This Salmon with Pesto Butter is pan-seared to perfection and topped with homemade pesto butter for a flavorful and easy seafood dinner that everyone will devour. With just 7 simple ingredients, this quick salmon recipe is ready in only 20 minutes, making it the perfect option for a delicious meal any night of the week. Gluten-free, low carb friendly.
When summer comes and my garden is overflowing with basil, I love making homemade basil pesto sauce. Within minutes, I can make a large batch of fresh pesto that can be used on meats, seafood, pasta, pizza, and vegetables.
One of my favorite ways to use basil pesto is to turn it into pesto butter. Pesto butter is simply butter that has been mixed with pesto, creating a delicious and savory spread.
The combination of tender, flaky salmon with the rich, savory flavor of pesto butter is a match made in heaven. It's a simple, yet flavorful seafood dish that's easy to make and ready in just 20 minutes.
So, whether you're a seafood lover or just looking for a new way to use up some garden-fresh basil, this salmon with pesto butter recipe is sure to become a new favorite in your dinner rotation.
Disclaimer: Some links throughout this post are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. You can learn more by visiting my Affiliate Disclosure Page.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- Homemade Pesto Butter- Pesto butter sounds fancy, but it's super easy to make. Just mix together a little softened butter and some homemade pesto, and you have yourself the most flavorful butter you'll ever try.
- Ready in 20 Minutes- This salmon dish only takes a few minutes to make, but tastes like it took all day.
- Only 7 Ingredients- Just salmon, pesto, butter, olive oil, lemon, salt, and pepper.
- Healthy- Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and pesto is full of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals.
- Perfect for Summer- It doesn't get more summer-inspired than seafood and fresh basil pesto.
Here are some notes on the key ingredients. For the full list of ingredients, check out the recipe card below.
- Salmon- Cut a whole salmon fillet into 4-ounce pieces. I remove the salmon skin because I prefer it like that, but feel free to leave it on if you enjoy it.
- Basil Pesto- Pesto is so quick and easy to make. I highly recommend making homemade pesto for this recipe, but you can use store-bought as well.
- Unsalted Butter- Using unsalted butter allows you to control the seasoning better. The butter should be soft enough to mix with the pesto.
- Lemon Juice- A pop of acidity balances the savory, buttery flavors in the rest of the dish.
- Olive Oil- Use light olive oil to sear the salmon because it has a higher smoke point than extra virgin olive oil and butter.
🌱 Sustainability Tip: Growing basil at home is a convenient way to have fresh herbs on hand, and it also helps to reduce your carbon footprint by minimizing the distance your food travels.
Substitutions and Variations
Here are a few ways you can try customizing this salmon with pesto butter recipe to fit your diet and taste preferences.
- Salmon- This recipe also works with other types of fish, shellfish, chicken, and even vegetables.
- Basil Pesto- Pesto can be made out of a variety of leafy greens. Try making this recipe with arugula pesto, spinach pesto, kale pesto, or any other type of pesto you like.
- Unsalted Butter- Swap the butter for margarine or vegan butter, if preferred.
- Lemon Juice- Substitute the lemon juice for lemon zest, orange juice, or lime juice. Or leave the lemon out altogether.
- Olive Oil- Any neutral-flavored, high-heat oil can be used in place of olive oil. Try avocado oil, sunflower oil, or canola oil.
- Nut-Free- Add an extra ¼ cup of grated parmesan cheese in place of the walnuts to make nut-free pesto.
- Dairy-Free- Use extra walnuts, vegan parmesan cheese, or nutritional yeast for a dairy-free pesto. Then, use dairy-free butter or margarine in place of the butter.
- Gluten-Free- This recipe is naturally gluten-free. Be sure to serve with a gluten-free side to ensure you're enjoying a fully gluten-free meal.
- Spicy- A few shakes of red pepper flakes would give this simple salmon with pesto butter recipe a spicy kick.
Step by Step Instructions
Here is how to make this pan-seared salmon with pesto butter recipe.
Step 1: Make the pesto butter. Add the pesto and softened butter to a small mixing bowl. Mix together with a fork until well combined. Set aside.
Step 2: Sear the salmon. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Season the salmon fillets on both sides with kosher salt and black pepper. Sear the salmon for 4-5 minutes on one side or until a golden brown crust forms. If the salmon is sticking to your skillet, give it a few more minutes to crust over. In a pinch, add a few tablespoons of water to the skillet to help release the salmon before flipping.
