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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. 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?

  2. Katherine, glad you enjoyed it!

  3. 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.

  4. Anonymous, adding some lemon zest sounds good!

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

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

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

  9. 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.

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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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?

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. What a tasty way to cook some fish!

  18. Glad to hear you enjoyed it!

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

  20. Blest mom, so glad you liked it!

  21. 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!

  22. 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!

  23. 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!!!

  24. 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. 🙂 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!

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

  26. 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!

  27. 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 😉 Anything served with this ought to be very discreet. The fish is not only the star of the dinner, it's a diva.

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

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

    I am so proud now!

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

    A very elegant fish dish too!


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

  32. 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!

  33. These look so refreshing, and they are a great way to get more fish into my diet! Thanks 🙂

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

  35. 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.

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

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

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

  39. 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.

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

  41. 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? 🙂 This dish looks amazingly delicious and I can't wait to try it. 😀

  42. That looks like a great and quick fishdish!

  43. 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.

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

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

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

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

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

  50. Beautiful fish – it looks so delicous.

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