Grilled Salmon with Creamy Pesto Sauce

July 13, 2017

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Grilled Salmon Fillet with Creamy Pesto Sauce is an easy weeknight salmon recipe that is brimming with flavor! Salmon fillets are cooked over a hot grill for a nice light char, then they’re covered with an easy cream cheese based pesto sauce. So good!

Grilled Salmon fillet with Creamy Pesto sauce on plate with veggies

Grilled Salmon Fillet with Pesto Sauce

Salmon + Pesto?? Yes! And then let’s make that a creamy pesto shall we? I am all about that salmon lately!

What’s new though, salmon has always been one of my favorite things to have for dinner.

But honestly could they drop the price just a little? I love though when I make it at home I can feed 4+ people for what it costs to buy it at a restaurant.

And this grilled salmon fillet with a simple creamy pesto is just as good as what you’d buy at a nice restaurant!

four Grilled Salmon fillets with Creamy Pesto sauce on serving plate with tomatoes and asparagus

Pesto Grilled Salmon Fillet Ingredients

The grilled salmon itself is a simple grilled salmon recipe. What makes this recipe really pop is the creamy pesto sauce!

Here’s what you’ll need to make the grilled salmon fillets and pesto sauce:

  • Salmon fillets
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cream cheese
  • Milk
  • Pesto

Can I Use Low-Fat Cream Cheese?

I’ve yet to try the pesto sauce for grilled salmon with Neufchatel cheese, but I’d like to try it sometime. I’m hoping it will melt as smooth and creamy as the cream cheese does without creating any type of roux first.

But this version is oh so perfectly rich and creamy and simply delicious. I’m totally in love! Try it soon!

Grilled Salmon fillets with Creamy Pesto sauce on serving platter with veggies

How to Grill Salmon Fillets

  • Preheat grill. Brush both sides of salmon with olive oil and season.
  • Grill salmon on oiled grates until just cooked through (note that it will continue to cook slightly off heat so I like to undercook slightly).
  • Meanwhile, melt cream cheese with milk in a saucepan.
  • Remove from heat and stir in pesto.
  • Serve salmon warm with creamy pesto sauce.

How Long Do You Grill Salmon?

Your exact salmon grill time will vary depending on how thick your fillets are. For this recipe, I used 6 oz. salmon fillets and cooked them for roughly 3 minutes per side. 

Grilled Salmon fillets with Pesto sauce on serving plate with veggies

Can I Use Store-Bought Pesto?

For this recipe, I used homemade pesto because homemade is obviously best, but store-bought will work here as well.

Should I Use Skinless or Skin-On Fillets?

Buy whichever you prefer! If you buy skin-on salmon fillets, note that you can actually eat the skin. It crisps up on the grill and is very flavorful!

Can I Cook Salmon in a Skillet?

If you don’t want to grill the salmon, you can definitely pan sear it as well. To do so:

  • Pat salmon dry with paper towels, season with S&P.
  • Cook the salmon in 2 tsp of olive oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat (about 3 minutes per side).

Grilled Salmon fillet with Creamy Pesto sauce on plate with tomatoes and asparagus

Tips for Making Grilled Salmon Fillets

  • If using skin-on salmon, grill skin side up first.
  • Pesto is already quite salty, so you may not need to add any extra salt to the creamy pesto sauce.
  • If you have leftover salmon, store the pesto sauce and the grilled salmon separately in the fridge.

More Salmon Dinner Ideas You’ll Love!

Grilled Salmon with Creamy Pesto
5 from 1 vote

Grilled Salmon with Creamy Pesto Sauce

This is an easy weeknight salmon recipe that is brimming with flavor! Salmon fillets are cooked over a hot grill for a nice light char, then they're covered with an easy cream cheese based pesto sauce. So good!
Servings: 4
Prep15 minutes
Cook10 minutes
Ready in: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 - 6 (6 oz.) skin on or skinless salmon fillets
  • Olive oil, for brushing salmon and grill
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, diced into small cubes
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 Tbsp homemade or store-bought pesto, plus more for serving* (I used homemade)

Instructions

  • Preheat a grill over medium-high heat to about 425 degrees F. Brush both sides of salmon with olive oil (about 1 Tbsp total) and season both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Brush grill grates with oil and grill salmon about 3 minutes per side or to desired doneness (if using skin-on salmon grill skin side up first). 
  • While salmon is grilling, heat cream cheese with milk in a saucepan set over medium heat, stirring constantly until melted, about 1 - 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in pesto.
  • Serve salmon warm with creamy pesto sauce. Spoon about 1 tsp pesto over creamy pesto sauce for added color and flavor.

Notes

  • For a homemade pesto (which you'll have just a little excess left): in a food processor pulse to mince 1 cup (18g) slightly packed fresh basil leaves, 1 clove garlic, 2 Tbsp finely shredded parmesan, 1 Tbsp pine nuts or chopped walnuts, salt and pepper. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil and pulse until well blended. Store in refrigerator.
  • If you don't want to grill the salmon, you can definitely pan sear it as well. To do so:
    • Pat salmon dry with paper towels, season with S&P.
    • Cook the salmon in 2 tsp of olive oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat (about 3 minutes per side).
  • Recipe source: adapted from Kraft.
Nutrition Facts
Grilled Salmon with Creamy Pesto Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 467 Calories from Fat 243
% Daily Value*
Fat 27g42%
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Cholesterol 126mg42%
Sodium 278mg12%
Potassium 893mg26%
Carbohydrates 2g1%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 36g72%
Vitamin A 690IU14%
Calcium 84mg8%
Iron 1.5mg8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.