This is the perfect air fryer salmon recipe! It’s covered in herb garlic compound butter, cooked for just 5 minutes then topped with homemade tartar sauce!
Using an air fryer is just like having a table-top convection oven. The air fryer uses hot air that circulates around inside to give you a quick cook time. Air frying is a great way to make a quick dinner.
I don’t know about you but quick dinners are at the top of my list on weekdays. Sometimes life gets so busy, especially with kids and I feel like I only have a little time to spend on dinner.
So why not make an easy air fryer salmon recipe?! This simple recipe leaves you with juicy salmon that the whole family will love.
I love to eat it with brown rice or white rice and a side of veggies. So not only is it delicious salmon but it can also be a healthy meal. Which a lot of times is easy to get off track on when trying to make a quick meal.
Salmon is full of fatty acids that are great for you. I always associate salmon with healthy eating.
You can sub the butter for olive oil to make the recipe even better for you! It’s even delicious without the tartar sauce if you’re going for super healthy!
If you’ve never tried to air fry salmon, you should give it a try! I think you’ll love the simple seasonings on this flaky salmon.
Oh yeah, did I say the salmon cooks in JUST 5 minutes? You can’t beat that! It really is the perfect air fryer salmon recipe.
What type of salmon should I use?
It can be intimidating to buy salmon, or any fresh fish for that matter, at the store. It doesn’t need to be though!
Here are a few tips to help you when buying fish:
- It shouldn’t smell fishy – Salmon (or any fish) should not smell fishy. That is a red flag right there that you don’t want to buy it. Salmon should have a smell of ocean water or salt water. If it smells like “fish” that means it’s starting to go bad or is already bad. Don’t be afraid to ask if you can smell the fish, I do it all the time.
- It should look fresh and moist – Salmon should appear moist and have a nice bright color. If it looks dry or is starting to have dark spots then avoid buying it. If it appears slimy instead of “wet” or is mushy then also stay away.
- Fresh or Frozen? – Here’s a little secret, the salmon you’re buying was likely frozen at one point unless you’re right on the ocean with fresh caught fish. And that’s ok, there’s nothing wrong with that. Many reputable companies are fishing salmon and then freezing it immediately on the boat to ensure great quality. However, if you decide to buy a frozen fish out of the freezer section then you will want to do your research to make sure it is a reputable brand. In general when buying from the store, I buy fresh salmon out of the seafood case. There are many companies that offer delivery to your door of frozen fish that are high quality. It’s more of a personal preference which one you prefer.
Another thing to consider when choosing fresh or frozen salmon is how soon are you cooking it? If you’re cooking it that day or the next day that’s great, if it will be after that you may either want to go with a frozen option or wait a few days to purchase the salmon.
You’ll definitely want to keep all of these things in mind when shopping for salmon. This will help you pick out the salmon filets with the best flavor so you can have the perfect air fryer salmon recipe!
What temperature should I cook the salmon to?
How do I know when my salmon is done? This is a super common question. There are a couple different ways but the easiest is a meat thermometer.
When using a meat thermometer you want to insert it into the thickest part of the salmon. That is the best way to get an accurate reading.
The salmon should temp at 125 degrees F. It will continue to cook and go up another 5° when resting for 5-10 minutes.
An internal temperature of 125°F will leave you with a beautiful medium rare piece of salmon. Cooking salmon to medium rare gives you juicy salmon that is flaky and delicious.
If you’re not a fan of medium rare then you can cook it another minute or two but just be aware that the salmon won’t be as juicy. It may even be dry.
And if you want this to be the perfect air fryer salmon recipe then I would suggest cooking the salmon to medium rare or medium at most.
Ingredients needed for The Perfect Air Fryer Salmon Recipe
- Salmon – I used 6oz salmon filets for this recipe, you’ll get better results using the same size
- Butter – I use unsalted butter so I can add my own salt in
- Garlic – Fresh garlic cloves are best but you can use garlic powder if that’s all you have
- Lemon Juice – Use fresh lemon juice, not from concentrate
- Dill – Fresh dill is best here
- Green Onions- Thinly sliced green onions or chives will work
- Black Pepper – I prefer coarse ground black pepper
- Kosher Salt – Salt brings out the flavor of all the ingredients
- Parsley – Definitely use fresh parsley, dried parsley has a very different flavor
- Mayo – This is for the tartar sauce that the perfect air fryer salmon is topped with
- White Wine Vinegar – A little acid is needed for the tartar sauce
- Tabasco – This is for a little kick in the sauce, it doesn’t add much heat
- Capers – I love the flavor of capers in tartar sauce and with fish
- Dill Pickles – You’ll need a little finely chopped pickle for the sauce
- Whole Grain Mustard – If you can’t find whole grain mustard you can sub Dijon
Only a few items are needed for the perfect air fryer salmon recipe:
- Air Fryer – Here are a few different air fryers if you need any buying options: Cosori Air Fryer and Rozmoz Air Fryer
- Meat Thermometer – A meat thermometer is an easy way to check the internal temperature of the salmon so you will know when it’s done
- Electric Hand Mixer – I use a hand mixer to blend my compound butter together
- Sharp Knife – You’ll need a sharp knife when preparing the tartar sauce
- Cutting Board – A good quality cutting board for chopping. I prefer large cutting boards
- Small Bowl – You’ll need a small bowl to mix the tartar sauce together
Tips for The Perfect Air Fryer Salmon Recipe
- Use 6oz salmon filets if possible. That is what I used and they are perfect when cooked for 5 minutes
- It’s a good idea to make the tartar sauce ahead of time since the salmon has such a quick cooking time. The tartar sauce can be made up to 48 hours in advance
- If you don’t have white wine vinegar you can sub fresh lemon juice or champagne vinegar
- The Perfect Air Fryer Salmon recipe is a great recipe for meal prep! You can reheat the salmon, eat it on a salad, sandwich, taco or make a bowl with it
- To make this recipe dairy free, simply use a little olive oil or avocado oil instead of butter. Only use 1/3 cup of oil
- This recipe is fun because you can use any of your favorite seasonings in the butter to mix it up and have a different taste each time
- For the juiciest salmon only cook it for 5 minutes!
