This baked pesto salmon recipe is a delicious way to jazz up salmon a bit! Plus it’s a sheet pan dinner that combines tender fingerling potatoes and veggies all in one. Such an easy recipe, especially since it’s ready in under 30 minutes! I promise this pesto crusted salmon is one of those healthy recipes you won’t at all feel like you’re sacrificing flavor for.
Baking is one of my favorite ways to cook salmon for a variety of reasons; easy clean-up when placed on a parchment-lined baking sheet, short cook time, and overall great cooking control. Luckily my family really loves salmon, so they tend to be forgiving if I overcook it a bit, but unless I am really distracted and forget to set a timer, baking in the oven is pretty full-proof.
This is the best baked salmon recipe because you can fit a vegetable, and even a starch, right alongside the salmon. A rimmed baking dish or large baking sheet is the perfect way to cook up this healthy pesto salmon recipe.
Why this recipe works
- Perfect recipe for busy weeknights because it’s a quick dinner ready in under 30 minutes and the prep is minimal
- A delicious dinner that packs so much flavor! Plus it’s healthy! Salmon is loaded with heart healthy Omega 3 fatty acids and potassium. It’s also an excellent source of protein to fuel brain and muscle health. Add in the vitamins and minerals packed into the veggies and potatoes, and you’ve got the perfect healthy family meal!
- Customizable to just about any veggie you like (or don’t like). Use green beans, asparagus or broccoli. Sub in cherry tomatoes or red bell peppers. And swap sweet potatoes for fingerlings. Or if you want to keep it low carb, do away with the potatoes all together. The options are many, so it’s really all about personal preference and what you have on hand!
This potato, salmon, and broccoli bake requires very few ingredients but delivers maximum flavor! Here’s everything that goes into this pesto crusted salmon recipe:
- Salmon filets – feel free to use skin on or skinless salmon fillets
- Pesto – either homemade pesto or store bought (although I love store bought for the ease of course)
- Vegetables of your choice – I used broccoli pictured here, but other times I’ve used red peppers and potatoes (as seen in the video)
- Fingerling potatoes – cut in half so they’ll cook through quicker
- Salt and black pepper and olive oil to season the vegetables and potatoes
Step-by-step instructions to make pesto crusted salmon
Begin by slicing the potatoes in half or in cubes, and toss with 1-2 tbsp of olive oil, salt and pepper, and 1 tbsp of pesto sauce. Place in a 425 degree preheated oven for about 10 minutes. While the potatoes are roasting, toss your choice of veggies with olive oil and salt and pepper and set aside.
Remove the potatoes from the oven, and stir in the vegetables, making sure to keep the potatoes and veggies on one side of the pan.
Now place salmon filets on the baking tray, snugly alongside the veggies, and to the individual fillets, generously apply 1 tablespoon of pesto to top of the salmon. If you have a picky eater in the family, leave a filet or two bare, and just brush with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Return to the oven and bake salmon and potato/veg mix for about 10-12 minutes. Read below for some great tips on how long to bake salmon.
Expert tips on how long to bake salmon
There is a bit of a debate on how to cook salmon, either low and slow or high and quick, but I have found both methods work.
While many of the professionals agree that higher temps will produce a great piece of salmon, they do advise that if you want a *fool-proof* way to never over cook it, bake it low and slow at 275 for 15-20 minutes.
While baking at higher temps works for me just fine, please consider that by this point I’m pretty confident in being able to determine the right cooking time based on size and thickness, as to not over-cook it at a higher temp. If you are not as experienced and a little more cautious, play it safe and lower the oven to 275 as soon as you remove your veggies and place your salmon in to cook.
Considering that the oven had just been at the high temp of 425, even with lowering it all the way down to 275, there will be some residual higher heat swirling around, so begin checking your salmon for doneness after 10 minutes, and know that they may take as many as 15 minutes to cook through.
When the internal temperature reaches 120 degrees, or if when a sharp knife is inserted in the center of the filet and it starts to flake away a bit, it is likely done.
There is also the butter knife technique, where you insert a butter knife into the thickest part of the filet, and if it is warm when pulled out, it should be done.
That white stuff is called albumin and is basically coagulated protein. brining, or soaking the fish in a salt water solution first, for just 15 minutes, helps to cut down on that white stuff. Dissolve 2 tablespoons of kosher salt in 2.5 cups of heated water. Allow to cool and pour brine over fish, allowing it to sit for 15 minutes.
Tips for making the best baked pesto salmon
If possible, buy wild-caught salmon filets. Wild-caught fish is the more sustainable option and the flavor is better, in my opinion.
Also note that fresh broccoli florets work best in this salmon sheet pan dinner recipe. I’ve read that you can roast frozen broccoli as well, but I’ve only experimented with fresh and I know for sure it work with this recipe.
Feel free to make your own pesto! It’s rather easy to whip up a batch of homemade basil pesto if you have the ingredients lying around; pine nuts, parmesan cheese, basil and olive oil. Here is a great recipe if you want homemade for your basil pesto salmon.
Store leftover pesto salmon in an airtight container for up to 3 days. To reheat, place in the microwave for 1 minute or reheat in the oven at 250 degrees for 10 minutes.
I hope you love this healthy salmon recipe, and if you do, consider leaving a 5 star rating.
Baked Pesto Salmon
- 4 salmon filets (preferably wild-caught)
- 6-8 tablespoons pesto (store-bought or homemade)
- 1 small head broccoli , cut into florets
- ½ pound fingerling potatoes , cut in half
- Salt and pepper , to taste
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- In a bowl, toss the potatoes in 1-2 tablespoons of pesto and a sprinkle of salt, and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Toss the broccoli in another tablespoon of pesto and salt, and arrange on the baking sheet next to the potatoes.
- Bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove pan from the oven and lower to 275 degrees F.
- Arrange salmon filets next to the potatoes and broccoli, and spoon on and spread a tablespoon of pesto to each filet.
- Return pan to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, beginning to check for doneness at 10 minutes.
- If possible, buy wild-caught salmon filets. Wild-caught fish is the more sustainable option and the flavor is much better, in my opinion.
- Also note that fresh broccoli florets work best in this salmon sheet pan dinner recipe. I’ve read that you can roast frozen broccoli as well, but I’ve only experimented with fresh and I know for sure it work with this recipe.
- Lastly, feel free to use homemade or store-bought pesto. I know you don’t always have time to whip up a fresh batch of pesto — me neither! Just use whichever is easiest for you.
Here’s how to create a quick salmon brine:
- Dissolve 2 tablespoons of kosher salt in 2.5 cups of heated water.
- Allow to cool and pour brine over fish, allowing it to sit for 15 minutes.