This Air Fryer Salmon is made using a flavorful blend of spices and is ready in under 10 minutes. It's super fast and fool proof with mega flavors!
Properly cooked air fryer salmon is terrific with a crisp crackling skin, and a tender, flaky, flavorful flesh that just melts in your mouth, like the BBQ salmon.
Salmon is high in omega 3 fatty acids, has a stronger muscle than white fish, because it swims upstream in cold waters. With it's vibrant orangey-pink flesh, they are rich, nutritious, takes minutes to cook and is satisfying, like the creamy salmon pasta recipe.
I like to pick up frozen, individually wrapped wild caught Alaskan Sockeye fillets from Costco and always keep it stocked in the freezer. Most of the fish you buy at the fish counter are previously frozen ones that has been thawed. So, you are better off picking up from the freezer section and thaw just before cooking.
If you buy refrigerated salmon then it is best stored in the refrigerator, as soon as you get home and cooked within a few hours. If you are planning to store longer, then pat dry your fish, put it in a zipper bag, pressing out the air and seal the bag. Set the bag in a bowl filled with ice, and then keep it stored in the refrigerator for a day or two. Replenish the ice, if it melts.
The King salmon, also known as chinook is the most popular one you'll find at the fish counter. Fram raised king variety tends to be more rich and flavorful than the wild, because of the smaller size and more intramuscular fat.
Coho and Sockeye varieties are smaller in size with brighter, deep red, denser and more flavorful. They have relatively thinner fillets and needs to be cooked faster, to avoid overcooking.
I prefer to buy with skin on, as the fillet holds together well, turns out more moist and flaky. When buying, choose pieces that are clean, brightly colored, and free of soft spots or discolorations.
My secret trick to perfectly cooked fish every time is to remove it a little earlier than usual. About a 3 to 5 minutes of resting time makes it perfectly flaky every single time.
If are looking for a meatless dinner idea, then give this air fryer salmon recipe a try. Leftover fish can be flaked and added to your fried rice, salads or made into a sandwich.
Why this recipe works?
If you are pan searing salmon, it can result with flaky bits of flesh getting stuck to the pan as it cooks and grease splattering over your stovetop, thus resulting in more clean up.
Air fryer salmon is a faster, much easier, hands-off method and there's no flipping. The grill plate features airflow design, allowing excess fat to render out, and moisture to evaporate, thus resulting in a crispier skin. The circulating hot air sets the protein fast, blooms the spices and makes it more flavorful.
Scroll down to the recipe card below for full information on ingredients and amounts.
- Salmon Filets- Look for fillets with fairly even thickness, because they usually have a thick end and a thinner tapered end, which can lead to uneven cooking.
- Olive oil - This helps in toasting the spices and keep things moist.
- Seasonings - Basic pantry spices like garlic powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt and black pepper. Feel free to mix and match.
- Lemon - Brightens and compliments the spices used.
Pro tip: Leave the skin on! The skin helps insulate the fish from the heat when cooking in the air fryer, giving you more evenly cooked flesh and also potentially alleviate any sort of over cooking.
How to make?
You can find full printable recipe below, but here is a quick overview of the procedure along with step-by-step photos.
- Add garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, black pepper, salt and olive oil into a bowl.
2 & 3. Add freshly squeezed lemon juice nad stir to combine.
Tip: When ground spices cook with any kind of fat like oil or butter, it blooms and becomes intense in flavor.
4. Pat dry your fish using paper towels. Spread the combined spice mixture on top, back and the sides of the salmon fillets.
Tip: Drier is better! Pat dry your fillets with paper towels on all sides to remove any excess moisture. This allows the spice mixture adhere to the fish, rather than sliding off.
Pro tip: Like a super crispy skin? Slashing is the way to go! Place the fillets skin side up on a cutting board, make four of five shallow slashes on the skin, using a super sharp or serrated knife, being careful not to cut into the flesh. This allows it to render more fat, this resulting in a crispier skin.
5. Place fish in a pre heated 400 degree air fryer and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until cooked through. 400 degrees is hot enough for the outside to get nice and crispy and seal in the moisture, for the most tender fish.
Pro tip: How to know when it is cooked? Air fryer salmon can go from succulent to overcooked in a flash. The best way is to check is with a meat thermometer. The center should show an internal temperature of 145F. But, we like remove it around 135 degrees and then let it rest for a few minutes which avoids it from being overcooked. If you don't have a thermometer, then try flaking with a fork. When it's cooked to perfection, it easily flakes with a fork without much resistance.
How to serve?
There are so many ways you can use this air fryer salmon recipe. If you'd like to remove the skin before serving, then slide a thin metal spatula between the flesh and the skin, and slide the fillet off.
- Entree - Serve with vegetables like air fryer broccoli, baked sweet potato in air fryer, roasted potatoes or brussels sprouts for a carb free and healthy weeknight dinner.
- Salad - A side of fresh salad or flake into chunks and top a salad.
- Grains - Rice dishes like cilantro lime rice, instant pot quinoa, cauliflower rice, barley or farro makes it a filling meal.
