Salmon Pesto Pasta

By Rena Awada | Updated On April 3, 2023

Delicious Salmon Pesto Pasta is a quick, satisfying meal that’s always a hit! It’s easy to make with seasoned pan-seared salmon, tender pasta, and sweet corn, all tossed in a flavorful combination of lemon zest, lemon juice, pesto sauce, and parmesan cheese. Impress your family with this restaurant-quality meal in under 30 minutes!

Pesto pasta in a skillet with flaked salmon and shaved parmesan.


Tired of the same old pasta dinner? You’ll love this tasty Salmon Pesto Pasta for date night and weeknight dinners! This recipe takes less than 30 minutes to make, requires minimal ingredients, is filling, and is SO flavorful. We’re absolutely crazy about this meal because of the delicious salmon and creamy sauce with the pasta — and kids LOVE this one, too!

Why you should make this recipe

  • Quick & easy: It is so simple to whip up this salmon and pasta recipe. In just 30 minutes, you will have a meal ready for the family.
  • Packed with flavor: This pesto pasta with salmon is loaded with textures and flavors. If you love salmon and pasta, this one’s for you!
  • Versatile: This dish is plenty filling to serve alone or great served with a side salad or steamed veggies. You could also replace the salmon with chicken or even omit the protein to make this vegetarian.  
Flaked salmon combined with pesto pasta, shaved Parmesan and corn.

Ingredients needed

There’s nothing too fancy or hard to find needed to make this salmon pesto pasta recipe. Here’s the lineup:

  • Pasta: Use any noodle shape you’d like. If you want to make this recipe gluten-free, you can use gluten-free noodles or even chickpea pasta.
  • Corn: We typically use frozen corn for this recipe. If you only have canned corn, that works, just drain it and add it in when you combine the pasta and pesto.
  • Salmon: For maximum deliciousness and more health benefits, use high-quality, wild-caught salmon.
  • Seasonings: To season the salmon, you’ll need garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and salt & pepper.
  • Olive oil: For searing the salmon.
  • Pesto: We LOVE this homemade basil pesto for extra fresh flavor! Feel free to use store-bought pesto, if preferred.
  • Lemon juice & zest: We recommend using fresh lemon and not bottled lemon juice for the best flavor.
  • Parmesan cheese: Freshly grate your own or use store-bought for the perfect finishing touch.
Salmon, pasta, pesto and lemon divided into small portions.

How to make this salmon pasta recipe

  1. Cook the pasta: Boil pasta in salted water according to the package directions. When there are 2 more minutes to reach al-dente, stir in the corn. Once done cooking, reserve 1/3 cup of pasta water and then drain and transfer to a bowl.
  2. Cook the salmon: Rub the salmon with the seasonings on both sides. Heat the oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Cook the salmon until golden and flaky, about 3-4 minutes per side. Set aside.
  3. Combine pasta with sauce and salmon: Add 1/3 cup of the pasta water to the skillet, together with the pesto, lemon zest, and juice. Bring to a bubble, then stir in the cooked pasta, corn, and parmesan. Flake the salmon over and serve.

Expert Tips

  • If you choose to use premade pesto from the store, for best results, use the variety in the refrigerator case rather than the shelf-stable type. It’s much fresher and has a better taste.
  • Don’t forget to reserve 1/3 cup of pasta water! Pasta water is different from regular water. It’s salty and starchy and is great for loosening the pesto, so it combines easily with the pasta.
  • Sear the salmon filet in the pan for about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Depending on how thick the filet is and how well done you like your salmon, the cooking time may vary slightly. To accurately check the temperature, use an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the filet. We recommend cooking to an internal temperature of 130ºF.
Salmon pesto pasta with corn and shaved parmesan cheese.

Frequently asked questions

What meat goes well with pesto pasta?

Pesto pasta pairs wonderfully with a variety of different meats from beef to pork or chicken. We especially love the freshness of pesto pasta with flaked salmon, like in this recipe. For chicken and pesto pasta, try this creamy chicken pesto pasta salad, and for a shrimp option, this shrimp pesto pasta.

How many calories are in salmon and pesto pasta?

All nutrition facts for this recipe can be found, below, in the recipe card. This dish has about 535 calories for each of the 4 large servings. It’s a filling meal with plenty of healthy fats and nutrients from the pesto and the salmon.

Do you add pesto to hot or cold pasta?

Pesto can be added to hot or cold pasta. Pesto sauce should not be heated too much because it will change its color, taste, and texture. We recommend keeping the pasta warm and adding it to the warm pasta. The pasta itself will “heat” the pesto without changing its composition.

top view pasta with salmon

Storage and make ahead recommendations

  • Make-ahead: You can make homemade pesto in advance to save time. You could also sear the salmon a day ahead of time and keep it in the fridge overnight. It will warm back up when it’s tossed with the pasta.
  • To store: Place any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 to 3 days. We don’t recommend freezing this dish.
  • To reheat: For best results, transfer the pasta back to a skillet and warm over medium heat. You could also rewarm individual servings in the microwave in 30-second intervals.
Salmon pesto pasta in a large skillet.

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top view pasta in a bowl topped with salmon flaked into smalla bite sizes

Salmon Pesto Pasta

Easy to make with seasoned pan-seared salmon, tender pasta, and sweet corn, all tossed in a flavorful combination of lemon zest, lemon juice, pesto sauce, and parmesan cheese. Impress your family with this restaurant quality meal in under 30 minutes!
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 535kcal
Author: Rena

Ingredients

  • 8 oz pasta of choice
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 12 oz skinless salmon filet
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup homemade pesto or store-bought
  • 1 lemon juice, and zest of
  • 1/4 cup shaved parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta in salted water according to the package directions. When there are 2 more minutes to reach al-dente, stir in the corn. Once done cooking, reserve 1/3 cup of pasta water, then drain and transfer to a bowl.
  • Rub the salmon with the seasonings on both sides. Heat the oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Cook the salmon until golden and flaky, about 3-4 minutes per side. Set aside.
  • Add 1/2 cup of the pasta water to the skillet, together with the pesto, lemon zest, and juice. Bring to a bubble, then stir in the cooked pasta, corn, and parmesan. Flake the salmon over and serve.

Notes

    • Make-ahead: You can make homemade pesto in advance to save time. You could also sear the salmon a day ahead of time and keep it in the fridge overnight. It will warm back up when it’s tossed with the pasta.
    • To store: Place any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 to 3 days. We don’t recommend freezing this dish.
    • To reheat: For best results, transfer the pasta back to a skillet and warm over medium heat. You could also rewarm individual servings in the microwave in 30-second intervals.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 535kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 55mg | Sodium: 1007mg | Potassium: 598mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 713IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 147mg | Iron: 2mg
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