When someone asks me what is the best food to cook in an air fryer one of the first things that comes to my mind is salmon. That may shock a lot of people because most people think of air fryers as a substitute method for deep frying.
Although when I first purchased my air fryer that was my intention as well. However, after becoming familiar with my new cooking device and cooking all sorts of traditionally fried foods in it, I knew that it could do much more.
That is when I started experimenting with recipes that I would most often make in the oven, on the stovetop, or even on our gas grill! And the results were amazing!
The salmon turned out even better than expected! Light and flaky, perfectly cooked fish that took only 7 minutes to make!
My oven and grill both take longer to heat up than the time it took for the salmon to be cooked in the air fryer. It is a great way to get a healthy meal on the table in under 10 minutes!
However, not all salmon is created equal. Because there are a lot of variances of the type of salmon that you can purchase, you may need to adapt the recipe slightly to meet your needs.
Wild Caught vs. Fresh Caught Salmon
Although fresh caught salmon costs less per pound, I always purchase wild caught salmon. Wild caught salmon contains fewer calories and fat when compared to farm raised salmon.
They are much leaner than farmed fish because they are constantly on the move in the search for food. Not to mention, there are far less contaminants in the fish itself.
Therefore, the actual flavor of the fish tastes much better. And you can actually visually see the difference between the two type of fish.
Pacific wild caught salmon will have a deep pink color. While farmed salmon will be pale pink in comparison.
Therefore, when you are trying to figure out which is the best type of salmon to purchase for your Air Fryer Salmon, opt for wild caught!
Fresh vs. Frozen Salmon
Depending on where you live, the availability of fresh fish will vary. For those who live on the Pacific coast, it is common to have fresh fish available at the market.
However, for those who are from areas more rural or inland, you may need to purchase frozen salmon instead. Because I live in a very rural area, most often I have to purchase a large, frozen wild caught salmon filet.
I find it in the seafood freezer section at my grocery store. It is pre-sliced into 4 semi-cut portions that can easily be separated for cooking.
Whether you purchase fresh or frozen salmon, the key to making the best salmon in the air fryer is to cook salmon filets that are similar in size.
Because I typically buy the large frozen filet, I will separate out the larger, two center cuts. I will cook those two at the same time and save the thinner edge pieces for another day.
Just be sure to thaw your salmon and pat it dry before cooking it. Doing so, you will have perfectly cooked salmon each and every time.
Best Air Fryer Salmon Recipe
*Specific measurements and complete recipe instructions are located in a printable recipe card at the bottom of this article. However, be sure to continue to read the tips and tricks to making this recipe below.
- 2 Wild caught salmon fillets, approximately 1- 1 1/2 inches thick
- 2 teaspoons Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Onion powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked Paprika*
- Lemon wedges, for serving
I use smoked paprika in a lot of my recipes. I highly recommend it over sweet paprika as it gives the salmon a slight smoky flavor.
The first step in making salmon in the air fryer is to thaw the frozen salmon filets, if using. If using fresh salmon you can skip this step, although you will still want to bring the salmon to room temperature before cooking.
Luckily, salmon thaws out quickly when compared to other types of meat. However, if you forgot to put the salmon in the refrigerator to thaw overnight, there is a quicker method that you can use.
How To Thaw Salmon Quickly
Remove the salmon from the vacuum sealed pack. Then place it in a sealed plastic bag.
Place the bag with the salmon in cold water for 30 minutes. If the fish has not yet thawed completely, replace the water and repeat.
Now that your salmon is thawed, it is time to let the filets come to room temperature. Although you could technically cook the salmon when it is frozen or cold, to make the best salmon, you must let it come to room temperature before cooking it in the air fryer.
Once the filets are at room temperature, pat them dry with a paper towel. Then rub each fillet with olive oil on both sides and generously season with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl combine the garlic powder, onion powder and smoked paprika. Mix until the spices are well incorporated.
Sprinkle the dry rub seasoning on the non-skin side of the filets. Set aside.
Air Fryer Cooking Instructions
Preheat the air fryer if your brand requires you to do so. My NuWave Air Fryer Oven has a preheat setting and takes approximately 5 minutes to preheat to the desired temperature.
However, not all air fryers require you to preheat the basket before cooking. Therefore, follow the recommendations for your specific air fryer brand.
Place the salmon, skin side down in the basket and cook at 390°F (199°C) for 7 minutes. Check for doneness by pressing on the thickest portion of the salmon.
The salmon is cooked when the center is slightly firm and the meat begins to separate and become light and flaky. Remove the salmon from the air fryer.
Before serving, squeeze lemon wedges over the filets.
Other Delicious Salmon Recipes
- Parchment Paper Baked Salmon and Asparagus recipe
- Sheet Pan Lemon Pepper Salmon
- Maple Glazed Salmon
- Creamy Tuscan Salmon
- Sheet Pan Salmon & Broccoli
- Honey Garlic Salmon
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- 2 wild caught salmon fillets, approximately 1- 1 1/2 inches thick
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- lemon wedges
- Thaw frozen salmon filets. Bring filets to room temperature and pat dry.
- Rub each fillet with olive oil on all sides and generously season with salt and pepper.
- In a small bowl combine the garlic powder, onion powder and smoked paprika. Sprinkle seasoning on the non-skin side of the filets.
- Preheat air fryer per manufactures instructions. Place skin side down in the basket and cook at 390 degrees F for 7 minutes.
- Check for doneness and continue to cook if needed until light and flaky.
- Squeeze lemon wedges over filets and serve.
Cooking times will vary based on the size of your fillets and also your specific brand of air fryer. Adjust accordingly.
Recipe provided by Make Your Meals
Serving Size:1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 538Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 143mgSodium: 300mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 3gSugar: 1gProtein: 51g
Nutritional Information is to be used as a general guideline only . Nutritional calculations will vary from the types and brands of the products used.