Quick Pesto Butter Salmon Recipe (Salmon Milano)

Tender flaky salmon baked with basil pesto butter? Yes, please! We’re talking rich, flavorful salmon perfectly cooked with pesto buttery savory goodness. Plus, it’s a breeze to make in just 30 minutes, packs a nutritional punch, and looks fancy without the fuss. Dinner win!

Pesto butter topped salmon with broccolini and a fork on a white plate.

Why Do You Need Salmon Milano in Your Life?

Despite its gourmet appeal, this pesto butter salmon recipe (inspired by Costco’s yummy Salmon Milano) is a surprisingly quick and easy way to prepare baked salmon using simple ingredients. It’s perfect for both busy weeknights and special occasions.

Baking the salmon with pesto butter helps lock in the moisture of the salmon, ensuring that each forkful is full of a luxurious, melt-in-your-mouth buttery tenderness that’s hard to resist.

Add to that the fact that salmon is a nutritional powerhouse, packed with omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and essential vitamins and you’ve got a low carb dinner winner!

Salmon fillets topped with melted pesto butter on a foil baking sheet.

If you’re looking for more easy dinner recipes, be sure to try our one pot salsa chicken with mango and pineapple, our creamy rainbow vegetable pasta, our baked lemon herb-crusted cod, and our creamy chicken corn chowder.

What is Pesto Butter Made of?

Pesto butter is made from a simple mixture of pesto and softened butter.

The process of making homemade pesto butter involves blending the basil pesto and softened unsalted butter until they are well combined.

The result is a delicious and versatile butter with the distinct flavors of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, and Parmesan cheese, making it a delightful addition to various dishes.

Homemade basil pesto butter can be used to enhance the taste of bread, grilled meats, seafood, vegetables, pasta, and more, adding an extra layer of flavor and an aromatic touch to any meal.

Slices of butter, pesto, and lemon zest in small bowls.

Main Ingredients for Pesto Butter Salmon

*For the full list of ingredients and quantities see the recipe card at the bottom of the page.

Salmon: Opt for fresh (or recently frozen), high-quality salmon fillets for the best results. It’s currently peak summer here in the Pacific Northwest so I was able to use fresh wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon for this recipe. Known for its distinctively deep red color, sockeye is full of omega-3 fatty acids and has a pronounced salmon-y flavor that can hold its own with flavorful sauces like pesto.

Pesto: I recommend using homemade basil pesto sauce for the best flavor but a good quality store-bought pesto will also work just fine.

Butter: Acts as a good barrier between the salmon and the heat, locking in the moisture while it cooks. It also enhances the texture and taste of the salmon, I mean it’s butter, right? 😉

Lemon zest: Provides a touch of acidity that helps balance the richness of the butter and the salmon.

Four uncooked salmon fillets topped with pesto butter on a baking sheet.

Recipe Roadmap with Images

Time needed: 30 minutes

  1. Preheat oven

    Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).

  2. Make the pesto butter

    Combine the softened butter, pesto, and lemon zest in a bowl using a fork.A fork mashing butter and pesto in a white bowl.

  3. Season the salmon

    Line a baking sheet with foil and place salmon skin side down. Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper.Sockeye salmon fillets on a baking sheet lined with foil.

  4. Add the basil pesto butter

    Spread a generous amount of the butter onto each fillet of salmon.Salmon fillets topped with pesto butter on top of aluminum foil.

  5. Bake the salmon

    Bake the salmon for about 12 to 15 minutes or until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork. The cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of your salmon fillet.Baked pesto butter salmon fillets on top of foil.

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Quick Pesto Butter Salmon Recipe (Salmon Milano)

Tender flaky salmon baked with basil pesto butter? Yes, please! We're talking rich, flavorful salmon perfectly cooked with pesto buttery savory goodness. Plus, it's a breeze to make in just 30 minutes, packs a nutritional punch, and looks fancy without the fuss. Dinner win!
By: AllieAllie Cleveland
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 261 kcal


  • 4 salmon fillets 4 to 6 oz each
  • kosher salt and black pepper for seasoning
  • garlic powder for seasoning
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter softened
  • 2 tablespoons basil pesto homemade or store-bought
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • lemon wedges for serving


  • Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
  • In a small bowl add the softened unsalted butter, pesto, and lemon zest. The ratio of butter to pesto can vary depending on your preference. Mix them together using a fork until well combined. You can also use a food processor if you prefer a really smooth texture.
  • Place the salmon fillets skin side down on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper (for easier clean up). Season with salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of garlic powder.
  • Generously slather the basil pesto butter all over the top of the salmon fillets.
  • Place the baking sheet with the salmon into the preheated oven. Bake the salmon for about 12-15 minutes or until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork. The cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of the salmon fillets, so keep an eye on them to avoid overcooking.
  • Once the salmon is done, remove it from the oven and let it rest for a minute. Serve the basil pesto butter salmon hot with lemon wedges on the side.

Recipe Notes

Tips for cooking salmon 
Allow the salmon to sit at room temperature for about 15-30 minutes before baking. This helps it cook more evenly.
Salmon is done when it flakes easily with a fork and the internal temperature reaches 145°F (63°C).
Remember that the salmon will continue cooking for a short time after you remove it from the oven due to residual heat, so it’s a good idea to take it out just before it’s completely done to avoid overcooking, so when it reaches around 135°F (57°C).
Leftovers and storage
The basil pesto butter salmon is best served right away but you can store leftovers, in an airtight container, in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.
To reheat, place in a baking dish in a 325°F oven until just heated through.


Calories: 261kcal | Carbohydrates: 3.3g | Protein: 21.7g | Fat: 17.2g | Saturated Fat: 8.1g | Cholesterol: 84mg | Sodium: 756mg | Potassium: 350mg | Fiber: 1.5g | Calcium: 44mg

*Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Maplevine Kitchen makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.

Keyword pesto, quick and easy, salmon, seafood
Did you make this recipe? Leave a comment below and let us know how it was!
Pesto butter salmon milano and broccolini on white dinner plate.

What to Serve with Pesto Butter Salmon

Side dishes

Try serving this pesto salmon recipe with roasted vegetables like our charred broccolini with fresh lemon juice and parmesan, Italian roasted vegetables, and roasted carrots and asparagus.

Or serve it with a salad like our panzanella salad, spinach gorgonzola salad, spinach and arugula salad with shaved parmesan, or our strawberry spring mix salad.

You could also serve it with starchy sides like pesto mashed potatoes, rice, or pasta like our pasta magnifico (linguine in citrus cream sauce).

Wine pairing

For white wine lovers, Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay with moderate oak influence can nicely complement the dish’s herbaceous richness. Pinot Grigio and Vermentino offer refreshing options with subtle fruitiness.

If you lean toward reds, opt for a light Pinot Noir. Alternatively, a dry rosé or sparkling wine can provide a versatile bridge between white and red options.

Pesto butter salmon and broccolini on a white serving plate.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best salmon to eat?

Wild-caught Alaskan salmon, including varieties like King (Chinook) and Sockeye (Red), is renowned for its exceptional flavor and firm texture. King salmon is prized for its rich, fatty flesh, while Sockeye salmon boasts a vibrant red hue and robust taste. If you prefer milder flavors, Atlantic salmon is widely available but be mindful of sourcing as some may be farmed. Ultimately, choose salmon that aligns with your palate and supports sustainable fishing practices to enjoy the best of both taste and conscience.

Is fresh or frozen salmon better?

Both fresh and frozen salmon can be excellent choices, and the best option depends on your specific needs. If you have access to high-quality fresh salmon and plan to use it immediately, it can be a top-notch choice for flavor and texture. However, if you’re looking for convenience, consistent availability, and cost-effectiveness, frozen salmon is a valuable alternative, especially when sourced from reputable suppliers.

How long will fresh salmon keep in the refrigerator?

Fresh salmon can be safely stored in the refrigerator for approximately two to three days. To maximize its shelf life, store it in the coldest part of your fridge, tightly wrapped or in an airtight container. Always trust your senses; if it develops an off-putting odor, texture, or color, it’s time to discard it. For longer storage, consider freezing it in an airtight container or freezer bag, where it can stay good for several months.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a rating in the comments below and let us know how it turned out. Your feedback is important to us. Thank you for visiting Maplevine Kitchen!

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