This baked pesto salmon recipe is flavorful and fast. Utilize the best grocery store shortcut ingredient to make this delicious dinner in 20 minutes!

Shallow white bowl with pesto salmon, pearl couscous, asparagus spears and a lemon wedge.

Somewhere over the years, Foxes Love Lemons kind of became Foxes Love Salmon. I seem to publish more salmon recipes than beef, or even chicken recipes!

But salmon recipes like creamy salmon pasta and grilled sockeye salmon always seem to do well, getting shared widely on Pinterest, and garnering positive reviews and comments. And if salmon recipes are what visitors to this site want to see, I will give you more salmon recipes!

And I can’t blame you if you love salmon. I love it too, and truthfully, don’t we all get tired of chicken recipes sometimes? (although I’ll never turn down a good chicken pizza).

Salmon is a lean source of protein, with a lot of benefits like omega 3’s and anti-inflammatory properties. Culinary-wise, it’s also kind of a blank slate! Just like chicken, it can stand up to almost any flavor you want to lend to it.

While I often serve salmon with noodles, like my salmon pesto pasta, I’m keeping it simple and low carb today, with this baked pesto salmon recipe. If you need to learn how to bake salmon in the first place, I’ve got you covered!

Shallow white bowl with baked fish topped with green herb sauce, tricolor couscous, asparagus, fresh basil sprig and lemon wedge.

This baked pesto salmon recipe is flavorful and fast!

While I love my jalapeno salmon and apricot glazed salmon recipes, they require you to make homemade sauces before you can cook your salmon.

This baked pesto salmon recipe is so glorious because you don’t have to do that! While you certainly CAN make homemade basil pesto (especially if you have fresh basil in your garden) for this salmon with pesto sauce, it’s not required.

Prepared basil pesto from the grocery store is honestly one of my favorite shortcut ingredients (I also love it in pesto pasta with veggies and chicken and made into pesto mayo for lamb sliders).

I buy the refrigerated kind, which is usually located near the refrigerated pasta like tortellini and ravioli (not the shelf stable jar of pesto in the boxed pasta aisle).

I most often buy the Buitoni brand, which is made with basil, Parmesan cheese and pine nuts. Rana brand is also good for basil pesto salmon. It’s such a great ingredient to have in the fridge for quick meals with lots of flavor.

Small tray with two salmon fillets, bowl of basil pesto, halved lemon and fresh basil leaves, on wooden background.

How to buy the best fish for basil pesto salmon:

Just like with salmon stuffed with crab and salmon with my bourbon glaze recipe for salmon, I prefer a thicker, center-cut piece of salmon, and not a thinner, tail-end piece for this baked pesto salmon recipe.

The tail end pieces are really better for a recipe where the salmon is going to be flaked, like salmon cakes.

If you have a grocery store, butcher, or seafood market where you can specify that you need center-cut pieces, that’s ideal for this salmon with pesto sauce (and for a salmon sandwich).

You can use any variety of salmon you like best for this basil pesto salmon, whether that’s Atlantic salmon, sockeye salmon, or something else. Food & Wine’s Guide to Every Type of Salmon You Can Buy will help you learn the differences.

Shallow white bowls filled with pearl couscous, asparagus, and salmon topped with pesto sauce.

How to bake salmon:

Baking salmon is basically the easiest thing in the world, and I use this same technique for my salmon alfredo and Cajun salmon pasta, too. For this basil pesto salmon, first, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Then, grab a small rimmed baking pan. I usually line it with foil for super easy cleanup. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray (or rub it lightly with olive oil) so the salmon doesn’t stick.

Place the salmon on the foil and give it a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Bake at 400 degrees F for 18 to 20 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. If you have an instant read thermometer, the easiest way to check for doneness is to check for an internal temperature of 145 degrees F in the thickest part of the fillet.

Because basil pesto can take on a bitter quality if it’s overcooked, I don’t like to bake the salmon WITH pesto sauce on it. I simply spread the salmon with the pesto when it comes out of the oven. The heat of the fish will warm the pesto for a delicious serving of baked pesto salmon.

White plate filled with roasted fish with basil sauce, couscous and asparagus.

What to serve with salmon with pesto sauce:

I served this baked pesto salmon recipe with Israeli couscous because I had some in my pantry, as well as fresh asparagus, because it’s currently in season in Michigan. These are also great side dishes for salmon piccata.

Acini de pepe pasta salad is very similar in shape to couscous, and would also be great here.

Skip the couscous and bulk up the meal with cucumber and avocado salad, or mixed greens with miso salad dressing, for a lower carb meal.

Simple roasted potatoes and sauteed green beans (or green beans and tomatoes) are also a good choice to pair with this salmon with pesto sauce. And maple Brussels sprouts are a great side dish for just about ANY entree!

More filling side dish options that pair great with basil pesto salmon are goat cheese risotto or marinated white beans.

Shallow white bowl filled with pearl couscous, asparagus, and salmon topped with pesto sauce.

Baked Pesto Salmon

Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

This baked pesto salmon recipe is flavorful and fast. Utilize the best grocery store shortcut ingredient to make this delicious dinner in 20 minutes!


  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 center cut salmon fillets (5 ounces each)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons prepared basil pesto
  • Lemon wedges, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Spray small rimmed baking pan with nonstick spray. Place salmon fillets, skin side down, on prepared pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Transfer to oven and bake 18 to 20 minutes or until salmon is opaque throughout and internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F.
  4. Remove salmon from oven. Evenly spread pesto over salmon fillets. If desired, slip spatula between salmon skin and flesh to remove skin before serving. Serve with lemon wedges.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 415Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 95mgSodium: 735mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 34g

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