Recipe Overview

Why you’ll love it: This is a no-fuss recipe for perfectly seasoned delicious salmon that can be used in so many different ways – as an appetizer, or on top of salads, bowls, and pasta. It’s quick and easy.

How long it takes: 18 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: air fryer
Servings: 2 as a main dish

Air fryer salmon bites, one flaked to show texture.
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With a sweet and savory dry rub, no one can resist these air fryer salmon bites. Like these salmon bites with hot honey, they’re a bite-sized way to enjoy salmon, and in the air fryer, they take less than 8 minutes to cook! You won’t have to turn on your oven or make your stovetop messy.

Seafood can be a tough sell for picky eaters but air fryer salmon bites is the kind of recipe that will get a thumbs up from folks who normally turn up their noses at anything fish related. Present the salmon bites as “salmon nuggets” and serve them with a favorite dipping sauce. Watch them disappear!

Reasons to Love Air Fryer Salmon Bites

  • Cooked to perfection. The air fryer results in salmon that’s tender and juicy. Plus, the air circulating around the salmon bites gets them ever-so-slightly crispy on the outside, which I love.
  • So much flavor. If you have a weakness for sweet-and-savory, you’re going to flip for these air fryer salmon bites. The brown sugar adds enough sweetness to balance the savory spice blend without overdoing it.
  • Easy to make. Like air fryer steak bites and air fryer meatloaf, the air fryer makes these salmon bites quick and easy which takes the stress out of putting dinner on the table.
  • So many ways to enjoy them! Baked chicken breast has nothing on these air fryer salmon bites. Tuck them into tacos or wraps, add them to meal bowls and salads, use them to add protein to pasta, or serve them as an appetizer at a party with a dipping sauce.

Cooking Tip

Although this recipe calls for 12 ounces of salmon, there is enough seasoning for up to 16 ounces. Note that if you use a larger amount of fish, you may need to cook the salmon bites in batches.

Ingredient Notes

  • Salmon: Buy skinless salmon or remove the skin with a sharp knife before you get started. A thick center cut fillet works better for salmon bites than the ends of the fillets because it’s easier to cut into uniformly sized cubes. I figure about 6 oz. of salmon per person but you can adjust the amount as needed.
  • Brown Sugar: You can use dark brown sugar for a more sassy molasses flavor, or light brown sugar for a milder flavor. The brown sugar not only adds flavor but it also slightly caramelizes the outside of the salmon, making an irresistible glaze.
  • Seasonings: Garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, dried thyme, black pepper, and kosher salt add ALL the flavor to this recipe. They’re simple pantry ingredients that you can easily adjust to your preference.
Salmon seasoning being sprinkled on salmon.

Salmon Seasoning

Stir up a batch of my salmon seasoning to keep on hand for cooking salmon. The all-purpose seasoning works well for broiled salmon, air fryer salmon, baked salmon, and grilled salmon, as well as these air fryer salmon bites.

How to make Air Fryer Salmon Bites

Prep the salmon. If the salmon has skin on it, use a very sharp knife to trim it off. Pat the salmon dry with paper towels. Cut the salmon into 1-inch cubes, as uniformly as you can, so it cooks evenly.

Make seasoning. In a shallow bowl, stir together the brown sugar and all of the seasonings until well-combined.

Season the salmon. I find that the easiest way to season the salmon is to simply gently stir the salmon bites into the spice rub, making sure they’re well-coated on all sides.

Arrange in air fryer. Add the salmon bites to the basket of your air fryer, arranging them so there is a bit of space between each piece.

Air fry. Air fry at 400°F for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the salmon is cooked through and golden brown on the outside. If you have an instant read thermometer, check the internal temperature by inserting the probe into the center of a couple of the bites. It should be 145ºF or close to it. The salmon should flake easily and not be dark pink in the center.

Tips for Success

  • Cut evenly-sized pieces. If your salmon bites are all different sizes, they’ll finish cooking at different times, which is annoying at best and gives you a mix of over- and under-cooked salmon at worst. Buy thick center cut fillets for the best results.
  • Adjust the seasonings. You can use a seasoning blend you like for salmon or come up with your own combination. For a less smoky flavor, reduce the amount of smoked paprika by half. Try my Cajun seasoning, fajita seasoning, or BBQ rub.
  • No need to flip or shake. While you can flip the salmon at the halfway point if you’d like, I did a side-by-side comparison of these air fryer salmon bites both with and without turning them and found that there wasn’t much of a difference. To save myself the work, I usually skip it.
  • Don’t overcook the salmon. I recommend using an instant-read thermometer for perfect cooking; you’ll want the salmon to reach 145ºF. This is key to tender, juicy salmon! Too much cooking results in dry tough salmon.
Close up of air fryer salmon bite placed on top of other.

What to Serve With Air Fryer Salmon Bites

Salmon bites placed on top of a green salad with croutons.

Storing & Reheating Leftovers

Refrigerate: Leftover air fryer salmon bites can be refrigerated for up to 2 days in an airtight container.

Reheat: The best way to reheat salmon bites is to briefly air fry them again at 400ºF just until warmed through, typically no more than 3 minutes. They can also be eaten cold or you can zap them briefly in the microwave until they’re warmed up.

Leftover Love

Toss leftovers with summer pasta salad instead of salami for a different spin on this recipe, or use it in another simple pasta salad to add a protein boost.

More Salmon Recipes

Recipe

Air Fryer Salmon Bites

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 8 minutes
Total: 18 minutes
Servings: 2 as main dish
Tender and juicy and just crispy enough to make them delightful, air fryer salmon bites are destined to become a new favorite! They're perfectly seasoned for adding to salads, meal bowls, pasta, or just devouring as is.
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Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • If salmon has skin on, with a sharp knife, carefully remove the skin. Pat the salmon dry with paper towels and cut it into 1-inch cubes, as evenly as possible.
    12 ounces salmon, skin removed
  • In a shallow bowl, combine brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, dried thyme, pepper, and salt.
    1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves, ½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper, ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Add the salmon bites to the spice rub and stir to coat the salmon well with the spice mixture.
  • Place the seasoned salmon bites in the air fryer basket in a single layer, leaving space between each piece.
  • Air fry at 400°F for 6 to 8 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until the salmon is cooked through and has a golden brown exterior (see note).

Notes

  • Thick cut center fillets work better than thin end pieces. This recipe has enough seasoning for up to 16 oz. of salmon.
  • The number of servings you get from this recipe will vary depending on how much salmon you like to eat and whether you’re serving this as a main dish or an appetizer. Nutrition information is based on 2 main dish (6 ounce) servings.
  • The salmon should be fully cooked (145ºF internal temperature) in 6 to 8 minutes at 400ºF but that depends somewhat on the thickness of the pieces. If you like your salmon more rare, adjust cooking time down slightly.
  • Enjoy salmon bites as a main dish, as an appetizer (serve with a dipping sauce of your choice), or on top of a rice bowl or a salad.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 6oz., Calories: 277kcal, Carbohydrates: 9g, Protein: 34g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 94mg, Sodium: 660mg, Potassium: 901mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 573IU, Vitamin C: 0.4mg, Calcium: 40mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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5 from 1 vote

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2 Comments

  1. Tialyn says:

    5 stars
    You have the most incredible salmon recipes! This one was a hit!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      I’m so glad to hear it!