This all-in-one pesto salmon recipe is a satisfying dinner made with juicy salmon fillets and aromatic basil pesto tucked into a steamy parchment paper packet. You’ll love the easy clean-up!
Why you’ll love it: this salmon in parchment paper with pesto and veggies is full of flavor. Plus, clean up is a breeze.
How long it takes: about 15 minutes to prep, and 25 minutes in the oven
Equipment you’ll need: parchment paper, rimmed baking sheet, oven
Servings: 2 (but it’s easy to increase)
- 1 Recipe Overview
- 2 Juicy Pesto Salmon In Parchment Paper
- 3 Why You’ll Love This Pesto Salmon Recipe
- 4 Ingredients You’ll Need
- 5 Why Cook Fish in Parchment Paper?
- 6 How To Make Salmon In Parchment Paper
- 7 Tips for Success
- 8 FAQs
- 9 Make This Pesto Salmon Recipe Your Own
- 10 What to Serve With Salmon
- 11 Make-Ahead
- 12 Storing and Reheating Leftovers
- 13 More Salmon Recipes
- 14 Get the Recipe: Pesto Salmon in Parchment Paper (full meal)
Juicy Pesto Salmon In Parchment Paper
Unwrap perfectly cooked salmon nestled into a bed of sliced zucchini, tender red onions, bright tomatoes, and kalamata olives, brightly seasoned with basil pesto. the fresh ingredients are steamed in individual packets that lock in the savory, aromatic flavors. And maybe the best thing of all? Super easy cleanup! No pans to wash, just throw the paper away. No muss, no fuss! You have to love that.
Why You’ll Love This Pesto Salmon Recipe
- Baked in parchment paper. The French call this technique “salmon en papillote.” The ingredients for this pesto salmon recipe are baked in a packet, unveiling a steaming portion of fish and vegetables as you peel back the parchment. Voila!
- Ultra-moist salmon. It’s almost impossible for salmon to get dry using this method. Nutrients and flavor stay right inside the tightly wrapped package.
- Make it your own. Another advantage to cooking “en papillote” is that you can make each portion to order. Hubby isn’t crazy about onions? Leave the onions out of his salmon packet. No problem!
- Make it ahead. You can even meal prep your pesto salmon the night before, wrap it up in parchment, and refrigerate it. Just pop the packets into the oven for dinner.
Ingredients You’ll Need
Let’s start with some quick notes on the ingredients. Look for the printable recipe card near the end of the post with complete instructions, measurements, and nutrition information.
- Salmon Fillets – Because pesto salmon is cooked right on top of the vegetables, I prefer skin-off fillets. However, don’t worry if you have skin-on fillets. The salmon will separate from the skin easily once it’s cooked. If the salmon is frozen, be sure to thaw it according to package directions or overnight in the fridge.
- Zucchini or Summer Squash – Your choice. Look for a smaller-sized squash so it will be nice and tender.
- Cherry or Grape Tomatoes – The tomatoes get good and squishy and add a nice pop of color and acidity.
- Red Onion or Shallots – Really, any type of onion will work here. Choose your favorite.
- Kalamata Olives – These dark reddish brown olives add color and so much flavor. If you prefer a different type of olive, go for it. I leave the olives out of my packet because I’m not a fan.
- Basil Pesto – Wow, talk about flavor! It doesn’t get much better than pesto. Use homemade pesto or buy prepared pesto at the store.
- Olive Oil, Salt, and Pepper – Just a bit of oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Parchment Paper – Easy-to-use parchment paper takes the place of pots and pans in this recipe.
Why Cook Fish in Parchment Paper?
“En papillote” is a great method for cooking flaky fish and other delicate foods, and steaming requires little to no oils or added fats. Parchment paper is coated in food-safe silicone that is also heat resistant, and it’s so handy for baking and roasting! You’ll find it by the foil and plastic wrap in grocery stores. You can also buy parchment paper online.
How To Make Salmon In Parchment Paper
This pesto salmon recipe is ready and on the table in 25 minutes. You’ll need a rimmed baking sheet to set the packets on so you can easily transfer them to the oven.
- Cut the parchment paper. Start with two sheets of parchment paper, about 12 by 16 inches. Fold each one in half and cut them into large oval shapes. Lay the ovals flat.
- Arrange the veggies on the paper. Next, slice the zucchini (or summer squash) and onions quite thinly so they get tender. Cut the tomatoes in half. Arrange them on one half of each paper. Chop the olives and sprinkle those on the veggies. Drizzle on a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Add the salmon and pesto. Place a salmon fillet on the vegetables (skin side down if it has skin). Finally, slather on the pesto. It will give such great flavor to the salmon!
