Here’s an Air Fryer Salmon recipe with 3 different sauces so your healthy dinners never get boring! The hardest part about this salmon will be deciding which flavor you want to try first. Includes some tips on how to make perfect air fryer salmon every time!
Cooking in salmon in the air fryer is a no-brainer. It’s fast, and easy, and if you do it right, it produces a juicy and perfectly cooked piece of salmon that will be the star of your dinner table.
To find out how to make perfect air fryer salmon every time, read on or jump right to the recipe below!
Table of Contents
This Air Fryer Salmon recipe has 3 delicious flavor options:
Cajun Salmon with Salsa Verde
The salmon fillet gets brushed with olive or avocado oil and is then dusted with cajun seasoning (you can use my cajun seasoning recipe or store-bought.)
After it comes out of the air fryer it’s served with a bright and fresh tomatillo salsa aka. salsa verde and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
Super healthy, this salmon recipe is even Whole30 and Squeaky Clean Keto approved!
Salmon with Pesto Mayonnaise
This salmon fillet goes into the air fryer with a light coating of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. After it finishes cooking, let it cool for a couple of minutes and then lather it with some pesto mayonnaise.
Don’t add the mayonnaise when the salmon is piping hot or it will discolor and the basil can turn black where it is in contact with the hot fish. This preparation is also delicious chilled and makes a great addition to a brunch table.
You can make your own basil pesto or use store-bought – just be sure to buy it from the refrigerated section so it’s fresh – avoid the jarred stuff in the dried pasta aisle if at all possible – it won’t have nearly the same flavor. Then just add the pesto to some mayonnaise with a ratio of 2 parts mayo to 1 part pesto and you are in business.
If you want this air fryer salmon recipe to be Squeaky Clean Keto or Whole30 approved, just use a dairy free pesto.
Simple Salmon with Maitre de Butter
This salmon also goes into the air fryer with just a coating of oil and salt, but when it comes out you slather it with Maitre de Butter which melts over it and gives it all of the bright flavor notes of lemon and parsley (and garlic if you opt to add it in.)
It’s a show-stopper every time – and this air fryer salmon recipe also fits the SCK and Whole30 guidelines.
Is farmed salmon bad? Should I only buy wild salmon?
Farmed salmon has come a long way in the past decade, and is very sustainable and reasonably priced. Wild salmon is regulated and also good, but definitely more expensive. Either will work for this recipe depending on your budget and availability in your region.
Whether you are using farmed or wild salmon, the most important thing is that you use the freshest you can get. Sometimes that means buying frozen salmon – which has been frozen at it’s peak, rather than buying so called fresh salmon that has been shipped and sitting in your grocers cooler for days.
If the salmon has a fishy smell or a mushy looking texture, pass it by and save this recipe for another day!
There are a few other rules to cooking salmon, that if followed will give you delicious results every time. I’ve put together a short section of tips to make sure you get the best tasting salmon to ever come out of your kitchen!
Tips for cooking salmon in the air fryer
Don’t overcook it
Salmon is best enjoyed at a medium consistency, rather than well done. The final product should be cooked enough to flake apart when pressure is applied, but still be soft, juicy, and even a little pinkish at the center.
Don’t cook salmon at very high heat
People think that because salmon is a fatty fish, that it’s ok to cook at higher temperatures than a leaner fish. Principally that’s true, but when salmon is cooked at high temperatures, you will get a lot of the white discharge called albumin (same protein as in egg whites) leaking out – it’s edible but ruins the look and the texture.
If you’ve ever wondered: What’s that white stuff on my cooked salmon? Now you know!
So what IS the best temperature for cooking salmon? It varies according to method, but cooking this air fryer salmon at 375 degrees will minimize the amount of albumin that weeps from the fillet and give you a juicy, delicious result.
Trim or fold the fillets to get an even thickness
Because salmon fillets typically have a a fat side (from the back) and a thin side (from the belly) they won’t cook evenly. To get a more even cook, you can trim the slim end off before cooking this air fryer salmon, or simply fold it under to give you a more uniform thickness.
Cook salmon skin side down
Many people wonder: should you cook salmon with the skin on or off? Salmon skin is edible, and even tasty if it’s crispy, but I usually don’t eat it. The primary purpose of salmon skin for me is to protect the fish and help release it from the pan.
The skin of this air fryer salmon will likely stick to the basket and may not get crispy enough to be enjoyed, but that’s ok because you will be able to easily slide a spatula between the skin and the flesh to get the fish from the air fryer to the plate intact.
Then you can either return the skin to the air fryer for a few minutes to crisp up if you want to eat it, or simply discard it.
Brush tops with oil or butter before seasoning
Brushing your salmon fillets with oil or melted butter before cooking is a simple trick, but it keeps a hard, dry crust from forming on the top of your salmon during air frying, and also helps any seasoning to adhere to the fish.
It’s hard to choose which preparation of this air fryer salmon recipe is my personal favorite, but if I absolutely had to, I’d go with the Cajun salmon – it’s just so full of flavor!
Which one is calling your name???