Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto Crust

Try this Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto for a low-carb, Keto, low-glycemic, gluten-free, and South Beach Diet friendly dinner that’s special enough to serve to guests. Use the Recipes-by-Diet-Type Index to find more recipes like this one.

Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto Crust found on

This Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto Crust produces results so spectacular that no one would possibly imagine it’s diet food.  Serve this with a lovely salad of baby spinach and some type of roasted vegetable and it would be a perfect low-carb or South Beach Diet friendly dinner for any special occasion.

I love hanging out in the kitchen, and I don’t mind spending time on projects like making homemade chicken stock, making slow roasted tomatoes, or roasting bell peppers, but I’m not the kind of cook who wants to spend hours on a fussy recipe. I especially love recipes that are easy to prepare but have interesting ingredients with lots of flavor, and this recipe for baked white fish with a crust made of chopped pine nuts, Parmesan, garlic, pesto, and mayo certainly fits that description.

I made this with fillets of halibut, but you can use cod, tilapia, grouper, or any type of mild white fish. This is easy enough to make for dinner after work, but if you make it for dinner guests, they’ll probably never guess how easy it was to throw together.

Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto Crust found on KalynsKitchen.comLet the fish come to room temperature while you preheat the oven to 400F/200C. If your pieces of fish have a flatter side, put that side up so it’s easier to spread on the crust mixture. (You can use one large casserole dish if you don’t have individual dishes like this.)

Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto Crust found on KalynsKitchen.comFinely chop the pine nuts, using a large chef’s knife, and finely mince one clove of garlic.

Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto Crust found on KalynsKitchen.comCombine pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, minced garlic, basil pesto, and mayonnaise. I used pesto from a jar but if you have your own pesto in the freezer, that would be even better.

Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto Crust found on KalynsKitchen.comSpread the crust evenly over each piece of fish, then bake for 10-15 minutes, or until fish is done and the crust is starting to get lightly browned.

Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto Crust found on
Serve hot and wait for compliments. This would be great with something like Roasted Cauliflower with Red Bell Pepper, Green Olives, and Pine Nuts for a low-carb meal.

Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto Crust
(Makes 2 servings, but recipe can be doubled or tripled. Inspired by a fish recipe from Cooking New American.)

2 white fish fillets, about 6 oz. each (I used halibut but you could use cod, tilapia, grouper, or any mild white fish)
3 T pine nuts
2 T Parmesan Cheese
1/4 tsp. finely minced garlic (1 garlic clove)
1 tsp. basil pesto (I used purchased pesto)
1 1/2 T mayo (use regular or light mayo, not fat-free)


Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400F/200C. Spray individual casserole dishes with non-stick spray or olive oil (use one large casserole dish if you don’t have individual ones.) Remove the fish fillets from the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature while the oven reheats. (Having the fish at room temperature is very important or it won’t cook before the crust topping gets too brown.)

Use a large chef’s knife to finely chop the pine nuts and mince the garlic. Mix together chopped pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, minced garlic, basil pesto, and mayo.

Use a rubber scraper to spread the crust mixture evenly over the surface of each fish fillet. Pile it on so all the crust mixture is used.

Bake fish 10-15 minutes, until fish is firm to the touch and crust mixture is starting to lightly brown. (I baked the fish pieces in the photo for 13 minutes.) Serve hot.

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Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:

This recipe is suitable for any type of low-carb eating plan as well as any phase of the South Beach Diet. Some of the ingredients in the crust topping are high in fat for South Beach, but only the Parmesan cheese has saturated fat and there’s not a lot of topping.

Find More Recipes Like This One:

Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Nutritional Information?

If you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you. Or if you’re a member of Yummly, you can use the Yum button on my site to save the recipe and see the nutritional information there.

More Roasted or Baked Fish To Try:
Foil-Baked Salmon with Basil Pesto and Tomatoes from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Oven Baked Fish Sticks from Life’s Ambrosia

Baked Tilapia with Onions, Peppers, Olives, and Feta from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto Crust found on

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87 comments on “Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto Crust”

  1. Beautiful fish – it looks so delicous.

  2. Sounds really wonderful! I'm going to give it a try.

  3. I love those white dishes and that crust looks fantastic.

  4. Lovely fish, Kalyn!

    PS For anyone wanting a substitute for pine nuts, which have become out-of-this-world expensive, at least for ones from Italy since inexpensive pine nuts from China are perhaps linked to pine nut syndrome (where people lose their taste for a couple of weeks after eating pine nuts), I've been using toasted sunflower seeds.

  5. Jessica and Carrie, glad you like it.

    Maria, the dishes came from the DI in Centerville, only $.75 each!

