This Pan Seared Salmon is started on the stovetop to crisp the skin then finished in the oven so that it stays very tender. It's topped with a Creamy + Delicious Sunflower Dill Pesto. Crispy roasted broccoli makes this a meal.

Pan Seared Salmon with Creamy Sunflower Dill Pesto

Pan seared salmon, drizzled with a creamy pesto sauce and served with a side of oven-crisped broccoli is my idea of the ideal meal. Dreamy dinner heaven. 30-minute perfection. ♥

I want to tell you that my favorite part of this pan-seared salmon dinner is *** but I just can't. There's no way I can choose.

You see, there's the (dairy-free!) sunflower dill pesto that gets all of its creamy deliciousness from toasted sunflower seeds, and a little touch of mayo. It's big on flavor and full of good for you stuff like seeds and herbs and lemon. There's no need not to go all sauce crazy with this one.

Then there's the salmon. It's pan-seared to crisp the skin then finished for a few minutes in the oven at a low temp, so it stays very tender. As always, the only trick here is to not overcook it.

Aaaannd the broccoli. OMGoodness the broccoli. It's very similar to the Roasted Broccolini recipe I shared with you guys a while back, only it's much simpler. And it's broccoli, not broccolini, obvs. What happens when you broil it for a few minutes on high heat is the florets get all crispy and get this deliciously nutty thing going on. Once you make it this way, you might never be able to eat broccoli any other way again.

Did I also mention that you can be sitting down to eat this feast in just 30 minutes? What are you waiting for?

Pan Seared Salmon with Creamy Sunflower Dill Pesto

So if the big trick to cooking pan-seared salmon, or any fish, is not to overcook it, then how do you know when it's done? I'm glad you asked. (I'm also glad you put up with me pretending that you asked. You guys are awesome.)

The 100% most reliable way is to get yourself a handy little gadget called an instant-read thermometer. Fish is cooked through when it reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius). Once it gets over this temperature, it will start to dry out and become something that no one wants to eat. If you don't have an instant-read thermometer please promise me you'll get one asap. Pretty please.

While you're waiting for your instant-read thermometer to arrive in the mail, there are a few tricks you can use to make sure you don't overcook your salmon. When the salmon is cooked through, you'll see that it changes to a lighter color. Depending on the type of salmon you bought that could mean anything from dark pink to creamy pink.

If you see any white foamy looking stuff on your salmon, it's time to stop cooking it. The white stuff is protein that has been pushed out of the salmon and is coagulating on the surface. A small amount will sometimes be seen on even perfectly cooked salmon, but overcooked salmon will have a lot of it.

The last thing you can do to test if your salmon is done is to take a fork and see if the flesh flakes away easily. If it is undercooked the flesh will hold together firm and if it is overcooked the flesh will be tough and pull apart in chunks. Perfectly cooked pan-seared salmon will flake easily and look like it does in the pictures.

Pan Seared Salmon with Creamy Sunflower Dill Pesto

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More Salmon Recipes:

Pan Seared Salmon with Creamy Sunflower Dill Pesto {dairy free + paleo}

Pan Seared Salmon with Creamy Sunflower Dill Pesto

This pan seared salmon is started on the stovetop to crisp the skin then finished in the oven so that it stays very tender. Crispy roasted broccoli makes this a meal.

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Sunflower pesto

  • ¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds
  • ¼ cup basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh is best
  • ¼ tablespoons fresh dill
  • ¼ tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise


  • 1 head broccoli, sliced into small florets (keep as much as the stem intact as possible)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 fillets salmon
  • ½ teaspoon EACH: sea salt and black pepper
  • Sunflower seeds and dill, to serve


  • Preheat the oven to broil with a rack at the very top. If you know your oven broils very hot, as some do, lower the rack one notch. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Place the sunflower seeds, basil leaves, lemon juice, dill, olive oil, green onion, and garlic in a small blender. (A Magic Bullet works great.) Blend until everything is smooth and creamy. Pour the pesto into a small bowl and stir in the mayonnaise. Season to taste with sea salt. If you'd like, you can thin the pesto with a little water to make it more drizzle-able.
    ¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds, ¼ cup basil leaves, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, ¼ tablespoons fresh dill, ¼ tablespoons olive oil, 1 clove garlic, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, 1 green onion
  • Lay the broccoli on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and sprinkle over the sea salt and put it in your oven on the top rack. Let it roast for 10 minutes, or until it is dark and crispy. It will smell like it is burning a little, this is ok!
    1 head broccoli, 1 teaspoon olive oil, ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • Heat the oil in a non-stick, ovenproof frying pan over medium-high heat. Season the skin of the salmon fillets with a little pinch of salt and pepper and put them in the pan, skin side down. Let them sear for 3 minutes, or until the skin has begun to get crispy.
    4 fillets salmon, ½ teaspoon EACH: sea salt and black pepper, 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Lower the heat in the oven to 320. Open the door and let the oven cool down for about 1 minute. Put the fish in the oven and let it finish by slowly baking, for about five more minutes. You want the salmon to reach an internal temperature of 140 degrees. It will flake easily and still look very moist when it is done.
  • Serve the salmon with the pesto over the top and the broccoli on the side. Sprinkle on a few sunflower seeds and dill sprigs, if you'd like.
    Sunflower seeds and dill
Serving: 1 serving = ¼ of the recipe, Calories: 379kcal, Carbohydrates: 13g, Protein: 40g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 94mg, Sodium: 298mg, Potassium: 1387mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 1116IU, Vitamin C: 139mg, Calcium: 104mg, Iron: 3mg
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