Pistachio-Crusted Salmon You'll Make Every Week

Salmon is a great weeknight staple because it's delicious, healthy, and relatively easy to prepare. Not only that, but there are countless options for how to make it, so you never get bored. We prefer straight-forward cooking methods that don't involve a lot of cleanup — and ones that utilize ingredients most of us already have in our pantry or fridge. 

That's why this pistachio-crusted salmon recipe, brought to you by Mackenzie Burgess, a registered dietitian nutritionist and the brains behind the Cheerful Choices blog, is a home run. "Salmon is one of my absolute favorite dishes. I wanted to pair this with pistachios for a great crunch," says Burgess. As an RDN, she emphasizes the perks of eating salmon because it "is a great source of heart healthy omega 3 fatty acids and protein."

Honey and Dijon mustard are items most people have already, and if you don't have fresh rosemary or thyme, the dried kind will also do in a pinch. This protein-packed recipe takes about 25 minutes total, from prep to pulling it out of the oven.

Gather the ingredients for the glaze on this pistachio-crusted salmon

Since you'll be whipping up the honey glaze first, go ahead and get those ingredients ready, along with measuring spoons and a sharp knife. Burgess uses Himalayan pink salt in this pistachio-crusted salmon recipe. While there are some differences between Himalayan and regular table salt, if you use regular table salt instead of Himalayan, it shouldn't affect the outcome. Burgess told us, "I chose this salt because it is a mild salt that goes well with most dishes. It also contains some trace minerals like potassium, magnesium, and calcium. However, you can use any salt you have on hand in your kitchen."

Also, there are many types of Dijon mustard and honey. While the type of Dijon isn't that important, she does recommend a raw honey in liquid form, not a honey that's whipped or solid.

Burgess also said, "If you don't have fresh herbs, you can easily swap for dried herbs. For every tablespoon of fresh herbs, use one teaspoon of dried herbs. You use less because dried herbs are more concentrated." That's a good rule to thumb to follow in all cooking, not just this recipe.

Gather the ingredients for the salmon's crust

No surprise here but this pistachio-crusted salmon does, in fact, call for pistachios. While it's true that pistachios aren't cheap, we think they're worth shelling out (pun intended) for in order to create this tasty, nutty layer of crunch atop baked salmon. They're also lower in carbohydrates than a breaded crust — if you're into that sorta thing. Burgess reminds us that pistachios have some good-for-you qualities too, explaining, "The pistachios also pack in plant-based protein and fiber. Fiber helps keep us fuller longer and stabilizes blood sugar levels."

You can buy the kind that's already been de-shelled but if you prefer to be a cowboy and un-shell them yourself, prepare a half of a cup for chopping. Burgess recommends the roasted, salted ones, but if you're watching your sodium intake or just prefer a less salty dish, she approves of the unsalted version too. 

Prepare a baking sheet for the pistachio-crusted salmon

The recipe for this pistachio-crusted salmon calls for a pound of fish. That can be in the form of one big fillet, or multiple fillets. Just keep in mind if you have more than a pound, there might not be enough glaze and nuts to cover everything. If you need to make more than a pound of fish, consider multiplying the other ingredients in this recipe. 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tin foil or parchment paper, then place the salmon on top of it. Do this before you prepare and spread the honey glaze and the pistachio crust, so it's ready to go in the oven as soon as you complete those steps. 

Parchment or foil will make your clean up so much easier, and prevent the fish from sticking to the pan. Parchment paper is also useful for other fish recipes and dessert baking, if you're doing a grocery run for this recipe and are debating whether to get foil or parchment. 

Chop the herbs for the glaze

For this pistachio-crusted salmon recipe, you will be finely chopping a tablespoon of rosemary and a tablespoon of thyme — both fragrant herbs that will no doubt make your kitchen smell delicious while this fish is baking. The recipe calls for "finely chopped" for a reason (it makes for a better tasting honey glaze) so don't slack on your chopping. A proper chef's knife is your friend in this scenario. Later you'll be mixing these herbs with honey, mustard, salt and pepper, so if you want a smooth whisking experience for that step, we can't reiterate the fine chopping enough.

Remember if you're using the dried versions of rosemary and thyme (which we do recommend having around anyway as part of a well-stocked pantry of spices and herbs), only measure out a teaspoon of each. Also, it probably goes without saying but just in case, there's no need to chop the dried herbs. Still, if you can get fresh herbs, it is worth it. Burgess tells us, "I also love using fresh herbs in cooking because they have little to no calories and add major flavor."

Chop the pistachios for the crust of the salmon

This pistachio-crusted salmon recipe calls for one half a cup of finely chopped pistachios. Using a cutting board and a sharpened chef's knife, carefully chop the pistachios (out of their shell). Burgess says, "Use a large knife and chop the nuts in small piles until you get a coarse to finely chopped nut."

Definitely be careful because a food processor can take chopped nuts from "perfect to encrust fish" texture to straight-up nut butter real quick. Don't pulse it more than four to six times. We checked with Burgess on this and she confirmed, "You can also use a food processor and pulse for a few times until they are broken up into smaller pieces."

Depending on your preference, it's okay to have some less-finely chopped pistachios in the mix for this crust, as shown in the photo here. Just make sure you still have enough to completely cover the top of the salmon.

Mix the honey glaze for this pistachio-crusted salmon

The Dijon-honey glaze serves as both an adhesive for the pistachios and a delicious flavor booster. It also helps to seal in moisture — nobody likes dried out salmon. Plus, there can be health benefits to eating mustard on the regular (avid mustard enthusiasts, rejoice). There is some research around the perks of consuming honey often too. 

You're going to combine the honey, mustard, salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme in a small bowl. Mix them together well with a spoon or small whisk. The recipe calls for salt and pepper "to taste," which means the amount is totally your call based on preference. So don't be afraid to do a quick taste test before spreading it over the salmon, to make sure the amount of salt and pepper is to your liking (or the liking of the people you'll be serving).

Spoon the honey glaze over the salmon

After you've thoroughly mixed the honey, mustard, salt, pepper, and herbs, your glaze is ready to go. Smear this glaze over the top of the salmon, coating it completely but being careful not to let it drip down the sides. The recipe reads that you should "spoon" the glaze onto the salmon, but you can also use a pastry brush if you want to ensure you reach every crevice of the top of the fish. Side note: if you're are just getting into cooking and/or baking, a good pastry brush is a kitchen must-have.

Remember, this glaze is kind of like the glue for the chopped pistachios, so you want to make sure it's covering every inch of the top of the fish in order to keep your crust intact and give the nuts something to stick to. If there is glaze left over after you've spread it over the fish, don't toss it! You can save that for drizzling later on, when the pistachio-crusted salmon comes out of the oven.

Press the chopped nuts into the salmon to form the pistachio crust

The next step is creating what will be the nutty crust — which some might argue is the best part — of the pistachio-crusted salmon. The pistachio crust adds flavor, crunch, and extra fiber to this dish, so it's a win-win all around. 

Securing the crust in place before baking is crucial, so take your time with this step of the recipe. Using your hands, carefully place and press the half cup of chopped pistachios on top of the glazed salmon. Like the glaze, you want the pistachios to completely cover the top of the fish. Try to pick up any nuts that spill onto the parchment and press them back into the fish. You shouldn't need more than half a cup but if you want to add some more, just be careful not to pile too many in one spot because, according to Burgess, it "will burn if there are big clumps." An even layer is key.

Bake the pistachio-crusted salmon in the oven

Put the glazed, pistachio-crusted salmon into the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Oven cooking times can vary, so be sure to keep an eye on it. (We've got plenty of oven hacks if you want to make sure you're using this appliance to its full potential). You'll know the pistachio-crusted salmon is ready when the fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve immediately — this dish is best when it's hot! Drizzle any leftover glaze on top of the cooked salmon. 

According to Burgess, "The juicy salmon melts in your mouth while the pistachios provide a salty crunch. I love pairing these different textures together." Melt in your mouth with a salty crunch too? We'll take it. She also mentioned that she likes to pair this salmon with "a leafy green salad or cooked rice and roasted vegetables."

Serve this pistachio-crusted salmon with lemon wedges

For a final citrusy touch, squeeze lemon juice over the salmon (in addition to drizzling any remaining honey glaze). You can also serve the salmon with lemon wedges on the side. This pistachio-crusted salmon will stay good in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two days, so enjoy this as next-day leftovers too! 

If you're starting with frozen fish, make sure to thaw it in the fridge for a few hours before beginning the prep process, which Burgess says, "will make it easier to have the glaze and nuts adhere to it and cook time to be accurate." And one other note: if you do decide to bake multiple smaller fillets, as opposed to one big one, the cooking time will be slightly shorter — be sure to keep an eye on them.

Pistachio-Crusted Salmon You'll Make Every Week
4.8 from 6 ratings
Salmon is a great weeknight staple because it's delicious, healthy, and easy to prepare. We prefer straight-forward recipes without a lot of cleanup — and ones that utilize ingredients most of us already have in our pantry or fridge. That's why this pistachio-crusted salmon recipe is a home run.
Prep Time
10
minutes
Cook Time
12
minutes
Servings
4
servings
pistachio-crusted salmon
Ready in 22 minutes
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup pistachios, finely chopped
  • 1 pound salmon
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together honey, Dijon mustard, thyme, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Spoon the honey glaze evenly over the salmon until completely coated, but not running off of the salmon. If you end up with extra glaze, save it for drizzling over the cooked salmon.
  4. Place and press chopped pistachios on top of the glazed salmon.
  5. Bake the salmon for 12-15 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve with lemon wedges on the side for squeezing, if desired.
  6. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days.
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