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The Best Way to Cook Salmon Perfectly in an Air Fryer

A chef explains how to make air fryer salmon that's tender on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Salmon is the perfect fish to cook at home. It's affordable, it holds onto flavor, and it's fairly easy to cook. You can bake it in the oven, cook it on the stovetop, or throw it on the grill. And to make the process even easier, you can air fry your salmon as well!

Air-frying salmon gives it a deliciously crispy exterior without having to use heavy batters or deep frying it in a ton of oil. Instead, you can lightly season the salmon fillets and still get a flavorful result. To learn more about how to air fry salmon, we talked with Chef Chris Nirschel with New York Catering Service.

"This step-by-step guide ensures that you achieve perfectly moist and flavorful salmon right from your air fryer," says Nirschel. "The recipe is packed with aromatic herbs, zesty lemon, and a touch of garlic, and I promise it will be a crowd-pleaser for everyone."

Read on for Nirschel's foolproof recipe, and for another air fryer recipe, check out How to Cook Fried Chicken in an Air Fryer, According to Chefs.

Get your ingredients ready

lemon dill garlic lemon zest and parsley for sauce

The very first thing you'll want to do is gather your supplies and ingredients. You'll of course need an air fryer, and for air fryer salmon you can pretty much use any brand. The size of air fryer you choose should depend on how much salmon you want to cook at once. Nirschel's favorite type is the Fritaire Air Fryer.

To make Chef Chris Nirschel's air fryer salmon, collect the following ingredients:

  • 4 salmon filets (6 ounces each)
  • 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tsp of dried dill
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Zest of 1 large lemon
  • Juice of 1.5 lemons
  • Fresh dill, chopped, for garnish

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Prepare the salmon and flavor blend

Once you have all of your ingredients together, you can start to prepare your salmon for "frying", as well as make the olive oil marinade.

First, "Pat dry the salmon fillets, which will allow them to be the perfect canvas for the upcoming flavors," says Chef Nirschel. Then, grab a bowl and "combine the extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, dried dill, smoked paprika, salt, and black pepper. Mix well until combined," he says.

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Marinate the salmon

marinating salmon

Next, you'll want to marinate your salmon. Nirschel says to "Brush the flavor blend generously over both sides of the salmon filets, and let them marinate for at least 20 minutes to let the flavors absorb."

Then you can take the lemon and grate the zest over the filets. "Then squeeze the juice of one and a half lemons, providing a bright and refreshing citrus flavor," Chef Nirschel adds.

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Air fry your salmon

You're on your way to some delicious salmon, and now all you have to do is cook it!

  1. Preheat the air fryer to 390 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately five minutes. "This ensures the ideal balance between a crispy exterior and a moist interior," says Chef Nirschel.
  2. Lightly grease the air fryer basket and arrange the marinated salmon filets, "allowing for even frying."
  3. Once your air fryer is preheated, place the basket in and cook for 12 minutes.
  4. For the best results, "Turn the filets halfway through to get a golden perfection on both sides," says Nirschel.

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Garnish and enjoy

baked salmon served with asparagus lemon and dill

Now for the best step in the process, the part where you get to enjoy your meal. "As the aroma fills the kitchen, remove the salmon from the air fryer and garnish with freshly chopped dill for an elegant touch and depth of flavor," says Nirschel.

When it comes to serving, Nirschel says he likes to plate it with a slice of lemon, and then pair it with sides like a bed of quinoa or a medley of roasted vegetables.

Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha