This easy air fryer salmon recipe has a delicious brown sugar rub that cooks tender, flaky salmon with crisp seared edges in 7-9 minutes. Pair it with some veggies for an easy and healthy weeknight meal.
Some time back, I posted this easy oven-baked chicken breast recipe with an addictive brown sugar rub that made the chicken so moist, the recipe was an instant hit. So today I’m taking the same foolproof rub and making some flavorful and juicy, easy air fryer salmon.
It’s a great way to get a healthy salmon dinner on the table quickly and the air fryer works great at giving you succulent salmon with a crispy outer crust. The rub is made with just a few simple ingredients like brown sugar, Italian seasoning, paprika, garlic powder and salt and pepper. The salmon is rubbed generously with this seasoning to give you lots of flavor for very little effort and time.
Pair it with some greens on the side like this air fryer garlic Parmesan broccoli, asparagus, green beans, brussels sprouts, or some zucchini for an easy weeknight balanced meal. For more air fryer salmon recipes, try this popular air fryer honey garlic salmon or this restaurant-quality air fryer honey mustard salmon.
Ingredients in Easy Air Fryer Salmon
EASY AIR FRYER SALMON RECIPE TIPS
- Air fryer – I use a Cosori 5.8 Qt. air fryer which is the basket kind of air fryer. I like it because it has a preheat option and is easy to use and clean up.
- Cooking time – Since all air fryer models are different, cooking time will depend on your air fryer model and the thickness of your salmon. My air fryer comes with a pre-heat option like an oven, so the cooking time in this recipe is based on preheating. If your air fryer does not come with preheating, run it at 400°F for 5 minutes to preheat it before adding in the salmon and following the recommended recipe time. Add more time, if needed, until the salmon has a nice seared crust.
- Salmon – I used about two 5 oz. fillets for this meal but you can go up to 8 oz. without having to change the recipe time or quantity of ingredients.
- Brown sugar – Brown sugar adds a wonderful caramelized crust.
- Seasoning – If you don’t have or don’t like Italian seasoning, feel free to substitute it with dried oregano, thyme, rosemary, or parsley. Either of these herbs will work.
- Paprika – Paprika adds a mild peppery flavor and a beautiful color to the salmon. You can substitute it with smoked paprika for a smoky flavor.
- Salt – I like using coarse sea salt because it’s more forgiving than your average table salt and you can be generous with the seasoning. Kosher salt will work just as well with the same amount in the recipe.
- Oven method – Bake the salmon on a prepared baking sheet at 350°F for 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the salmon.
- Stovetop method – Add a little oil to a skillet and sear the salmon on both sides until cooked and browned, about 4 minutes per side.
- Leftovers – The salmon will keep for up to 2-3 days.
Air Fryer Veggies
I’ve only tested broccoli, zucchini and brussels sprouts at 400°F/5 minutes but I think green beans and asparagus would take about the same amount of time. Here are a few quick ideas on how to prep your veggies for the air fryer:
- Garlic Parmesan Broccoli – Toss them with some olive oil, pepper, seasoning salt and shaker Parmesan cheese.
- Zucchini – Add some olive oil, salt and pepper and a dash of sugar. I’ve also tossed it with olive oil and Johnny’s garlic spread.
- Brussels sprouts – I like to add some olive oil, garlic powder and garlic salt, then toss them in a bottled balsamic reduction. It’s all bottled and ready to go for a simple drizzle, so there’s no need to fuss over making your own balsamic reduction.
- Green beans – Add some olive oil. smoked paprika, garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste for some smoky green beans.
- Asparagus – Toss it with some olive oil, lemon slices or lemon juice, garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste.
Easy Air Fryer Salmon FAQ
You should thaw your salmon first before air frying it. The cooking time in this recipe is for thawed salmon.
Yes! Just like using an oven where you preheat it before adding in your food, you should preheat your air fryer for even cooking. I use a Cosori air fryer that has a preheat option which takes about 5 minutes to get to 400°F. After that, add the salmon and follow the recommended recipe cooking time.
Once the air fryer is preheated, it should take anywhere between 7-9 minutes to cook 2 (5-8 oz.) salmon filets until it gets a crispy outer crust. It may take longer if your salmon fillet is bigger. Cooking time will also depend on your air fryer model and the thickness of your salmon – so keep an eye on it and add a few minutes if needed.
You can tell the salmon is done cooking when it is no longer translucent but opaque or pink. If the salmon flakes easily when pressed down gently with your finger or a fork (aka it separates easily along the white lines that run across the fillet), it is cooked! Alternatively, you can use a meat thermometer to check for doneness at an internal temperature of 145°F.
Since this recipe yields two servings, there’s a bit of room on the side to add some veggies and cook them at the same temperature, like this air fryer garlic Parmesan broccoli. Just make sure not to overcrowd the basket or overlap any food – everything should be cooked in a single layer so they crisp up and don’t steam.
- Substitute paprika – Substitute paprika with smoked paprika for a smoky flavor.
- Add some heat – Add a few dashes of red pepper flakes or cayenne for some heat.
- Add some zest – Finish with a drizzle of lemon juice for a brighter flavor.
What to Serve with Air Fryer Salmon
Serve with some air fryer broccoli, green beans, asparagus, or brussels sprouts for a balanced side. Add some mashed potatoes, crispy smashed potatoes, or a slow cooked risotto for some carbs. Or if you’re watching the waistline, add in some cauliflower mash, a salad, or some quinoa.
And that’s about it. Enjoy the salmon and let me know how you liked it, what substitutions you made, or what you paired it with in the comments below.
MORE SALMON RECIPES TO TRY
- Air Fryer Honey Garlic Salmon
- Air Fryer Honey Mustard Salmon
- Balsamic Glazed Salmon
- Creamy Garlic Butter Salmon
- Lemon and Parmesan Crusted Salmon
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Easy Air Fryer Salmon
- Total Time: 13 minutes
- Yield: 2
2 salmon fillets (5-8 oz. each)
BROWN SUGAR RUB
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Pinch of pepper
Combine the brown sugar rub and pat it generously on both sides of the salmon fillets.
Preheat the air fryer to 400°F and place the salmon fillets in the air fryer (see notes if you don’t have a preheat option).
Air fry for 7-9 minutes, or until salmon is cooked and the tops are caramelized.
Dish and serve hot.
This recipe assumes you have an air fryer with a preheat option. If you do not, run your air fryer for 5 minutes at 400°F to preheat it evenly before adding in the salmon and following the recommended recipe time.
Since air fryer models are different, cooking time will depend on your air fryer model and the thickness of your salmon.
Substitute paprika – Substitute paprika with smoked paprika for a smoky flavor.
Add some heat – Add a few dashes of red pepper flakes or cayenne for some heat.
Add some zest – Finish with a drizzle of lemon juice for a brighter flavor.
Scroll up to RECIPE TIPS for more useful tips, suggestions and ingredient substitutions.
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 8 mins
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