    Alanna, I buy pine nuts at Costco, about $13 for a big bag which I keep in the freezer. The Costco ones have never given me any problem, so I'm assuming they aren't from China. I do love sunflower sees too, and I think they would work in this.

  6. Beautiful, and healthy, preparation Kalyn. I don't use pine nuts very often, but this recipe might just change that.

  7. What a wonderful, healthy meal for a busy night. The crust really adds something special to this dish.

  8. When I make pesto, I often put a tiny bit of mayonnaise in it to smooth out the flavor. I love that this topping is really pesto kicked up, and I love halibut and also our New England cod loin, so this is going on my make-it-soon list.

  9. That looks like a great and quick fishdish!

  10. This is going to sound um..lame, but do you have a recipe for Basil Pesto to use with this? In all honesty, I've never had,made smelt, dealt with pesto..not really even sure what it is. Help please? πŸ™‚ This dish looks amazingly delicious and I can't wait to try it. πŸ˜€

  11. Stephanie, I used purchased pesto, but if you want to make your own, there will be lots of recipes at Food Blog Search.

  12. Stephanie, I realized I should have told you more about basil pesto. It's a combination of garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, basil leaves, and olive oil, blended in the food processor. Homemade pesto is great, but for a recipe like this, pesto that comes in a jar will work just fine.

  13. I don't often get inspired by fish but one like that with that yummy crust, sure! anytime!

  14. Thanks for another simple and flavorful baked fish recipe!

  15. I love the ideas you come up with. Now I can use the big bag of piΓ±ons (I'm from NM) on something other than snacking and salads. Thank you.

  16. I made this last night. I used tilapia and it was wonderful. Because my tilapia was thin it cooked quicker than anticipated and the crust wasn't browning. I just flipped on the broiler and voila a beautiful crunchy colour.

  17. Mmmmm… This is going to be my dinner tonight!

  18. These look so refreshing, and they are a great way to get more fish into my diet! Thanks πŸ™‚

  19. I have some halibut from Costco in the freezer and this looks absolutely yummy. I'm not a big fish eater, but hubby is…so he'll be happy! Making this tonight!

  20. Looks fantastic…I love how you baked it in the serving dishes, and I love that they only cost $.75…they are so pretty!

  21. waw!! What a lovely crust for the fish!! I so digg this!!

    A very elegant fish dish too!


  22. Thanks for including my fish recipe, Kalyn!!

    I am so proud now!

  23. I just happen to have all those ingredients on hand– thanks for another great recipe Kalyn! You're "the bomb"!

  24. This was just as great as advertised. I made it this evening with Greenland Halibut (a really superb white fish), and the topping definitely brought out the best in the fish. This is a keeper for guest dinners as well; easy and impressive.

    Today, I served it with cauliflower in tiny bouquets, steamed in the microwave and mixed with a little pesto and sprinkled with parmesan — since those ingredients was on hand anyway πŸ˜‰ Anything served with this ought to be very discreet. The fish is not only the star of the dinner, it's a diva.

  25. Most of these comments were getting published from my iPhone, so sorry I am not keeping up with replies. (Too hard to type on the iPhone!)

    Sophie so glad you are happy about the link to your recipe.

    Ea, happy to hear you liked it. The cauliflower sounds like a great side dish for this!

  26. I am as smitten by the fish as I am by your little individual gratin dishes. I need. I want.

  27. I share your love of quick and simple yet delicious recipes, Kalyn. They work with my life. At the same time there's something inside of me that needs to toil over other dishes. I love the pure satisfaction of a job well done.

    Joe and I are eating more fish so this is getting bookmarked for sometime next week. πŸ™‚ I have everything on hand but the fish, which will come fresh from the market.

    What a fabulous surprise to long into my dashboard and see a quote from your blog linking to one of my recipes. You just made my week!

  28. I am just starting to eat healthier and found this site..thanks so much for the recipes and the photos- you have made my life 10x easier!!!

  29. I made this last night as soon as I saw it since I was in desperate need of a healthy FAST dish. It was lovely tasting and I'm not a big fish fan unless it's shellfish or tuna! THANK!

  30. OMG…just read about the pine nut syndrome! I also only use pinenuts from Costco and occassionally Trader Joes and we never have a problem. I make at least 4 batches of week of pesto in the summer that I freeze for the winter. Never have I had a problem at all!

  31. Blest mom, so glad you liked it!

  32. Made this last night with the garlicky beans and it was delicious!

  33. Glad to hear you enjoyed it!

  34. What a tasty way to cook some fish!

  35. Wow this looks delicious. Fish should be on a menu at least 3 times a week, but most don't eat fish at all. This recipe is simple and healthy. I will definitely use it. Thanks for sharing.

