Crusted Pesto Salmon

crusted pesto salmon
Kaleigh McMordie, MCN, RDN, LD
Total Time: 35 min
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Servings: 4 (3 ounces each)

Nutrition Highlights (per serving)

219 calories
13g fat
3g carbs
23g protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 (3 ounces each)
Amount per serving  
Calories 219
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 17%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 56mg 19%
Sodium 362mg 16%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 1g  
Includes 0g Added Sugars 0%
Protein 23g  
Vitamin D 8mcg 40%
Calcium 41mg 3%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 435mg 9%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Both fish and nuts are part of a heart healthy diet to help lower your blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least 2 servings of fish per week. Salmon is especially heart healthy, with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, known to help with cholesterol balance.

Salmon is versatile and easy to prepare with simple seasonings and herbs, but if you want to try a new flavorful recipe, this pesto salmon is a tasty change-up. The pesto is made with just a few ingredients and is much lower in sodium than store-bought varieties.

Chopped pistachios add a nice crunch and toast up beautifully under the broiler on top of the pesto. You can make the entire recipe from start to finish in under 30 minutes and serve with a side of veggies for a satisfying meal.


  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 ounces fresh salmon
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup unsalted pistachios, shelled and finely chopped


  1. To make pesto, combine basil, parmesan, garlic, pepper, and lemon juice in a food processor. Pulse until combined, then pulse while drizzling in olive oil until you reach a thickened pesto consistency.

  2. To make salmon, preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with foil and place salmon on top of foil.

  3. Squeeze lemon over salmon. Spread 1/4 cup of pesto on top of salmon, then press on pistachios.

  4. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness of salmon. Turn oven up to broil and place under broiler for 5 to 8 minutes, or until top is crispy and salmon is cooked through to your desired temperature.

Ingredient Variations and Substitutions

Traditional pesto is made with basil, but you can use other herbs such as mint or greens like kale or spinach.

If you don’t have pistachios, use chopped almonds or walnuts.

Try this recipe with other types of heart-healthy fish, such as cod.

Cooking and Serving Tips

While the fish is cooking, steam some vegetables and cook some quinoa to serve with it.

Don’t spray the foil with cooking spray before placing the salmon on it. This will make the skin stick to the foil, making it easy to separate the fish from the skin. To easily remove salmon from skin, slide a spatula between the skin and the flesh, angling upward just slightly.

You can make a double batch of pesto and keep in your refrigerator for other meals, or you can freeze it in ice cube molds and place in a freezer baggie to take out of the freezer, as you need.

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By Kaleigh McMordie, MCN, RDN, LD
Kaleigh McMordie, MCN, RDN, LD, is an intuitive eating registered dietitian with a master's in clinical nutrition.