Find out how to quickly and easily Air Fry Salmon Fillets from either fresh or frozen in this easy to follow guide. I’ve kept things simple so these instructions are a great starting point to add your choice of extra seasoning, marinade or glaze.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my Disclosures Page for more details.
I’ve had a series of great successes air frying various fish and shellfish but this salmon is the true triumph. The beautifully plump fillets crisp up on the outside whilst the inside remains juicy and tender. I don’t think you can really go wrong with a perfectly cooked salmon fillet.
I don’t tend to cook salmon in the oven as I don’t find that I can get the outside nicely sealed without overcooking the inside. So I usually pan fry at a high heat, turning the salmon so it crisps on all sides.
The downside of this is that salmon is an oily fish and a lot of those oils are released during cooking – it has a tendency to splatter all over the stovetop and I hate cleaning. So not only can I be hands off while the salmon cooks, clean up is easier too.
How to Serve
Salmon is super versatile. I flake it and add to tacos for the tastiest fish tacos ever (don’t forget to add canned peach salsa and guacamole).
I sometimes add it to creamy pastas and risottos or serve simply with steamed new potatoes and broccoli like in the images here. Or switch in garlic pea puree and roasted potato cubes with rosemary.
A great deal of the time I serve salmon with rice and Asian flavours. You can switch the salmon cooking instructions in my sweet chilli salmon recipe or even use the cooked salmon in place of raw in salmon maki sushi rolls.
I serve with sticky rice or chow mien and mix and match veggies like edamame beans and tenderstem broccoli and sauces such as satay sauce.
All of these meals use the salmon served hot but salmon is incredibly delicious too. This makes it a great centrepiece for picnic spreads or buffets. It’s delicious added to salads too – Classic Caesar Salad is always my favourite.
This recipe is for salmon fillets which are probably the most common cut of salmon available in the UK. You can buy whole or half sides of salmon which is what I like to do. I can then cut my own fillets from the thickest part on the side so they are nice and large and even. I usually cut them a minimum of 160g/5oz each.
Fillets are usually sold with the skin on. This will get crispy once air fried and can be eaten. I’m not actually a fan of fish skin but I always leave it on to cook the salmon as it helps to hold the fillet together.
You can also buy salmon steaks which is when the 2 sides of salmon are left attached and the steak is cut straight through. Salmon steaks have a horseshoe shape with the skin around the side edge. This recipe can be used as a guide to air fry salmon steaks but you should consider reducing the cooking time if they are on the thin side.
I use butter on the salmon to add flavour and to help in the crisping/colouring process. Butter has a lower smoking point than most fats so this gives the best chance of getting some colour and crisp on the skin in the short cooking time.
You should avoid using spreadable butters and margarines as these contain a lot of moisture along with fat – this will hinder the crisping, not help it.
If you prefer to use an olive or other vegetable oil, please do. This becomes even easier if you are using a seasoning rub or sauce as the smoking point becomes less important.
Try to match the flavour of the oil with the seasonings. For example olive oil with rosemary and lemon or vegetable oil with a drop of sesame oil for a Japanese inspired dish.
I’ve kept these instructions for air fryer salmon fillets very simple using just butter and a little extra salt. You can use any other seasonings you like but you should make sure that it has a salty element whether that’s sea salt, soy sauce or similar.
This recipe is free from egg, gluten and nuts.
Dairy Free: Simply replace the butter with a dairy free block butter, olive or vegetable oil to made this recipe dairy free.
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above and any variations suggested have not been tested unless otherwise stated. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
How to Air Fry Salmon Fillets From Frozen
Salmon fillets only take a fraction longer to cook from frozen as they do from fresh. I’ve included the cooking instructions in the recipe card below.
When cooking from frozen, more moisture can be released. To combat this I recommend rinsing the salmon fillets under some cold water to remove any surface frost. Dry the fillets really well then butter and season as usual.
Check the cooking halfway. If there looks to be a lot of surface moisture you can use some folded kitchen paper to mop any of that off.
Leftovers – Storage & Reheating
You can actually air fry salmon fillets the day before serving if you are looking to serve them cold. Cooked salmon will keep for a total of two days if kept in the fridge in an air tight container.
You can also freeze cooked salmon, it will be ready to eat or reheat as soon as it is defrosted.
I don’t love reheating salmon fillets as you always lose some of the soft pinkness in the middle but you can either in the microwave or put back in the air fryer. To reheat in the air fryer you should allow around 5 minutes at 200c/390f.
