Baked Pesto Butter Salmon is made with only 4 ingredients and less than 5 minutes of prep time but results in the juiciest, most flavorful salmon you can imagine. Have a delicious seafood meal on the table in less than 20 minutes with this pesto salmon recipe.
As soon as we took the first bite, I knew this was going to be a new family favorite. We are big pesto lovers in our house and almost always have a jar of the Kirkland brand pesto from Costco in our refrigerator. Pesto is such a great way to season dishes because it's so easy to use and fresh but it truly is incredibly flavorful.
Cherry tomatoes are baked right alongside the salmon until they burst and let me tell you, the combination of salmon, pesto, and baked tomatoes is divine. You have to see for yourself!
Why You'll Love this Butter Salmon Recipe
- Easy: I mean SERIOUSLY easy. You can do the prep work for this dish in under a minute, if necessary.
- Moist: Salmon is one of my favorite proteins because it is so moist, and this cooking method highlights that perfectly.
- Flavorful: The pesto butter sauce that this creates is so tasty!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Salmon: You can use a whole salmon fillet (also called a side of salmon) or portioned salmon filets. I prefer to use filets because the cook time is a little easier to control, but the recipe works with either!
- Pesto: Store bought or homemade basil pesto sauce is the main flavoring agent in this recipe.
- Unsalted Butter: The butter is not 100% necessary (but also it kind of is lol). Butter adds a richness of flavor and moisture to the salmon on top of the oil in the pesto. It helps makes this baked salmon the juiciest.
- Cherry Tomatoes: Baking cherry tomatoes in the oven softens them and increases their sweetness. They come out perfectly by cooking them at the same time and temp as the fish.
How to Make Pesto Butter Salmon
Preheat your oven to 425°F.
Place the salmon fillets in the prepared baking dish or baking sheet. Season both sides of the fillets with salt and pepper, to taste.
Spread a generous amount of the pesto divided evenly over the top of each salmon fillet. Make sure to coat the entire surface.
Add a butter pats on top of the pesto. Nestle cherry tomatoes among the salmon filets.
Place the baking dish into preheated oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until the salmon is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork. The cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of the fillets, so adjust accordingly.
Once the salmon is cooked, remove it from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes to all the juices to redistribute.
- Allow the salmon to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. This helps ensure even cooking throughout and helps avoid the inside being raw when the outside is already cooked through.
- If using salmon fillets try to use ones that are uniform in size.
- Allow to rest for 5 minutes after removing from the oven for the juiciest fish.
- Squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top for a bit of brightness.
What to Serve with Pesto Salmon
Pesto salmon is a delicious dish that pairs well with a variety of sides. Here are some suggestions for what you can serve with pesto salmon:
- Roasted Vegetables: Roast a mix of seasonal vegetables like cherry tomatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, or asparagus. Drizzle them with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast until tender and slightly caramelized.
- Lemon Rice: This easy lemon butter rice would pair so well and it's so tasty.
- Mashed Potatoes: Creamy garlic mashed potatoes complement the richness of the pesto salmon. Make them on the stovetop or follow these instructions for easy instant pot mashed potatoes.
- Quinoa Salad: For a lighter pairing, try this spectacularly colorful rainbow quinoa salad.
- Sautéed Greens: Salmon and spinach is always a great combo, and garlic sauteed spinach could not be easier.
- Air Fryer Asparagus: Just a few minutes in the air fryer and the asparagus spears come out perfectly cooked.
- Orzo Pesto Pasta Salad: Double up on the pesto and make this super simple orzo salad with pesto and capers.
More easy seafood recipes
Yes, you can freeze leftover pesto to extend its shelf life. Freezing pesto is a great way to preserve it for future use and it will last for months this way. When ready to use, thaw in the refrigerator for a few hours.
You can in a pinch. You may have to add a few minutes to the overall cooking time, depending on the thickness of the salmon filet.
The recommended internal temperature for cooked salmon is 145°F. Pull the salmon from the oven when it hits 135-140 degrees, as it will carry over cook 5-10 degrees.
When baking salmon, it is generally recommended to place the salmon with the skin side down. The skin acts as a protective layer during cooking, helping to keep the flesh moist and preventing it from sticking to the baking surface. Placing the skin side down also allows the heat to penetrate the flesh more evenly, resulting in a more evenly cooked piece of salmon.
Baked Pesto Butter Salmon
- 12 oz. salmon 3-4 filets
- 2 tbsp. butter
- ¼ cup basil pesto
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 425°F.
- Place the salmon fillets in the baking dish or baking sheet. Season both sides of the fillets with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Spread a generous amount of the pesto divided evenly over the top of each salmon fillet. Make sure to coat the entire surface.
- Add a butter pats on top of the pesto. Nestle cherry tomatoes among the salmon filets.
- Place the baking dish into preheated oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until the salmon is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork. The cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of the fillets, so adjust accordingly.
- Once the salmon is cooked, remove it from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes to all the juices to redistribute.