- When cooking in an air fryer you want to make sure not to layer things. Do not overlap the salmon pieces. Cook in batches if your air fryer is not big enough to fit all the pieces without overlapping
- I use a single layer of aluminum foil in the bottom of the air fryer basket for this recipe. It helps the salmon cook in the butter and it also helps with the mess
- WAIT UNTIL AFTER YOU PREHEAT THE AIR FRYER TO ADD THE ALUMINUM FOIL. Otherwise you will end up with a big smokey mess
- 400°F is one of the best temperatures to cook at in an air fryer in my opinion
- Important tips are located in the notes section on the recipe card as well!
Can I use frozen salmon?
You can buy frozen salmon if you like but I recommend thawing it out in the fridge overnight before using it. You can cook the salmon from frozen but it’s not something that I would recommend.
My recommendation is the same for any meat. If you want the best results and best quality then cooking your salmon from a fresh state is always best.
Favorite sides to go with The Best Air Fryer Salmon Recipe
Many different things pair well with The Best Air Fryer Salmon Recipe but here are a few of my favorites:
- Summer Fruit Salad
- Air Fryer Green Beans
- Grilled Asparagus with Sherry Vinaigrette
- Summer Pasta Salad
- Brown Rice or White Rice
- Air Fryer Brussel Sprouts
How to cook salmon in an air fryer
Start by making the tartar sauce. It can be made up to 48 hours in advance.
Mix all tartar sauce ingredients together in a small bowl then store in an airtight container in the fridge until needed.
Beat all compound butter ingredients together in a medium bowl with a hand mixer on low speed just until combined. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and continue whipping for 30 seconds.
Line a baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper then place the salmon on top. Rub the compound butter all over the front, back and sides of the salmon filets.
Place the salmon in the fridge and let sit for 30-60 minutes so the flavor of the butter had time to penetrate the salmon.
Preheat air fryer to 400°F. I usually turn my air fryer on for 3-5 minutes to preheat.
Place a small sheet of aluminum foil in the bottom of the air fryer basket after preheating the air fryer. Do a light spray of non-stick cooking spray.
Place each piece of salmon in the preheated air fryer. For best results, do not stack or overlap the salmon filets. Cook in batches if they don’t all fit in your air fryer basket.
Cook the salmon for 5 minutes then remove from the air fryer. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes before eating. Serve with tartar sauce.
You will have the perfect salmon! I hope this becomes one of your new favorite ways to make salmon and use your air fryer!
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The Perfect Air Fryer Salmon Recipe
- 1 air fryer
- 1 meat thermometer
- 1 sharp knife
- 1 cutting board
- 1 small bowl
- 1 whisk
- ½ cup mayo I use hellmans
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp green onions finely chopped
- 1 tbsp dill pickle finely chopped
- 1½ tsp fresh dill chopped
- 1½ tsp fresh parsley chopped
- 1 tsp whole grain mustard
- ½ tsp tobasco
- ½ tsp capers chopped
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ½ cup butter room temp
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1½ tsp lemon juice fresh
- 1½ tsp green onions finely chopped
- 1½ tsp fresh parsley chopped
- 1 tsp fresh dill chopped
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 24 oz salmon filets I used 4, 6oz filets
- 1 pinch kosher salt to add over the butter right before cooking
Making the Tartar Sauce
- Add all tartar sauce ingredients to a small bowl and whisk until fully combined
- Set aside until needed or refrigerate in an airtight container if made ahead of time
Making the Compound Butter
- Place all compound butter ingredients into a medium bowl and mix on low with a hand mixer until just combined. Turn up to medium and mix an additional 30 seconds
Seasoning the Salmon
- Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan then add the salmon on top
- Smear the butter all over the front, back and sides of the salmon
- Place the salmon in the fridge for 30-60 minutes
Cooking the Salmon
- Preheat the air fryer to 400°F for 5 minutes
- In the meantime, spray a small piece of aluminum foil with a small amount of non stick cooking spray. Make sure the foil is only large enough to cover the bottom of the air fryer basket and does not go up the sides of the basket
- After the air fryer is done preheating, place the aluminum foil in the bottom of the basket then place the salmon on top in a single layer, not touching each other
- Sprinkle each piece with a pinch of salt then cook for 5 minutes
- Remove the salmon from the air fryer and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before serving
- Serve with tartar sauce