  36. Kalyn, I'm with you when it comes to delicious and easy dishes to prepare. I really like the topping ingredients for the fish. YUM!!

    By the way, I've heard that Talipia i'snt healthy and is loaded with omega 6. Here's what Dr. Weil found:

    If you haven't caught up on the news about tilapia, here's a recap: a study from researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine found that farm-raised tilapia, a very popular fish in the United States today, has very low levels of omega-3s and very high levels of omega-6 fatty acids (also found in seeds and nuts, and the oils extracted from them, such as cottonseed and soy oil). We get much more of these fats than we need – they're found in most snack foods, cookies, crackers, and sweets. The body constructs hormones from omega-6s that tend to increase inflammation (an important component of the immune response), blood clotting, and cell proliferation. Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory.

  37. Heather, glad you like the recipe.

    I don't think it's accurate to say that tilapia "isn't healthy." It has less omega 3 than some other fish, but if you're not eating "snack foods, cookies, crackers, and sweets" then it's not as big of a deal if you to get some Omega 6 from the Tilapia.

    And here's another reputable source relating to the same study which says the study is flawed and that tilapia is not unhealthy.

    I think the important thing is to eat a variety of fish.

  38. This recipe looks tasty!! I'm bookmarking it now. I am, however, a bit sad about the current situation we might be coming into with seafood. I live in Florida (east coast), but headlines today are mentioning that we are all really in trouble due to this oil spill (that is continuing on). I am new to really liking fish (finding the mild white ones I like…mahi-mahi from costco..wild-caught is one of my favorites)…so this is just another sad reason for the oil spill. I wonder if the price of seafood will sky rocket?

  39. Creative Kitchen, I agree the situation with the oil spill is very sad. Every day I keep hoping to hear they have it under control.

  40. Well, it is really hard to pick favorites, but I was very happy with this dish. I had originally been disappointed when I read that there was only a small amount of pesto in the recipe and almost added extra. But I followed the recipe exactly and couldn't have been happier. This is a keeper.

  41. Lynne, so glad you liked it. I actually made it first with more pesto and decided it overwhelmed the flavor of the pine nuts!

  42. I didn't have pine nuts so I used some ground almonds. Turned out pretty good. Even the kids ate it.I needed to give it a quick broil to brown the top.

  43. Anonymous, good idea to substitute the almonds, glad to hear it turned out okay with that change.

  44. I made this recipe last night for dinner. Absolutley FANTASTIC!!!
    Hands down the best fish I've ever had, and I've had a lot of good fish. Do you mind if I post it on my blog linking to you for credit of course?
    Also, for this I made a super simple homemade pesto w basil from our garden, pine nuts and EVOO.
    It was perfect given all the other floavors going on.
    thx again 4 the recipe!

  45. Gwen, so glad you liked it. I don't mind if you post it with a link to my recipe, although I prefer you write the recipe in your own words rather than copying my recipe exactly, thanks!

  46. I have a variation on your recipe — add some lemon zest to the topping! Perks it up and adds some pretty color!!

  47. Anonymous, adding some lemon zest sounds good!

  48. Made this dish this weekend and used grouper and walnuts instead of pine nuts…It was really good and it is a keeper!Thanks for another great recipe.

  49. Katherine, glad you enjoyed it!

  50. Would you be able to substitute chicken for fish in this recipe? or is it combination of the flaky fish with the hard nutty crust?

  51. Kare, that's an interesting idea. I'm actually not sure, but I suspect the topping would get too browned before the chicken was done. It might work if you pound the chicken breasts before you cook them so they're thin. If you try it, I'd love to hear how it works.

  52. Gorgeous dish! We tried this tonight. I LOVED the crust. I wonder how a little lemon or salt and pepper would be on the fish before putting on the crust. The fish was just a touch bland for me. Maybe I just need to use more crust! It was great! Thanks so much for all your hard work!

  53. Melissa, I think salt & pepper or lemon on the fish before you pile on the crust ingredients would work very well! So glad you liked it.

  54. I'm thinking about making this again in the next couple of days for my parents. Question. Does premade packaged pesto go bad opened in the refrigerator? It's Classico. Mine has been in there probably a couple of months. It smells great and looks the same too. πŸ˜‰

  55. Melissa, I have no idea how long pesto will keep in the fridge, so without being there I wouldn't even want to guess whether it would still be good.

  56. See, and here I was thinking you knew absolutely everything about food. I've never failed with one of your recipes and I've made SEVERAL!!! πŸ˜‰

  57. Oh Melissa, I am chuckling! I don't know much, but I do try to test the recipes pretty thoroughly!

  58. Just made this last night and even my little kids loved it! Thanks for a great recipe! My mayo aversion husband didn't even know it had mayo in it and liked it!