- Fold into packets. Fold the parchment paper over the salmon and vegetables. Fold the edges closed, pleating as you go.
- Bake. Place each packet on the baking sheet and put it into the oven. Bake salmon for 25 minutes. Take care when you open the packets because they are full of hot steam!
Tips for Success
This pesto salmon recipe is guaranteed to become a fast favorite. It’s pretty fool-proof and clean-up is a snap! Keep these tips in mind:
- Use the right paper. Never substitute waxed paper (wax paper or paraffin paper) for parchment paper. Waxed paper is coated with paraffin, not silicone like parchment paper, and is not heat-resistant. It may melt or even catch fire in the oven.
- Check for doneness. Because parchment paper salmon is completely wrapped up, it can be a little tricky to determine when it’s finished cooking. Unwrap the packet a little and use an instant-read thermometer inserted into the salmon fillet. It should be 145°F for well-done.
- Scale the recipe. I’ve written this recipe for two servings but it’s easy to double or triple.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. If the salmon is a bit overdone, don’t panic. Because the packet retains all the moisture, the salmon doesn’t dry out as quickly.
Parchment paper is coated with silicone and is considered non-stick, so the salmon bakes up nicely inside without oil or cooking spray. Make sure to use parchment paper and not waxed paper, as they are not the same thing. See the tips section above.
Salmon is done cooking when the internal temperature reaches 145ºF, as recommended by the FDA. If you don’t have a thermometer, check to see that the salmon flakes easily with a fork.
Make This Pesto Salmon Recipe Your Own
Try these easy ways to adapt this easy pesto salmon recipe:
- Use foil instead of parchment paper. The pesto salmon and vegetables can be baked in foil. Use a double or triple layer, depending on how heavy-duty your foil is. Or, grill this salmon in foil, see the next tip.
- Grill it. If you’re grilling instead of baking, be sure to use foil instead of parchment paper. Also, try this recipe for grilled salmon in foil with garlic, butter, and chives.
- Use different vegetables. Not a fan of zucchini? Substitute different vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, thinly sliced red potatoes, corn, radishes, etc.
- Pesto substitutes. Try chimichurri or top the salmon simply with lemon slices and dill or fresh basil leaves.
- Looking for more delicious baked salmon recipes? Try this almond crusted salmon and lemon salmon with dill.
What to Serve With Salmon
Salmon in parchment is almost like opening a present for dinner! This pesto salmon recipe is a light dinner on its own, or you can serve your salmon with creamy pasta, like this tomato cream sauce with angel hair, or baked feta pasta. Pair your dinner with a slice of rustic bread and olive oil dipping sauce or a fresh arugula salad. Try this Mediterranean green bean salad for another fresh and tasty choice!
Getting a head start on this pesto salmon recipe is easy! The zucchini, onions, olives, and tomatoes can be prepped a day in advance and refrigerated. If you prefer, make up each packet and refrigerate them overnight. Your salmon is ready to bake the following day.
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
- Fridge. Refrigerate any leftovers promptly. Store the pesto salmon and veggies airtight for up to 2-3 days.
- Reheat. Reheat the salmon in the microwave or the oven until warmed through.
Interested in a weekly meal plan (it’s free!) that includes this salmon recipe? Take a look at my Meal Plan #25. You’ll find a wholesome recipe for each weekday plus a categorized grocery list. Let me do the planning for you this week!
We’ll be adding a new meal plan weekly. If you’re interested, browse all of our meal plans.
- 1 medium zucchini or summer squash, thinly sliced (⅛ – ¼ inch thick)
- 1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
- 1 cup thinly sliced red onion or shallots
- ⅓ cup coarsely chopped kalamata olives
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 2 (6 oz. each) salmon fillets (skin on or off)
- ¼ cup basil pesto (either homemade or store bought)
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Fold 2 sheets (12 x 16 inches) of parchment paper in half vertically and cut into large ovals. Open up.
- Arrange zucchini, tomatoes, and onion on one side of the fold in each oval. Sprinkle with chopped olives. Drizzle each packet with 1 teaspoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Set a salmon fillet on the vegetables. Spread pesto, divided evenly, on both fillets.
- Fold parchment paper over the salmon and fold edges closed, pleating as you go.
- Place each packet on rimmed baking sheet and bake 25 minutes. Carefully open packets (watch for hot steam!) and check internal temperature of salmon (145°F). Serve immediately.
- Nutrition information is for the contents of one packet containing a salmon fillet and vegetables.
- Chimichurri is a good substitute for pesto. If you prefer, just top the salmon with a few lemon slices and fresh dill or basil.
- For more servings, simply double or triple the ingredients and make more packets.
- This recipe has been completely updated 4/2022.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.