You Won't Believe How Easy Cooking Salmon in the Air Fryer Is

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All you need is an air fryer, a filet of salmon and 10 minutes.

David lives in Brooklyn where he's spent more than a decade covering all things edible, including meal kit services, food subscriptions, kitchen tools and cooking tips. Before, during and after earning his BA from Northeastern, he toiled in nearly every aspect of the food business, including as a line cook in Rhode Island where he once made a steak sandwich for Lamar Odom. Right now he's likely somewhere stress-testing a blender or the best way to cook bacon. Anything with sesame is his all-time favorite food this week.

Expertise Kitchen tools | Appliances | Food science | Subscriptions | Meal kits

Every year, I find a few new ways to use the air fryer. It never ceases to amaze me how well and quickly the air fryer cooks food and how simple it is to clean after. For super simple, healthy weeknight meals, air fryer salmon tops my list of recipes to make in the powerful and efficient countertop cooker. Air-frying salmon takes less time than any other method I've tried. It also cuts down on the fishy smell and cleanup and it's almost impossible to screw up.

As with many types of fish, salmon does well with a blast of high heat to give the outer layer a crust without overcooking it through the middle, and air fryers are designed to do just that. What's more, your air fryer basket will contain the fish better than most cooking devices, mitigating some of the fishy smell.

Air fryers only take a couple of minutes to preheat so if you're making a quick weeknight meal for one or two, cooking salmon in the air fryer is an ace up your sleeve. Air fryers also cost less to run and use less energy than big ovens, and they don't create an oily mess like searing salmon on the stovetop will.

raw salmon filet on cutting board with ramekin of sauce

A fresh filet and seasonings are all you need to make the perfect air fryer salmon dinner.

David Watsky/CNET

To make perfect salmon in your air fryer, you'll need olive oil and a sauce or seasoning -- that's about it. Your flavor agent can come in the form of a dry rub or marinade, either store-bought or homemade. You can also keep the recipe simple with salt, pepper, fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon over the top. Adaptations of this salmon air fryer recipe can see you through a lot of busy evenings without having to resort to expensive and often unhealthy takeout.

Making salmon in the air fryer takes about 10 minutes from start to finish. Here's how to make a perfect fish filet every time.

For more, see our favorite places to order salmon online and the best air fryers we tested for 2024. If you're wondering how these trendy and efficient countertop cookers work and which model is best, read my complete guide to air fryers.

Ingredients for air fryer salmon

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 green onion, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parchment paper (optional)

How to make salmon in the air fryer

  • Step 1: Preheat the air fryer to 380 degrees F on either "air fry" or "roast."
  • Step 2: Whisk together olive oil, brown sugar, soy sauce and green onion.
  • Step 4: Pat salmon filet dry and place it in the air fryer on top of parchment paper (paper optional).
  • Step 5: Pour soy sauce mixture over salmon, brush to coat completely.
  • Step 6: Close basket and cook for about 8 minutes, checking with a fork or internal probe for doneness (cook a minute or two more if you prefer your salmon medium well or well done).
salmon cut into revealing medium rare center

Just 8 minutes in the air fryer and you have perfectly medium rare salmon.

David Watsky/CNET

What else can you cook in the air fryer?

It's become my go-to for roasted chicken, replacing my slow and dirty dish-heavy oven recipe. I recently learned to make juicy air fryer cheeseburgers and sizzle bacon in less than 10 minutes and without dirtying a skillet or sheet pan. 

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