How to cook salmon in an air fryer

How to cook salmon in an air fryer
(Image credit: Future / Emily Peck)

If you’ve bought one of the best air fryers and you’re looking for delicious recipe inspiration, knowing how to cook salmon in an air fry is a good place to start. 

Salmon fillets make a delicious speedy supper and work well in an air fryer. They come out tender and flaky on the inside and perfectly crispy on top. Air fryer salmon is a particularly good dish to try if you’re rushed for time as the salmon fillets can be cooked in under 10 minutes. 

You can prep your salmon with toppings such as herbs, green or red pesto or harissa pesto to add more flavor. Serve the salmon up with green veg and steamed new potatoes for a wholesome meal. Tempted? Then follow our step-by-step guide on how to cook salmon in an air fryer here. 

Steps for how to cook salmon in an air fryer

  1. Pre-heat your air fryer
  2. Prep your salmon with seasoning/topping of your choice
  3. Cook the salmon at 356F (180°C) for 8-10 minutes
  4. Plate up your salmon and serve

Tools and requirements

How to cook salmon in an air fryer

(Image credit: Future / Emily Peck)
  • Air fryer
  • 2 salmon fillets (shown here with 2 x 100g fillets)
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Top with green pesto (as we’ve shown here) or add mixed herbs, garlic granules, lemon, rosemary or whatever takes your fancy.

Step by step for how to cook salmon in an air fryer

1. Pre-heat your air fryer

(Image: © Future / Emily Peck)

If your air fryer is brand new, unpack it and follow the instructions to clean the basket with warm water and a little dish soap before use. Dry it thoroughly and set the air fryer to pre-heat for a few minutes. 

For best results, it’s good practise to pre-heat your air fryer, just like you would an oven. Some air fryers have pre-heat settings built into them, but if not you can heat it up for a couple of minutes manually. In this article, I have used the compact Ninja Air Fryer Max AF160.

2. Prep your salmon

(Image: © Future / Emily Peck)

Take your salmon fillets out of the packaging and season them to your taste. There is a wide range of toppings you can choose from, and here I’ve chosen green pesto. I simply brushed each piece with olive oil, sprinkled some salt and pepper on top and then spread a tablespoon full of green pesto on each fillet. 

If you’re feeling adventurous you could make your own home-made pesto, but shop bought is time saving and just as delicious I’d say.  

3. Cook the salmon at 356F (180°C)

(Image: © Future / Emily Peck)

Place your salmon fillets into your pre-heated air fryer. Some air fryers will have specific fish settings that you can use, but I find that 8-10 minutes at 356F (180°C) works well on salmon fillets. 

Monitor the air fryer progress as you cook – either via the viewing window or by opening the air fryer basket halfway through. Larger fillets may need a little longer to cook, and if so, cook in 1 minute blasts, checking the progress as you go.  

4. Plate your salmon and serve

(Image: © Future / Emily Peck)

The world is your oyster when it comes to what to serve your salmon up with. I think steamed or air-fried new potatoes with green vegetables always works a treat as does salmon with cous cous and avocado salad. 


It’s important to allow your air fryer to cool before you wash it. Follow Lynsey Queen of Clean’s advice below on the best way to clean and maintain your air fryer:  

What's the best way to clean your air fryer after use?

‘Once you have allowed your air fryer to cool after use, take the basket out and sprinkle it with bicarbonate of soda, which will soak up the grease and take away any odors,’ says Lynsey. ‘Then fill the basket with boiled water, add a drop of dish soap and leave for 20 minutes before rinsing it clean. Then dry. 

If there is a build-up of grease, you can soak the interior trays in a little dish soap and warm water in the sink. Add a splash of white vinegar to help dislodge any built-on grime. You can use a non-abrasive brush to scrub away at any stubborn areas and rinse clean.     

‘You should also clean the heating coil on the inside of your air fryer regularly. Do this by allowing it to cool first and then use a damp and soft microfiber cloth to wipe clean. Do not submerge it in water. You can also use a microfiber cloth to clean the exterior of your air fryer.    

What’s your top tip for cooking in an air fryer?

‘To make it easier to clean your air fryer, invest in air fryer silicone cases. These can be soaked in warm soapy water or popped in the dishwasher after use and will keep your air fryer squeaky clean.’

Final thoughts

You can top your air fry salmon with harissa pesto for a more flavor some finish. Or if you want to try something a little simpler, try seasoning with salt, pepper, mixed herbs and garlic (either granules or a little lazy garlic from a jar works well). Lemon, garlic, rosemary and a little olive oil is also a tasty combination I like to try.

For salmon teriyaki in the air fryer, you can coat the salmon in 1 tbsp of light soy sauce, a tbsp of sweet chilli sauce and allow it marinade in the fridge for half an hour before cooking.

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Emily Peck
Lifestyle journalist

Emily is a lifestyle journalist who writes for a range of publications including TechRadar, Livingetc, Wired, Ideal Home and GQ. She writes about interior design and smart home, gardens, wellbeing, food and fitness and has tested everything from food processors to paddleboards, and bee hives to the best beds. When she’s not typing away at her computer, she can be found tending to her Dorset-garden, trying the latest water sport at the beach or acting as chauffeur to her two young kids.