Penne al Salmone combines the rich and savory flavors of fresh salmon, heavy cream, and parmesan cheese with penne pasta and a splash of white wine. This creamy salmon pasta recipe has incredible flavor, is decadent (yet still very simple), and can be whipped up in only 30 minutes!
Penne al Salmone is a classic Italian pasta dish that is made with white wine or vodka, and fresh salmon or smoked salmon. This creamy penne pasta dish is also referred to as Pasta al Salmone, and is not to be confused with penne alla vodka or my popular (and much lighter) Salmon Pasta without Cream recipe.
This delicious salmon pasta recipe can be served as a casual weeknight dinner because it is SO EASY to prepare. However, the decadent flavors and impressive presentation makes it the perfect meal for special occasions and date night at home.
My penne salmon pasta recipe calls for fresh salmon, dry white wine, garlic, and loads of freshly grated parmesan cheese. I highly recommend adding Penne al Salmone, Pesto Crusted Salmon, Salmon Pasta (no cream), or Air Fryer Frozen Salmon to your weekly dinner menu!
Why you'll love this recipe
- This is a rich, satisfying, and flavorful dish that will absolutely satisfy any comfort food cravings.
- The simple cooking methods used in this recipe make it very easy to prepare and perfect for beginner cooks.
- Salmon transforms an otherwise indulgent dish into a healthy recipe packed with omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals.
- You can easily customize this recipe by adding thinly sliced zucchini, cherry tomatoes, or capers.
Salmon: I prefer the flavor and texture of farm-raised Atlantic salmon. Wild-caught sockeye salmon is also commonly found in grocery stores. Sockeye is deep red in color and has a more intense flavor.
Notes on salmon: Pasta al Salmone recipes call for either fresh salmon or smoked salmon. If the salmon is fresh, many recipes will instruct you to poach the salmon. Instead of poaching the salmon, I prefer to pan-sear fresh salmon in cast iron. This adds a nice crust to the outside of the salmon filets.
Heavy cream: The sauce for this creamy salmon pasta dish is a white wine alfredo sauce. Heavy cream adds a rich and velvety texture to Alfredo and naturally thickens the sauce.
Parmesan cheese: Parmigiano Reggiano is a traditional and key ingredient in Alfredo sauce. It adds a distinct nutty and salty flavor, melts well, and helps to thicken the cream sauce.
White wine: You'll need a dry white wine (not a sweet wine), like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.
Additional ingredients needed: Butter, freshly minced garlic, dried oregano, kosher salt, and black pepper add to the robust flavor of this sauce. Extra virgin olive oil is needed to sear the salmon filets.
Optional ingredient: I garnished my finished dish with fresh basil leaves.
*A detailed ingredients list and recipe instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Large stock pot: You'll need a large stock pot or a large saucepan to cook the penne pasta in.
- Skillet: I used my Lodge Cast Iron Casserole Pot. This pan is like a cross between a skillet and a casserole dish. Any heavy-bottomed, high-heat, non-stick skillet will work. Cast iron is always preferred!
- Measuring cups and measuring spoons
How to make Penne al Salmone
- Boil your pasta according to the package instructions.
- Pan-sear the salmon filets until cooked through.
- Make the white wine alfredo cream sauce.
- Toss the cooked pasta in the sauce, top with whole salmon filets, serve, and enjoy!
Step 1: Cook your penne pasta according to package instructions. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Generously salt the pasta water, add your pasta, and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside.
You do not need to save any starchy pasta water.
Step 2: Heat 2-4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat in a large, cast-iron skillet. Season the salmon filets with kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Place the salmon skin side up in the hot skillet.
Sear the salmon for about 5 minutes per side. Flip the salmon once a golden crust has formed on the flesh side of the salmon. Resist the urge to fiddle with the salmon while it is cooking.
Step 3: Remove the cooked salmon from the pan, clean your skillet, and add the butter to the pan. Heat the butter over medium to low heat. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Step 4: Add the dry white wine and bring to a simmer.
Step 5: Once simmering, pour in the heavy cream. Let the heavy cream come up to a gentle simmer over low heat.
Step 6: Add all of the shredded parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth and creamy.
Step 7: Turn off the heat and stir in the dried oregano, salt, and pepper.
Step 8: Toss the cooked pasta into the cream sauce. Transfer the pasta to 4 serving bowls (or one large serving bowl). Top each serving of pasta with a portion of seared salmon and fresh basil. Serve immediately and enjoy!
- I like to generously salt my pasta water because salt enhances the flavor of the pasta. As a rule of thumb, you can use about 1-2 tablespoons of salt for every 4 quarts of water.
- Make sure you preheat your pan before adding your salmon. A hot pan ensures a good sear and helps prevent sticking.
- Don't overcrowd your pan with salmon filets. Overcrowding can prevent proper searing and will instead steam the filets and make it very hard to flip them.
- Once the salmon is in the pan, resist the urge to poke at it and move it around. When the salmon is ready to flip, it will easily release from the pan and have a beautiful crust.
- Check the salmon for doneness using a digital meat thermometer. Salmon is done when the internal temperature reaches 145°F. I find that 145°F results in a very dry and overdone salmon. Personally, I like to cook my salmon to 135°F and check to make sure the thickest part of the salmon is light pink and easily flakes apart with a fork.
- Use quality ingredients when making your white wine cream sauce. Freshly grated parmesan cheese, real butter, and heavy cream will result in a rich and creamy sauce.
- Simmer the cream sauce gently over low to medium heat. Avoid boiling the sauce, as this can cause the cream to separate, curdle, or "break."
- Add optional ingredients like fresh basil, parsley, or a squeeze of lemon juice, when you're ready to serve your penne salmone dish.
Substitutions and variations
Pasta: Salmon penne can be made using fettucini, farfalle, angel hair, or tagliatelle pasta.
Salmon: As I mentioned above, Penne al Salmone can be made with either fresh salmon or smoked salmon. If you try this recipe with smoked salmon, then all you'll have to do is mix your smoked salmon into your pasta and sauce.
Add veggies: Common vegetable additions include zucchini, peas, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, and broccoli.
How to store, freeze, and reheat
How to store: Allow the salmon pasta to cool to room temperature. Transfer it to a glass, airtight container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate it for 3-5 days.
How to freeze: Cool the pasta, transfer it to a freezer-safe container, and lay it flat on the freezer shelves. You can freeze pasta with Alfredo sauce for up to 3 months.
How to reheat: When you're ready to enjoy leftover salmon pasta, reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop. A splash of milk or cream can help restore the creaminess of the sauce as it reheats. Stir occasionally while reheating to ensure even heating.
What to serve with
Penne al Salmon pairs well with a variety of side dishes that complement its flavors and provide a balanced meal. A few of my favorite sides include:
- Caesar Salad
- Roasted Asparagus and Brussel Sprouts
- Sauteed Kale and Mushrooms
- Roasted Green Beans and Carrots
- Air Fryer Zucchini and Squash
- Mediterranean Cucumber Tomato Salad
Frequently asked questions
Add dry pasta to a large pot of boiling water. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Penne pasta will usually cook within 8-12 minutes. After the recommended cooking time, taste-test a piece of pasta to check for doneness.
Pasta al Salmone translates to Salmon Pasta in English.
The number of calories in Penne al Salmone will vary depending on what recipe you are using. My recipe for Penne al Salmone is a little calorie-dense because of the heavy creamy cheese sauce. The calorie count will come into around 700 calories per serving.
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