Can you cook frozen salmon in air fryer? Yes! You do not need to thaw frozen salmon before air frying. Learn to make air fryer frozen salmon fillets with an indulgent lemon cream sauce that’s low carb, keto, and gluten free. You’ll love this easy weeknight dinner idea that has only 2.2 grams of net carbs per serving. Air fryer, oven, frozen, and fresh salmon directions provided!
Did you know you can cook frozen salmon in the air fryer without having to defrost it first? I love dinner hacks like this that make life easier.
Air fryer salmon from frozen comes out flaky, moist, and delicious. And just like fresh salmon, you’re getting a rich source of healthy omega-3 fats. (Make sure to air fry frozen salmon with skin to get the most healthy fat!)
Fresh salmon steaks can be expensive. You can save money buying frozen salmon from Aldi, Costco, Trader Joe’s, or Sam’s Club (Member’s Mark) instead.
The thinner (and less pricey) frozen fillets of salmon actually work out best in this recipe. (Great, am I right?!?)
Salmon can be easy to overcook, and frozen salmon especially so. Luckily, I have some tips to help you air fry frozen salmon steak to perfection.
And if you do accidentally overcook salmon a bit? The lemon cream sauce does a wonderful job covering up salmon that is too dry. Your secret is safe with me.
- 📋 Calories, Net Carbs, Protein
- ⭐ Benefits
- 🥘 Ingredients
- 🍋 Lemon Cream Sauce for Fish
- 🍽 Equipment
- 🔪 How to Make Frozen Salmon in Air Fryer
- ️⏲ Cooking Time and Temperature
- 🔥 Oven Directions
- ️🌡️ Leftovers
- 🥗 Side Dishes
- 🧂 Seasoning and Sauces
- 💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
- 👩🏻🍳 More Air Fryer Recipes for Frozen Seafood
- The Disclaimer…
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
📋 Calories, Net Carbs, Protein
One serving of this air fryer frozen salmon recipe has 432 calories, 2.2 grams net carbs, and 38.5 grams protein. This nutrition information includes the salmon and lemon cream sauce.
What are the benefits of salmon cooked in the air fryer? Here are a few reasons I love this air fryer seafood recipe:
- Heart healthy Omega-3 fats: Salmon are a type of oily fish that are particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids. These fats have anti-inflammatory properties and are beneficial for the heart and for brain health.
- High-quality protein: Seafood is a super source of high-quality protein. That said, salmon is a fatty fish, so it’s not quite correct to call it a lean protein. (As mentioned above, salmon is rich in healthy fats too.)
- Special diet-friendly: This air fried salmon recipe with no breading is a great fit for gluten free, low carb, keto, pescatarian, and WW diets. Just switch up the side dishes to suit your needs.
- Energy saving: You can air fry frozen salmon in about the time it takes to preheat the oven. It’s a great way to enjoy seafood in the summertime without heating up the house.
- Cooks perfectly: Unlike the oven, air fryers automatically shut off after the set cooking time. If you forget your fish (hey, it happens!) it won’t overcook.
- Convenience: Not having to remember to thaw your salmon is convenient. If you usually forget to thaw dinner before heading to work, this recipe is great for you.
- Tasty: Salmon is rich and flavorful, definitely one of my favorite types of fish. The cream sauce really takes things over the top.
Here’s what you need to make frozen salmon fillets in an air fryer:
- 12 ounces of frozen salmon (2 skin-on fillets)
- Cooking oil spray
- Olive oil
I tend to use “salmon steaks” and “salmon fillets” interchangeably, but there is a difference! According to Delish, salmon steaks usually contain bones and are cut perpendicular to the spine. Salmon filets are cut parallel to the spine and contain few or no bones.
You want salmon fillets (no bones) for this recipe. Try to get salmon fillets that are a uniform thickness across the filet for more even cooking. Save your pricey salmon steaks to cook from fresh.
One of the most important air frying tips I have is to use thin salmon fillets. The salmon I used was only about ½-inch (1.27 cm) thick at the thickest part.
Thicker pieces of salmon will take longer to cook. They’re more likely to dry out around the edges before they reach a safe internal temp. Plus, thicker cuts tend to be more expensive.
Leave the skin on the salmon to prevent food waste and increase the healthy fat you’re getting. When purchasing fresh fish, it should not smell unpleasantly fishy; that’s an indicator of spoilage. Frozen salmon generally doesn’t have a smell at all.
To air fry frozen salmon, it’s easiest to use individually wrapped frozen salmon fillets. That way, you will not need to pry apart salmon pieces that are stuck frozen together.
