A Spicy Perspective

Pesto Salmon

The Best Pesto Salmon Recipe (Oven or Air Fryer) – Salmon with fresh pesto and crispy breadcrumbs is a flavorful dish that is ready to enjoy in only 20 minutes, baked or air fried!

Plate with air fried salmon and grilled veggies.

Why We Love This Easy Salmon Recipe

Here is a winning summer dish! Flaky, moist, and tender salmon is baked with vibrant basil pesto and a crisp Panko topping. It’s quick to prepare in under 20 minutes, offers tons of flavor and contrasting textures, and goes fabulously with all sorts of side dishes.

Plus, you can make this Pesto Salmon recipe in the oven or in the air fryer!

Top down view of baked salmon with panko, grilled veggies on the side.

6 Ingredients You Need

  • Salmon fillets – wild caught, with skin on
  • Basil pesto – store-bought or homemade pesto
  • Panko breadcrumbs – regular or gluten-free
  • Olive oil – or other preferred high heat neutral-flavored cooking oil, like avocado oil
  • Salt and pepper – to taste
4 fillets of raw salmon on a baking sheet, seasoned with salt and pepper.

How to Make Pesto Salmon

Place a large salmon fillet, or smaller individually cut salmon fillets, on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Brush the tops of the salmon fillets with pesto.

Hand with basting brush, brushing pesto over the tops of 4 raw salmon fillets.

Then sprinkle the tops with Panko breadcrumbs. Lightly drizzle olive oil over the Panko.

Get the Complete (Air Fried or Baked Pesto Salmon Recipe Below. Enjoy!

4 raw pieces of pesto salmon coated with Panko breadcrumbs.

How to Bake Salmon at 400

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Place the baking sheet with salmon in the oven, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the top is golden.

Baked pesto salmon on baking sheet out of the oven.

How to Air Fry Pesto Salmon

Preheat the air fryer to 400°F.

Once hot, carefully lower the salmon into the air fryer basket. Air fry for 5 to 7 minutes until the Panko top is crispy.

Two pieces of salmon in the air fryer.

Recipe Variations

  • We use basil pesto to make this recipe. But you can use any type of pesto you prefer! Red pepper or tomato pesto are a couple of delicious options.
  • For a gluten-free recipe simply swap Panko breadcrumbs with your fave GF-friendly “bread” crumbs.
  • You can use frozen salmon! Prepare as directed, and bake or air fry frozen salmon at 400 for just a few minutes more… So approximately 20-25 minutes baked in the oven, or 15 minutes in the air fryer.
Side shot of final pesto salmon recipe baked at 400. On a plate with veggies.

What to Serve with Pesto Salmon

Enjoy this flavorful salmon as the main protein with all sorts of yummy summer side dishes!

We love to pair crispy Panko and pesto salmon with grilled veggies and/or fresh green salad. Or bring some carb-a-liciousness to the table and serve over linguini or fettuccini, or alongside Italian Mac & Cheese.

Bake pesto salmon at 400 degrees, serve on a plate with grilled veggies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is pesto sauce healthy?

As far as sauces go, pesto is quite healthy! It is made with fresh basil, nuts, and olive oil. So it’s very simple but brimming with antioxidants and healthy fats.

What temperature should you bake salmon?

Air fry or bake salmon – from fresh or frozen – at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The internal temperature of each fillet needs to be 145 degrees.

Do you have to flip salmon in the air fryer?

Nope! That is one of the (many) wonderful things about this recipe. Fresh or frozen salmon does not need to be flipped as it is air frying.

How long does pesto salmon keep well?

The flavor and texture of salmon with a crispy Panko topping is always best to enjoy freshly cooked. However, leftovers will keep well for a day or two in the fridge stored in an airtight container.

Enjoy chilled leftover salmon as-is or on a bed of greens for a refreshing summer lunch!

You can also reheat the salmon for 5-10 minutes in a preheated 400-degree oven. But note the salmon will not be as moist and will likely be “overdone.”

Fork getting a bite of flaky salmon with pesto from a plate, next to grilled veggies.

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5 from 3 votes
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Pesto Salmon (Baked or in the Air Fryer)

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Salmon with fresh pesto and crispy breadcrumbs is a flavorful dish that's ready to enjoy in only 20 minutes, baked or air fried!
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Place a large salmon fillet, or smaller individually cut salmon fillets, on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  • Brush the tops of the salmon fillets with pesto. Then sprinkle the tops with Panko breadcrumbs. Drizzle olive oil over the panko.
  • In the oven: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Once hot, placed the salmon in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the top is golden.
  • In the air fryer: Preheat the air fryer to 400°F. Once hot, carefully lower the salmon into the air fryer basket. Air fry for 5 to 7 minutes until the top is crispy.

Video

Notes

Recipe Variations:
  • We use basil pesto to make this recipe. But you can use any type of pesto you prefer! Red pepper or tomato pesto are a couple of delicious options.
  • For a gluten-free recipe simply swap Panko breadcrumbs with your fave GF-friendly “bread” crumbs.
  • You can use frozen salmon! Prepare as directed, and bake or air fry frozen salmon at 400 for just a few minutes more… So approximately 20-25 minutes baked in the oven, or 15 minutes in the air fryer.
The flavor and texture of salmon with a crispy Panko topping is always best to enjoy freshly cooked. However, leftovers will keep well for a day or two in the fridge stored in an airtight container.
Enjoy chilled leftover salmon as-is or on a bed of greens for a refreshing summer lunch!
You can also reheat the salmon for 5-10 minutes in a preheated 400-degree oven. But note the salmon will not be as moist and will likely be “overdone.”

Nutrition

Serving: 1pc, Calories: 232kcal, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 23g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 63mg, Sodium: 165mg, Potassium: 561mg, Fiber: 0.3g, Sugar: 0.5g, Vitamin A: 254IU, Calcium: 35mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Main, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Author: Sommer Collier

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3 comments on “Pesto Salmon”

  1. This salmon recipe is so delicious. I love the pesto & breadcrumb topping. We don’t have an air fryer, but it baked up beautifully! 

  2. WOW. This was PHENOMENAL! Absolutely my new favorite way to eat salmon!

  3. This salmon is delicious! I especially love the addition of panko breadcrumbs. They add the perfect texture!