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Air Fryer Salmon with Garlic Sauce

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Air fryer salmon with garlic sauce is an easy and healthy dinner option. It has a rich and buttery flavor and looks like you were getting served at a fancy restaurant.

With an air fryer, you can quickly transform fresh salmon into tender, golden-brown fillets that are packed with flavor. This cooking method gives it a deliciously crispy texture, while the garlic aioli sauce adds an extra layer of flavor.

This recipe is perfect for busy weeknights when you need something quick to get on the table. Plus, with minimal oil needed and mess-free clean up, air frying is undoubtedly one of the healthiest ways to cook.

Let’s face it, salmon is a more expensive fish to purchase, so you want to make sure that you flavor it well and have it turn out just like it would at a restaurant. No worries, we can help you with that.

Get ready to transform this simple meal into something special and restaurant worth by adding a quick and simple garlic aioli sauce.

Air Fryer Salmon with Garlic Sauce

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How to Season Salmon

Salmon a popular menu entrée in many restaurants, steakhouses, and seafood restaurants. However, making this at home can be daunting if you have never tried it before. I’m here to tell you that making a delicious filet of salmon at home can be done and it is super easy with amazing results.

This salmon rub is our favorite seasoning. It enhances the flavor of salmon with a garlicy, smoky, and savory seasoning. 

1 Teaspoon Paprika

1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Zest

Salt and Black Pepper to Taste

Seasoning Pro Tips. Add seasoning just before cooking the fish whether you are air frying, pan-frying, baking, or grilling. Melt butter and add the seasoning to the butter and brush it on the salmon just before cooking. The butter really adds additional buttery flavor in our opinion. Olive Oil works well for this too.

Seasoning Salmon

Cooking Tips for Perfect Salmon Recipes

If you can, buy fresh salmon from a local source. We have a grocery store nearby that has good fresh seafood. Otherwise, the frozen filets in the bags will work just fine too.

Make sure to keep the frozen salmon frozen until you are ready to use it. The fresh fish should be used fairly quickly to make sure that it doesn’t go bad before you get a chance to use it.

Check for pin bones. Nothing is more off putting than taking a bite and having a bone in the flesh. Additionally, it is a choking hazard. Run your funders along the flesh side of the filet in both directions to feel for bones.

To remove pin bones from fish, use a tweezers or needle-nose pliers to grab the tiny bones and pull out.

Be careful not to overcook salmon. There is a fine line between done and too done. If you overcook the fish, it can become tough and dry. According to the USDA, salmon should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, the fish continues to cook once removed from the heat and if you cook until it has reached optimal temperature, it will end up over cooked. Therefore, we recommend cooking until 130 degrees Fahrenheit as the temperature will continue to rise when removed from the heat.

Cook on a medium low heat for best results. Cooking salmon at too high a temperature will cause a white gooey liquid to seep out. This is not harmful, just not pretty. Also, it will dry out your salmon filets. Even better, is to start the salmon in a frying pan and finish it in the oven for all around even heat.

Restaurant Worthy Salmon

Air Fryer Salmon

Air fryers are a game changer when it comes to quick cooking with less oil and delicious crispy results. Salmon is a perfect choice for air frying.

Preheat the air fryer to 400°F.

Rub each fillet with olive oil and season with garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Place the salmon in the air fryer in a single layer and air fry for 7-9 minutes, depending on the thickness of the salmon. Please note, time may vary between air fryers.

Open basket and check for desired doneness with a fork. You can return the salmon for another 1 or 2 minutes as necessary.

How to Pan Sear Salmon

If you are not lucky enough to have an air fryer, pan searing is another popular method of cooking the fish.

If you have a salmon filet with the skin on, sear with the skin side down first. This will protect the flesh from the hot pan. A crispy skin is another delicious flavor and texture element that will enhance the dish. Further, it will be easier to flip the fish.

Starting with the skin side down cook until it is well rendered, lightly browned, and crisp. Then turn the salmon to finish cooking. The results will be a restaurant quality dining experience.

Pan fry a salmon filet without the skin is easy. Just add oil to the pan and sear for 4 or 5 minutes per side.

Baked Salmon

If you like sheet pan meals, this one is for you. Season the fillets with salt, pepper, and your other spices or glazes. Bake on a baking sheet drizzled with olive oil or melted butter. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for about 15 minutes. The nice part is when baking fish, it is not necessary to turn the fish.

How to Tell When Salmon is Done

There are a number of methods to use when checking salmon for doneness. Using a thermometer, checking the color and texture, pressing down with your finger, using a butter knife to check.

Instant Read Thermometer

The internal temperature of cooked salmon should be 145 degrees Fahrenheit. However, since it continues to cook when off the heat, cook it to between 125 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit for best results.

