Pesto Crusted Salmon is seasoned and topped with a mayo-pesto spread and parmesan panko bread crumbs. This mouth-watering main dish is cooked in under 30 minutes, including prep time!
If you're looking for an easy and healthy dinner, this is the recipe for you! I always make salmon on my "lazy dinner" nights. These are the nights that I don't feel like cooking, but I still want a nutritious and delicious dinner.
To make Pesto Crusted Salmon, all you need is a small sheet pan and 5 main ingredients. After only 10 minutes of prep time, the salmon goes into the oven and is finished roasting in about 20 minutes!
⭐Why you'll love this recipe
- This is a tasty and good-for-you recipe that is bursting with flavor in every single bite! I'd be willing to bet that you can turn your biggest salmon critics onto this recipe.
- This is seriously the easiest recipe that anyone can make, even on their busiest nights! You can even add quick-cooking veggies like zucchini and asparagus, and turn this into a healthy, sheet-pan salmon dinner.
- Every bite has the perfect combination of texture - the fish is tender and melts in your mouth, while the panko adds tons of crunch.
- This crusted salmon recipe is simple enough for busy weeknights, and elegant enough for special occasions and holidays.
- Pesto Crusted Salmon has layers of complex flavors, while still being super easy and uncomplicated to make!
Salmon filets: Salmon is a "good-for-you" fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and high in protein. I prefer to purchase fresh Atlantic Salmon fillets but you could also use King salmon (also known as Chinook).
Pesto spread: You can use homemade pesto or store-bought pesto spread. If you're purchasing your basil pesto, then I recommend buying DeLallo Basil Pesto Spread. It's shelf stable so it will keep in your pantry for months and the flavor is unbelievable!
Panko bread crumbs: Panko breadcrumbs are Japanese-style bread crumbs. They're larger, flakier, and crunchier than traditional-style bread crumbs.
Additional ingredients: Freshly grated parmesan cheese, mayonnaise (I prefer low-fat mayo), kosher salt*, black pepper, and garlic powder.
*Kosher salt is not the same as table salt. Kosher salt is made from large, coarse salt granules. If you're substituting table salt for kosher salt, then you'll need to use half the amount of salt that the recipe calls for.
*See the recipe card below for detailed instructions.
- 3 mixing bowls - These stackable glass mixing bowls are some of my favorites!
- Baking sheet - I've been a fan of Nordic bakeware for years, and these Nordic Ware baking sheets are used daily in my kitchen!
- Parchment paper - Precut parchment paper sheets save so much time and fit half-sheet baking pans perfectly!
🔪How to make Pesto Crusted Salmon
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the fresh salmon filets onto the baking sheet skin side down, and pat dry with a paper towel.
Step 2: Mix the kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder in a small mixing bowl. Season the salmon with the seasoning blend.
Step 3: In another small mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise and the basil pesto spread. Top the fresh salmon filets with the mayo pesto spread.
Step 4: Mix together ¼ cup panko bread crumbs and the grated parmesan cheese. Sprinkle the panko and cheese blend on top of the salmon pesto filets.
Step 5: Place the salmon in the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes, until the thickest part of the salmon is light pink and flakey.
Remove the baked pesto salmon from the oven, serve immediately, and enjoy!
Pro tip: Turn sheet-pan salmon into a sheet-pan salmon dinner! Chop quick-cooking vegetables into bite-sized pieces, season, and drizzle with olive oil. Add the pesto salmon to the sheet pan to cook alongside your vegetables.
📋Substitutions and variations
Pesto: Fresh basil pesto, either store-bought or homemade will work for this recipe! If you've got some homemade frozen pesto in your freezer, then just take it out to thaw an hour or so before you plan on cooking dinner!
Panko bread crumbs: Substitutes for panko bread crumbs include ground cracker crumbs, crushed pretzels, and cornflakes.
Seasonings: I think seasoning the salmon fish filets with salt, pepper, and garlic powder is delicious. You could also add in some dried basil, lemon zest, and crushed red pepper flakes (if you like the heat).
- You should definitely line your sheet pan when baking salmon. If you don't have parchment paper then aluminum foil will also work. Salmon skin has a tendency to stick to the sheet pan and can be difficult to scrape off. Lining your baking sheet will make cleanup a breeze!
- Always place salmon skin side down when you're baking it in the oven.
- Salmon can be tricky to figure out when it's done. I start by pressing the thickest part of the salmon with my fingers to test for firmness. If it's firm then I'll use a digital meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. According to the FDA, salmon is done when the internal temperature reaches 145°F. I find that 145°F results in 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 flakes apart easily with a fork.
- You do not need to rub your salmon filets with extra virgin olive oil for this Pesto Salmon recipe. The salmon is naturally oily and you also have oil in the mayo pesto spread.
- The salmon filets I use for this recipe are usually about 1 inch thick. If your salmon is thicker, adjust your baking time accordingly.
- Make sure you use a thick, basil pesto spread, not basil pesto sauce.
🥘How to store and reheat
How to store: Store leftover Pesto Crusted Salmon in a glass, air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
How to reheat: Personally, I despise reheating fish in the microwave. My preference is to reheat on the stovetop in a small frying pan over low heat. Reheat salmon in the oven at 300°F for about 10 minutes.
💭Frequently asked questions
To make salmon less moist, pat the outside dry with a paper towel. Cook salmon until the thickest part is light pink and flakes apart easily with a fork.
The best way to cook thick pieces of salmon is in the oven at a lower temperature, over a longer period of time. This will allow the salmon to cook more evenly throughout, without overcooking any thinner sections of the fillets.
Flavor salmon with basil pesto, sundried tomato pesto, cajun seasoning, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, or just classic salt and pepper!
Most recipes recommend baking salmon uncovered. This is because in general, salmon is a quick-cooking fish that does not need to be covered in order to cook throughout.
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