Air fryer salmon is tender and flaky inside with crispy edges. It is ready in just 15 minutes from fresh or around 20 minutes from frozen! Perfect for low-effort, quick, low-carb, high-protein meals!
While oven-baked salmon may take 25 minutes – which is already great – this air fryer salmon recipe takes just 15 minutes from kitchen to table with minimum effort (or 20 when making air fryer frozen salmon)! Making it perfect for last-minute meals any time of the week!
Why Cook Salmon in Air Fryer
Salmon cooked in the air fryer is ready so quickly. In just 8-10 minutes of cooking time, you can enjoy the BEST air fryer salmon with a delicious flaky, tender, moist center and lightly crisp edges – just the way I like it. Plus, you can cook frozen salmon in your air fryer without needing to thaw it first; great for the forgetful like me.
Better yet, it’s super versatile. I’ve used simple salt and pepper seasoning for this version because sometimes I love letting the fish speak for itself. However, feel free to use the marinade or seasonings of your choice – to match any meal!
Best of all, you can even cook veggies (like air fryer asparagus) directly with the salmon in your air fryer and have a simple “one-pot” meal in no time! If you want to experiment with more simple air fryer recipes, you might enjoy zucchini fries or honey-roasted carrots!
Table of contents
Just four ingredients come together to prepare this easy salmon air fryer recipe, including:
- Salmon: For the best flavor and nutrients, I recommend using wild salmon like Sockeye, Coho, Chinook, etc. It’s leaner, more flavorful, and contains fewer contaminants (usually). Use skin-on deboned fillets.
Read my oven-baked salmon recipe for more tips when buying salmon. You can also read more about the best and worst salmon to buy on the Monterey Bay Aquarium website.
- Oil: I use olive oil, but any neutral cooking oil will work.
- Salt & black pepper: Season to taste.
How to Cook Salmon in Air Fryer
How to air fry salmon is quick, simple, and foolproof. Keep on reading.
Top Tip: If you’re only making 1-2 fillets, I highly recommend cooking salmon in air fryer with your veggie sides, too. As long as they cook in a similar time frame, it’s a super low-effort meal. My favorite pairing is Brussel sprouts, asparagus, or broccoli. Finely diced sweet potato would also work well but may take longer to cook.
How to Season Salmon for Air Fryer
You can season and marinate airfryer salmon in all the same ways you would with baked salmon (using garlic powder, lemon juice, etc). However, I’ve stuck to a super simple salt and pepper seasoning for this simple recipe.
First, use paper towels to pat the salmon filets dry. Then, allow them to come to room temperature on the counter for 15 minutes.
You may also want to check for any remaining pin bones in the salmon. Rub your fingers across the fillets, feeling for any bumps under the flesh. You can use tweezers to help remove any.
Then, using a silicone brush or your hands, brush/rub oil into both sides of the salmon fillets before seasoning them generously with salt and pepper.
How Long to Air Fry Salmon
Preheat your air fryer to 400 ºF/200ºC, spraying the bottom of the basket with a small amount of oil (to avoid sticking).
Then, place the salmon fillets in your air fryer basket, leaving space between them.
Cook the salmon for 8-10 minutes until the salmon becomes opaque on the outside with a slightly translucent center. Use a finger to gently press the thickest part of the salmon to see if it flakes easily. If so, it’s done.
The exact salmon air fryer time will vary based on the size and depending on the thickness of the salmon fillets and your individual air fryer model. Check at 8 minutes, then continue to cook if needed.
How to Air Fry Frozen Salmon
It’s super simple to cook frozen salmon in an air fryer, with just a little extra cooking time. There’s no need to thaw it first, either.
- First, remove any excess ice from the frozen fillets.
- Then, air fry salmon fillets for 7-8 minutes until defrosted.
- Add your seasonings (or marinade) of choice and continue to air fry the frozen salmon for 7-8 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 140ºF/60ºC.
In terms of flavor/texture difference, I find air fryer frozen salmon slightly drier after cooking. However, frozen salmon can sometimes be even fresher than “fresh” salmon, as it’s frozen quickly after catching to lock in that freshness (and thus extra nutrients!), so I always have some in my freezer.
What to Serve with Fried Salmon?
Air fried salmon is highly versatile and pairs with all sorts of veggies, grains, salad, etc. Plus, you can enjoy it warm or chilled for even more choice. Here are just a few of my favorite pairings.
- Salmon and Veggies: Enjoy the air-fried salmon with vegetable side dishes like:
- Air fryer asparagus
- Air fryer green beans
- Sautéed sugar snap peas
- Crispy fried squash
- Salmon and Rice or Grains: Brown rice, Jasmine rice, quinoa, vegetable pilaf, etc. Cauliflower rice will complete a delicious low-carb and gluten-free meal.
- Pasta: it goes great with your favorite pasta recipe.
- Potatoes: This air fryer salmon and potatoes are a match made in heaven. Baked, roasted, or mashed potatoes.