Step 3: Top salmon with pesto butter. Flip the salmon fillets over and spread about one tablespoon of the pesto butter evenly on top of each fillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes or until the salmon is flaky and fully cooked through. The amount of time it takes will depend on the thickness of your salmon fillets.
Step 4: Drizzle with lemon juice. Transfer the salmon from the skillet to a serving platter and drizzle with any butter remaining in the pan. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over each fillet and serve immediately.
Tips for Success
- Use fresh ingredients. Fresh salmon and homemade pesto are the ingredients that really make this dish shine. For the best flavor, use the fresh version of both.
- Sear the salmon until golden brown. The golden-brown crust that forms when pan-searing salmon sears adds so much flavor. Don't be tempted to flip the salmon too soon.
- Add a splash of water to help with sticking. If your salmon seems to be sticking to the skillet no matter how long you wait, add a tablespoon of water to the skillet to help release it. Just be careful because the water will likely sizzle a bit in the pan.
- Cook until flaky. Salmon is cooked through when it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F. Another way to check salmon for doneness is to press gently on the top of the salmon to see if it is beginning to flake.
- Drizzle with pan butter. Don't let that delicious pan butter go to waste! Drizzle it on top of your salmon fillets for extra richness and flavor.
What to Serve With Salmon With Pesto Butter
Basil pesto butter salmon is a flavorful pescatarian dish that pairs well with a variety of side dishes. One of my favorite dishes to serve with this pesto salmon recipe is Rigatoni with Pesto Sauce.
Storage and Reheating
How to Store
- Refrigerator- Store leftover salmon with pesto butter in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
- Freezer- Cooked salmon can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. To freeze, allow the salmon to cool completely before wrapping tightly in plastic wrap and place inside a freezer-safe bag or container.
How to Reheat
- Stovetop- Add a thin layer of water to a skillet and bring it to a simmer over low heat. Add the salmon fillets to the skillet and cover it with a lid. Allow the salmon to steam for about 5 minutes or until fully warmed through.
- Oven- Preheat the oven to 275°F and place salmon fillets on a rimmed baking sheet. Cover the salmon loosely with aluminum foil and heat for 15 minutes or until fully warmed through.
- Microwave- Place the salmon on a microwave-safe dish and add a teaspoon of water to the bottom of the plate. Cover the salmon loosely with a damp paper towel and heat on HIGH in 30-second intervals until the salmon is steaming hot.
Prepare the basil pesto butter and store it in the refrigerator for up to one month before making salmon with pesto butter. Alternatively, store homemade pesto butter in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
Pesto butter is a mix of unsalted butter and homemade basil pesto. It's a quick and easy way to add tons of flavor to meat, seafood, pasta, and vegetables.
The best way to ensure your salmon tastes delicious is to season it properly. A little salt and acidity go a long way to balance the richness of salmon. A variety of ingredients enhance the flavor of salmon, including lemon, garlic, herbs like dill or parsley, and sauces like teriyaki or pesto.
Basil pesto butter is healthy when enjoyed in moderation. Pesto butter is high in fat, including heart-healthy fats found in olive oil and nuts. Basil is also a good source of vitamins and minerals.
Yes, salmon with pesto butter can be baked in the oven. To make baked salmon with pesto butter, cook salmon fillets topped with pesto butter on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 12-15 minutes in an oven preheated to 425°F.
More Seafood Recipes
Salmon with Pesto Butter
For the Salmon
- 2 tablespoons light olive oil
- 4 4-ounce fillets salmon skin removed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Juice from ½ of a lemon
Make the Pesto Butter
- Add the pesto and softened butter to a small mixing bowl. Mix together with a fork until well combined. Set aside.4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons basil pesto
Make the Salmon
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Season the salmon fillets on both sides with salt and pepper. Sear the salmon for 4-5 minutes on one side or until a golden brown crust forms. If the salmon is sticking to your skillet, give it a few more minutes to crust over. In a pinch, add a few tablespoons of water to the skillet to help release the salmon before flipping.2 tablespoons light olive oil, 4 4-ounce fillets salmon, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Flip the salmon fillets over and spread about one tablespoon of the pesto butter evenly on top of each fillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes or until the salmon is flaky and fully cooked through. The amount of time it takes will depend on the thickness of your salmon fillets.
- Transfer the salmon from the skillet to a serving platter and drizzle with any butter remaining in the pan. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over each fillet and serve immediately.Juice from ½ of a lemon
- Quick Tip: Salmon is cooked through when it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F. Another way to check salmon for doneness is to press gently on the salmon to see if it's beginning to flake.
- Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Make Ahead: Pesto butter can be prepared and stored in the refrigerator up to one month in advance.