If you’re looking for an easy weeknight pasta recipe, this 30-minute Salmon Pesto Pasta is the perfect recipe for you. With succulent, perfectly cooked salmon, zesty pesto, and pasta perfection, you’ll be savoring every single bite!

A plate of salmon pesto pasta topped with basil leaves and shredded parmesan cheese.

This recipe is…

This salmon pesto pasta dish is one that’ll leave you absolutely stunned – how could such a quick, easy dish be so darn good?! If you’re all about big flavors without the big fuss, say hello to your new dinnertime obsession: salmon pesto pasta.

We’re talking tender pasta noodles mixed with vibrant green, zesty pesto, sauteed onions, garlic, and cherry tomatoes, and then topped with flaky salmon, shaved parmesan, and fresh basil – all ready to rock your taste buds in no time. This dish is your golden ticket to a delicious, stress-free new family favorite!

Looking for other quick, easy pasta meals? Our No-Boil Chicken Alfredo, One Pot Pasta with Italian Sausage and Kale, and Pesto Chicken Pasta Bake are great picks!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • It’s quick – this recipe allows you to get dinner on the table in 30 minutes. You can’t beat that!
  • It’s delicious – the flavors in this salmon pesto pasta recipe are bold, zesty, and so yum. If herby pesto is your thing, I really think you’ll love this recipe.
  • It’s nutritious – because it’s such a rich source of so many incredible nutrients, I try to work salmon into my meal plan once a week. It’s loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, potassium, iron, and vitamin D.

Recipe Ingredients

The ingredient list for this recipe is quite simple! You will, of course, need salmon, pasta, and pesto. Outside of those 3, there are just a couple of flavor-enhancing ingredients required. Find ingredient notes (including substitutions and swaps) below.

All of the ingredients for salmon pesto pasta on a marble surface.
  • Penne pasta – we chose penne here, but truly, any pasta will work! Our favorite gluten-free pasta is made by Barilla. Barilla’s gluten-free pasta is made with corn and rice and has a really similar taste and texture to real-deal pasta!
  • Salmon – we went with a thick filet of salmon for this recipe so that we could really crisp the outside of the salmon without drying out the rest of it. This recipe is really flexible, though. You can use any salmon that you have hanging out in the freezer or buy whatever cut (individual filets are totally fine too) is on sale at the grocery store.
  • Pesto – you can go store-bought or make your own homemade roasted garlic pesto here. Either will work great!
  • Red pepper flakes – this is totally optional but a great add if you like a little spice.

A full ingredient list with exact amounts can be found in the recipe card below.

Ingredient Modifications and Variations

  • Use any pasta you have on hand – don’t worry about using penne pasta if you’ve got another cut of pasta on hand. Any short pasta (ziti, rigatoni, fusilli, cavatappi, and farfalle) will work great in this recipe.
  • Omit the tomatoes, onion, or garlic – if you have sensitivities or just don’t like the taste of any of these ingredients, feel free to skip them!
  • Use sun-dried tomatoes instead of regular – substitute sun-dried tomatoes for the cherry tomatoes if you’d prefer.
  • Use mushrooms instead of tomatoes – if tomatoes are a hard no for you, feel free to use mushrooms in their place.
  • Make it dairy-free – don’t assume you can’t enjoy this recipe if you’re dairy-free! Make our dairy-free pesto (made with roasted garlic – you won’t miss the cheese at all!) and skip the parmesan cheese garnish.

How to Make Salmon Pesto Pasta

This entire recipe, from start to finish, can be made in just 30 minutes. You heard that right! 30 minutes and a few ingredients are all that stand between YOU and your new favorite pasta dinner. Find the full how-to below.

A person sprinkling seasoning onto a filet of salmon.
A filet of seared salmon sitting on a plate.

Step 1: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1-1 1/2 tablespoons of salt to the water and cook the pasta according to the package. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water for the sauce before draining. While the pasta is boiling, season the salmon with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper.

Step 2: Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the salmon and cook for 4 minutes on one side, flip, and cook for an additional 4 minutes. Remove the salmon from the pan to a cutting board or plate.

