Coconut Macadamia Crusted Salmon is a quick and healthy main dish recipe, featuring salmon fillets piled high with a macadamia nut, coconut, and panko topping. A brush of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon are all you need for this tasty spin on salmon!
Well hello, January! Ready or not, full-fledged post-holiday winter is here. I’m not huge on resolutions, but I’m putting forth an effort to jazz up our mostly-healthy weeknight meals with new flavors.
Our go-to salmon recipe is this spicy baked orange salmon that I’ve blogged before, but a discovery of leftover toasted macadamia nuts in the cabinet from a batch of these cookies got the wheels turning.
Macadamia-crusted fish is something I tend to order in a restaurant – what’s to prevent me from making it at home? The answer is…nothing at all. It’s just one of those meals I love and then promptly forget about. 😂
This topping to this coconut macadamia crusted salmon is thick, crunchy, and so good! Equal parts roughly ground macadamia nuts and ground unsweetened coconut flakes are joined with panko breadcrumbs and a bit of melted coconut oil to form the crust mixture.
After the salmon bakes for a few minutes, you’ll brush the fillets with oil, press this mixture over top, squeeze some fresh lemon juice over top of each fillet, and bake until done. Adding the topping to the salmon after 5-6 minutes of baking helps prevent it from becoming too crisp before the salmon has finished cooking.
While you usually see some sort of nut topping on white fish, we’re big salmon fans here so that’s what I went with. The ones I got were about half a pound each, but you can certainly buy smaller/larger fillets as long as they’re about the same thickness so they cook evenly.
Adjust your cooking time depending on thickness!
Usually I go for a center cut salmon fillet, which tends to be around 1 1/2″-thick. With a general rule of cooking salmon for 6 minutes per every half-inch, this leads to the 18 minute total cook time listed in the recipe card below.
You’ll want to reduce the cooking time if you’re using a thinner fillet of salmon, which is more towards the tail end.
For example, cook a thinner fillet that’s about 1″-thick for 12 minutes. In this case, skip the first 6 minute cook time listed in the recipe. You’ll brush the salmon with oil, pat the topping on, and cook for 12 minutes.
Per foodsafety.gov guidance, salmon is fully cooked when it reaches 145°F in the thickest part. It’ll have firmed up and become perfectly flaky.
Coconut macadamia crusted salmon recipe notes:
- Use unsweetened coconut flakes instead of the sweetened, “snowflake” coconut. The unsweetened flakes are drier and (obviously) not sweet. Once given a quick whiz or two in the food processor they’ll be the perfect size to blend into the topping and provide a hint of coconut flavor without any unnecessary sweetness.
- The reasoning behind cooking the salmon for a short amount of time before adding the topping is that the topping only needs about 12 minutes to become perfect crisp and golden brown. Cooking the salmon with the topping for the entire time would likely lead to a crust that’s much more well-done than you’d like.
- If you’d rather not use macadamia nuts (or don’t have them), pecans work great, too!
Coconut Macadamia Crusted Salmon
- 2 salmon fillets, about half a pound each
- 1/4 cup ground macadamia nuts
- 1/4 cup ground unsweetened coconut flakes
- 3 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Juice from half a lemon
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Place salmon fillets on the baking sheet and brush fillets with 1/2 tbsp olive oil (so 1/4 tbsp each).
- Season salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Place salmon in the oven and bake for 6 minutes.
- While the salmon is baking, add ground macadamia nuts, ground coconut flakes, and panko to a bowl and stir. Pour in melted coconut oil and stir until combined.
- Remove salmon from oven after 6 minutes and brush remaining 1/2 tbsp olive oil onto salmon fillets. Press the macadamia/coconut mixture onto the tops of the fillets and squeeze the lemon juice over both.
- Return salmon to the oven and bake for an additional 12 minutes, or until salmon reaches your preferred doneness or is 145° in the thickest part. Let salmon sit for a few minutes before serving.