Common Air Fryer Questions – A Brief Guide to Air Frying
- What exactly is an air fryer?
- What are the benefits of using an air fryer?
- Are all air fryers the same?
- Is an air fryer always better to use than an oven?
- Do air fryers need to be pre-heated?
- What is the best temperature to air fry at?
- Can food be cooked from frozen in an air fryer?
- Can I reheat food in an air fryer?
- Are air fryer liners a good idea?
The Air Fried Feast Community
Come on over to Facebook and join my community discussing all things air fryer. Get involved in sharing your experiences and trials, help out others and find out what wonderful things everyone is cooking in their air fryers!
What Exactly is an Air Fryer?
Very simply, an air fryer is a small convection (fan) oven. The benefit is that the hot air is circulated all around the food being cooked which speeds up the cooking time and cooks the food more evenly.
What are the Benefits of Using an Air Fryer?
Size, time and energy usage. Air fryers are ideal for cooking smaller quantities. Heating up a space that the food just fits into requires less energy and means that the heat source is much closer to the food. Combining these two things can speed up the cooking time.
Are all air fryers the same?
Nope! The term air fryer is now used very broadly. I consider there to be 4 main types:
Basket Air Fryers
These are what I would consider to be the most common, especially in the UK. A boxy type unit has a pull out drawer/basket. Food isn’t usually visible whilst cooking.
Some larger models have two drawers so different items can be cooked at different temperatures or for different times.
This is the type that you’ll see in the images in this recipe. I use a Corsori Lite (CAF-LI401S) with a 3.8 litre capacity. The square(ish) shaped basket is 21cm x 21cm and 24cm on the diagonal. It isn’t an overly expensive or fancy model.
Rotary Air Fryers
Round air fryers with a paddle in the centre that rotates to move the food. This is the type I’ve been using for years – the most common is a Tefal Actifry.
Rotary types are not usually good for recipes where the food is breaded, glazed, likely to break up or in a tray/container. They do however make the best chips and roasted veg.
My 2 in 1 version like the one I’ve linked does have a rotating tray for things that could be broken up by a paddle, but the height clearance with the lid isn’t deep enough to use it to cook some items like sausage rolls.
Multicookers with Air Fryer Functions
Some like Ninja 11 in 1 and some of the earlier versions with a few less functions, have an air fryer option. They mostly operate the same as a basket fryer but the basket drops in the top rather than sliding in like a drawer.
Some electric pressure cookers like Instant Pots can also air fry when used with a specific lid.
Is an air fryer always better to use than an oven?
As much as I do love air frying, the honest answer to this is no. And the more detailed answer is that it will always depend on what you’re cooking, how much of it you’re cooking and what type and size of air fryer you have.
Once you need to cook in more than 2 batches, it often makes more sense to use an oven. If you already have the oven on to cook other items, it may make more sense to throw one more item in rather than using an additional appliance.
I don’t think either method is necessarily better than the other. The important point to note is that there is absolutely no difference in the finished product.
Do Air Fryers Need to Be Pre-Heated?
The answer to this is rather annoying – it depends. It depends entirely on your model and type of air fryer. The best advice I can offer is to check your manual and follow their guidance. My Cosori model has a preheat function. I press a button and it heats at 205c for 4 minutes.
It’s also worth noting that regardless of whether you are supposed to pre-heat or not, if you are cooking in batches, it is quite likely that anything after the first batch will cook a little quicker because of the retained heat. It is best to check on them before the cooking time is completed.
What is the best temperature to Air Fry at?
It will always depend on what you are cooking and from what state. All of my air fryer recipes don’t use temperatures above 200c because many of the most common fryers in the UK don’t go above this. Mine goes to 230c and I use this temperature a lot but it is no help for me to share recipes which most people can’t use.
Can Food Be Cooked From Frozen In An Air Fryer?
Absolutely! To cook from frozen you usually will need to reduce the cooking temperature and increase the time to make sure your food is cooked right through to the middle.
It is best to check my individual recipes for cooking from frozen advice as some items are a little different.
Can I Reheat Food In An Air Fryer?
Yes. As a general rule I reheat food for roughly 1/3 of the original cooking time at the same temperature. Or at 10 degrees lower for half the time for larger items.
Are Air Fryer Liners a Good Idea?
