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Air Fryer Salmon

Air Fryer Salmon is one of my top quick weeknight recipes. The air fryer cooks the fish perfectly—leaving it flavorful, flaky, and moist. 

Low angle shot of a plate with 2 cooked salmon fillets. There is an air fryer in the background.

Salmon with steamed rice and broccoli was one of the first meals my son would reliably eat when he was a toddler.

So of course I did what any self-respecting mother would do: I fed it to him so often that he got totally sick of it. But when I started cooking salmon in the air fryer, even my jaded teenager started loving it again.

There are a million reasons to turn to salmon for family meals. For one thing, we all know how good all those Omega 3 fatty acids are for you’re your heart and it’s full of lean protein.

This air fryer salmon recipe gives you all of those benefits, plus amazing flavor! Air frying the salmon takes just a few minutes and the fish turns out flaky and moist. Just delicious!

Salmon is super versatile, too. You can spice it or marinade it a million different ways. And no matter how you flavor it, it is quick to cook, especially when you cook it in the air fryer. 

Overhead shot of the ingredients needed to make the recipe.

What ingredients do you need to make salmon in the air fryer?

For the complete list of ingredients with quantities and detailed prep and cooking instructions, please see the recipe card that appears at the end of this post.

You only need a few ingredients to cook salmon in the air fryer. Here’s what you need:

  • Salmon fillets—You can make use skin-on fillets or skin-off fillets. I usually make this air fryer salmon with skin becuase I love how the skin gets crispy and keeps the fish moist and flavorful.
  • Brown sugar or honey—A little bit of sugar here caramelizes and turns into a glaze, which gives the salmon texture and added flavor and eye appeal.
  • Olive oil—You could substitute any other cooking oil you like, such as safflower oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil.
  • Reduced-sodium soy sauce—You can substitute full-strength soy sauce, but use about 25 to 30 percent less and make up the difference with water.
  • Garlic powder—You can substitute 1 minced clove of fresh garlic if you like.
  • Ground ginger—If you have fresh ginger, substitute a teaspoon or so of the fresh stuff grated on a microplane.

How do you make it?

For the complete list of ingredients with quantities and detailed prep and cooking instructions, please see the recipe card that appears at the end of this post.

Air fryer salmon is super easy! Here’s how to make it:

  1. Pat the salmon fillets dry. 
  2. In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, brown sugar, olive oil, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger and mix well.
  3. Line the air fryer basket with aluminum foil or us an aluminum or silicone baking mold. This will help keep in all of the delicious flavors of the sauce.
  4. Arrange the salmon fillets in the air fryer in a single layer. Spoon the sauce mixture over the salmon, dividing equally.
  5. Air fry for about 5 minutes, until the fish flakes easily with a fork and the sauce is bubbling and thick.
  6. Serve hot with the sauce spooned over the top.

 

AIR FRYER SALMON FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How far ahead can I buy salmon?

Fish can spoil quickly, so I try not to keep it more than a day or two after buying it. Once it’s cooked, you can keep it for another two or three days in the refrigerator.

Should I buy skin on salmon or salmon with the skin off?

I prefer to make this air fryer salmon with skin on. The skin gets nice and crispy while maintaining a layer of fat that keeps the fish moist and gives it tons of flavor. You can eat the skin or not, depending on your preference. But even if you don’t eat it, you’ll still get the flavor and texture benefits of it being there. You can use this same recipe and cooking method whether you have skin-on or skin-off fillets. 

Should I cook the salmon skin-side down or skin-side up?

If you’re using skin-on salmon, always cook it skin-side down. This will give you nice crispy skin and also keep the fish nice and moist.

How do I know if the salmon is done?

It can be hard to know when salmon is done since its pink color can be confusing, and it also can quickly become overcooked. I like to cook my salmon until it flakes easily with a fork, but is still a little pink in the very center so that it stays nice and moist. You’ll know the salmon in the air fryer is done when you see the layer of white stuff appear on the top and the fish flakes easily with a fork. It is okay if it is still a bit pink in the center. This means it will still be moist and flavorful.

What is the white stuff that appears on the salmon when you cook it?

That white stuff is albumen, a protein that is liquid in the raw salmon but solidifies and bubbles out when the fish is cooked. When you see this appear on top of the salmon, you know it is done.

Can I cook frozen salmon in an air fryer?

Yes! You can cook frozen salmon in the air fryer.  You can cook it the same way you cook thawed or fresh salmon in air fryer, but you may need to cook it for a few minutes longer. Start with 7 minutes instead of 5 and if it’s not done, add another minute or two.

What kind of air fryer do you recommend?

I use either a basket-style air fryer or an oven-style air fryer to cook salmon. Both work great. My Ninja oven-style air fryer (Ninja Dual Heat Air Fry Countertop 13-in-1 Oven) is great because it has a stainless steel air fryer basket. My basket-style air fryer (GoWise 5.8-Quart Air Fryer) is nice because it doesn’t need to be preheated.

Do I need to use a parchment paper liner in the air fryer basket?

You don’t need a parchment paper liner to make this air fried salmon, but they do make for easier cleanup. Reusable silicone liners are a great, lower waste alternative if you prefer not to use single-use disposable liners.

Low angle shot of air fried salmon on a plate, ready for serving.

serving suggestions

I like to serve this air fried salmon with steamed white rice or brown rice and a simple vegetable like steamed broccoli. If I’m feeling motivated, I’ll serve it with Dry Fried Green Beans or Sunomono, Japanese Cucumber Salad, or maybe spicy Cucumber Kimchi.

If you want a change of pace, try substituting the glaze from Miso Glazed Salmon for the sauce in this recipe. You can air fry it the same way, but the miso glaze adds a whole different flavor element.

Shot of a bite of salmon on a fork.

More Air Fryer Recipes You’ll Love

Yield: Serves 2

Air Fryer Salmon

Low angle, closeup shot of the cooked salmon on a plate.

Air frying the salmon takes just a few minutes and the fish turns out flaky and moist. Just delicious!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar or honey
  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

Instructions

  1. Pat the salmon fillets dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. 
  2. In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, brown sugar, olive oil, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger and mix well.
  3. Line the air fryer basket with aluminum foil or us an aluminum or silicone baking mold. This will help keep in all of the delicious flavors of the sauce.
  4. Arrange the salmon fillets in the air fryer in a single layer. Spoon the sauce mixture over the salmon, dividing equally.
  5. Cook at 370°F for 5 minutes. When done, the salmon will flake easily with a fork and the sauce will be bubbling and thick.
  6. Once the cooking is finished, transfer the fish to a plate and spoon the sauce over the top.
  7. Serve hot.

Nutrition Information

Yield

2

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 156Total Fat 10gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 0mgSodium 1025mgCarbohydrates 16gFiber 1gSugar 14gProtein 1g

Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and manner of food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, freshness of ingredients, and other factors.

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By on February 16th, 2022

About Robin Donovan


Hi, I’m Robin! I am a full-time food blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. I spend my days cooking, writing about, and photographing food.

I’m the author of more than 40 cookbooks, including Ramen for Beginners, 5 Ingredient Cooking for Two, Sushi at Home, The Baking Cookbook for Teens, and the bestselling Campfire Cuisine.

My food writing has also been featured in major print and online pubications including Cooking Light, Fitness, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and other popular publications.

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