Air Fryer/ Appetizers & Starters/ Fish & Seafood/ Main Dishes & Entrées

Pesto Salmon Bites

March 2, 2024

Pesto Salmon Bites are bite-size chunks of marinated salmon cooked to perfection in the air fryer and then tossed in a vibrant, herbaceous pesto sauce. With a cooking time of less than 10 minutes, this is the easy salmon bites recipe you’ve been waiting for!

pesto salmon bites.

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Pesto Salmon Bites are bite-size chunks of marinated salmon cooked to perfection in the air fryer and then tossed in a vibrant, herbaceous pesto sauce. With a cooking time of less than 10 minutes, this is the easy salmon bites recipe you’ve been waiting for!

Ready to try other saucy salmon recipes? Try my Easy Creamy Lemon Butter Salmon, Baked Honey Mustard Salmon, Jamaican Coconut Curried Salmon, and Brown Stew Salmon.

pesto salmon bites in wooden bowl.

Air Fryer Pesto Salmon Bites

What’s for dinner? Salmon with pesto is the perfect way to sauce up your weeknight dinner plans. It’s bright, fresh, and so flavourful! Toss cubed salmon bites with your favourite pesto sauce for a tasty entree that works as a snack, appetizer, or protein in a well-balanced meal.

Here’s Why You’ll Love this Pesto Salmon Bites Recipe

  • Quick & Easy: With just a few ingredients, and 15 minutes with prep and cooking time, this is the easiest way to make salmon.
  • Healthy: Salmon is my healthy protein of choice because it’s rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins. But pesto boasts its own nutritional profile with a load of healthy fats.
  • Versatile: Add your salmon bites to a rice bowl, pasta, or atop a fresh salad. The possibilities are endless!
pesto salmon bites ingredient flatlay.

What is pesto mainly made of?

Make pesto by combining fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese, and extra-virgin olive oil.

Does pesto go with salmon?

Pesto and salmon are a delicious pairing. The vibrant green sauce made with fresh basil, garlic, and parmesan complements the rich flavour of salmon. This combination is a mouthwatering infusion of Mediterranean and seafood flavours, making it a popular choice for anyone looking to elevate a salmon recipe.

What’s Needed to Make This Recipe (Kitchen Tools and Equipment)

  • Mixing Bowls: Use this to mix the marinade/seasoning.
  • Air-Fryer: This is a quick and efficient cooking method that results in a crispy exterior and succulent interior.
raw salmon cut into cubes in glass bowl.

Ingredients and Ingredient Notes

  • Salmon Fillets: Use fresh or frozen salmon filets; just make sure it is completely thawed before cooking. Cut them into bite-sized cubes.
  • Pesto Sauce: I’ll never discourage someone from making fresh pesto but using a storebought variety is an easy shortcut. Use a high-quality pesto.
  • Olive Oil: This oil helps the seasoning adhere to the salmon cubes and also helps them properly brown in the air fryer without burning.
  • Fresh Lemon Juice: That pop of citrus flavour adds the perfect amount of acidity to complement the pesto.
  • Salt and Black Pepper: Add to taste.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Use grated cheese as an optional garnish.

How to Make Salmon Bites

  1. In a bowl, toss the salmon cubes with olive oil, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Let it marinate for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat your air fryer to 375°F (190°C). Place the seasoned salmon cubes in the air fryer basket, ensuring they are not overcrowded. Cook in the preheated air fryer for 8-10 minutes, turning the salmon at the halfway point, until cooked through and golden.
  3. In a separate large bowl, mix the pesto sauce with lemon juice. Once the salmon is cooked, transfer it to the bowl with the pesto. Toss the cooked salmon in the sauce until evenly coated. Garnish with parmesan cheese, serve while hot and enjoy!

How to Defrost Frozen Salmon

Prepare pesto salmon bites with fresh salmon or thawed frozen salmon so that it cooks evenly. The best ways to defrost salmon are:

  • Overnight in the Fridge: Unwrap the filets and place them on a plate in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  • Cold Water Method: Use the cold water method. Seal the salmon in a leak-proof plastic bag and submerge it in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes so it stays cold. This method usually takes a few hours, depending on the size of the salmon.
  • Microwave: If you’re pressed for time and need to defrost salmon quickly, defrost the salmon in the microwave. But keep a close eye on it because it may partially cook if not.

Tip: Avoid defrosting salmon at room temperature, as it can lead to uneven thawing and increase the risk of bacterial growth. Once the salmon is thawed, cook it promptly for the best quality and safety.