Unless otherwise stated, I do not use liners when air frying. Basket and rotary type air fryers are designed to be used without liners. Mini oven types will generally require some kind of tray like with a regular large oven although some come with crisper racks to use.
There are many air fryer liners available including quite thick silicone ones. These will affect the cooking times and possibly temperatures of your cooking/baking. I also don’t like how cooking juices are prevented from dripping through the basket rack. This can stop food from crisping all the way around.
If you do prefer to use them, once you have got a feel for how they affect your cooking and baking, you may need to make adjustments to the recipe accordingly.
More Air Fryer Recipes
All my recipes with instructions for how to cook or bake them in the air fryer can be found in my Air Fryer Recipe Index.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?
Still Have Questions?
Simple! Just contact me and I will do my best to help as quickly as I am able. Head over to my Contact Me page, any of my social media channels or post a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll see what I can do.
Pin How to Air Fry Salmon Fillets (Fresh or Frozen) For Later
Hit one of the share buttons to save this page to your Pinterest boards so you can come back and find it at anytime!
Keep Up to Date
Make sure you SUBSCRIBE to my newsletter and avoid missing out on any of my newest and bonus content. Don’t worry, I promise not to spam you or bombard you too often. Plus you’ll receive a copy of my FREE 7 Day International Meal Plan!
Also please don’t forget to follow me over on my social media channels over at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. I love to interact with my followers and I’d love you to share my content with your friends too.
How to Air Fry Salmon Fillets (Fresh or Frozen)
- 2 Salmon Fillets - roughly 160g/5oz each
- 1 tbsp Salted Butter - see notes
- ½ tsp Sea Salt Flakes - see notes
- If your air fryer requires pre-heating, Start this setting now.
- Melt 1 tbsp Salted Butter in a small bowl. I do this in the microwave but you could use a small heatproof bowl in the air fryer if you like. The preheat setting will likely do the trick.
- Thoroughly dry 2 Salmon Fillets. Use your fingers to check for any rogue bones and remove them if you find any.
- Use a pastry brush to coat all sides of the salmon with the melted butter. Don't forget the sides.
- Sprinkle over ½ tsp Sea Salt Flakes. Crush them between your fingers as your sprinkle for a thinner even coverage. Again don't forget to season all sides.
- Place the fillets into the air fryer basket skin side down. Leave a little space between each fillet so the air can circulate.
- Cook for 12 minutes at 200c/390f. There is no need to turn the fillets.
- Be careful removing the fillets from the fryer as they will be delicate. Serve hot straight away.
To Air Fry From Frozen
- Cook for 14 minutes at 200c/390f.
- Check the fillets half way through the cooking time and use a kitchen towel to mop off any surface water if needed.
- Butter – You can use an oil instead of butter but I do find that butter helps the fish skin crisp a little more and adds a nice flavour.
- Salt/Seasoning – You can use any seasoning mix or sauce instead of just salt but make sure that salt is included in the mix. You can also add a little citrus juice. If you use a sauce with a high sugar content, you may want to brush this on towards the end of cooking so it doesn’t catch and burn.
- The air fryer version of this recipe is tested in a Corsori Lite (CAF-LI401S) with a 3.8 litre capacity. The square(ish) shaped basket is 21cm x 21cm and 24cm on the diagonal.
- Not all models advise preheating is required. Please follow the recommended instructions for your model. Mine has a specific preheat setting which is 4 minutes at 205c.
- For this recipe, I can easily fit 2 fillets in the basket at a time. This gives plenty of room to allow air to circulate – I can just fit two more in if needed.
- As all air fryer models are a little different, you may find that you can fit more or less in at a time. Some models include stacking shelves which will increase capacity.
- Required cooking times and temperatures can also vary between models and brands. If you know that your air fryer runs a little hotter than most recipes suggest, use a lower temperature. And vice versa. Equally if you find that food cooks more quickly in your machine than instructions usually state, reduce the cooking time (or check it earlier) and vice versa.
I don’t eat fish but wanted to cook salmon for my husband. As I don’t eat it I am not very confident when it comes to cooking it so this recipe was a lifesaver! The salmon came out perfectly and my husband loved it!
Salmon in the air fryer is so good! I love the crispness and ease of cooking, thank you!
Thanks, love your site.
Sisley White - Sew White says
Thank you so much for this detailed how to post. We really appreciate you making it so easy for us to cook at home.
This is so simple and the fish stays really succulent.