Ridiculously Good Air Fryer Salmon Recipe - Skillful Cook
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Ridiculously Good Air Fryer Salmon

22 reviews / 5 average

My go-to salmon recipe that's perfect every time! Crisped and golden on the outside, buttery and juicy on the inside, and made in 15 minutes start to finish.

Wow. I'll Never Look At Salmon The Same Way Again.

Guys, this air fryer salmon has changed my salmon game. It's loaded with flavor, and the air fryer gives it a crusty, crisped exterior while keeping a consistently juicy, buttery interior texture. Each piece just gently slips apart when you press a fork on it, and it is utterly delightful. This one goes in my forever files!

I've made this SO MANY TIMES in the last few weeks. Ways we've loved it:

Air fryer salmon on a plate with naan, tzatziki, and salad.

I could have never imagined a world in which me and my two kids - under 5 years old - would stand around eating chunks of salmon, plain, no sauce, directly out of the air fryer, but this is my reality now. We are often finishing half or more before it makes it to the dinner table. It's stupidly, ridiculously good.

Three reasons I love this so much:

  1. It gives you consistently great crisped and golden texture on the outside with SUCH MINIMAL EFFORT.
  2. It gives you consistently juicy and buttery texture on the inside - never dried out, it's good every time.
  3. The flavor doesn't taste like any one single spice - it just tastes good. For me, it hits so much harder than the standard butter + lemon + Dijon salmon flavor profile. It has a salty-sweet-savoriness that works with everything from tzatziki, to romesco, to buffalo sauce, to gochujang sauce, to mango salsa and aji verde.

Air fryer salmon! A new pillar in my life! COME ONNN! What a time!

Welcome To My House! Come Make This Air Fryer Salmon With Me!

1

Cut your salmon into cubes.

Buying boneless skinless salmon will save you the work of removing the skin (which is how I like it)! Cubes are good because a) the spice coating gets everywhere, and b) the salmon cooks very evenly. No dry pieces! 100% juicy.

Cubed salmon on a cutting board with a bowl of spices.

2

Toss it with the spices.

Every piece gets coated with flavor and texture, and a few teaspoons of olive oil will help it all hold nicely! Just how we like it!

Sprinkling spices on cubed salmon in a bowl.

3

Air Fry at 400 for 8 minutes.

Just pop it right in there! If your chunks are small or you like a more medium-doneness on your salmon, go for 7 minutes!

4

You're Done! Yum!

This salmon is BOMB DOT COM. I'm not a mega salmon lover but when I make this, I can stand over the counter and just eat half a pound of salmon, no problem. And with your favorite sauce on there? Game over.

Watch How To Make This Air Fryer Salmon

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A picture of Ridiculously Good Air Fryer Salmon

Ridiculously Good Air Fryer Salmon


  • Author: Lindsay
  • Total Time: 13 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

This air fryer salmon is TOO GOOD. Crisped and golden on the outside, buttery and juicy on the inside, and made in 15 minutes start to finish.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 lb. salmon (see note 1)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon table salt)
  • 2-3 teaspoons avocado or olive oil

Instructions

  1. Prep the salmon: Remove the skin from your salmon, if it has skin. Pat with paper towels so the surface is mostly dry. Cut your salmon into cubes, 1 to 2 inches each (see photo).
  2. Prep the spices: Mix the spices together in a small bowl.
  3. Toss salmon with spices: Toss your salmon cubes in the spices and oil - I usually use my hands to mix it all together.
  4. Air fry the salmon: Place your salmon pieces in the air fryer (I just dump them right in) and spread them out a bit so they're not laying all over each other. Air fry at 400 degrees for 8 minutes!
  5. You're Done! Yum! At this point it should be textured and golden on the outside, and juicy and delicious on the inside. When you press each piece with a fork, they should easily flake / slip apart with a buttery, juicy texture inside. (You can do 6-7 minutes if you prefer more of a medium doneness.)

Notes

Note 1 on Salmon: I prefer to buy boneless, skinless salmon in a nice thick piece so it can easily be cut into cubes. I usually find boneless, skinless salmon filets at Trader Joe's, Target, and many other grocery stores. If you're at a more boujee grocer with a seafood counter, you can also ask them to remove the skin and even cut it into cubes before packaging it for you. This amount of spice mix will work for anywhere from 1 to 1.5 pounds of salmon (if you're closer to 1.5 pounds it will be less thoroughly coated and you may want to add a bit more salt when it's done / after you taste it). 

