Salmon is easily one of my favorite seafood dishes, and this Baked Pesto Salmon Recipe is the absolute best. With Greek yogurt, pesto, salt and parmesan, you can’t go wrong.
Have you heard about my latest obsession with greek yogurt? I use this stuff for everything…. marinades, toppings, sour cream substitute, mayo substitute, dips and salad dressing. This makes an easy recipe perfect for busy weeknights. It is also a delicious way to use the last little bits of pesto in the jar.
Because of the abundant omega 3s in salmon, it is also considered to be a healthy dinner recipe.
What's In This Article
Greek Yogurt for a Marinade
It is slightly acidic and provides loads of moisture helping to keep meat, fish and seafood flavorful and tender. You can blend nearly any flavor profile into plain yogurt.
Just make sure it is greek yogurt, not regular yogurt. It is much thicker and will hold tight to your pesto salmon fillets better than regular.
What is the difference between greek yogurt and regular yogurt? Greek yogurt is strained three times, so it contains less liquid and has a thicker consistency and stronger flavors compared to regular yogurt. Because of the concentration, it also packs more protein per serving.
What You’ll Need
- Salmon- WHether you choose to use salmon filets, a whole side of salmon or salmon steaks, this recipe will work.
- Plain Greek Yogurt– Mayonnaise can be substituted, but I highly recommend using yogurt!
- Basil Pesto Sauce– Make your own or grab a jar at the store, but make sure it is made with a quality olive oil. In a recipe with such few ingredients, quality is important.
- Coarse Kosher salt– If using fine, reduce amount by half.
- Parmesan cheese– adds a nuttiness to the mix, feel free to omit this, but I like how it holds the yogurt pesto onto the salmon.
Do I have to use basil pesto? Nope! You can use whatever flavor of pesto you want, roasted red pepper, lemon artichoke, a pesto without pine nuts, vegan pesto, any type you want!
How to Bake Salmon
- Preheat oven and prepare a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil pr parchment for easy clean up. Coat with cooking spray.
- Dab salmon dry with a paper towel. The pesto sauce will stick better to dry salmon.
- In a small bowl, combine the plain Greek yogurt with pesto sauce, Kosher salt and Parmesan cheese and then slather each salmon fillet generously.
- Bake for approximately 12-15 minutes. The exact time with vary depending on the thickness of your salmon. You can check to see if it is done by gently touching with the edge of a fork. If if comes apart, then it is done. Also use a meat thermometer.
- Remove and allow to rest for 3-4 minutes before serving.
Some folks also enjoy adding a little melted butter or even lemon juice, but I find a simple salt and black pepper with pesto is tasty enough.
If you aren’t sure how long to bake salmon, then I’ll give you a few tips:
- Always make sure your salmon internal temperature is 145 degrees Fahrenheit at the thickest part of the fillet. Use a meat thermometer to check.
- If it flakes easily with a fork that means it’s ready!
- There’s no need to flip your salmon while it’s cooking.
- There are 3 things to look for to know if your salmon fillet is ready: firm, flaky, and non-transparent!
Farm Raised Vs Wild Caught
Farm raised salmon is raised in a container and controlled environment while wild caught is caught out on the open sea.
Some feel that sustainable, farm raised salmon is the more responsible approach to eating seafood since it isn’t depleting the natural population. Salmon consumption has increased significantly within the past two decades after the extreme health benefits were revealed.
Experts claim that the health benefits between farm raised and wild caught salmon are the same, however farm raised aren’t nearly as active, as they kept in smaller aquariums and don’t get as much daily exercise. Size, genetics and breeding practices vary from farm to farm.
Farm raised salmon with be rosy-orange, while wild caught salmon is a deeper pink or red. Some feel the flavor of wild caught is better and more flavorful. For those who don’t care for fish as much or are new to salmon, farm raised might be a good gradual step to eating fish.
Wild caught tends to be a little more expensive and might look a little rougher.
Questions you might have about how to make pesto salmon:
Yes, it can. Salmon can be eaten raw as it is in many sushi rolls. You do need to make sure it was handled properly and kept at the right temperture before eating it below 145 degrees. Always be cautious of eating undercooked or raw meats.
Four to 6 ounces per person is a good amount. While a whole fillet looks impressive, it is easier to get similar size pieces if you get individual fillets. It also cooks faster and more evenly.
Raw salmon can be frozen and in all honesty, has probably previously been frozen before you even bought it. Freezing fish isn’t the worst thing, in fact it is known to kill some bacteria that could possibly be harmful. (Not all bacteria and you still need to make sure it is handled and cooked properly).
The white stuff is called albumin and is harmless. In fact, it is a protein that is also found in eggs (the whites) and milk. It separates from the other molecules when heat is added to the food. Every piece of salmon will have a different amount of the white stuff, but you can reduce how much comes out if it really bothers you. Simply cook your salmon less aggressively at a lower temperature for a longer amount of time.
More easy salmon recipes:
- 16 ounces salmon fillets , cut into 4 ounce portions
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons pesto sauce
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese , finely grated
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Coat with cooking spray.
- Dab tops of salmon fillets with a paper towel to dry. Place on rimmed baking sheet with about an inch separation from each other.
- In a small bowl, combine plain Greek yogurt with pesto sauce, Kosher salt and Parmesan cheese.
- Slather each salmon fillet with yogurt mixture.
- Bake for approximately 12-15 minutes. The exact time with vary depending on the thickness of your salmon. You can check to see if it is done by gently touching with the edge of a fork. If if comes apart, then it is done.
- Remove and allow to sit for 3-4 minutes before serving.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was!
Wow! I started reading your recipes yesterday and today I went out a bought a 2nd hand copper based heavy fry pan for $4.00 and found an old Sunbeam crock pot for $10 as well. That’s how excited I was to learn your recipes! Thank you so much for your expertise. I really appreciate your nutrition info as well, particularly the sodium ( salt) and potassium levels. I prefer to keep potassium high and sodium very low, so I can adjust the salt input at will. Thanks again. God bless you in Jesus name.
Thank you so much, Pixie! Feel free to ask questions- we are real humans over here!
I love preparing salmon in different ways but I have never tried it with pesto! Can’t wait to give it a try!!
What a light a flavorful salmon recipe! This will make the perfect meal for dinner tonight! Yum!
I love pesto but haven’t used it with yogurt and am definitely going to try it this way because I just can’t get enough salmon. I am always looking for new recipes. 🙂
Wow! The yogurt and pest must keep the salmon very juicy! I can’t wait to try this! We adore salmon!
Salmon and pesto sound so great together. It is a must summer-time meal. Saving it!