Air fryer salmon is the BEST way to cook salmon that turns out tender and flaky every single time! Ready in just 6 minutes, this recipe uses simple ingredients and has minimal prep.
Need a fast and easy way to cook salmon? This air fryer salmon recipe is your answer.
In my household, I used to strictly bake salmon or pan-sear salmon, but once my air fryer arrived, it became my favorite way to cook this fish as it takes a fraction of the time (along with air fryer salmon bites). Bonus? It also has maximum crispness!
Table of Contents
Why this recipe works
- Ready in 6 minutes. Fish is already one of the fastest cooking proteins, and the air fryer makes it even faster.
- It’s a healthy meal option. Salmon is a nutritious and healthy source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, and cooking it in the air fryer allows you to enjoy all of its health benefits without added oil or fat.
- Perfect texture and flavor. Nothing is worse than over-cooked rubbery salmon, and the air fryer guarantees the fish turns out crispy on the outside and perfectly flaky in the middle. The simple seasoning blend doesn’t overtake the natural sweetness of the fish.
- Easy to customize. To the above point, I kept this recipe simple with a few seasonings but you can douse it in a sauce or marinade or use your favorite spice mix.
As mentioned earlier, we keep the seasonings at a minimum to really allow the natural flavor of the salmon to shine. Here is everything you will need:
- Salmon fillets. I prefer skin-on salmon filets as it helps to cook the fish more completely and evenly. Even if you don’t like the skin, you can easily discard it before serving.
- Olive oil. Although salmon is a naturally oily fish, adding a touch of oil will help the seasonings stick to the fish and also avoid it sticking to the basket.
- Salt and pepper. To taste.
- Brown sugar. The secret ingredient! Adding a touch of sugar helps caramelize the fish and gives it a crispy exterior and a very subtle sweetness.
- Spices. Smoked paprika, garlic, and onion powder enhance the flavor of the fish and gives it a lovely, smokey flavor.
How to cook salmon in the air fryer
What I love about this recipe is that it follows a simple 2-step process and you can have perfectly cooked fish in no time.
Step 1- Season the salmon. Add the salmon and olive oil into a small bowl and mix. Add the salt, pepper, and spices, and rub them onto the fish. Ensure all sides of the fish are seasoned.
Step 2- Air fry the salmon. Put the seasoned salmon in the air fryer basket and air fry for 6 minutes. Remove the salmon and serve immediately.
Recipe tips and variations
- Choose even-sized salmon fillets. Opt for fillets that are similar in size and weight. This will ensure the fish cooks evenly, completely, and at the same time.
- Use a meat thermometer. To ensure your salmon cooks perfectly, you can check the internal temperature. The FDA recommends cooking salmon to an internal temperature of 145°F.
- Don’t overcrowd the basket. If needed, cook the fish in batches, as adding too many to the air fryer basket will affect how quickly the salmon is cooked and over-cook certain sides.
- Serve with healthy sides. Air fried salmon is healthy in itself, but you can round out the meal with other healthy side dishes like steamed vegetables, rice, and salads. You can also do as I do and air fry some vegetables WITH the salmon, like air fryer brussels sprouts, air fryer asparagus, and air fryer broccoli.
- Add parchment paper. Or air fryer liners to the base of the air fryer. This makes cleanup an absolute breeze!
To Store: Leftover salmon can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
To freeze: Place the cooked and cooled salmon in a ziplock bag and store it in the freezer for up to two months.
Frequently asked questions
There is no need to flip the salmon in this recipe as the skin is still intact. Salmon can be quite delicate, and flipping it risks the fish breaking apart.
Yes! You can use frozen salmon, and there is no need to thaw it, either. Just remember to increase the cooking time by 2 minutes to compensate.
This recipe works with either kind of salmon and the cooking time will remain the same.
More delicious seafood air fryer recipes
Air Fryer Salmon (In 6 Minutes!)
- In a small bowl, coat the salmon with oil, then add the salt and pepper.
- Mix the remaining sugar and spices and rub over the salmon.
- Add the salmon skin side down to the air fryer basket and air fry at 200C/400F for 6 minutes, or until cooked.
- Remove the salmon from the air fryer basket and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
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