Salmon is a quick, easy, and healthy dinner option. While there are many ways to make salmon from baking and grilling it to simply searing it in a pan, the air fryer is a fantastic option, especially if you are trying to make four servings or less!
The worry with cooking salmon in an air fryer is that you might overcook it. Watch the timer on the air fryer and don’t blast the fish with too much heat as it can dry out quickly. However, it is one of the easiest and quickest ways to make very delicious salmon for dinner!
Why Air Fry Salmon
The air fryer is a modern kitchen marvel. It allows you to cook at a high, consistent temperature. It circulates hot air, which means the fish will cook more evenly. It will also cook much faster than in the oven or a skillet because the hot air circulates around the salmon. You’ll get salmon that’s crisp on the outside, tender, and moist!
The Best Salmon for Air Frying
You can truly use any salmon for this recipe, but I find that 4- to 5-ounce portions work best. This is approximately what you would want for a serving anyway. Plus, it’s the best size for the air to flow around the salmon evenly, ensuring it cooks perfectly at the same time.
2 Quick Tips
- Remove the pin bones from the salmon. A tweezer is the best tool for this job!
- Keep the skin on the salmon, which will keep it from drying out.
Season the Salmon
I like a basic seasoning on my salmon—a mix of lemon pepper, salt, pepper, and olive oil. This lets the flavor of the fish really shine.
You could do any seasoning, like:
- Cajun blackened seasoning, like Cajun’s Choice
- Garlic seasoning
- Light brown sugar and soy sauce glaze
- Dukkah spice blend
- A homemade dry rub for fish
Skin Side Down or Up?
I tried two versions of air fryer salmon: one with the skin down and one with the skin up. I like crispy salmon skin, so I was hoping that cooking it skin side up would get me that. It sort of worked—the skin got a little crispy, but not as crispy as you’d get it in a hot skillet. Also, the fish got a little stuck to the air fryer basket and was hard to remove.
When you cook it skin side down, the skin may get stuck to the air fryer basket. The skin is going to be sacrificed for the purpose of making excellent salmon. But the salmon will be much easier to remove from the air fryer. Plus, you get the benefit of the skin acting as insurance against overcooking the fish. Win win!
Don’t Want to Lose the Skin? Do This!
Tuck lemon slices under the salmon in the air fryer basket. The lemon will act as a barrier so that the salmon skin doesn’t get stuck. This tip goes for any fish, but it works particularly well with salmon.
Also, spray the inside of the air fryer basket with nonstick spray. Nothing should stick and you’ll have an easier time with clean up!
Want to Make a Side? Wait!
I’ve seen recipes that air fry vegetables alongside the salmon. I don’t love this method. Packing your air fryer means that less air can circulate and can lead to uneven cooking. It’s impossible to guarantee the salmon and vegetables are done at the same time.
Since it only takes about 8 minutes to cook the salmon, I recommend cooking the vegetables right after.
More Ways to Cook Salmon
Air Fryer Salmon
Although it is not required, you can preheat your air fryer following the instruction manual.
4 (4- to 5-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon pepper (or 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Lemon wedges, for garnish
Prepare the air fryer basket:
Lightly spray the inside of the air fryer basket with nonstick cooking spray.
Season the salmon:
Place the salmon on a plate skin side down. Drizzle the tops (the skinless sides) with olive oil and season with lemon pepper, salt, and black pepper.
Air fry the salmon:
Place the salmon in the air fryer basket. Make sure they aren’t touching. I like to place mine skin-side down, but skin-side up is also an option. If you’d like, place a few lemon slices under each piece of salmon.
Air fry the salmon for about 8 minutes at 350˚F. The salmon is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 135°F to 140˚F when measured with an instant read thermometer. You can cook it longer if you want a slightly more well-done piece.
Serve the salmon:
Serve the salmon with fresh lemon wedges for squeezing on top.
Refrigerate leftover salmon for up to 3 days.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 21g||27%|
|Saturated Fat 4g||20%|
|Total Carbohydrate 16g||6%|
|Dietary Fiber 5g||17%|
|Total Sugars 4g|
|Vitamin C 94mg||471%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|