Diet Optimization Meal Prep Ideas Recipes

How to Make a Healthy, 15-Minute Pesto Salmon Recipe

I’m excited to share this quick, nutritious 15-minute pesto salmon recipe that you can whip together (even on a busy weeknight!).

I’m excited to share this super quick and nutritious 15-minute pesto salmon recipe that you can whip together, even on a busy weeknight.

This is a perfect example of a recipe you could use for healthy meal prep– just increase the amount you cook so it will last for multiple meals!

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Breaking Down the Nutrition Benefits

Salmon is one of my favorite foods to include in a healthy meal plan because it has MANY unique nutrition benefits, such as:

  • Being high in protein, which is the most important macronutrient for weight loss
  • Containing an incredibly important source of healthy fats: omega-3s
    • Omega 3s are not created by your body, so you have to get them from supplements or your food supply
    • Omega 3s have been associated with reduced risk of heart disease and cancer, lower cholesterol, decreased inflammation, and better brain functioning and mood support (Thota et al., 2018)
  • Being a good source of B vitamins (related to metabolism, energy, and mood) and potassium

In addition, the pesto is made with olive-oil, for an extra boost of healthy fats, and fresh basil, which has many micronutrients like vitamin K and magnesium.

Your 15-Minute Pesto Salmon Recipe

I promise this will be your new favorite way to cook and serve salmon! It has become a staple in my home and was a total hit when Jason and I prepared it for his family recently.

Step #1: Make the Pesto (5 Minutes)

We love the basil pesto recipe from NYT Cooking (do they ever put out a bad recipe?!), and also appreciate how easy it is. All the essentials are included for a classic pesto.

In a food processor (ours is this budget-friendly option from Hamilton Beach), combine 2 cups of fresh basil, 2 tablespoons of raw organic pine nuts, and LOTS of garlic. The recipe calls for 2 cloves, but Jason and I usually use a heaping spoon of organic minced garlic equivalent to about 6 cloves. If your dining partner has garlic breath too, it’s not a big deal! 🙂 Run the food processor for about 30 seconds until the ingredients are minced.

Then, while the machine is still on, add 1/2 cup high-quality extra virgin olive oil. Last, turn the machine off and add 1/2 cup parmesan cheese then pulse 2-3 times.

This makes 16 servings (at 2 tablespoons per serving). Each serving is 82 calories, 8 grams of fat (the healthy kind!), 1 gram of carbs, and 2 grams of protein.

Step #2: Cook the Salmon (10 Minutes)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly salt the raw salmon (cook however much you’d like! We usually do about 2 pounds at a time to serve the two of us for 3 meals). On the stove, heat a cast-iron skillet (we’re obsessed with this one by Lodge) with a little bit of olive oil on medium heat.

Place the salmon skin side up on the warmed cast-iron and cook for 4 minutes.

Transfer the cast-iron with the salmon into the 400-degree oven for 6 minutes (just take it off the stove and put it straight into the oven- so easy!). This is the best way we have ever prepared salmon. It comes out so tender and delicious every time!

One serving of salmon is 5 ounces (measured when cooked) for 295 calories, 18 grams of fat (again, the healthy kind!), 0 grams of carbs, and 28 grams of protein.

Step #3: Serve!

Place 5 ounces of salmon on your plate and top with 2 tablespoons of the pesto.

The nutrition facts for this are: 377 calories, 26 grams of heart-healthy fats, 1 gram of carbs, and 30 grams of protein… amazing!

We served it to our family last week with asparagus (tossed lightly in olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, baked for 15 minutes at 400 degrees) and some boxed Israeli couscous (always keeping it real here!).

Dr. Schulte’s Summary

Salmon is an ideal way to include protein and healthy fats in your day, and this 15-minute recipe couldn’t be any easier. The pesto adds a delicious topping that makes this recipe restaurant quality. At just 377 calories per serving, this is a perfect recipe for healthy meal preparation or a quick go-to weeknight dinner!

Take a picture of your version of this recipe and share it in the comments! I’d love to also hear any ways you made this recipe your own!


Thota, R. N., Ferguson, J. J., Abbott, K. A., Dias, C. B., & Garg, M. L. (2018). Science behind the cardio-metabolic benefits of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: Biochemical effects vs. clinical outcomes. Food & function9(7), 3576-3596.

Disclaimer: all opinions are my own and are not affiliated with my employers. Please seek medical guidance before pursuing weight loss or making significant changes to the way you eat or your physical activity routine.

4 replies on “How to Make a Healthy, 15-Minute Pesto Salmon Recipe”

Hello Dr. Schulte, though I’m a huge consumer of salmon, I tend to use always the same recipe (grilled salmon with lemon sauce). I recently tried a recipe using a sauce named Béarnaise, which has a strong flavor, that adding to the natural flavor of the salmon makes the dish quite heavy. Your recipe on the other hand sounds very fresh, I think the pesto will add a balanced flavor to the salmon, I will certainly give it a try! Thanks for the share! 🙂

My pleasure! I’m so happy to hear that this recipe provided you with some inspiration to switch up your go-to salmon routine! You’re totally right that while bearnaise sauce can be delicious, it definitely makes the meal feel heavier. Let me know what you think about the pesto!

Salmon is a healthy meat that tastes really great, this type of meat is easy to cook within minutes you can make a healthy meal from this fish. It is good to know that you can make healthy meals in a matter of minutes, I am so happy about these kinds of meals especially if you are a person that is always on the go. Thanks so much for sharimng.

Of course, Norman! Thank you for taking the time to read the recipe, and I would look forward to hearing how you enjoy the meal if you try it!

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