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Spicy Air Fryer Salmon with Skin

Spicy Air Fryer Salmon with Skin is a quick and easy way to cook salmon every time. Ready in under 10 minutes, it makes a crisp and moist fillet with a flavorful blend of spices.

Cooking in the air fryer is our favorite way to make quick dinners. More easy dinner ideas like Fried Rice, Chicken Tenders without Breading, Chicken Parmesan, Chicken Meatballs or Homemade Chicken Nuggets.

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cooked spicy salmon fillet on a white plate with roasted broccoli.

Air Fryer Salmon with Skin

Cooking in an air fryer results in the most tender, moist, flakey, succulent and delicious piece of fillet. The fish cooks fast, just right, browns wonderfully, is absolutely delicious and helps you in making a restaurant quality meal at home several times a week.

It’s low carb, low calorie, healthy recipe, takes 10 minutes to make, so quick and easy too and pairs well with so many sides! It’s hands down go-to method to prepare and cook fish right now!

I like to pick up frozen, individually wrapped wild caught Alaskan Sockeye fillets from Costco and always keep it stocked in the freezer.

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. The combination of spices is mildly intense and amazingly flavored.

WHY YOU’LL LOVE IT?

  1. Skin on: It will help to keep all the juices inside and protects it from overcooking.
  2. High Protein: About 49 grams per serving and rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
  3. Quick and Easy – Ready in less than 15 minutes.
  4. Perfectly seasoned – A delicious blend of spices for a spicy kick.
  5. Fool proof – It cooks it perfectly and leaving it so flakey and delicious.
  6. Perfect for busy weeknights – Made with very few pantry spices, it cooks in under 10 minutes and great paired with any veggies or grains you have on hand.
  7. Meal prep – Leftovers are delicious in salads, rice bowls, tacos or sandwiches.

WHY COOK IN AIR FRYER?

It is the best way to cook for so many reasons. The hot air circulates, cooking the outside to crispy and moist perfection. It is faster, easier hands off method since there is no need to flip or splattering oil, so the clean up is a-breeze. It is much easier than pan frying, without house smelling like fish for hours and clean up is breeze. Also it frees up the oven or stove top for something else.

WHAT KIND OF SALMON TO USE?

You can find farm raised and wild types in the grocery store. Farmed will be light pink whereas the wild will have a darker reddish orange hue and is also higher priced than the farmed ones.

Because of various concerns around farm raised ones, you can now find options that have been farmed sustainably and without antibiotics.

The common kinds of Pacific variety are Sockeye, King (Chinook), Coho, Chum or Pink, with Sockeye being the most popularly available in stores (and in Costco).

They are commonly available as steaks or fillets. When buying, choose pieces that are clean, brightly colored, and free of soft spots or discolorations.

We prefer to buy with skin on, as the fillet holds together well, turns out more moist and flaky than the one with skin removed. Both varieties works for this recipe.

FRESH VS FROZEN SALMON

Frozen seafood is typically flash frozen on the boat right after they’ve been caught, which helps to preserve their freshness. Unless you’re absolutely sure that the fresh fish at the store are actually fresh off the boat, frozen ones are a way better bet.

What to look for when buying?

If buying fresh, then smell it if you can, it shouldn’t have any kind of fishy smell. Avoid ones with any brown spots or bruising and the flesh should be vibrantly colored. Also, stay away for anything that says “color added”.

WHY SHOULD I LEAVE THE SKIN ON SALMON?

  1. It’s not easy to remove the skin: Removing the skin requires a special type of knife and it’s a difficult task, unless you are a trained chef or butcher.
  2. Almost impossible to overcook
  3. Easier to cook – It makes to easier to remove from the basket in one piece, without breaking
  4. Skin is edible – Crisped skin is often served as snack or garnish in restaurants.

COOKING TEMPERATURE

We like to cook in at 400ºF and it comes out perfectly. It’s hot enough for the outside to get nice and crispy to seal in the moisture for the most tender fillet. 

How to know when it is cooked? 

The best way is to check 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 mush resistance.

Can I Use Frozen Salmon?

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, if they are individually wrapped in plastic.

If you didn’t plan ahead or if you are in a time crunch, you can cook them from frozen, by simply increasing the cooking time for 5 to 7 minutes. However, we do not recommend this method, since it might over cook the fish.

So, before beginning our recipe, place frozen portions skin-side down in the basket. Cook at 400ºF for 7-9 minutes, or until defrosted.Then, follow our recipe as directed.

Can you air fry without the skin?

Sure can. However, the skin protects the fillet and helps it to retain moisture and it’s easier to remove the cooked fillet from the basket without breaking.

CAN I BAKE INSTEAD?

Absolutely! To do so, 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.

INGREDIENTS

You probably have everything in your pantry right now. There are no fancy or hard to find ingredients for this recipe. Here is what you’ll need:

  1. Salmon Filets- You can use just about any kind you’d like. I prefer to use 6- ounce Sockeye frozen ones with skin on from Costco.
  2. Olive oil – This helps in toasting the spices and keep things moist.
  3. Seasonings – Basic spices like garlic powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt and black pepper.
  4. Lemon – Adds tanginess and compliments the spices used.

