30-Minute Dinner/ Dinner/ fish and seafood

Baked Pesto Salmon

17 October 2022 By Aleksandra

This baked pesto salmon makes an easy but impressive main dish that is packed with flavor. Delicate fish is topped with flavorful lemon basil pesto and crunchy breadcrumb parmesan topping. You won’t have enough of this easy recipe!

A close up photo of baked pesto salmon on a white plate.

Ingredients

Below you will find information about the ingredients and how to prepare the recipe. For the measurements and detailed instructions scroll down to the printable recipe card.

Here’s what you need to make this easy dish:

Labeled ingredients for baked pesto salmon.
  • salmon fillets – wild caught or regular salmon, preferably thicker fillets – the topping will have more time to get brown without overcooking the fish
  • lemon basil pesto – I really like this pesto recipe for this dish but you can also use store-bought pesto or other pesto types such as parsley pesto, celery leaf pesto, arugula pesto, or wild garlic pesto, homemade pesto tastes so much better! here you’ll find all my recipes with pesto
  • breadcrumb topping – made with Panko breadcrumbs (Panko are really needed for this recipe, regular breadcrumbs won’t give the same result), parmesan cheese, and olive oil

How to make baked pesto salmon step by step

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C), move the rack to the top shelf.

Lemon basil pesto in food processor. Breadcrumb parmesan topping in a bowl.

Make pesto: wash basil and gently pat dry the leaves. Add all the ingredients for the pesto except olive oil to a food processor. Process until almost smooth. Add the olive oil (add just 2 tablespoons right now) and gently pulse until just combined (don’t mix it at high speed). Assess if the sauce needs another tablespoon of olive oil (if the basil was not drained properly, the water can dilute the sauce making the third olive oil tablespoon not necessary, for this recipe you need the pesto to be rather thick and not runny). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Make the topping: In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and olive oil.

Salmon fillets topped with pesto in a green baking dish.

Pat dry salmon fillets with paper towels, season with salt and pepper on all sides.

If the ends of the salmon fillets are very thin compared to the rest, you can fold them underneath before baking.

Spread 1 tablespoon of pesto on each fillet.

Salmon fillets topped with pesto and breadcrumb topping in a green baking dish.

Spread the topping on top of each salmon fillet.

Bake for about 12 minutes or until a thermometer registers 140°F/60°C (after the resting time it should come to the safe temperature of 145°F/63°C). Leave to rest for 5 minutes then serve.

Enjoy!

TIP: The baking time will vary depending on the thickness of the fillets, it’s best to use a grill thermometer and put the thermometer probe into the fish for the whole baking time – that way you can monitor the temperature inside the fillet and not overcook the fish.

A close up photo of baked pesto salmon in a green baking dish.

Storage

This dish reheats very well. Store it in the fridge for up to 2 days, reheat in a 350°F (180°C) oven until warm.

It can also be frozen (if it was not previously frozen) for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge then reheat in the oven.

Serving suggestion

Recipe FAQ’s

Do you bake salmon with the skin on or off?

Using this recipe, you can bake salmon skin on or skin off. I prefer to bake it skin off but if you’d like to bake it skin on, make sure to bake it skin-side down. Remove the skin with a thin spatula after baking.

Can I omit the breadcrumbs topping?

If you don’t want breadcrumb topping I would recommend baking salmon without pesto at a lower temperature (350-375°F or 180-190°C) and spread it on top just after baking. Baking salmon with pesto without breadcrumb topping results in a pale-green pesto crust on the salmon.

Can I double the recipe?

This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled – it’s perfect to prepare for a crowd!

What is the best temperature to bake salmon?

Usually, I like to bake salmon at 375°F (190°C) but in this recipe, 425°F (220°C) works best because we want to brown the breadcrumb topping without overcooking the fish. A layer of pesto and breadcrumb topping prevent the fish from drying out at high temperature.

How long do you bake salmon?

It will depend on the thickness of the fillets. In this recipe, you’re going to bake salmon for about 12 minutes at 425°F (220°C). The best way to check if your salmon is ready is to measure the temperature in the thickest part of the fillet with an instant-read thermometer. It should register 140°F/60°C and after the resting time, it should come to the safe temperature of 145°F/63°C.

More delicious salmon recipes you may like

Baked pesto salmon on a white plate is being cut with a fork.

Below you will find information about the ingredients and how to prepare the recipe. For the measurements and detailed instructions scroll down to the printable recipe card.

Baked Pesto Salmon

This baked pesto salmon makes an easy but impressive main dish that is packed with flavor. Delicate fish is topped with flavorful lemon basil pesto and crunchy breadcrumb parmesan topping. You won’t have enough of this easy recipe!
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Baked pesto salmon in a green baking dish.
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Prep Time 8 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 213kcal
Author Aleksandra

Ingredients

baked pesto salmon:

  • 4 salmon fillets
  • 1/4 cup 4 tablespoons basil pesto (store-bought or from the recipe below)
  • 1/4 cup 22g grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

lemon basil pesto (makes extra):

  • 3 cups packed 45g basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup 45g grated Parmesan
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts or almonds
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C), move the rack to the top shelf.
  • Make pesto: wash basil and gently pat dry the leaves. Add all the ingredients for the pesto except olive oil to a food processor. Process until almost smooth. Add the olive oil (add just 2 tablespoons right now) and gently pulse until just combined (don't mix it at high speed). Assess if the sauce needs another tablespoon of olive oil (if the basil was not drained properly, the water can dilute the sauce making the third olive oil tablespoon not necessary, for this recipe you need the pesto to be rather thick and not runny). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Pat dry salmon fillets with paper towels, season with salt and pepper on all sides.
  • Spread 1 tablespoon of pesto on each fillet.
  • In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Spread the mixture on top of each salmon fillet.
  • Bake for about 12 minutes or until a thermometer registers 140°F/60°C (after the resting time it should come to the safe temperature of 145°F/63°C). Leave to rest for 5 minutes then serve.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • The baking time will vary depending on the thickness of the fillets. It’s best to use a grill thermometer and put the thermometer probe into the fish for the whole baking time – this way you can monitor the temperature inside the fillet and you won’t overcook the fish.
  • Calories = 1 serving (1/4 of the recipe). This is only an estimate!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
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