How Long to Air Fry Salmon Bites

When cooked at  375°F (190°C) in the air fryer, salon bites take 8-10 minutes. The exact cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of the salmon and the model of the air fryer.

Avoid overcooking the salmon by cooking it just until it reaches the internal temperature of 145°F (63°C). Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the fish to check.

Recipe Substitutions and Tips

  • Add Tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes pair well with pesto and bring a subtle sweetness to the earthy taste of pesto.
  • Fresh Pesto: Instead of using store-bought pesto, make your own by combining fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, parmesan cheese, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
air fryer salmon bites with pesto.

What to Serve with Pesto Salmon Bites

Wondering what to eat with your salmon bites? Here are some yummy suggestions.

  • Pasta: Prepare salmon pesto pasta by boiling some noodles while the salmon cooks in the air fryer. Toss it together for an easy meal like this Creamy Tomato Pesto Shrimp Pasta recipe.
  • Salad: Want a healthy, low-carb option for lunch? Add pesto salmon bites to a fresh salad.
  • Salmon Bites Bowl: Add the salmon to a rice bowl. You can also swap the rice for orzo (like this Pesto Orzo Salad), cauliflower rice, or quinoa.

Recipe Notes and Tips for Success

  • Marinate the salmon for at least 15 minutes. Consider marinating them for a longer period if time allows. This amplifies the flavours, making the salmon even more delicious.
  • Avoid overcooking the salmon by cooking it just until it reaches the internal temperature of 145°F. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the fish to check.
  • Do not overcrowd the air fryer basket. Instead, add the salmon bites to the air fryer in a single layer with some space between each. Cook in batches if necessary.
  • Serve the salmon bites immediately after tossing them in the pesto sauce to enjoy them at their freshest and most flavorful.
air fryer pesto salmon.

Can I Make Salmon Bites Ahead of Time?

When properly stored, salmon bites are great for meal prep. Make salmon in advance and eat it within 2 days.

Storage Instructions

Store leftover pesto salmon bites in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Reheating Instructions

Gently reheat the salmon in the oven or air fryer at 350°F until warmed through. You can also eat it cold.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you cut salmon for salmon bites?

Start with fresh or thawed deboned filets. To remove the skin from the salmon (this is optional), slide a sharp knife between the flesh and the skin at one end, holding the skin taut while gently cutting along the length of the fillet. Then use that same knife to cut the fish into uniform, bite-sized cubes of about 1 to 1.5 inches.

Do you have to thaw frozen salmon before air frying?

For quick and even cooking, thaw frozen salmon before air frying.

Is pesto good for you?

Enjoy pesto as a healthy addition to your diet. The fresh basil is rich in vitamins and antioxidants, as well as heart-healthy ingredients like olive oil and nuts. Be mindful of the amount of oil and cheese, which can increase the calories.

Interested in more Delicious Salmon Recipes? Check These Out!

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pesto salmon bites.

Pesto Salmon Bites

Taneisha Morris
Pesto Salmon Bites are bite-size chunks of marinated salmon cooked to perfection in the air fryer and then tossed in a vibrant, herbaceous pesto sauce. With a cooking time of less than 10 minutes, this is the easy salmon bites recipe you've been waiting for!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Marinating Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Air Fryer, Fish & Seafood, Main Dishes & Entrees
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 332 kcal

Equipment

  • 2 Mixing Bowls
  • Air-Fryer

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 pounds Salmon Fillets cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 tbsp Basil Pesto
  • Salt and Black Pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 3 tbsp Parmesan Cheese grated, optional, for garnish

Instructions
 

  • In a bowl, toss the salmon cubes with olive oil, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Let it marinate for at least 15 minutes.
  • Preheat your air fryer to 375°F (190°C). Place the seasoned salmon cubes in the air fryer basket, ensuring they are not overcrowded. Cook in the preheated air fryer for 8-10 minutes, turning the salmon at the halfway point, until cooked through and golden.
  • In a separate large bowl, mix the pesto sauce with lemon juice. Once the salmon is cooked, transfer it to the bowl with the pesto. Toss the cooked salmon in the sauce until evenly coated. Garnish with parmesan cheese, fresh herbs (optional), serve while hot and enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 332kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 36gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 97mgSodium: 240mgPotassium: 841mgFiber: 0.2gSugar: 0.5gVitamin A: 324IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 83mgIron: 1mg

Note, the nutritional information is calculated using a nutrition facts calculator. It is a rough estimate and can vary based on products used.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?Leave a star rating and a comment below! You can also tag @theseasoned.skillet and use #theseasonedskillet on Instagram!
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