- Salmon Salad: Enjoy the warm fillets alongside a simple side salad or flake it up and enjoy it chilled and mixed into salads (leafy salads and grain/pasta-based ones).
How to use the leftovers?
Enjoy the chilled air-fried salmon in salads, add it to scrambled eggs and quiches, enjoy with noodles or fried rice, add to sandwiches/wraps, or even use it to make salmon patties. The options are plentiful!
Make ahead: You can season/marinate salmon fillets for up to 12 hours before cooking them. However, I recommend leaving the salt off until right before cooking.
How long does air-fried salmon last in the fridge? Allow it to cool and store any leftover air fryer salmon fillets in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. This makes it great for meal prep.
Can you freeze air-fried salmon? First, spread the fillets on a tray and allow them to freeze until solid. Then transfer the frozen baked salmon fillets and store them in a Ziplock bag or airtight container for 3 months.
Reheat: Place the salmon back in the air fryer for a few minutes (3-4). You can add a splash of water to your air fryer basket to steam and ensure juicy results.
Nope, place the fillet/s skin-side down in your basket without needing to flip for perfect results.
Without using a meat thermometer/instant-read thermometer, you can do so by touch. Gently press the top of the salmon with your finger or a fork. If it begins to separate into tender flakes, it’s ready.
Using a thermometer, test the thickest part of the fillets. The temperature could be 125-135ºF/52-57ºC for medium-rare and around 140ºF/60ºC for medium-well done. I usually aim for 140ºF/60ºC.
Overcooked salmon is usually super firm, opaque all the way through, and dry. My top tip for avoiding overcooked salmon is to take the salmon out of the air fryer when it’s 5-10ºF lower than you’re aiming for. Then, allow it to rest for 5 minutes, and the residual heat will continue to cook it to your desired temperature without the risk of overcooking it.
I tend to use wild salmon, when possible, for several reasons. First, wild salmon is usually leaner (contains less fat) and has more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and various minerals. It also, usually, contains fewer contaminants.
In comparison, farm salmon contains more fat and has a milder flavor. However, more so, farmed salmon is more likely to contain contaminants such as antibiotic residue and GMOs from their feed.
Still, it’s important to note that this isn’t always the case, so doing some research into the best options that fit your budget and values is a great idea.
More Seafood Recipes
- Baked teriyaki salmon
- Crispy Baked Coconut Shrimp With Dipping Sauce
- Tuna Salad Sandwich
- Salted Cod Salad (Buljol)
- The Best Lox Bagel
- Honey Glazed Salmon Recipe
- Easy Air Fryer Cod
If you try this easy air fryer salmon recipe, I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions below. Also, I’d appreciate a recipe card rating below, and feel free to tag me in your recipe recreations on Instagram @Alphafoodie!
The Best Air Fryer Salmon
- 1/2 lb salmon filets 2 medium-sized or 1 large; wild salmon like Sockeye, Coho, chinook, etc; deboned with skin on
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil or another neutral oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt adjust amount to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Use paper towels to pat the salmon filets dry. Then, allow them to come to room temperature on the counter for 15 minutes.You may also want to check for any remaining pin bones in the salmon. Rub your fingers across the fillets, feeling for any bumps under the flesh. You can use tweezers to help remove any.
- Using a silicone brush or your hands, brush/rub oil into both sides of the salmon filets before seasoning them generously with salt and pepper.
- Preheat your air fryer to 400ºF/200ºC, spraying the bottom of the basket with a small amount of oil (to avoid sticking).
- Place the salmon filets in your air fryer basket, leaving space between them.
- Cook the salmon for 8-10 minutes until the salmon becomes opaque on the outside with a slightly translucent center. Use a finger to gently press the thickest part of the salmon to see if it flakes easily. If so, it's done.The exact salmon air fryer time will vary based on the size and thickness of the salmon fillets and your individual air fryer model. Check at 8 minutes, then continue to cook if needed.
- Allow the fish to cool completely before storing any leftovers in an airtight container. They will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and make a great option for weekly meal prep.
- Use even-sized fillets: Using fillets of an even thickness will ensure they cook at the same rate. I usually like to use fillets around 1 ½ in thick.
- Use skin-on salmon: You can remove it after cooking if preferred, but it will help hold the salmon together and keep it moist during the air frying process.
- Don’t overcrowd the basket: Make sure there is space between each fillet for the best results. If you’re making a large amount, cook the fillets in batches, then pop any earlier batches back in the air fryer for a minute or two at the end to re-warm them before serving.
- Preheat the air fryer: Even if your machine doesn’t say it is necessary, I prefer to preheat it when making this salmon recipe for the most evenly cooked results.
- Seasoning and marinades: Feel free to swap out the salt and pepper for your choice of dry rub or marinade. You can use lemon juice (and/or slices), garlic, fresh herbs like thyme or dill, a quick dry rub with onion and garlic powder and smoked paprika, Cajun seasoning, taco seasoning, sweet chili sauce, teriyaki sauce, etc.
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