Looking for an easy salmon recipe? This Baked Pesto Salmon is simple to make and it only takes under 20 minutes from start to finish. It’s packed with herbaceous flavor, and as a bonus, it’s healthy too!
Not everyone likes seafood, and if you have kids, it can be an especially hard sell. Salmon is different, though—it's milder in flavor than other fish, and even people who aren’t normally seafood fans will dig into a salmon dinner. And when you add big bold flavors to it like pesto?
Well, then you have a weeknight winner!
This Baked Pesto Salmon is tender, flaky, and flavorful, but it’s also loaded with nutrition. Salmon is a great source of protein and those all-important omega-3 fatty acids, along with lots of vitamins and minerals.
Why Bake Salmon?
Baking is one of the easiest and most foolproof ways to cook salmon. It requires little hands-on time, and it doesn’t take much more time to cook than making it on the stovetop. You can jazz it up with herbs, spices, or sauces (like I did with this Baked Pesto Salmon!), or keep it simple and roast it with a generous drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
What You’ll Need
Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Salmon fillets
- Cherry or grape tomatoes
- Yellow onion
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Ground black pepper
- Basil pesto – You can use homemade pesto, or pick up a jar at the grocery store.
- Fresh basil
- Grated Parmesan cheese
What Is a Salmon Fillet?
A salmon fillet is a boneless, skin-on cut of the fish. It’s the most common cut of salmon used in recipes, and it can be cut from either a small section of a boned side or an entire boned side, which will serve multiple people. (Note that the pin bones are usually removed before fillets are sold, but because they're so small, it's possible that there could be stray bone or two.)
For this recipe, you'll want to look for fillets that are between four to six ounces. Wild-caught salmon is always best, but farmed salmon is just fine too.
How to Make Baked Pesto Salmon
Get ready for the most flavorful salmon you’ve ever had! Here’s what you’ll need to do.
Prepare. Preheat your oven to 450ºF and line a large baking sheet with foil.
Assemble. Place the salmon fillets in the center of the sheet and arrange
the tomatoes and onion around them. Drizzle the fish and veggies with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.
Add the pesto. Brush 2 to 3 tablespoons of pesto onto each salmon fillet, reserving the rest for serving.
Bake. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 13 to 15 minutes, or until the salmon begins to brown and is a flaky, opaque pink.
Finish. Remove the salmon from the oven. Garnish it with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese, then plate it with the tomatoes and onions. Serve with the remaining pesto.
Tips for Success
Here’s how to make sure your Baked Pesto Salmon turns out perfect!
- Use a food thermometer. This is always the best way to check if fish or meat are done cooking. For salmon, you’ll want to bake the fish until the internal temperature at the thickest point of the fillet is 125 to 130ºF.
- No food thermometer? In that case, gently press down on the top of the fillet with a fork. If the flesh of the salmon flakes, or separates along the white lines, it’s done cooking.
- Remove the skin (or not). Salmon skin is edible, but if you're not a fan of fish skin, you can always remove it after cooking. Don’t remove it before you cook the salmon, though—it protect the fillets from over-cooking!
Easy Sides for Pairing with Baked Salmon
If you want to keep things super simple, pair your Baked Pesto Salmon with steamed green beans or broccoli. If you’re up for putting in a little more effort, here are some easy side dish ideas that will go well with the flavors in this recipe:
- Air Fryer Asparagus
- Oven-Roasted Broccoli with Garlic, Parmesan, and Lemon
- Fried Yellow Squash
- Tender Roasted Green Beans
- Italian Peas
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Salmon is best enjoyed fresh, but leftover salmon can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. When you're ready to eat it, just reheat it in a 275ºF oven until it reaches 125 to 130ºF on a food thermometer.
Can I Freeze This Recipe?
Yes, you can freeze leftover salmon! Just be sure to wrap it tightly, then place the wrapped salmon in a freezer bag or airtight container. Frozen salmon will keep for up to six months. When you're ready to eat it, just thaw it in the fridge overnight, then reheat it following the instructions above.
Did you make this recipe? Leave a star rating and I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.
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Baked Pesto Salmon
- 4 4-6 ounce salmon fillets
- 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 medium yellow onion julienned
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 7 ounces basil pesto divided
- fresh basil
- grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees fahrenheit.
- Line a large baking sheet with foil. Evenly space salmon fillets in the center and arrange the tomatoes and onion around the salmon. Drizzle everything with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Brush 2-3 tablespoons of pesto over each salmon fillet. Reserve the remaining pesto for serving.
- Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until the salmon begins to brown and is a flaky, opaque pink.
- Remove from oven, garnish with fresh basil and parmesan cheese, and serve immediately with remaining pesto.