe even further is to top the pesto crusted salmon fillets with cherry tomatoes. You can also add some freshly grated parmesan cheese to the top of the pesto crust.
- Here are some ideas for what to serve with this salmon:
- Kale crunch salad or berry salad
Absolutely! Using an air fryer is a delicious way to cook salmon, but note that the temperature and cooking time will likely vary from that of the oven. Simply follow the directions for cooking fish with your specific air fryer. You can also use a meat thermometer to determine when the salmon is done, it should reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
We recommend storing leftovers in the refrigerator an airtight container and consuming within 3-4 days.
Make it gluten-free: simply use gluten-free Panko breadcrumbs.
Make it dairy-free: use a dairy-free pesto.
This recipe is not vegetarian or vegan.
If you like this recipe, check out some of our other salmon or pesto recipes:
If you make this pesto-crusted salmon, please let us know how it turns out in the comments below and/or rate the recipe! Don’t forget to tag us on Instagram to show us your finished product—it makes our day every time we see you trying the recipes we love!
Pesto Crusted Salmon
- 1 lb fresh salmon filet
- 3 tbsp pesto (dairy-free if necessary)
- 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs (gluten-free if necessary)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp lemon zest + fresh lemon squeeze for serving
- Olive or avocado oil cooking spray
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, combine pesto sauce, panko bread crumbs, salt, and lemon zest. Mix well until fully combined.
- Place salmon skin side down onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Spray the salmon with olive or avocado oil cooking spray. Carefully spoon the breadcrumb mixture over the top of the salmon and use your fingers to firmly press the pesto panko crumbs into the salmon.
- Once the salmon is fully covered with the pesto crust, place the baking sheet to the preheated oven. Cook for 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of your salmon filet, until the salmon reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit in the thickest part. Once the salmon is fully cooked, turn the oven to the broil setting. Watch carefully as the salmon broils for 1-2 minutes until the crumbs are golden brown on top.
- Right before serving, squeeze some fresh lemon onto the salmon.
- Make it gluten-free: simply use gluten-free Panko breadcrumbs.
- Make it dairy-free: use a dairy-free pesto.
- This recipe is not vegetarian or vegan.
The recipe can be found on My Fitness Pal by searching "BWB Pesto Crusted Salmon."
The nutrition content provided for each recipe is an estimate created through the My Fitness Pal database. Please be aware that the nutritional content of each recipe may vary based on the products you use, the precision of your measurements, and the source you use to obtain nutrition data. While we try to provide accurate information, we give no guarantee regarding the accuracy of the nutritional information provided.