20 Minute Air Fryer Pesto Salmon Recipe

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Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
15 mins
Calories
521

Air Fryer Pesto Salmon – this tender flaky salmon recipe is done in just 20 minutes. Each bite is topped with a fresh vibrant pesto for the perfect healthy weeknight dinner!

If you’re a salmon lover than you’ve come to the jackpot. Check out all my salmon recipes here!

close up of air fryer pesto salmon

Easy Air Fryer Pesto Salmon

Wanna know a secret? I use to hate seafood. Pre-marriage I wouldn’t touch the stuff. But once I got married the hubbie slowly walked me into the wonderful world of seafood. And I gotta say, I’m not mad about it.

One of my favorite things to make is salmon. The nutritional components alone are great for you. Salmon is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, a great source of protein and high in vitamin B. It’s also super delicious and very versatile, because you can change up the flavor however you’d like. One of my families favorite versions is Honey Mustard Baked Salmon.

Today we are going to really brighten the salmon up with a fresh vibrant basil pesto. It is seriously unreal!

raw seasoned salmon filets

Ingredients for this Air Fryer Pesto Salmon

This recipe comes together so fast! I make my own homemade pesto for, but if you want to shorten the ingredient list you could definitely buy a store bought pesto. Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  • Salmon – You can buy pre-portioned filets or cut them yourself. Just make sure you buy skin on.
  • Basil – Fresh is best. Dry basil is not an option here.
  • Pecans – I know typically pesto is made with pine nuts. But I’m not a huge pine nut fan and I really like the texture and flavor pecans add to pesto.
  • Lemon Zest – Fresh lemon zest brightens up the flavors in this pesto.
  • Olive Oil – A good cold pressed extra virgin olive oil is key here.
  • Garlic – You can’t have pesto without garlic! Just one clove will do.
  • Parmesan Cheese – Grated Parmesan Cheese gives this pesto the saltiness it needs. Make sure you fold it in at the end, don’t add it to the blender.
  • Spices – You don’t need alot, just a simple salt and pepper will do.
salmon in an air fryer

How to make Air Fryer Pesto Salmon

This recipe comes together in 20 minutes and even less if you buy store bought pesto. No judgement over here if you do. I just love making my own because I know exactly what’s in it!

Alot of pesto salmon recipes out there have you put the pesto on while the salmon is baking or cooking. I like to add it at the end because the color stays a vibrant green and the flavor it fresh too! Here’s how to make air fryer pesto salmon.

  1. Make Pesto: To a food processor add basil, pecans, garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Blend until basil is roughly chopped up. Slowly add the olive oil till smooth. Once completely blended, pour mixture into a bowl and stir in the parmesan cheese.Set aside.
  2. Prep Air Fryer: Heat air fryer to 400°F and let preheat for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Season Season: Pat salmon dry with a paper towel. Brush avocado oil on flesh side of salmon, season with salt and pepper.
  4. Air Fry the Salmon: Using tongs, gently place salmon skin side down in air fryer basket and air fry for 9-10 minutes (depending on the thickness of your salmon) Check for desired doneness. The best way to do this is to gently flake the salmon with a fork.
  5. Top with Pesto: Remove salmon from air fryer and top with pesto.
pesto being spread on salmon in air fryer

Can I baked this in the oven?

Yes, you can absolutely make this in the oven if you don’t have an air fryer. Or don’t want to use the air fryer. To make in the oven, heat oven to 400°F. Place season salmon on a tin foil lined baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and top with pesto.

Why you’ll love this salmon

  • Benefits of Salmon – The health benefits of salmon are reason enough to make this on it’s own.
  • Air Fryer Goodness – I don’t know what it is but making salmon in the air fryer is seriously my favorite! The air fryer gives the salmon a beautiful crust on top and adds a texture component that will make you fall even more in love with salmon. Trust me. My kids request it now!
  • Super Quick & Easy – As a mom, I usually have a 3 year old tugging at my leg around dinner time. I need a recipe that comes together FAST. This recipe is exactly that! And if you use store bought pesto, it comes together even quicker!
  • The Perfect Pair – Salmon is more of a “fatty” fish. I don’t like add things like butter or mayo to it because it doesn’t need more fat. The fresh bright pesto cuts through all that fat and livens up the dish. They are two peas in a pod!
salmon filets on a plate topped with basil pesto

Tips & Tricks for Pesto Salmon

  • Quality. Quality. Use fresh sustainable salmon to start with. I like to buy mine from the fish market so I can choose the piece I want. I always smell it beforehand to make sure it doesn’t smell like fish. If it does, don’t buy it. It’s gone bad.
  • Don’t overcook it. Cook times always vary. The piece I have may be thicker or thinner than the piece you have. So always keep an eye on any protein while you’re cooking it. Salmon should be 140°F-145°F when done. As long as you stay in that range your salmon will come out tender and flaky.
  • Best Pesto. In my opinion fresh pesto is best it adds a bright vibrant note that you’re not going to get from store bought. However, if you need an easy button store bought will do.

What to serve with Air Fryer Pesto Salmon

air fryer pesto salmon on top of rice with tomatoes
Print
close up of air fryer pesto salmon

Air Fryer Pesto Salmon Recipe

  • Author: Krista
  • prep_time Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • cook_time Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • total_time Total Time: 15 minutes
  • yield Yield: 4 1x
  • category Category: Seafood
  • method Method: Air Fryer
  • cuisine Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Air Fryer Pesto Salmon – this tender flaky salmon recipe is done in just 20 minutes. Each bite is topped with a fresh vibrant pesto for the perfect healthy weeknight dinner!

Scale

Ingredients

For the Salmon

  • 4 (4-6 oz.) salmon filets
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • salt & pepper to season

For the Pesto:

  • 2 cups fresh packed basil
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • clove garlic
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil (or 2/3 cup depending on the type of consistency you like)
  • 1/3 cup of shredded parmesan cheese

Instructions

Make Pesto: 

  1. To a food processor add basil, pecans, garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Blend until basil is roughly chopped up.
  2. Slowly add the olive oil till smooth.
  3. Once completely blended, pour mixture into a bowl and stir in the parmesan cheese.
  4. Set aside.

For the Salmon:

  1. Heat air fryer to 400°F and let preheat for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Pat salmon dry with a paper towel.
  3. Brush avocado oil on flesh side of salmon, season with salt and pepper.
  4. Using tongs, gently place salmon skin side down in air fryer basket and air fry for 9-10 minutes (depending on the thickness of your salmon)
  5. Check for desired doneness. The best way to do this is to gently flake the salmon with a fork.
  6. Remove from air fryer and top with pesto.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 filet + pesto
  • Calories: 521
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Sodium: 366 mg
  • Fat: 41 g
  • Saturated Fat: 5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 1 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 35 g
  • Cholesterol: 5 mg

Keywords: pesto salmon recipe, air fryer salmon, pesto salmon

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pinterest image for air fryer pesto salmon
pinterest image for air fryer pesto salmon

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Krista
Hi! I'm the recipe developer and food photographer behind all these easy healthy recipes! I love food, Jesus, morning lattes, and am obsessed with fantasy football!

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