This air fryer salmon is flaky and tender and just a little crispy on the edges, similar to a pan sear. You can cook fresh or frozen salmon in the air fryer and this post shows you how to do both!

air fryer salmon fresh and frozen salmon fillet flakes plated with lemon slice and lettuce

We’re big salmon fans over here – so much so that I was a little skeptical about cooking it in the air fryer. Especially because we have a tried and true slow cooked salmon recipe in the oven that is our go-to.

But I was intrigued to see if I could in fact make delicious, tender and flaky salmon in the air fryer and I’m happy to report the verdict is a resounding YES.

If you don’t feel like turning on your oven in the summer or maybe you’re using your oven to roast veggies or potatoes, you can cook your salmon in the air fryer and not have to worry about different temperatures or adjusting cooking time for multiple items in the oven at the same time.

And the good news is you can cook fresh or frozen salmon in the air fryer! That’s right you can cook frozen salmon in the air fryer without having to defrost it first! Talk about a time saver.

Because we’ve all been there, right?! You forget to pull the salmon out of the freezer and then wonder how you can defrost it safely in time for dinner. Now you can just throw it frozen in the air fryer!

If you’re a fan of salmon and you have an air fryer at home, this recipe is for YOU!

Ingredients You’ll Need

ingredients for air fryer salmon fresh frozen salmon fillet lemon olive oil on white surface

Notes on Ingredients:

Fresh salmon: I’m a big fan of the salmon at Trader Joe’s. I talk more about my love for this type of salmon in my recipe for blackened salmon tacos.

Frozen salmon: You don’t need to defrost it before cooking in the air fryer but if you have the time, ideally you want to defrost it first before throwing it in the air fryer for the best texture when cooked.

Olive oil: or any neutral oil will do

Lemon juice: adds brightness and acidity to the marinade

Garlic: I like using a microplane to grate garlic into the marinade so it incorporates well and you don’t get little chunks on your salmon.

Dijon mustard: adds a tangy flavor to the salmon and pairs well with garlic and lemon!

Salt and pepper: …obviously.

How to Make Fresh Salmon in the Air Fryer

Step 1: Cut piece of salmon into even filets if not already cut.

Step 2: Add marinade ingredients to a small bowl.

Step 3: Whisk marinade until combined.

Step 4: Brush marinade onto salmon filets covering all sides (except the skin).

Step 5: Cook in preheated air fryer at 390 degrees F for 7-8 minutes, or until salmon reaches internal temperature of 145 degrees F.

air fryer salmon fresh frozen step by step cooking process whisk marinade salmon in air fryer

How to Make Frozen Salmon in the Air Fryer

Ideally you would defrost the salmon before cooking (and cook according to the fresh salmon instructions above). But in case you don’t have the time or you forget, here’s how to cook it in the air fryer from frozen.

Step 1: Cook frozen salmon in the air fryer at 390 degrees F for 7 minutes to defrost.

Step 2: Brush defrosted salmon with the marinade. Cook for another 7-9 minutes, or until salmon reaches internal temperature of 145 degrees F.

air fryer salmon fillets fresh and frozen in air fryer before and after cooking instructions

Expert Tips 

  1. Check internal temperature at the thickest part of the salmon. If it reads 135 degrees F or higher, it’s okay to take it out and let it rest for five minutes – the temperature should come up to 145 degrees.
  2. If your piece of salmon is thin – less than 1 1/2 inches thick – you can reduce the cook time and check after 5 minutes.
  3. If after 7 minutes of cook time your salmon has still not reached temperature, put it back in the air fryer and check every 1-2 minutes, until it comes to temperature.
  4. 145 degrees is the recommendation for food safety. However, some chefs cook their salmon to medium which is an internal temperature of around 125 degrees F. Food for thought!
  5. Preheat your air fryer or consistent cook times!
air fryer salmon fresh and frozen salmon fillet flakes plated with lemon slice and lettuce

Air Fryer Salmon FAQs

Should I thaw frozen salmon before cooking in the air fryer?

If you want the best texture, similar to what you’d expect with fresh salmon, my recommendation is yes thaw the salmon before cooking in the air fryer. However, if you can’t defrost it first, you can still cook it in the air fryer, it takes about twice as long as cooking fresh.

Does frozen salmon taste different?

In my opinion, it’s a little more dry after cooking than fresh.

Is frozen salmon as healthy as fresh?

Yes! Freezing any food, whether it be produce or proteins, helps to lock in all the nutrition.

Do you recommend wild-caught or farmed salmon?

I recommend whatever falls in line with your values, your budget, and your taste preferences. There is a misconception that wild-caught is always better for you and more sustainable but not all farm-raised fish is created equal. I remember a prominent seafood chef in Boston once saying “think about farmed fish as you would farmed vegetables, some do it right, others do it cheaply.” And having worked with seafood councils in the past, I know how sustainable their farming practices can be.

What are the nutrition benefits of salmon?

Salmon is high in a number of vitamins and minerals, including omega-3 fatty acids, which are well studied for their role in heart health and cardiovascular disease prevention.

What type of air fryer do you have / recommend?

I use a Phillips XXL Air Fryer which has a 3lb / 4 qt capacity. I did a lot of research and asked colleagues and friends for recommendations and this one came out on top. (affiliate link – at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase)

air fryer salmon fresh and frozen salmon fillet flakes two plates with lemon slice and lettuce

For more air fryer inspiration, check out my other recipes below!

If you like this recipe, please be sure to give it a 5 star rating below. If you make it, share it on Instagram and tag me @karalydonrd and I’ll re-share it with my followers! If you want to save this recipe for later, be sure to pin it on Pinterest!

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Air Fryer Salmon: Fresh and Frozen


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  • Author: Kara Lydon
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 14 minutes
  • Total Time: 16 minutes
  • Yield: 2-3 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

This air fryer salmon is flaky and tender and just a little crispy on the edges, similar to a pan sear. You can cook fresh or frozen salmon in the air fryer and this post shows you how to do both!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 lb fresh or frozen salmon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice (from about 1/2 small lemon)
  • 1 small clove garlic, grated or minced
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

For the fresh salmon:

  1. Cut salmon into desired filets (if not already cut).
  2. Preheat air fryer to 390 degrees F.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper until combined.
  4. Brush salmon with marinade on all sides (except skin side).
  5. Place salmon skin side down directly on air fryer basket.
  6. Cook for 7-8 minutes, or until salmon reaches internal temperature of 145 degrees F.

For the frozen salmon:

  1. Preheat air fryer to 390 degrees F.
  2. Place frozen salmon skin side down directly on air fryer basket and cook for 7 minutes, or until defrosted.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper until combined.
  4. Brush marinade all over defrosted salmon (except skin side).
  5. Cook again for another 7-9 minutes, or until salmon reaches internal temperature of 145 degrees F.

Notes

  1. Preheat air fryer by letting it run for 5 minutes at desired temperature.
  2. Check internal temperature at the thickest part of the salmon. If it reads 135 degrees F or higher, it’s okay to take it out and let it rest for five minutes – the temperature should come up to 145 degrees.
  3. If your piece of salmon is thin (less than 1 1/2 inches thick), you can reduce the cook time and check after 5 minutes.
  4. If after 7 minutes of cook time your salmon has still not reached temperature, put it back in the air fryer and check every 1-2 minutes, until it comes to temperature.
  5. 145 degrees is the recommendation for food safety purposes. However, some chefs cook their salmon to medium which is an internal temperature of around 125 degrees F.
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Air Fryer

Keywords: air fryer salmon, how to make frozen salmon in air fryer, air fryer salmon fresh or frozen

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