Raw diced onions and garlic in a pan.
A pan of sauteed cherry tomatoes and onion.

Step 3: Add the remaining olive oil, garlic, and onion to the pan. Saute for 3 minutes, until the onion starts to become translucent and the garlic becomes fragrant. Season with the remaining teaspoon of salt.

Step 4: Add the cherry tomatoes and saute for 2 minutes.

A person adding broth to a pan of sauteed onions, cherry tomatoes, and pesto sauce.
A person pouring penne pasta from a colander into a pan of pesto sauce.

Step 5: Pour in the pesto, reserved pasta water, and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Bring the sauce to a simmer.

Step 6: Toss the pasta in the pesto sauce. Use a fork to flake the salmon.

A plate of salmon pesto pasta topped with basil leaves next to a pan of salmon pesto pasta.

Step 7: Spoon the pasta into individual bowls, top with salmon, serve and enjoy!

Recipe Tips

If cooking your salmon on the stovetop is intimidating, I recommend you work up your salmon-cooking confidence by baking it. Follow this broil method. It’s super fast and reliable!

  1. Slice the salmon into 1-inch pieces.
  2. Spread the salmon out onto a half or quarter sheet pan lined with parchment paper (or sprayed with oil).
  3. Season the salmon with salt and pepper.
  4. Broil for 4 minutes on high until the salmon is caramelized.

Here’s another recipe that utilizes this time-saving broil method: Teriyaki Salmon Bowls

My pesto looks BRIGHT green here and that’s because I’m using homemade! Most store-bought pestos will be less bright, but the flavors should still be on-point. Don’t worry if yours looks different, the flavor should still be great.

If you’re a home cook who wants a restaurant-quality experience, don’t skip the basil. The bright herb brings the dish to the next level. That said, if you’re having a hard time finding fresh basil, you can skip it and still have a lovely meal.

If your noodles tend to break after cooking them, you may be letting them sit too long before stirring in the sauce. Try starting the noodles a little later in the cooking process so that they’re able to go into the sauce as soon as possible. This is especially good to note if you’re using gluten-free noodles.

How to Serve

This salmon pesto pasta recipe is loaded with all of the good things (protein, healthy fats, and energizing carbohydrates), making it a really well-rounded meal, so feel free to serve it all on its own! It would also be really tasty alongside a crusty loaf of cheesy garlic bread and a simple arugula side salad.

How to Store and Reheat

Store any leftover pasta in an airtight container in the fridge. Stored this way, it’ll last for up to 3 days.

To reheat, simply pop a serving or two in the microwave (1-2 minutes) or reheat in a skillet on the stovetop until warmed through.

A plate of salmon pesto pasta topped with basil leaves next to a pan of salmon pesto pasta.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of salmon is best for salmon pesto pasta?

You can actually get away with almost any variation of salmon for this recipe! I personally prefer a thicker filet (that way the outside can get crispy without drying out the entire thing), but any salmon filet that your grocery store’s fish market has will work great.

Can I use canned salmon instead of fresh salmon?

Sure, you can absolutely use a can of salmon in place of a fresh salmon filet in this recipe. Because canned salmon is already cooked, you can skip steps 2 and 3 and just toss the canned salmon in with the cherry tomatoes to heat it. If you’re going this route, your salmon will be mixed throughout the pasta dish (vs. added on top of each serving).

Can I use a different type of pasta for this dish?

You can definitely use a different style of pasta in this dish! We chose penne pasta but any short pasta will work just as well.

Can I substitute the salmon with another type of protein?

Sure thing. This dish would also be delicious with sliced grilled chicken breast, shrimp, or honestly, no protein at all.

Is this recipe suitable for people with dietary restrictions, such as gluten-free or dairy-free diets?

This recipe is great for people with gluten or dairy sensitivities. To make this dish gluten-free, simply swap conventional wheat pasta for a gluten-free variation (this Barilla pasta is the one we used). If you’re looking to make this dish dairy-free, make our delicious roasted garlic pesto (it can be a little bit challenging to find dairy-free pesto at the store) and omit the parmesan cheese garnish.