  59. So glad it was a hit!

  60. Thank you. That's Fridays supper sorted. I will report back.

  61. This is the only way I bake cod anymore. We have a lot of ling cod in the freezer. It is wonderful, thanks.

  62. I don't eat fish. EVER. But this recipe makes me want to give it a second try… πŸ™‚

  63. Another great fish to try! I have cod in the freezer. Saw a comment about pairing this with garlicky green beans, sounds so good!!

  64. Oh how wonderful! I make something similar with tomato pesto, breadcrumbs, parmesan and crushed almonds – this sounds glorious!

  65. Jeanne, so glad you like it. Your version sounds great too.

  66. hi kalyn, this looks great, can't wait to try it! forgive me for asking a silly question here – what would happen if i used fat-free mayo as opposed to low fat? is there a specific reason it won't work? thanks!

  67. I avoid fat-free mayo mostly because of the added sugar, but I don't know how well it will melt in a dish like this compared to regular or low-fat mayo, so I can't really say how it will work.

  68. I just made this with tilapia and it was delicious. I chopped up my pine nuts too fine, so mine wasn't quite as pretty as yours, but it was definitely tasty! I just started following you on Pinterest and hope to attempt many more of your lovely recipes!

  69. Thanks Sarah, so glad you enjoyed it!

  70. re: White Fish with pesto topping:
    mine came out not at all crunchy and a melty consistency. Could it be because 1 – used previously frozen fish? 2 – had frozen batches of pesto earlier in summer 3 – used too much of something? want to try it again since it was yummy but would like some direction

  71. It's hard for me to know what you did wrong without actually seeing you make it. But I will try.

    –If the fish was thawed from frozen, it might be helpful to put it between two pieces of paper towel and press down to remove some of the moisture.

    –Letting the fish come to room temperature before it cooks is pretty important.

    –You might have used too much pesto in proportion to the pine nuts if the topping wasn't at least a little crunchy. (Frozen pesto should be fine as long as it's fully thawed.)

    Hope that helps.

  72. Thank you for your answer to the "not at all crunchy" post – will try your suggestions next week. Should have thought to dry the fish between paper towels and to increase the nuts – Sarah D

  73. I'm room temperaturing my halibut right now. I doubled all of the ingredients because they are so delicious. I split the (1 pound) of fresh halibut (it's spring) into three pieces and then again down the center for each piece. I put freshly steamed (and squeezed dried) spinach between the sections for health, and squeezed lemon over the whole thing. I'll let you know how it tasted…brb. (quiet music playing)… Delicious! oh my, but next time I may add the topping ingredients between the layers I made, it's that good.

  74. So glad you enjoyed experimenting with the recipe.

  75. Kayln – As background, my family lives on the Chesapeake Bay. We live on fish and seafood so I'm always looking for fresh, tasty new ways to prepare the bounty. Most times, I'm underwhelmed by new recipes but not this time …

    Tonight, I made rockfish fillets with the pine nut, parmesan, and basil pesto crust. Fabulous recipe! So good that knees got weak. DH had the same reaction.

    I've spent hours on your site since I discovered it a few months ago. Every recipe is fresh and tasty. Not one recipe disappointed – and I'm an experienced cook with high expectations.

    I have a site and a blog on a very different subject (advocacy for children with disabilities) – so I know how hard you work to provide fresh content. You've done a fabulous job.

    Thanks and take care!

  76. Pam, thanks so much for the nice thoughts about the blog. And lucky you with all that fresh seafood!

  77. hi! I am counting calories currently and wold love to make this. Do you know how many calories this dish is?


  78. Leona, I don't count calories so I don't have that information but under FAQ there is a link for a site I recommend where you can enter the recipe and it will calculate it.

  79. Made this with grouper exactly as directed for valentines day! Couldn't have had a better meal at a fine restaurant. I did have to broil at the end for a minute or two. I have done other recipes from your site and I find them uncomplicated, creative and delicious. And.. with SBD in mind! YOu inspire me!

  80. Thanks Lisa, so glad the recipes are working well for you!

  81. Hi. This looks really nice. I might be slightly picky but I'm not a big fan of mayo. Maybe I wouldn't even notice it but could i just leave it out or would you have any substitution suggestions

  82. Paul, you need something to keep the topping stuck to the fish, so I don't think it would work to just omit the mayo/ You could try something like sour cream or Greek yogurt, but without trying it I can't honestly say for sure it will work as well as the mayo (which keeps the fish moist).

  83. I use Job snapper,Emperor and above all Grouper or any other white fish, with this recipe and it's second to none.What a great way to prepare fish

  84. I just made this tonight with Mahi mahi. Thank you so much, it was amazing!!

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