Tender, flaky salmon filets cooked to perfection in your air fryer. With just a few simple ingredients and easy prep, this recipe is on your plate in less than 15 minutes.
Seriously, 15 minutes in real time. How amazing is that? We can get a healthy, protein-rich salmon filet faster that waiting in the drive-thru of a fast-food restaurant!
Our air fryer has become such a huge part of our daily meal routine. We absolutely love it! It’s really the perfect kitchen appliance and one of our most frequently used. When it’s screamingly hot in the summer the air fryer makes us quick and healthy (or decadent) meals in the blink of an eye.
And it does so much more than air “fry” foods. An air fryer is basically a small convection oven with a heating element above the cooking surface (tray or basket) and forces the hot air down and around the food. It’s perfect for so many recipes, and one of our favorites is air fryer salmon.
In fact, we love our air fryer so much we’d like to take it out for a cup of coffee.
“Get the most expensive drink on the menu, it’s on us as a thank you!”
How to Air Fry Salmon?
Many air fryer recipes use breading. Not for this recipe, no breading is needed! We’ll just add some simple seasonings, place the salmon filets in the air fryer basket or tray (depending on the kind of air fryer you have), and use the “air fry” setting. You’ll see that he results are awesome. Let’s take a look at how to to this…
Our salmon is prepared with just a little melted butter brushed over the top of the filets, then we add some fresh ground black pepper, garlic powder, paprika and a little salt. Yep, that’s it! We like to use course ground black pepper directly from the pepper mill. But any ground black pepper will do. You can also choose to use smoked paprika vs. regular paprika. Smoked paprika has a very earthy, smoky flavor that makes salmon sing and dance.
And if you really want to see your salmon do a two-step, grab the hot smoked paprika for a little zip.
Salmon filets are ideal for the air fryer. With just 5 ingredients and 10 minutes on the air fry setting, we get perfectly cooked salmon that is tender, flaky, and with a nice caramelization on top. For this recipe we like to place aluminum foil down in the basket or on the tray of the air fryer. Then give it a little spray with some non-stick cooking spray. Salmon skin (if using skin-on filets) really likes to stick, so the foil will really make clean up “no muss, no fuss.” No worries, it won’t affect the outcome of the recipe. Brush the top of the salmon filets with butter and add the seasonings.
It’s ok to use foil?
This is one of those rare instances where it’s fine to use aluminum foil in your air fryer. You see, the air fryer needs the air circulating around the food to create the crispness which emulates traditional frying. For this salmon recipe, though we’re air frying, we’re really cooking it as though it’s being broiled, so having foil on the bottom of the basket to help with cleanup is just fine. Of course, you don’t have to use any at all. This recipe actually cleans up pretty well as is without foil too.
Air Fry at 390°(F) for 10 minutes
Preheat the air fryer for 5 minutes at 390°(F). Starting with a preheat air fryer is important is it helps give the salmon a nice color on top. After preheating, in it goes at 390°(F) for 10 minutes for 6 ounce filets. If your filets are bigger, you can adjust the time accordingly and add a minute or two. When the time is up, the salmon filets will have a beautiful caramelization on top and will easily flake apart with a fork. The internal temperature should be at least 145°(F) when measured in the thickest part of the salmon with a meat thermometer. This is the key to making great salmon. Using an instant read thermometer will be your best friend.
When it comes to salmon, “fork tender” really is a thing.
Ready to Serve
Once the cook time is complete your salmon filets are ready to serve immediately. Squeeze some lemon juice over the fish to add a nice, delicious vibrancy to the taste. You can also add some parsley flakes or fresh dill. Salmon pairs perfectly with fresh asparagus. You can cook the asparagus right alongside the salmon in the air fryer. Just cut off the woody ends, add a little olive oil and salt, and add to the air fryer after 2 minutes. The asparagus will cook a little faster than the fish so adding it after 2 minutes helps for everything to come out perfectly done together.
A Salmon a Day, Will Keep Your Omega-3 Fats in Play!
As we all know, salmon isn’t only delicious – it’s deliciously good for you! One of the big health benefits is in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids eicosatetraenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). And as a basic rule of thumb, most health officials recommend that healthy adults get between 250-1,000 mg of EPA and DHA combined a day.
And that’s where our buddy the salmon filet comes into the picture.
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered “essential,” which means they have to come from what we consume.
So, grab a couple of servings of salmon a week, and your body will say, “Thank you! We appreciate the lower blood pressure and decreased risk factors for disease!”
You’re welcome, body. You’re welcome.
Side Dish Suggestions
When it comes to side dishes, this salmon is practically a blank canvas for anything you want to plate it with. It’s totally full of flavor on its own, so it’s not shy about any side dish trying to get a little reflected limelight.
So, bring it on Instant Pot Parmesan Ranch Potatoes! Welcome to the party Air Fryer Sweet Potatoes! Roasted asparagus is the perfect recipe to accompany our air fryer salmon recipe, so check out our Air Fryer Asparagus!
Peppers and zucchini also make a wonderful and easy side dish.
The more the merrier when it comes to a delicious and gorgeous weeknight dinner!
When it comes to ending our healthy, flavorful, and let’s face it – just generally awesome – salmon dinner, we like to enjoy a little dessert too.
We think that our Summer Fresh Burst Fruit Salad rounds out the meal in a fresh and eye poppingly stunning way. Speaking of “eye popping” and “beautiful,” have we talked about our Red Velvet Cupcakes? Oh, yeah. Whip up a batch of these to end your noteworthy salmon meal and have everyone give you high fives and fist bumps.
In short, give our Best Damn Air Fryer Salmon a shot on a busy weeknight, and spread the love around with some tasty sides and desserts.
You’ll be very, very happy with yourself!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use frozen salmon in the air fryer?
Answer: Absolutely yes! Salmon in one of those meats which do not require thawing prior to cooking. For best results, we recommend running the salmon filet under cold water to remove any frost or ice crystals. Then pat dry with a paper towel. Now you will have a good surface with which to apply the seasonings. For more information see our full post on defrosting salmon.
Should the salmon be skin-on or skin-off?
Answer: Either is just fine. For 6 ounce filets the cooking time will be the same regardless of skin on or off.
How do you flip a salmon fillet?
Answer: For this recipe, you do not need to flip the salmon. Place it on the air fryer basket or tray, skin-side down (if using with skin), and just let it cook. No flipping required.
How to store leftovers?
Answer: Keep your cooked salmon fillets in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Can cooked salmon be frozen?
Answer: Yes indeed. Best way is to put double wrap in plastic freezer bags. Make sure to squeeze as much air out as possible. Store in freezer for up to 4 months.
What’s the best way to reheat salmon?
Answer: Guess what? The answer is… *drum roll please* the air fryer!
Just lightly oil your air fryer basket, and set the temperature to 350°(F). Give it a few minutes to get good and hot, and place your cooked salmon on it. Air fry it for 3-5 minutes, or until warmed through. Voila! Perfectly awesome reheated salmon that’s still as moist as when you cooked it the first time!
(Some people are fans of microwaving salmon, but that’s not how we roll. First, the salmon gets dry because microwaves heat things up from the inside out. And second, if you’ve ever worked where there’s a break room and had a coworker microwave fish, you know that the microwave method is a little – shall we say – odiferous. And nobody wants to subject their kitchen or their appliances to that!)Print