Both farmed salmon and wild-caught salmon works well in this recipe. I prefer wild-caught Alaskan salmon for its flavor, but let your preferences and grocery budget determine what you choose. Getting salmon you can afford is way better than overspending or getting no salmon at all.
🍋 Lemon Cream Sauce for Fish
I’m also providing a lemon cream sauce for salmon with this recipe. You can whip it up on the stovetop while the frozen salmon is air frying. Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- Heavy cream
- Sour cream
- Lemon zest
- Fresh lemon juice
- Finely chopped fresh dill
- Salt and pepper
I highly recommend using freshly squeezed fresh lemon juice for the sauce, not bottled. Meyer lemons provide a wonderful boost of citrus flavor, if you can find them.
To make air fryer salmon from frozen, you’ll need a meat thermometer, silicone pastry brush, and an air fryer. (The pastry brush is used to brush oil on the fish.) To make the lemon sauce, you’ll need a small saucepan, whisk, microplane, and manual juicer.
It doesn’t take much space to cook two salmon fillets. A small air fryer basket should do the job just fine. I use a 10-Quart Kalorik Air Fryer Oven and only needed to use one of its two air fryer trays.
Important! You can make this salmon recipe in a Ninja Foodi, Cosori, Pampered Chef Air Fryer, Actifry, Nuwave, Instant Vortex, Cuisinart, Philips, Power Air Fryer, etc. However, the cooking times may be different. Always keep a close eye on the food the first time you try a new air fryer recipe!
If I followed the air frying times for many air fryer frozen salmon recipes I’ve seen, my fish would be undercooked. It’s easy to both under- and overcook fish. Adjust the cooking times as needed and check your salmon for doneness after cooking with a meat thermometer.
🔪 How to Make Frozen Salmon in Air Fryer
Let's talk about how to cook frozen salmon in an air fryer! Start by preheating your air fryer to 390 degrees Fahrenheit (199C) for 5 minutes.
Spray a hot air fryer tray with oil and put the salmon skin side down. Use the pastry brush to brush the tops of the salmon with half the olive oil.
Place the tray with the salmon in the top rack position of the air fryer. Time to air fry!
️⏲ Cooking Time and Temperature
What temp to cook frozen salmon in air fryer? Air fry frozen salmon in a preheated air fryer for a total of 14-16 minutes at 390 degrees Fahrenheit (199C). Flip the salmon about halfway through cooking time (after 8 minutes) and brush with more oil.
The safe minimum internal temp for seafood is 145F (63C). Check your salmon fillets after air frying to make sure you’ve reached this temperature.
If you use a thick salmon steak (1-1.5 inches/2.54-3.8 cm), the outer edges will likely dry out before it reaches a safe temp in the middle. Save your money and remember to use a thin salmon fillet for this recipe.
While the salmon cooks, whip up the lemon cream sauce. Whisk the heavy cream, sour cream, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper together in a small saucepan.
Don’t boil it- just heat a couple of minutes over medium heat until completely smooth. You want the sour cream to fully melt into the sauce. Then remove it from the heat, whisk in the dill, and drizzle it over the salmon.
🔥 Oven Directions
You can make salmon in the oven as well! Put fresh salmon fillets on a metal baking pan and cook for 10 min in an oven preheated to 400F (200C).
Remember, the safe minimum internal temperature for salmon is 145F (63C). Give the salmon additional cooking time as needed.
I’ll cover oven baked frozen salmon in the FAQs section.
How long does cooked salmon last? According to the USDA, cooked salmon lasts up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator. I’d play it safe and try to consume it within 48 hours.
Luckily, it’s easy to incorporate leftover salmon into recipes, particularly without the sauce. Reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop and make fish tacos, top a salmon salad, or make a salmon rice bowl.
You can refreeze previously frozen salmon that has been thawed or cooked. However, you will likely experience a loss in quality with reheating.
🥗 Side Dishes
What goes with frozen salmon made in the air fryer? I like to serve salmon with roasted Brussels sprouts and a cooked grain, such as farro, quinoa, or rice. Here are some other side dishes for salmon:
- Air Fryer Frozen Sweet Potato Fries
- Kale Apple Slaw
- Air Fryer Jicama Fries
- Garden Salad
- Riced Cauliflower
🧂 Seasoning and Sauces
If you don’t like lemon cream sauce, there are lots of other flavorings and seasonings for salmon. Aside from possibly the garlic butter, these options are all lower in saturated fat than cream-based sauces:
- Garlic butter
- Sugar-free teriyaki sauce
- Honey mustard sauce
- Everything But the Bagel seasoning
- Old Bay seasoning
- Cajun spice
💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 2 recipe (transition or weight maintenance). Frozen salmon is about as healthy as fresh, making this a nice, easy way to get more seafood in. If you want to lighten up this meal because you have a weight loss goal, here are some options:
- Make it lower fat: Skip the lemon cream sauce (knocks off about 125 calories).
