Healthy, easy oven baked Pesto Salmon with lemon. Only five ingredients needed for this tasty, rich, and satisfying salmon dish ready in under 20 minutes.
- About Pesto Salmon
- How to Make Pesto Salmon
- Tips for Making Pesto Salmon
- Pesto Salmon Recipe with Video
About Pesto Salmon
Need an easy recipe that requires very little work and very little oven/cooking time? Then this Pesto Salmon is for you! This super easy recipe is simply salmon fillets covered in pesto and lemon juice then baked. It’s flavorful, easy, and delicious.
Pesto and salmon work so well together, and the richness of the two is cut with a little lemon juice to brighten the flavor.
Not only is it incredibly easy, there is practically no work involved. You basically spread pesto on salmon fillets and pop it in the oven.
Bonus: Baked Pesto Salmon requires only a few ingredients: salmon, lemon, salt, pesto, and olive oil. And if you use skin-on salmon, you’ll only need four ingredients as the olive oil is only needed for skinless salmon to prevent it from sticking.
Pesto Salmon Ingredients
Salmon: I prefer wild caught Alaskan salmon or farmed Atlantic salmon in indoor recirculating tank or farmed Chinook salmon in Marine net pen. When picking salmon, I like to look for a label that shows that the fish has been eco-certified by the Marine Stewardship Council and/or Aquaculture Stewardship Council.
You can use salmon fillets with or without skin. And both fresh or frozen salmon will work. If you are using frozen salmon, thaw and pat dry before using.
Pesto: Any pesto will work. For a quicker preparation time, use store bought. For a more budget friendly option, use homemade pesto.
Olive oil: The olive oil is only necessary when using skinless salmon fillets. You can also use avocado oil. When using fillets with skin, skip the olive oil since the salmon has enough natural oils already in it.
Lemon: Fresh lemon juice is preferred, but you can easily use bottled lemon juice (as you can see in the video) since it’s easy to keep in the pantry or fridge. Either will work, but you really need the lemon in my opinion. If you forget it, feel free to use another citrus juice or even white or red wine vinegar could work.
Cost of Salmon Pesto
- salmon 4 skin-on fillets: $8.99
- pesto 4 tablespoons: $1.40
- lemon 4 teaspoon: $0.50
- salt: $0.01
TOTAL COST: $10.90 (Based on San Diego Sprouts 2019) or $2.73/serving
How to Make Pesto Salmon
Time needed: 20 minutes.
This recipe is incredibly simple. Here’s how to make Baked Pesto Salmon
- Place the salmon on a baking sheet or in a baking dish skin-side down.
If you use skinless, rub one side with oil and place it oil-side down.
- Top with pesto.
- Squeeze lemon juice over pesto.
- Sprinkle with salt.
- Transfer to oven to bake.
Broil for a few minutes at the end of cooking.
- Remove from oven.
Tips for Making Pesto Salmon
Since there are only 4 main ingredients (with one being salt), there isn’t much you can do to control or substitute ingredients. However, you can vary the type of pesto you use.
Changing the pesto changes the dish. There are so many great pesto options to vary the flavors, and pretty much all pesto types are delicious with salmon and lemon. Tomato pestos or an olive-type pesto would be delicious on the salmon as well.
How to Make Allergy Friendly
This Pesto Salmon recipe is naturally gluten free, egg free, and soy free (depending on the pesto you buy). You can look for a dairy free pesto if needed, and some pestos are nut free. Be sure to check the ingredients list and allergy notifications on the ingredients you use.
Make Ahead Tips
This is so quick and easy to prepare that you don’t really need to do anything in advance. If you buy store-bought pesto, you obviously don’t need to do any preparation. However, you can make pesto in advance if desired. I like using this recipe for a budget-friendly spicy pesto.
Store in an airtight glass or plastic container in the fridge for up to 3 days. I do not recommend freezing the cooked salmon as the texture will be undesirable when thawed.
I’m not a huge fan of reheating cooked salmon because it can turn tough and overcooked, especially in the microwave. However, this is actually pretty tasty when it’s cold.
But if you don’t mind it being a little overcooked, you can easily reheat in the microwave at 30 second intervals until warmed through.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can you scale this Pesto Salmon recipe?
This recipe is easy to cut in half or multiplied. Basically, you need one tablespoon of pesto, one teaspoon of lemon juice, and one teaspoon of olive oil (if using) per salmon fillet. Oh, and a little sprinkling of salt, too.
What to serve with Baked Pesto Salmon
This Pesto Salmon can be served with whatever veggies and/or grains you like. Brown & wild rice with steamed artichokes were what I chose to serve with it in the photos because they were already cooked and in the fridge.
Other great options that cook in less than 20 minutes are Vegan Creamed Spinach, Sautéed Broccolini, 5 Spice Baby Bok Choy, Broiled Parmesan Tomatoes, Sautéed Green Beans, and Rosemary and Garlic Carrots.
This recipe is so simple and delicious that you should go ahead and run to the store to grab a few salmon fillets. Or maybe you’re lucky enough to have some in the freezer, and you probably have all the other ingredients in your kitchen. Then you’ll have this tasty, rich, and satisfying salmon ready in under 20.
MORE SALMON RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE:
- Lemon Thyme Roasted Salmon
- Salmon en Papillote
- Miso Glazed Salmon
- Champagne Poached Salmon
- Salmon with Mango Yogurt Sauce
Pesto Salmon Recipe with Video
Easy Pesto Salmon
- 4 (4-6 ounce) salmon fillets
- 4 teaspoons olive oil optional
- 4 tablespoons pesto
- 4 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 400*F.
- Rub one side of the salmon with olive oil (this step is only for skinless salmon).
- Arrange the salmon fillets in a baking dish or baking sheet with the oiled/skin side down.
- Rub one tablespoon of pesto over the top of each salmon fillet. Squeeze the lemon juice over pesto. Sprinkle the salmon with salt.
- Transfer salmon to preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the oven to broil and broil the salmon for 5-8 minutes until salmon is done and pesto is lightly browned. Enjoy!
- Place the salmon skin side down in the baking dish. If using salmon with skin, you don’t need to use olive oil.
- If using skinless salmon, I recommend rubbing one side with oil and placing the salmon in the baking sheet oil-side down.
This post was originally published May 30, 2016. Text, recipe, and photos have been updated.
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