What wine pairs well with salmon pesto pasta?

Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio are both really great options for this pesto pasta dish.

If you tried this Quick and Easy Salmon Pesto Pasta Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below!

Quick & Easy Salmon Pesto Pasta

5 — Votes 3 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 Servings
If you're looking for an easy weeknight pasta recipe, this 30-minute Salmon Pesto Pasta is the perfect recipe for you. With succulent, perfectly cooked salmon, zesty pesto, and pasta perfection, you'll be savoring every single bite!

Ingredients  

  • 12 ounces penne pasta
  • ¼ cup pasta water (reserved), can also use chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound salmon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 6 ounces pesto, store-bought or homemade roasted garlic pesto
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • Parmesan cheese, to garnish

Instructions 

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1-1½ tablespoons of salt to the water and cook the pasta according to the package. Reserve ½ cup of pasta water for the sauce before draining.
  • Season the salmon with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the salmon and cook for 4 minutes on one side, flip, and cook for an additional 4 minutes. Remove the salmon from the pan to a cutting board or plate.
  • Add the remaining olive oil, garlic, and onion to the pan. Saute for 3 minutes, until the onion starts to become translucent and the garlic becomes fragrant. Season with the remaining teaspoon of salt.
  • Add the cherry tomatoes and saute for 2 minutes.
  • Pour in the pesto, reserved pasta water, and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Bring the sauce to a simmer.
  • Toss the pasta in the pesto sauce. Use a fork to flake the salmon.
  • Spoon the pasta into individual bowls, top with salmon, serve and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Ingredient Modifications and Variations:
  • Use any pasta you have on hand – don’t worry about using penne pasta if you’ve got another cut of pasta on hand. Any short pasta (ziti, rigatoni, fusilli, cavatappi, and farfalle) will work great in this recipe.
  • Omit the tomatoes, onion, or garlic – if you have sensitivities or just don’t like the taste of any of these ingredients, feel free to skip them!
  • Use sun-dried tomatoes instead of regular – substitute sun-dried tomatoes for the cherry tomatoes if you’d prefer.
  • Use mushrooms instead of tomatoes – if tomatoes are a hard no for you, feel free to use mushrooms in their place.
Recipe Tips:
  • If cooking your salmon on the stovetop is intimidating, I recommend you work up your salmon-cooking confidence by baking it. Follow this broil method. It’s super fast and reliable!
    1. Slice the salmon into 1-inch pieces.
    2. Spread the salmon out onto a half or quarter sheet pan lined with parchment paper (or sprayed with oil).
    3. Season the salmon with salt and pepper.
    4. Broil for 4 minutes on high until the salmon is caramelized.
  1. Here’s another recipe that utilizes this time-saving broil method: Teriyaki Salmon Bowls
  • My pesto looks BRIGHT green here and that’s because I’m using homemade! Most store-bought pestos will be less bright, but the flavors should still be on-point. Don’t worry if yours looks different, the flavor should still be great.
  • If you’re a home cook who wants a restaurant-quality experience, don’t skip the basil. The bright herb brings the dish to the next level. That said, if you’re having a hard time finding fresh basil, you can skip it and still have a lovely meal.
  • If your noodles tend to break after cooking them, you may be letting them sit too long before stirring in the sauce. Try starting the noodles a little later in the cooking process so that they’re able to go into the sauce as soon as possible. This is especially good to note if you’re using gluten-free noodles.

Nutrition

Calories: 734kcal | Carbohydrates: 74g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 66mg | Sodium: 1902mg | Potassium: 1038mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1519IU | Vitamin C: 28mg | Calcium: 121mg | Iron: 3mg

Additional Info

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 734
Keyword: gluten free pasta, pan seared salmon, salmon pesto pasta

Like this recipe?

Leave a comment


About the Author

Melissa Guevara


More Like This

5 from 3 votes (2 ratings without comment)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




1 Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner tonight and it was amazing! Garlic powder is a listed ingredient but it wasn’t used in the instructions. Was it supposed to be used to season the salmon?