Air Fryer Salmon is a heartbreaker. Utterly tender and flaky inside, with a blush of crispness on top, it is so darn delicious it will make it basically impossible for you to ever order salmon in a restaurant again.
Why You’ll Love Air Fryer Salmon
- Restaurant Worthy. With the air fryer, you can cook a seriously tasty piece of fish that is hands-down better than 97% of the salmon I’ve ordered out. Call your mom, text a pic to that foodie friend, and post to social media. It’s worth bragging about!
- Fast. Air fryer salmon is ready in 10 minutes. It’s the perfect fast, nutritious dinner for a busy weeknight. It’s foolproof!
- Use Any Seasoning or Marinade. Add it to your fish, then follow the time and temperature in this recipe to air fryer your salmon. The marinade I used for this recipe is very loosely based on the absolute favorite, back-pocket 5-Ingredient Maple Dijon Salmon from my cookbook. It’s a lovely blend of sweet and savory.
- Make the Most of Your Air Fryer. A firm believer that you don’t need to arm yourself with an array of fancy gadgets to cook a fantastic meal, I generally loathe purchasing new kitchen appliances. Salmon in the air fryer is so good, it alone makes your purchase worthwhile! (FYI, this is the model I eventually bought).
If you DO have an air fryer, then I share your obsession. Be sure to check out my full collection of air fryer recipes. (Air Fryer French Fries, Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts, and Air Fryer Chicken Breasts are on our menu almost weekly.)
How to Cook Salmon in the Air Fryer
- Salmon. I prefer to cook this salmon with skin on, as the fillet holds together more easily, and I find skin-on salmon yields more moist and flaky results than salmon with the skin removed. For the best taste, seek out fresh salmon that is sustainably sourced. A delicious protein, salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids (which are heart healthy), B vitamins, potassium, and is naturally gluten-free and low carb.
- Brown Sugar or Honey. Brown sugar or honey gives the salmon the perfect amount of sweetness and helps it caramelize.
- Dijon Mustard. Tangy, zippy, and pairs wonderfully with the brown sugar/honey and soy sauce.
- Soy Sauce. A salty umami bomb that coats the salmon in scrumptious flavor.
- Ginger. While optional, adding a pinch to make salmon with ginger gives the sauce a subtle, lively touch and, as this Soy Ginger Salmon shows, it’s a stellar combo with the soy sauce.
- Garlic. A seafood flavor BFF (Garlic Salmon with Lemon Butter agrees).
- Dry the salmon, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Stir the glaze together. Spread the mixture over the salmon.
- Add the salmon filets skin-side down to an air fryer basket lined with aluminum foil for easy clean up (you can coat with cooking spray for extra insurance if you like).
- Air fry the salmon at 400 degrees F for 6 to 11 minutes cooking time. ENJOY!
The best way to know when salmon is done is to use an instant read thermometer like this one.
- Per the FDA, salmon should be cooked to internal temperature of 145 degrees F in the thickest part of the salmon.
- To make sure your air fry salmon isn’t dry, remove it around 135 degrees F, then cover it and let it rest. The carryover cooking will bring it to temperature, and your salmon will be moist and flaky.
What to Serve with Air Fryer Salmon
- Asparagus. Asparagus and salmon are a classic pairing. While the salmon is in the air fryer, prepare this fast Grilled Asparagus or Roasted Asparagus, or make Air Fryer Asparagus.
- Other Vegetables. You can pair any veggie with salmon. For a comfort-food dinner, try Oven Roasted Potatoes or Roasted Fingerling Potatoes. For something green, Roasted Broccoli and Sauteed Brussels Sprouts are excellent.
- Salad. Salad is an ideal side dish with salmon. Ramen Salad or Asian Noodle Salad would pair perfectly.
- Whole Grains. Add some fiber and healthy carbohydrates to the meal by adding a serving of Lemon Rice or Instant Pot Brown Rice.
- Garlic Lemon. Replace the Dijon mustard and soy sauce in this recipe with 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, increase the garlic powder to 1 1/2 teaspoons, and add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Arrange lemon slices on top of the salmon while cooking.
