Learn how to cook salmon in an air fryer that’s tender and juicy. Get plenty of ideas for flavor combinations, what to serve along side, and the best tips for making sure your salmon is the best!
Choosing good quality salmon
No farmed salmon
The best flavored salmon will be the best quality. Before I learned to read labels, I often brought home farmed salmon. It’s pale pink and often labeled as “Atlantic” salmon.
Farmed salmon is fish raised in pens in controlled environments. These fish often have high levels of antibiotics and contaminants in their system.
This salmon has a very strong, fishy flavor and odor instead of being cleanly flavored.
Farmed salmon is higher in omega 3 fats, but that’s coming from synthetic vitamins they are fed. Not nature.
If you are buying your salmon pre-packaged, just flip it over
Try to find salmon that is very dark pink, firm and doesn’t smell like fish. This ensures that it’s fresh. It should also be labeled as “wild”. Wild Alaskan salmon is my favorite and it has a light, clean flavor.
There are so many amazing companies out there who will ship fresh Alaskan salmon to your door. Check out:
- The Wild Alaskan Salmon Company
- Wild for Salmon
- Great Alaska Seafood
- Sitka Salmon Shares (I have ordered from Sitka!)
- Caught Wild Salmon
Even mail order boxes like Moink and Butcher Box offer salmon portions in some orders.
How to prepare salmon for air frying
1. Skin on or off?
You can choose. I like to take the skin off after air frying with a sharp spatula. It comes off really easily. You can also take it off before cooking with a sharp knife and a bit of patience.
2. What’s the grey stuff on salmon, and why I take it off
The grey is subcutaneous fat. You are welcome to eat it because it’s full of omega fats and can be quite healthy.
However, it has a very strong, fishy flavor.
I usually cook my filets and then use a sharp spatula to remove the skin and scrape away the grey layer as well.
3. Cut even filets
If you are cutting your own filets, cut them all the same size. If you buy them already cut in to portions and some are very small and some are large, cut them to an equal size if possible.
If you have one thin end and one thick end, tuck the thin end under the thicker part to make the filet more even all the way across.
4. Pat dry and season
Pat the fish dry with paper towels and then season as you choose. Dry salmon will brown better than if it has moisture on top.
What temperature is best for air frying salmon?
400 Fahrenheit. Cook salmon filets based on thickness for best results. Usually 4 to 6 minutes per half inch of thickness. Always check your fish after the shortest cook time and remember it will carry over cook after you take it out.
What internal temperature is best for salmon that’s juicy?
Remove the salmon from the air fryer at 125 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature ensures that even with carry over cooking time, salmon filets stay juicy.
Do you have to flip salmon in an air fryer?
No. Because the air moves around the salmon so evenly, the fish will cook evenly without a flip. Most salmon fillets are so thin, that their short cooking time would make it difficult to flip the fish and not dry out the filets.
The best salmon seasoning ideas
I love a salty-sweet salmon or a simple version with garlic and herbs. Today we’re using a blend of soy, honey, garlic, and ginger and the flavor profile is wonderful. Some other ideas include:
- Simple salt, pepper and avocado oil (olive oil shouldn’t be heated, so choose a different oil)
- Fresh parsley, basil, and thyme
- Chopped garlic, oil and lemon slices or juice
- Soy, honey, garlic, and ginger (my favorite!)
- Try a dry rub or a sprinkle of Old Bay Seasoning
- Coat filets in blackening spices
What’s the best air fryer for salmon?
I bought the Breville 3 in 1 Air Fryer and Microwave combo and really like it. I need less in my life–not more gadgets. When our microwave died, this one was a great choice.
How to cook salmon in an air fryer
- Air Fryer
- Make sure the salmon is totally thawed, if frozen.
- Pat the fish dry with paper towels. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, honey, oil, ginger and garlic together.
- Brush seasoning (or your other choice of seasoning) on to the flesh side of the fish and allow the fish to sit 5 to 10 minutes if you can for the flavors to penetrate. If you don't have time, just move ahead.
- Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper if using.
- Preheat your air fryer to 400.
- Transfer the fish to your basket or tray (depending on your air fryer model) and bake 4 to 6 minutes per half inch of thickness or an internal temperature of 125 degrees.
- Fish should flake apart easily with a fork when cooked but still be a bit pink in the center. Let the salmon rest 5 to 7 minutes before enjoying.