PRO TIPS FOR SUCCESS

This is an easy set and forget it recipe, but few handy tips to guide you along the way:

  1. Make sure the fillets are comparable thickness. This will ensure that they all cook evenly at the same time.
  2. Check for desired doneness with a fork. When it comes to air fryers, the cooking time will depend on the thickness of the pieces and the model used. The best way to check is with a fork to see if it flakes off easily.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 7 minutes to prevent it from burning on top. It’s always best to slightly undercook and add more time as needed, than to accidentally overcook it.
  6. Remove moisture in the salmon: Make sure to pat dry the pieces well on all sides before seasoning. This will help to crisp up.
  7. Cook skin-side down: Make sure to cook skin side down and it does not need to be flipped.
  8. 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.

SEASONING VARIATIONS

This recipe is super versatile, so feel free to use any combination of seasonings you like. Try using smoked paprika, turmeric powder, ground cumin, ground coriander, soy sauce or tamari, Blackened or Cajun seasoning, everything bagel, tandoori marinade or Mexican taco seasoning.

mixing a spice blend in a small glass bowl with a spoon.

marinated salmon fillets on a wooden cutting board.

HOW TO MAKE?

  1. Prep – Set the air fryer to 400℉ (200℃), then pat your filets dry with a paper towel. Don’t skip this step as this will help the seasoning to stick better and help to crisp up.
  2. Season – Mix all spices, olive oil and lemon juice and spread mixture evenly on the fish.
  3. Cook – Air fry for 7 to 9 minutes, depending on the thickness.

WHAT TO SERVE WITH SPICY SALMON

There are so many ways you can use this recipe. Here are some ideas to inspire you!

  1. Entree – Serve with vegetables like roasted broccoli, asparagus fries, air fried corn on the cob, parmesan zucchini rounds, roasted potatoes, roasted green beans or brussel sprouts for a carb free and healthy weeknight dinner.
  2. Salad – A side of fresh salad or flake into chunks and top a salad.
  3. Grains Rice dishes like cilantro lime rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice, barley or farro makes it a filling meal.
  4. Pasta – Serve with simple pasta dishes like instant pot spaghetti, pesto cream pasta, Penne alla vodka or Tomato cream sauce pasta.
  5. Sandwiches: Sandwich between a brioche bun with tartar sauce, lettuce, onion, and tomato for a tasty fish sandwich.
  6. Lettuce wraps – Fill butter lettuce cups with flaked fish, taco fillings, pico de gallo and cilantro lime sauce.
  7. Tacos – Season with taco seasoning instead and fill soft corn tortillas with flaked fish, chopped lettuce, black beans, pico de gallo and avocado crema.

HOW TO STORE LEFTOVERS?

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 air tight container. and freeze for up to 1 month.
  • To Reheat. Gently reheat leftovers the air fryer or microwave until just warmed through.

HOW TO REHEAT IN AIR FRYER 

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 or 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. 

LEFTOVER IDEAS

Flaked leftover cooked salmon can be used in many ways!

  1. Add to scramble eggs or top an omelette.
  2. Add to fried rice like egg fried rice or homemade take out fried rice.
  3. Serve it over a salad.
  4. Make into a sandwich, lettuce wraps or tacos.
  5. Flake and make into patties.
  6. Make into a rice bowl by replacing the shrimp with this cooked fish in this sushi bowl recipe.
cooked spicy salmon fillets in an air fryer basket.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Do you have to flip in the air fryer?

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.

Can you cook frozen fish in air fryer?

Sure can! You essentially defrost in the air fryer and then cook it.

How do you know when it is done cooking?

You know when it is finished cooking, when it flakes easily with a fork without any resistance. You can also use a meat thermometer and the internal temperature should read at least 125ºF.

What is the white stuff that comes out of salmon?

It is called albumin. Sometimes, there might be a white liquid that will come out cooking fish. It’s just the protein that solidifies and you can scrape it off if it bothers you.

white plates with cooked spicy salmon and broccoli.

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air fried salmon on a white plate with broccoli along with a fork.

Spicy Air Fryer Salmon with Skin

Yield: 2 Servings
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes

Spicy Air Fryer Salmon with Skin is a Quick and Easy way to cook Salmon every time. Ready in under 10 minutes, it makes a crisp and moist fillet with a flavorful blend of spices.

Ingredients

Items used

Instructions

1. Preheat the air fryer to 400°F.

2. Mix all other ingredients in a small bowl. Pat dry the fillets on all sides with paper towels. Spread each fillet evenly with the spicy blend.

3. Spray the basket with non-stick cooking spray. Place the salmon in the air fryer (skin side down) and cook for 7 to 9 minutes, depending on the thickness on the salmon. Try to avoid overcooking.

(If you'd like more crispier and beautifully browned top, then spray a coating a non-stick cooking spray half way though cooking)

4. Open basket, check for doneness with a fork and serve with tartar sauce, if desired.

    Notes

    1. Make sure the fillets are comparable thickness. This will ensure that they all cook evenly at the same time.

    2. Check for desired doneness with a fork. When it comes to air fryers, the cooking time will depend on the thickness of the pieces and the model used. The best way to check is with a fork to see if it flakes off easily.

    3. 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 7 minutes to prevent it from burning on top. It’s always best to slightly undercook and add more time as needed, than to accidentally overcook it.

    4 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.

    Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 503Total Fat: 32gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 143mgSodium: 669mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 50g

    I am not a certified dietician or nutritionist. The information is a product of online calculator such as Nutrifox.com, although Kitchen at Hoskins attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates and not be construed as a guarantee. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the nutritional information in any recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their fact algorithms. Under no circumstances will Kitchen at Hoskins be responsible for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on the nutritional information. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for all decisions pertaining to your health and ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate.

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