- Make it low carb: Serve the meal with non-starchy vegetables, and no grains or starchy vegetables.
There are about 150-200 calories per ¼ cup of dry rice, quinoa, etc. (That’s around ¾ cup cooked.) The lower carb option may be the one that ends up being lower calorie, depending on the sides you use. The “right” approach depends on your health goals and the dietary patten you find more satisfying.
People love to debate about whether low-fat or low-carb options are better for weight loss. The truth is, it all comes down to what is sustainable for the individual. If a person cannot stick to a certain way of eating, that approach is not better for them.
The lower-fat option is considered the “heart-healthy” option by mainstream health organizations. Skipping the cream sauce brings the saturated fat in this dish down while keeping the whole grains retains more fiber.
If you find fiber-rich foods more satiating than added fats, the low-fat option may be the way to go. It’s also the best option if you’re actively trying to decrease your saturated fat intake.
Salmon is a fatty fish, so cutting the cream sauce makes this dish lower-fat but not no fat. As I’ve talked about previously on this site, some fat is essential in the diet. The goal should never be zero fat, no matter your preferred way of eating.
Salmon that is done cooking is opaque and flakes easily with a fork. Color is not the best indicator of doneness in fish. Instead, check that the thickest part of the fish has reached an internal temperature of at least 145F (63C).
The air fryer may dry out previously cooked salmon. I recommend just warming the salmon in an air fryer set to 350F (175C) for 3-4 minutes.
To air fry frozen marinated salmon, thaw the salmon in an air fryer preheated to 390F (199C) for 8 minutes. Brush on the marinade, then finish air frying for 8 minutes. Remember that cooking times ultimately depend on the thickness of your fish and air fryer brand.
The white stuff on cooked salmon is a harmless protein called albumin. (It looks like cooked egg whites, doesn’t it?) You can reduce the amount of white stuff coming out of salmon by not overcooking it and cooking it more slowly. You may not be able to completely eliminate it, so feel free to wipe it off if it bothers you.
👩🏻🍳 More Air Fryer Recipes for Frozen Seafood
Did you like this frozen salmon recipe and want more ideas? Check out these air fryer frozen seafood recipes next:
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats no sugar post. Let's get cooking!
Frozen Salmon in Air Fryer (Salmon Fillets)
- 12 ounces frozen salmon (340 grams; two fillets with skin, do not thaw)
- cooking oil spray
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons sour cream
- ½ tablespoon lemon juice, fresh squeezed (from Meyer lemons, if possible)
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- salt and pepper, to taste
- ½ tablespoon fresh dill
- Important! For best results, use boneless salmon fillets that are about ½-inch thick (1.27 cm) and are a uniform thickness.
- Preheat air fryer to 390°F (199°C) for 5 minutes.
- Mist a hot air fryer tray with oil spray and put the salmon skin side down on the tray. Use the pastry brush to brush the tops of the salmon with ½ tablespoon of the olive oil. Place the tray in the top rack position of the air fryer.
- Air fry for 14-16 minutes at 390°F (199°C). Flip the salmon about halfway through cooking time (after 8 minutes) and brush with the rest of the olive oil. The skin will get nice and crisp!
- Check your salmon fillets with the meat thermometer to make sure they reached a safe minimum internal temp of 145°F (63°C).
- To make the lemon cream sauce, whisk the heavy cream, sour cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, and pepper over medium heat until just heated with a smooth consistency. (Do not boil!) Whisk in the fresh dill and set the sauce aside, keeping warm.
- To serve, drizzle the lemon cream sauce over the air fried salmon. Enjoy!
How to Oven Bake Fresh Salmon
- Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Put fresh salmon in a metal baking pan and bake on a rack ⅓ from the top of the oven for 10 minutes.
- Check salmon using a meat thermometer to ensure it reached a safe minimum internal temp of 145°F (63°C). Extend cooking time if needed.
- Make lemon cream sauce as directed above. Serve oven baked salmon drizzled with lemon cream sauce.
- Make it lower fat: Skip the lemon cream sauce (knocks off about 125 calories).
- Make it low carb: Serve the meal with non-starchy veggies, and no grains or starchy veggies.
This recipe has been updated from 2019 to include air fryer directions, new photos, a recipe video, and more nutrition information. Enjoy!