- Honey Garlic. Use 2 tablespoons honey, 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and omit the soy sauce and ginger. Season the cooked salmon with an extra pinch of salt.
- Teriyaki. Brush the salmon with your favorite teriyaki sauce prior to cooking (see this Teriyaki Salmon for inspiration).
- Dry Rub. Remove all liquids and add your favorite seasonings for the dry rub, such as smoked paprika, oregano, basil, and garlic powder. Or try this special Salmon Seasoning combination of mine!
- Salmon Marinade. This salmon marinade uses soy sauce for salt and umami, honey or pure maple syrup for sweetness (salmon loves sweet!), and Dijon mustard for balance and zip.
- Spicy Salmon. Season the salmon with your favorite Cajun seasoning, or try the seasoning from this Spicy Salmon recipe or this Buffalo Salmon.
- To Store. Refrigerate salmon in an airtight container for up to 2 days in the fridge.
- To Reheat. Gently reheat leftovers in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat until just warmed through.
Flaked leftover cooked salmon can be used in many ways!
- Add it to scrambled eggs or Crustless Quiche (especially good with goat cheese and dill).
- Add it to Homemade Fried Rice.
- Serve it over a salad, such as this meal-prep-friendly Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad.
- Make Salmon Salad to serve in a sandwich, in lettuce wraps, or over greens or a bed of quinoa.
- Turn it into air fryed salmon patties by swapping it for the canned salmon in this Salmon Patty Recipe or the Salmon Quinoa Cakes in my cookbook.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Keep the Skin On. To help the fish hold together, I recommend to air fry salmon with the skin on—take the skin off salmon after cooking. I typically serve the salmon with the skin on, then let guests peel away their skin (the cooked salmon will flake off easily with a fork).
- Don’t Wrap the Fish. It is not necessary to wrap salmon in foil in the air fryer—in fact, it will make it harder for it to crisp.
- Line the Basket if You Like. Lining your air fryer basket with aluminum foil or parchment paper then coating it with nonstick spray is a good insurance policy to keep the fish from sticking. It also makes for easy clean up.
- Don’t Flip the Salmon. Thanks to the power of the heating element and constant heat circulation, unlike stovetop recipes like Pan-Seared Salmon, it is not necessary to flip salmon in the air fryer.
- Try it with Frozen. You can cook frozen salmon in the air fryer! To make this recipe with frozen salmon, preheat your air fryer to 360 degrees F. Lay the salmon on aluminum foil in the air fryer and cook for about 7 minutes or until thawed. Drizzle the soy/mustard mixture over the top of the filets as directed, then cook for another 6 to 11 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fillets.
Salmon might just be the best dinner to make in the air fryer.
It’s quick, healthy, and completely foolproof. It will make meal time a breeze!
Air Fryer Salmon
- With paper towels, pat the salmon dry. Sprinkle lightly on both sides with salt and pepper.
- For easy cleanup, line the air fryer basket with aluminum foil. Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F according to the manufacturer’s instructions (for my air fryer, that is 3 minutes).
- In a small bowl or larger liquid measuring cup, mix together the brown sugar, Dijon, oil, soy sauce, garlic powder, and ginger (if using). Spoon all over the top of the salmon.
- Slide out the air fryer basket and set it on a heatproof surface. Place the fillets in the basket so that they are not touching.
- Cook the salmon in the air fryer for 6 to 11 minutes, depending upon their thickness and your model (fillets around 1 inch will need 8 to 9 minutes). Do not overcook or the salmon will be dry. Salmon is done when it registers 145 degrees F on an instant read thermometer (I remove mine a few degrees early, let it rest, then the carryover cooking finishes the job). Check it a few times towards the end to make sure it doesn’t overcook.
- Transfer to a serving plate. Enjoy hot, with a sprinkle of additional salt and pepper as desired.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate salmon in an airtight storage container for up to 2 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently reheat leftovers in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat until just warmed through.
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