Note 2 on Brown Sugar: If the brown sugar is dry or clumpy, break it apart with your hands or with a fork so that it mixes more easily with the other spices and coats the salmon more easily.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Air Fryer
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: air fryer salmon, salmon recipe, easy salmon recipe

Frequently Asked Questions For Air Fryer Salmon

Can you bake air fryer salmon in the oven instead?

Yes! It will be slightly less crispy on the exterior, but it works really nicely with this recipe. For best results I'd put the sheet pan on an oven rack that is closer to the top / heating element. Here's a picture of the salmon baked in the oven:

Can you make this air fryer salmon without the brown sugar?

Yes, but you'll get a different result with flavor and texture. The main differences are that a) it won't be as sweet, obviously, and b) it's much less caramelized. Here's a photo of the salmon made without brown sugar:

Can you make this without the cornstarch?

Yes. When you leave out the cornstarch, the salmon pieces will be missing some of that golden, crispity exterior, but it can still turn out really well without it. Here's a photo of the salmon made without cornstarch:

What sauces work well with air fryer salmon?

Sauce lover here! I'm so glad you asked. My favorite sauces for this air fryer salmon are the basil sauce, romesco, tzatziki, honey mustard, aji verde, an avocado based sauce like the magic green sauce, and the gochujang sauce (listed in the notes section here). If you don't want to make a sauce, this is also 5-star with a drizzle of hot honey over the top! The spices on this salmon make it a really amazing pair with so many recipes and sauce combinations. *happy dance*

Where do you buy thick boneless skinless salmon filets?

Here in the Twin Cities, I have found thick, boneless, skinless filets from Target, Trader Joe's, Cub Foods, and Kowalski's.

Can I use frozen salmon?

Yes, but for this recipe I would recommend completely thawing the salmon first, and then cutting it as directed. You'll also want to pat it with paper towels to ensure it's dry enough for the spices to stick well to the surface of the salmon.

Can I use salmon with skin?

Yes. I like to cube the salmon, so I prefer to cut the skin off so these eat more like salmon bites and you can just pop them right in your mouth. 🙂 If you prefer a single filet of salmon with skin on the bottom, that's fine - you can use these same spices to rub the top surfaces of your filet of salmon and cook it skin side down in the air fryer. I would just increase the cook time to about 9 minutes total to ensure doneness through the middle.

How long does leftover salmon stay good in the fridge?

Technically, cooked salmon will be good in the fridge for about 3 days. But I find that, with this salmon in particular, it has the best taste and texture within 24 hours. (And for this recipe, we almost never have leftovers anyway! ha.) If you're eating this salmon as leftovers, I'd actually encourage you to consider eating it cold. Yes, I'm serious! Reheating the salmon will dry it out further and it's just always a bit sad. Team Cold Salmon! Toss it on a salad, dip it in some sauce, smash it on a bagel with cream cheese. Yum!

Should I marinate the salmon?

I prefer to NOT marinate the salmon for this recipe. The longest amount of time I've marinated the salmon for with the spices on it was about 3 hours in the fridge, and I didn't feel like it added to the overall flavor. The cornstarch also doesn't do great with a longer marinating time. If you do want to prep ahead, I'd suggest cutting up your salmon, mixing your spices, and then waiting until right before to toss it together.

Do you need to flip the salmon in the air fryer?

No flipping necessary! It will get crispity and golden on all sides all on its own. Just make sure they're spread evenly and not piled on top of each other in the air fryer.

What air fryer do you use?

I use a Cosori brand air fryer and love it! My exact size and color are sold out, but this one is about the same (just a tiny bit bigger). (affiliate link)

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54 Comments

  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wow, this air fryer salmon recipe is a game-changer! 😍 Who knew salmon could get even more amazing with the beauty of the air fryer? The crispy exterior combined with that juicy, flaky interior is what dreams are made of. And let’s talk about that flavor explosion – garlic, lemon, and dill? Yes, please! It’s like a party in your mouth with every bite.

