Air Fryer Salmon is gonna be your go-to! This recipe is pretty in (salmon) pink – pretty tasty, pretty easy, pretty consistent, and pretty hard to mess up. Six minutes and a simple seasoning blend gets you perfectly-cooked flaky fish – with just a bit of crisp – every time.
If you’re not eating enough fish, this post is for you!
I’ll also concede that many parents know that unless fish comes frozen in a bright yellow box, covered with breading, kids aren’t interested (mine included, for the most part!).
Or perhaps you’re intimidated by the prospect of cooking seafood at home when you always feel like you never prepare it half as well as a restaurant. I’ve been there, done that.
But that’s precisely why you need Air Fryer Salmon in your life. Boost your confidence and your omega-3 fatty acid intake. Once you feel the rush of cooking fish perfectly at home, it’s really hard to not want that high again.
Why The Air Fryer
If you’re intimidated by cooking salmon, the air fryer is the way.
It took me years and years of practice to make perfect seared salmon in a skillet on my stovetop – I’m talking about buttery flaked salmon with crisp skin that falls into gentle flakes with the slightly provocation from the tines of a fork. It’s so, so good, but it’s absolutely a skill, and one that requires practice.
Oven baked salmon is easier to master, but when I’m craving salmon with a simple topping (like cucumber mango salsa) I want the extra flavor that comes with a slightly crispy, caramelized top.
While it took me years to master really great salmon using traditional methods, the air fryer took me mere weeks. There is no splattering oil from searing, nor flipping of delicate fish. There’s little guessing about when the salmon is done, since 6 minutes is pretty much the magic number for an average-sized salmon fillet of roughly 1″ thickness.
Salmon in the air fryer is easy and predictable.
And it’s so, SO GOOD.
How to Cook Salmon in the Air Fryer
Get rid of the guesswork and cook salmon in the air fryer. You don’t even have to flip! Tender seasoned salmon cooks on a bed of lemon for extra zest. These flaky filets are ready in about 6 minutes to eat as-is, or pair up with your favorite salsa, sauce or salad.
- Preheat the air fryer at 400°F for 5 minutes. Do this even if the instruction manual doesn’t call for pre-heating, as a warmed air fryer will cook delicate fish more consistently throughout.
- Pat the salmon fillets very dry, then rub with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning.
- Place each fillet on top of two lemon slices in your air fryer basket.
- Cook at 400°F for 6 minutes for 1” thick filets; add an additional 1-2 minutes for thicker filets. The internal temperature should read right around 125°F.
- Rest for five minutes (the temperature will continue to rise, see below), then serve with a fresh squeeze of lemon juice and your favorite sauce or salsa.
The Biggest Mistake When Cooking Salmon?
Overcooking it. If you love restaurant-quality salmon but can’t replicate that same texture and flavor at home, it’s probably because you’ve overcooked it.
Salmon in the air fryer needs just 6 minutes to cook to tender, buttery perfection. The internal temperature will read around 125°F when you pull it from the air fryer, but let it rest a few minutes and that temperature will rise closer to the FDA recommended internal temperature of 145°F.
If you cook your salmon until the thermometer registers the higher number, it will be overcooked and dry by the time you dig in.
- Pat the fillets dry before oiling and seasoning. This will ensure the skin and flesh crisp up a bit for better flavor.
- Don’t cook a whole salmon portion in the air fryer – divide into fillets first.
- Do make sure the fillets are roughly the same thickness if buying individual portions – extra thick fillets (more than 1″) will need an additional minute, maybe 2.
- Cook until the internal temperature reaches 125°F, up to 130°F at MOST. The internal temperature will continue to rise once you remove it from the air fryer.
Can I use Frozen Salmon?
Yes, with caveats.
If you’d like to cook salmon straight from the freezer, you’ll need to add 5-7 minutes of extra cook time and you’ll need to season halfway through. We suggest cooking the salmon for five minutes at 400°F, the removing the basket to brush the salmon with oil and season. Then return the fillets to the air fryer and cook 6-7 minutes more, or until the temperature reads around 125°F.
Ultimately, though, we don’t LOVE salmon cooked from frozen in the air fryer – it cooks unevenly and doesn’t develop the slightly crispy, caramelized edges. Frozen salmon fillets are an excellent pantry staple (and generally more economical!) so while we love them as a freezer stash, we recommend defrosting first.
Serving Air Fryer Salmon
- Use air fryer salmon to make our Teriyaki Salmon Lettuce Wraps for a quick and easy lunch.
- Flake up the salmon and make a hearty dinner salad or asian-style salmon salad with quinoa.
- Or, add it to a simple side salad with complementary flavors like our mango salad or glass noodle salad.
- Top with a simple sauce or salsa. Cucumber mango salsa is a perfect pairing in the spring and summer months, or poach this avocado salsa or peach salsa from these recipes.
Did you try making salmon in the air fryer? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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- 2 6-oz salmon filets
- 1 tsp olive oil
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- 1 lemon, sliced
- Preheat the air fryer at 400°F for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, pat the salmon filets very dry. Then, pour the olive oil over the salmon filets and rub on all sides. Season with the garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
- Arrange 4 lemon slices in the air fryer. Place the salmon filets on top.
- Cook at 400°F for 6 minutes for 1” thick filets; add an additional 1-2 minutes for thicker filets. The internal temperature should read about 125°F. Rest the salmon five minutes (the temperature will continue to rise) then serve with a fresh squeeze of lemon juice.