If you are a big fan of 20 minute meals with big flavor, you’ll be a fan of this Pesto Salmon (Whole30-Keto-Low Carb)! It’s got everything: protein, healthy fats, fresh herbs, lots of flavor, and it’s pretty!
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A single piece of of Pesto Salmon placed atop rice in a light pink dish with a gold fork


Let’s Talk Salmon:

Salmon, especially wild caught, is high in those Omega 3 fats that support brain brain function. It’s also high in protein. Both of these nutrients are vital for good health. Now let’s talk about how to make sure you get the freshest fish in the window!

1. It’s best not to buy fish wrapped in plastic. You should be able to smell the fish you are buying. I always buy mine from a fishmonger I trust. If he is handling it, cutting it etc… he will know if it’s not fresh.

2. Always buy fish the day you plan on making it, that way if your meal gets pushed back a day or two you can still use it.

3. When selecting fish always point to the piece you want. In stores the freshest fish is placed in the front of the window, closest to you, and the fish from the day before is placed in the back, closest to the fishmonger. So when you are looking at the fish closest to you and ask for it, he pulls it from the back. It doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with that fish from the day before, it’s just not the freshest…and you want the freshest.

4. I always recommend eating wild caught salmon. It’s just plain better for you, the fish and the environment!


A light pink bowl with gold rim filled with cauliflower rice and a pice of salmon topped with fresh basil pesto and pine nuts


The Dairy Free Pesto:

I am all about fresh basil pesto. It makes just about everything taste better, the color is exquisite and the smell is heavenly!  Traditional homemade pesto is made with Parmesan cheese, so how do we get that creamy texture and cheesy savory flavor without the Parm? We use nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast will make your pesto just as creamy and just as flavorful (if not more) than Parmesan. Nutritional yeast  packs more than flavor, in fact it is loaded with B vitamins, trace minerals, and all nine amino acids making it high in protein!

A colorful bowl filled with bright green fresh basil pesto to be used on Pesto Salmon

Serving Suggestions:

Because the pesto in this recipe is quite strongly flavored, I recommend serving it with simple side dishes. This salmon works great served on cauliflower rice. (If you aren’t carb conscious or on Whole30 you can also serve over white or brown rice) I think simple blanched green beans (without the garlic) would be a great idea!

Pesto Salmon on rice with fresh basil in the background


The Recipe: Pesto Salmon (Whole30-Keto-Low Carb)

Tips and what you need: I like to buy a small basil plant at the grocery store to make pesto because it saves money and you can keep using it. Plus the plant leaves are much fresher that cut leaves. You will need nutritional yeast, and a food processor or blender. (<—I love my Blendtec!)


5 from 5 votes
Pesto Salmon (Whole30 - Keto - Low Carb!)
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
20 mins

A delicious quick and easy low carb salmon topped with dairy free fresh basil pesto

For Pesto:
  • 2-3 medium sized garlic cloves
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/3 cup roasted pine nuts (or roasted walnuts)
  • 3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast (a dairy free cheese substitute)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground ,pepper to taste
For Salmon:
  • 4 6 0z salmon filets, skin on
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, enough to generously coat the pan
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in center of oven.

For Pesto:
  1. Pulse garlic in food processor till minced. Add basil leaves, brewers yeast and nuts. Puree in processor, slowly adding olive oil till desired consistency. Salt and pepper to taste. Place a nice spoonful of pesto on top of each salmon filet and enjoy!

For Salmon:
  1. Lightly sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper. Heat an oven safe pan on cooktop med/high for three minutes. Add enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of pan and allow oil to get hot but not smoking.

  2. Carefully place salmon skin side up on pan…you should hear the “pshhhh” sound. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until salmon is golden and crispy. Gently turn skin side down and sear for one more minute.

  3. Now transfer pan to preheated oven and cook for 8-10 minutes depending on how thick the salmon is. When done, remove from oven. To serve, remove salmon from skin by sliding your spatula between the skin and meat of the salmon (see page…) This should be very easy, the skin will stay in the pan. Place salmon on a plate and top with pesto.


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