Picture this folks: tender, flaky salmon fillets coated in a flavorful pesto crust and topped with perfectly crisped panko breadcrumbs. Whether you’re planning a cozy family dinner or entertaining guests, this quick and easy pesto crusted salmon recipe is sure to impress everyone at your table.
Looking for a delicious and nutritious dinner idea?
The herbaceous notes of the pesto perfectly complement the tender salmon, while the crispy panko breadcrumbs add a satisfying texture to each bite.
And that’s not all. This versatile dish pairs perfectly with a variety of sides, from roasted vegetables to fresh green salads, pastas and potatoes.
Whether you’re hosting a special occasion or looking for an easy weeknight dinner, this pesto crusted salmon is a delightful reminder that both flavor and well-being can coexist beautifully on your plate. Buon appetito!
What is pesto crust?
Pesto crust refers to a flavorful and aromatic coating made from pesto sauce that is applied to the surface of various dishes, typically before baking or grilling.
And oftentimes this includes the addition of breadcrumbs for an extra layer of crust that enhances both the taste and visual appeal of the food.
This creates a delightful contrast between the vibrant green pesto and the golden-brown crust of the breadcrumbs that forms during cooking.
*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 pesto for the best flavor but a good quality store-bought version will also work just fine. The pesto’s vibrant flavors will infuse the salmon with a delightful savory herbiness.
Butter: Softened butter helps to bind the breadcrumbs to the pesto, creating a delectable crust that enhances the texture and taste of the salmon. It also acts as a good barrier between the salmon and the heat, locking in the moisture while it cooks.
Breadcrumbs: I like panko bread crumbs for this recipe because they provide that extra crispiness but most any breadcrumbs will do.
Lemon wedges (optional): For a burst of brightness, serve the pesto crusted salmon fillets with lemon wedges on the side, the lemon juice offering a tangy counterpoint to the savory notes of the dish.
Step 1: Prepare the salmon. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Set the salmon on a lightly greased, foil-lined baking sheet skin side down. Season the top of the salmon with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Step 2: Prepare the pesto topping. In a small bowl, combine pesto and softened butter using a fork.
Step 3: Apply the pesto crust. Spoon a generous amount of the pesto topping onto the top surface of each salmon fillet. Use the back of the spoon to spread the pesto evenly, creating a thick coating. Then sprinkle the breadcrumbs, pressing them gently onto the surface to create a crust.
Step 4: Bake the salmon. Bake the salmon for approximately 10-14 minutes (check on it at 10 minutes), or until it is cooked to desired doneness and the crust is golden brown and crispy. Cooking times may vary depending on the thickness of the salmon fillets, so keep an eye on them to avoid overcooking.
Step 5: Serve immediately. Serve the pesto crusted salmon at once with fresh lemon wedges on the side.
Here are some side dish ideas that complement the flavors and textures of pesto crusted salmon:
- Roasted vegetables like simple Italian roasted vegetables and roasted carrots and asparagus add a flavorful and nutritious touch.
- Grilled asparagus seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper for a simple and elegant accompaniment.
- Grilled corn on the cob brushed with garlic butter and sprinkled with fresh herbs brings a summery and satisfying element.
- The comforting elegance of pasta like our pasta magnifico and our creamy vegetable pasta perfectly complements the crispy pesto crust.
- Garlic mashed potatoes – the ultimate comfort food pairing.
- Wild rice pilaf is a wholesome and satisfying option.
- Plate the salmon atop a bed of fragrant lemon herb rice, infusing each bite with a harmonious blend of flavors.
- A zesty and refreshing green salad like this spinach and arugula salad with shaved parmesan or this arugula salad with citrus and avocado.
- A fruity berry salad like this light and simple strawberry spring salad.
- Keep the Italian theme going and serve the pesto salmon with caprese salad or panzanella salad with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil.
A white wine with vibrant acidity and herbal or citrus notes is a good choice for complementing the flavors of pesto crusted salmon.
- Sauvignon Blanc’s bold acidity and herbaceous character can harmonize with the basil pesto while providing a refreshing contrast to the richness of the salmon.
- With its crisp acidity and subtle citrus undertones, Pinot Grigio can elegantly complement the flavors of the pesto and accentuate the salmon’s natural taste.
- An unoaked Chardonnay offers a clean and vibrant profile that won’t overwhelm the pesto, while its gentle fruitiness can enhance the overall pairing.
- With its bright acidity and flavors of green apple and lemon zest, Albariño can provide a refreshing and balanced pairing.
- A dry rosé wine with its fruit-forward and crisp character can offer a versatile choice that complements the salmon and pesto beautifully.
Baked salmon with pesto crust 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.
More delicious Maplevine Kitchen recipes
Easy Oven-Baked Basil Pesto Crusted Salmon
- aluminum foil or parchment paper
- olive oil or cooking spray for greasing
- 4 salmon fillets 4 to 6 oz each
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper for seasoning
- 2 tablespoons basil pesto homemade or store-bought
- ¼ cup unsalted butter softened
- ½ cup breadcrumbs panko or regular
- lemon wedges optional, for serving
- Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Set the salmon on a lightly greased, foil-lined baking sheet skin side down. Season with salt and ground black pepper.
- In a small bowl, mix together the basil pesto and softened butter using a fork.
- Spoon a generous amount of the pesto mixture onto the top surface of each salmon fillet. Use the back of the spoon to spread the pesto evenly, creating a thick coating.
- Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the pesto-coated salmon fillets, pressing them gently onto the surface. The breadcrumbs will adhere to the pesto and provide a deliciously crunchy texture.
- Bake the salmon for approximately 10-14 minutes (test it at 10 minutes), or until it is cooked to desired doneness and the crust is golden brown and crispy. Cooking times may vary depending on the thickness of the salmon fillets, so keep an eye on them to avoid overcooking.
- Serve the pesto-crusted salmon at once with fresh lemon wedges on the side.
- Opt for fresh, 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. Wild salmon tends to be leaner than farm raised so it takes less time to cook. So if you use wild salmon for this recipe make sure to adjust your cooking time accordingly.
- I recommend using homemade pesto for the best flavor but a good-quality store-bought version will also work just fine.
- Softened butter helps to bind the breadcrumbs to the pesto, creating a delectable crust that enhances the texture and taste of the salmon. If you prefer to cut the calories and fat, you can leave the butter out and top the salmon fillets with the pesto only. You will need to use more pesto in that case.
- I like to use panko bread crumbs for this recipe because they provide that extra crispiness but most any other breadcrumbs will do.
Leftovers and storage:
- Baked salmon with pesto crust 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.
*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.