- Pasta - Serve with simple pasta dishes like instant pot spaghetti or Tomato cream sauce pasta.
- Sandwiches: Sandwich between a brioche bun with tartar sauce, lettuce, onion, and tomato for a tasty fish sandwich.
- Lettuce wraps - Fill butter lettuce cups with flaked fish, taco fillings, pico de gallo and cilantro sauce.
- Tacos - Season with taco seasoning instead and fill soft corn tortillas with flaked fish, chopped lettuce, black beans and avocado crema. Use this instead of fish sticks in frozen fish stick tacos.
👩🍳 Bake in oven - Prepare the spice mixture as instructed, while preheating the oven to 375 degrees. Place fish in a baking or sheet pan and bake for 11 to 13 minutes, or until cooked through.
Storage and Reheating
This recipe is a great option for meal prep for the week. You can easily add it to salads and grains, for easy and quick lunches and dinners.
- To Store. Refrigerate cooked and cooled fish in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge.
- To freeze: It can be frozen, but the flavor and texture might change a bit. Wrap cooled pieces with plastic wrap and seal in a freezer safe zip lock bag or air tight container and freeze for up to 1 month.
- To Reheat. All you gotta do is place the refrigerated fillet in the basket, reheat at 360 degrees for 3-5 minutes. This is the best way to reheat any fish without drying it out! If reheating from frozen, you will first need to thaw in the fridge overnight or at room temperature for a couple hours.
This is an easy set and forget it air fryer salmon recipe, but few handy tips to guide you along the way:
- Make sure the fillets are even in thickness. This will ensure that they all cook evenly at the same time.
- Check for desired doneness with a fork. When it comes to air fryers, the cooking time will depend on the thickness of the fish and the model used. The best way to check is with a fork to see if it flakes off easily.
- Pre heat your air fryer before adding the seasoned fillets This helps to cook the fish evenly and speed up the cooking process and gives a crispier edge.
- Don’t over crowd your basket. This will affect the hot air circulating around rapidly and will not help the skin crisp up. Air fry in batches if necessary.
- Keep an eye on timing. All appliances cook differently when it comes to the size and temperature. Also the time depends on the thickness of the fish. So make sure to check around 6 minutes to prevent it from burning on top. It’s always best to slightly undercook and add more time as needed, than accidentally overcook it.
- Remove moisture in the salmon: Make sure to pat dry the pieces well on all sides before seasoning. This will help it crisp up.
- Cook skin-side down: Make sure to cook skin side down and it does not need to be flipped.
- Adjust the cooking time depending on the thickness of your fillet. Lower the cooking time if your fillets are thinner and increase it if they are on the thicker side.
🐟 Tips for buying fresh salmon
- If you are buying a whole salmon, look for perfectly clear eyes, bright red gills and shiny scales. Stay away from cloudy or bloodshot eyes, they indicate early signs of spoilage.
- Fillets or steaks should look shiny, fresh and moist. If you can touch the fish, then the flesh should be resilient, spring back and not be mushy.
No! there is no need to flip salmon when cooking it in the air fryer, because the hot air circulates to cook your food perfectly on both sides.
We love to use frozen fish, since they are flash frozen in the boat as soon as they are caught. Thaw them in the fridge or in a large bowl filled with water.
It's best to thaw the fish, patting them thoroughly dry before using, to make the seasoning blend sticks to flesh without sliding off.
It's a protein called albumin, which is best trapped in the flesh during the cooking process, to guarantee a perfectly juicy piece of fillet. When heated, the muscle fibers in the fish contracts, pushing the albumin to the surface, which then congeals and turns white. It's formation is a good indicator that your fish is overcooked and will be less moist.
The best method is to defrost overnight in the refrigerator. You can also thaw quickly, then leave the vacuum sealed bags in a bowl of room temperature water for about 30 minutes. Dry it thoroughly before using.
More easy air fryer dinners
Air Fryer Salmon
- Preheat the air fryer to 400°F.
- Mix all ingredients (except salmon) in a small bowl. Pat dry the fillets on all sides with paper towels. Apply the spice mixture evenly on all sides of the fish. Pro tip: Leave the skin on! The skin helps insulate the fish from the heat when cooking in the air fryer, giving you more evenly cooked flesh and also potentially alleviate any sort of over cooking.
- Spray the basket with non-stick cooking spray. Place the salmon in the air fryer (skin side down) and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, depending on the thickness on the salmon. Tip - If you'd like more crispier and beautifully browned top, then spray a coating a non-stick cooking spray half way though cooking.
- Open basket, check for doneness with a fork and serve with tartar sauce, if desired.Pro tip: How to know when it is cooked? Air fryer salmon can go from succulent to overcooked in a flash. The best way is to check is with a meat thermometer. The center should show an internal temperature of 145F. But, we like remove it around 135 degrees and then let it rest for a few minutes which avoids it from being overcooked. If you don't have a thermometer, then try flaking with a fork. When it's cooked to perfection, it easily flakes with a fork without much resistance.
Nutritional information, based on third-party calculations, should be seen as estimates, not guarantees, as various factors like product types, brands, processing methods, and more can alter the nutritional content in recipes.
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