    Plus, the fact that it’s healthy and quick to whip up makes it even better. Kudos to the chef for sharing this gem of a recipe. 🎉🍽️

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Wait–are we looking at the same recipe?? Where are you seeing garlic, lemon, and dill? Did you change the ingredients and like the result? I’m so confused and curious!

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Yum! I’d been waiting for this to post after seeing a photo on POY’s IG while it was still being tested. This is a winner! I eat salmon weekly and I’m always looking for different ways to prepare it. I served this with the tzatziki sauce from Trader Joe’s and a cucumber and tomato salad. So easy and delicious. Thanks for another great recipe!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I actually have a couple of questions before I try this. I’m not much of a fish eater but this looks good. 1) Can you use this recipe with different types of fish? And 2) Do you put the spices on first and then toss with a little oil or vice a versa? Thank you!

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Do you put the oil directly on the salmon and then toss with the spices or are you mixing the oil into the spices before you add to the salmon?

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Not clear about your last sentence: “add the oil & toss some more”. Add oil onto seasoned salmon, then toss in spice mix again? OR… add oil to SPICE MIX, then add salmon to that?

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    I took salmon out of the freezer last night and was going to do lemon and garlic. BUT this just sounds yummy! hopefully it will work with not a super thick cut.

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    I had planned on making the BBQ salmon with mango salsa this week and was so excited when this recipe popped up! It was amazing with the mango salsa and so easy in the air fryer!! Same spices as the BBQ salmon recipe so just a switch in how to cook the salmon. LOVED IT!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Would your air fryer chicken recipe with the store bought Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning, Traeger Seasoning, brown sugar and corn starch work with the salmon in the recipe?

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    YES! Thank you for this — I’ve tried salmon in the air fryer a few times. It’s come out pretty good, but this is by far the best method I’ve tried! Perfect texture & so flavorful!

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    We’ve been cooking salmon in the air fryer pretty much all winter. (We grill it in the warmer months.) Cubed or not, it’s a winner! My boyfriend uses a combo of cajun & creole seasoning on ours, and I hit mine with lemon juice once it’s cooked. It’s delicious! I’m definitely going to try this recipe; the mix of spices sounds so good..

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    This was so easy and so good, even the kids loved it…so it should actually get 6 stars. 🙂 Thank you!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      This was so easy and so good, even the kids loved it…so it should actually get 6 stars. 🙂 Thank you!

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’ve recently bought an air fryer and can’t believe how I got along without it! Looking forward to cooking salmon in it soon.

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    Yowza, another winner! Your air fryer chicken, tofu, and salmon could really take care of a huge portion of one’s diet! All so good!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    Made this for salmon tacos! Delicious and great texture of the salmon. Since we were using it in tacos I subbed cumin for the paprika.

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    Ya’ll this is SO good and SO easy!! It’s exactly like Lindsay says – crispy and delicious and fast and yummy! My husband said ‘thanks for making restaurant food for dinner!!”. I’ll be making this alllll the time!!

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    After watching all the air fryer IG content, I finally decided to make this one and WOW. It is soo yummy and most importantly, uses ingredients I have on hand and is easy to put together. Definitely a huge upgrade of how I usually make salmon (baked in the oven with simple olive oil Italian seasoning S+P). I can’t wait to try air fryer tofu and chicken next!

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    I made this last night using wild-caught sockeye salmon and left the skin on because I actually love crispy salmon skin – it was insanely delicious and my entire family devoured it.

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    I was inspired to try this because we have the air fryer 😄 I’m glad I did because it was the best air fryer salmon I’ve ever had!

  17. Skillful Cook Logo

    this was tasty but overcooked for my taste. i am new to air fryers. can i adjust temp/time but keep some crisp?

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Just made this salmon, and it’s fantastic! Just a little sweet for me. Next time, I’ll cut on the brown sugar and up the chili powder. Really yummy 😋
      I made it with mashed potatoes and arugula salad. Thanks!

  18. Skillful Cook Logo

    This was absolutely delicious! Promptly shared the recipe with several people I thought would love it as well right after making for dinner tonight! Thank you! Amazing and so easy!

  19. Skillful Cook Logo

    Delicious!!! I ended up leaving the skin on and substituting maple syrup for the brown sugar (just because I didn’t want to open a new bag of brown sugar for 1 tbsp), and it turned out SO well! Flavors were delicious and it still cooked up nice and crispy, even with the skin on.