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Kalyn's Kitchen

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

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

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Low-Carb Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto Crust found on KalynsKitchen.com

This Low-Carb Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto Crust produces results so spectacular that no one would ever think of it as 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. Check out My Favorite Low-Carb and Keto Recipes with Pesto for more tasty ideas for using basil pesto!

Low-Carb Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto Crust found on KalynsKitchen.com

Let 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.) Finely chop the pine nuts, using a large chef’s knife, and finely mince one clove of garlic.

Combine 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. Spread 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.

Low-Carb Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto Crust found on KalynsKitchen.com

Serve hot and wait for compliments.

Make it a Meal:

This would be great with something like Roasted Cauliflower with Red Bell Pepper, Green Olives, and Pine Nuts for a low-carb meal.

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

This Low-Carb Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto Crust is special enough to serve to guests.


  • 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)


  1. 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.)
  2. 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.)
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.


Recipe inspired by a fish recipe from Cooking New American.

All images and text ©

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
This Low-Carb Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto Crust 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 this nutrition analyzer, 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.

Low-Carb Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto Crust found on KalynsKitchen.com .

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95 comments on “Low-Carb Baked White Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan, and Basil Pesto Crust”

  1. Pingback: What's Up: September - Parker Posts

  2. OMGosh! 👏🏻 SO delicious!!! We didn’t have pine nuts, but it didn’t matter. We will make this over and over. Easy and sumptuous! Thank you! 

  3. Really good dish. My husband and I aren’t fond of fish and we both enjoyed, him to the point of asking me to make it again.

  4. This was delish! Just had it for dinner tonight & served it with creamy garlic cauliflower & kale mash & steamed carrot & broccolini. Will definitely be making again. Thanks for the recipe 😄👍

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

  6. 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

  7. 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).

  8. 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

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

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

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


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

  14. 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!

  15. So glad you enjoyed experimenting with the recipe.

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. Thanks Sarah, so glad you enjoyed it!

  21. 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!

  22. 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.

  23. 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!

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

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

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

  27. I don't eat fish. EVER. But this recipe makes me want to give it a second try… 🙂

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

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

  30. So glad it was a hit!

  31. 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!

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

  33. 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!!! 😉

  34. 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.

  35. 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. 😉

    • Melissa, the first time I made this I had an old, opened jar of Classico pesto in the fridge and it was fine. It’s basically basil preserved in olive oil, and I’ve used it at least six months after opening. But that’s just me. If you’ve got doubts about it get new.

  36. 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.

  37. 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!

  38. 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.

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