This salmon pesto pasta recipe comes together fast and makes an elegant meal that's great for a quick weeknight dinner. You can either use jarred or homemade pesto.
This salmon pasta with pesto took me a couple of tries to get right. Pesto can be quite oily, so I had to be careful with what I cooked the salmon in as well as how much cream I added. I think cream makes pretty much any sauce taste better, but I will say that for this recipe you can just leave it out if you prefer. Pesto can be quite strong, and the cream mellows it out a bit.
I prefer using homemade pesto in this recipe, but I totally get that it's not always practical or convenient to make it (like when it's not basil season, for example). I rarely buy jarred pesto, so I don't have any particular brand loyalty at this point, but I recommend using something you love since the pesto flavor really shines in this recipe.
Love pesto? Try my Creamy Pesto Shrimp Gnocchi.
Recipe notes & tips:
- You can buy salmon with the skin on or already removed. If you bought salmon with the skin on and don't want to eat it, you can simply peel it off after you've done the searing step.
- I don't recommend subbing the cream for anything else like half-and-half or milk because the acid in the sauce is likely to make it curdle. Coconut milk will make it too oily, so just leave the cream out if need be (you can always add more pesto to the sauce if you want).
- Some jarred pestos can already be quite lemony, so keep that in mind. You may not need to add the extra lemon juice to the recipe.
- Feel free to use any kind of pasta for this recipe.
- If you're looking to add some extra veggies to this pesto salmon pasta, chopped asparagus would be a nice addition. You could sear some for 5 minutes or so (until it's tender crisp) after you've seared the salmon, then add it back into the pan at the same time as the salmon.
More salmon pasta recipes you'll love:
- Easy Smoked Salmon Pasta
- Lemon Dill Salmon Pasta
- Garlic Butter Salmon Pasta
- Salmon Pasta with a Creamy Garlic Sauce
Will you give this creamy salmon pesto pasta recipe a try?
Questions? Leave me a comment below. If you made this recipe, tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram so I can see it!
Salmon Pesto Pasta
- 1 pound fresh salmon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Flour for dredging
- 1/3 cup chicken broth or dry white wine
- 1/3 cup pesto (click for my recipe or use your fav jarred variety)
- 1/4 cup heavy/whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice optional
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese optional
- 8 ounces uncooked pasta
- Boil a salted pot of water for your pasta and cook it al dente according to package directions.
- Sprinkle the salmon with the garlic powder and some salt & pepper. Coat it in flour on all sides.
- In a skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat. Cook the salmon for about 3 minutes/side until lightly golden.
- Take the pan off the heat. Remove the salmon to a plate and set aside. Pour the fat out of the skillet, but leave the nice browned bits that are stuck on the bottom of the pan (don't wipe the pan out).
- Add the chicken broth and pesto and return the pan to the burner. Cook for about 30 seconds while scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Add in the cream and lemon juice and let the sauce bubble for about a minute. Add the salmon back in and break it into pieces with your spoon. Reduce the heat and let it gently cook for another 5 minutes or so (the sauce will thicken up as well).
- Drain the pasta and toss it with the sauce. Serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan cheese if desired.
- I don't recommend subbing the cream for milk or half-and-half because the sauce won't be the same, and they are likely to curdle. You can leave it out if you need to.
- The lemon juice is optional because some jarred pestos already have lemon in it, and the sauce can end up too tangy.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.