I grew up eating salmon but there was never anything about it that truly enticed me. It has taken me close to three decades to find a cooking method that could pull me into the salmon game. Now that I have discovered how to cook salmon in the air fryer, there is no going back.
Why Air Fry Salmon?
Simply put, air fryer salmon is absolutely the way to go for anyone with a tendency to get grossed out by certain food textures. For me, salmon is one of those foods that can lean into the ick zone if not cooked just right. An air fryer eliminates the guess work and salmon comes out flaky and moist, with a perfectly crispy skin.
This is the air fryer that I use. It is actually an instant pot with an air fryer lid, which is a huge bonus for me because it’s multi-functional. Note, if you buy the product through this link I will receive a commission. That being said, I love this product and use it all the time.
What Flavors go well with Salmon?
Classic Buffalo: Buffalo sauce isn’t just for wings. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Hot Honey Bourbon: This sauce is sweet and spicy. It creates an excellent glaze for salmon.
Sesame Ginger: Soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger. It’s hard to go wrong.
Honey Dijon: It is like a classic honey mustard but with a little curry kick. This sauce is included in the recipe card for this post.
Tips for Air Frying Salmon
Cut your salmon into even pieces. If the pieces are too big, they will take too long to cook through in the air fryer. In general, 1/3 lb pieces, that are about 1 1/2″ thick will cook the best by this method. If your sizes are a little different, no worries, but the cooking time may vary. Start to check your salmon for flaking, using a fork, after about 8 minutes.
Don’t remove the salmon skin. Even if you do not intend to eat the skin (I get it, that’s not for everyone). The skin creates a functional barrier between the air fryer basket and the salmon. It decreases the likelihood that your pieces will get stuck to the basket, which can be a big headache.
Double up on your chosen sauce. Dress the salmon as it starts cooking and again when it is done. The sugars from the sauce will start to caramelize as the salmon cooks in the air fryer. The final glaze will reinforce your flavors and add a touch of moisture to your bite.
Now, you can’t just eat salmon for the whole meal, don’t be silly. Pair your fish with a grain and vegetable of choice – some options are listed below. This salmon actually makes for a pretty good make ahead freezer meal. Cook up a couple of grains and vegetables along with your salmon and you’ll be able to mix and match for several meals! Just be sure to reheat the salmon gently, so as to not overcook it.
- Wild rice
- Brown rice.
Get your air fryer pre-heated and your glaze mixed up, then thank yourself for finally finding a way to enjoy your omega-3s. No more fish pills for you. You’re welcome.
Air Fried Salmon
- Air fryer
- 1 lb salmon about 1 ½" thick
- oil spray for coating the air fryer basket
Honey Dijon Sauce
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp water
- ¼ tsp curry powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- Cut your salmon into ~⅓ pound pieces. Adjust as necessary depending upon the thickness of your filet. Do not remove the skin.
- Pre-heat the air fryer to 400 °F.
- Lightly spray the air fryer basket with oil. Though the salmon skin helps to drastically reduce the possibility of sticking, a little oil will set you up for success.
- Place salmon, skin side down in the air fryer. Do not crowd your basket. If your air fryer is small you may have to make it in two batches. Luckily, it is super fast.
- Pour a thin layer of your chosen sauce over each piece of salmon, coating all visible sides. Reserve about 1 tsp of sauce per piece of salmon.
- Close the air fryer and cook the salmon for 8-12 minutes. There is some variability in how the salmon cooks so check it after the 8 minute mark. Use a fork to check for flakiness. If it's not yet done, continue to cook, checking again every 1-2 minutes.
- Remove salmon from the air fryer, then top each piece with 1 tsp of reserved sauce.
- Serve salmon with a grain and a vegetable for a balanced meal.
Honey Dijon Sauce
- Measure all sauce ingredients into a small bowl. Whisk well to combine.
- Whisk again just before use.