Check the Color and Texture

Perfectly cooked salmon flesh will have a translucent pink color in the center. If the flesh is bright orange, it under done and should be cooked a bit longer.

Pressing Down with your Finger

When pressing down on the fish with your finger, the texture of the fish should be firm near the center and offer a little resistance when poked. If it jiggles, it probably needs a bit more cooking time.

Check with a Butter Knife

Use a butter knife to check for doneness. Insert the knife into the thickest part, generally the center. Check for juices running out, the color, and touch the flesh for the temperature.

Generally, when using this method, you will be able to see where the filet was checked. Therefore, if appearance is an issue, use the instant read thermometer method.

Why Cook Salmon in an Air Fryer

For years, we made our salmon in the oven and pan fried. However, recently, we purchased an air fryer and used it for cooking salmon. It was the easiest way to get the most succulent and perfectly cooked fish. Just prepare the fish with olive oil and seasonings and add to the fryer basket. Cook for 9 minutes. No turning and the results are amazing.

This has become our preferred way to cook our salmon.

Lemon Lime Garlic Aioli Sauce

How Long with Cooked Salmon Keep?

Whether you bake, pan fry, or air fry your salmon. It will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Freeze for up to 4 months. When ready to eat, just thaw and warm in the air fryer or microwave until heated through.

What to pair with salmon?

This healthy fish pairs nicely with quick and easy side dishes and light desserts. Here are a few of our favorite combinations.

These caramelized brussels sprouts with cranberry pear glaze were absolutely amazing! Just imagine these little cabbages coated with a sweet, caramelized sauce with a few crispy bits.

This recipe for skillet garlic green beans is a delicious side dish that is ready in just 15 minutes. 

This recipe for easy roasted potatoes goes with just about any meal.

Mango and Tomato Salsa

This 5 Minute Pink Fluff Salad has only 4 ingredients.

Roasted Beet Salad with Beet Greens and Feta

Chocolate Lasagna No-Bake Dessert

Old Fashioned Custard Pie

Air Fryer Salmon with Garlic Sauce
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Air Fryer Salmon with Garlic Sauce

Air fryer salmon with garlic sauce is an easy and healthy dinner option. It has a rich and buttery flavor and looks like you were getting served at a fancy restaurant.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time9 mins
Total Time14 mins
Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: 30 minute meal, easy meals, fish recipe, restaurant food
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 310kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 Salmon Filets
  • 1 Teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Zest
  • Salt and Black Pepper to Taste
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil or Melted Butter, or Cooking Spray

Garlic Sauce

  • 4 Tablespoons Mayonnaise
  • 1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Lime Juice
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Instructions

Air Frying the Salmon Filets

  • Rub each fillet with olive oil and add the seasonings to the top, sides, and bottom.
  • Place the fish in the air fryer basket in a single layer.
  • Cook for 8-10 minutes until tender and flaky.
  • Please note, time may vary between air fryers.
  • Open basket and check for desired doneness with a fork. You can return the salmon for another 1 or 2 minutes as necessary.

Garlic Sauce

  • In a small bowl, add the mayonnaise, lemon juice, lime juice, and garlic powder. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Using a fork or a small whisk, mix to combine.
  • Spoon over the salmon or make a fancy swoosh on the plate before adding the fish.

Your Own Private Notes

Notes

How to Tell When Salmon is Done 

There are a number of methods to use when checking salmon for doneness. Using a thermometer, checking the color and texture, pressing down with your finger, using a butter knife to check. 

Instant Read Thermometer

The internal temperature of cooked salmon should be 145 degrees Fahrenheit. However, since it continues to cook when off the heat, cook it to between 125 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit for best results.

Check the Color and Texture

Perfectly cooked salmon flesh will have a translucent pink color in the center. If the flesh is bright orange, it under done and should be cooked a bit longer.

Pressing Down with your Finger

When pressing down on the fish with your finger, the texture of the fish should be firm near the center and offer a little resistance when poked. If it jiggles, it probably needs a bit more cooking time.

Check with a Butter Knife

Use a butter knife to check for doneness. Insert the knife into the thickest part, generally the center. Check for juices running out, the color, and touch the flesh for the temperature.
Generally, when using this method, you will be able to see where the filet was checked. Therefore, if appearance is an issue, use the instant read thermometer method.

How Long with Cooked Salmon Keep?

Whether you bake, pan fry, or air fry your salmon. It will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days. Freeze for up to 4 months. When ready to eat, just thaw and warm in the air fryer or microwave until heated through.

Nutrition

Calories: 310kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 96mg | Sodium: 191mg | Potassium: 854mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 117IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 1mg
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