Do Yourself A Favor And Stop Cooking Salmon In An Air Fryer

A lot of consideration can go into picking out a nice piece of fish. When it comes to choosing the perfect catch to cook up for dinner, chef de cuisine at NYC's La Grande Boucherie, Hector Diaz, tells Eat This, Not That! that the smell of the fish should be taken into account. He explains that it shouldn't "smell fishy," but rather, "It should smell like the ocean." When searching for a good piece of salmon, texture can also provide a clue to its freshness. Head chef at Clutch Restaurant in Atlanta, George Jewell, advises shoppers to "Try to avoid mushy salmon — that is a key indicator that it isn't fresh."

Spending a while at the grocery store or fish market perusing the options, making a purchase, commuting home, and bringing in groceries can take a toll on your time. So finding a quick solution to cook a meticulously chosen piece of salmon may be enticing. Home cooks looking for convenience may even be tempted to use an air fryer. There are so many dishes you can make in an air fryer, ranging from handheld apple pie to roasted chickpeas. But unfortunately, air fryers can't do it all. We're here to tell you, there are some foods you should never cook in an air fryer, and salmon happens to be one of them.

Cooking salmon in an air fryer requires close attention

There are a few mistakes people typically make when cooking salmon, like thawing your fish incorrectly or removing the skin. But another common error is overcooking your fish, and the threat of overcooking salmon is all too real, and this is especially true if you're preparing salmon in an air fryer.

The watchful eye required to cook salmon brings us to how it landed on our list of foods not to cook in an air fryer. As Executive chef for air fryer maker NuWave, David Jarvis, explained to Mashed, "A lot of times, the idea of an air fryer is, you turn it on, press start, put in a time, and walk away." Preparing salmon, however, isn't a good fit for a "walk away" cooking approach, since an air fryer can overcook salmon just like a pan can, according to Jarvis. Although salmon can still overcook on the stove, giving the fish your full attention instead of popping it in the air fryer will lead to a tastier meal.

How to tell when salmon is done cooking

According to Wild Alaskan Company, salmon's tendency to overcook quickly can even scare off home cooks from trying their hands at cooking the fish altogether. And if you shouldn't just set a timer for your air fryer, how can you check that your salmon is ready to go off the heat? Wild Alaskan Company offers a list of tips to prevent overcooking your fish including the use of a timer, a fork, and your own eyes.

Bon Appétit seconds using a fork to check your salmon's doneness, and here's how the company recommends doing it. You should use the fork to press down on the top of the fish and look for whether the fish flakes or parts easily along the striations on the flesh. If the fish separates, you should take your salmon off the heat.

While this can sound overwhelming, there are plenty of recipes online and tips from professional chefs that you can follow for delicious home-cooked salmon. Instead of using an air fryer to cook salmon, there are other ways to prepare the fish.

There is more than one solution for cooking salmon

When aiming for a nice home-cooked meal starring salmon, you may have to put in some extra effort. Of course, there are plenty of ways to cook the fish, including in an oven like in this spicy baked salmon recipe, or using a gas grill as this grilled salmon recipe demonstrates. 

Need some help from the pros when it comes to cooking salmon? Try Gordon Ramsay's salmon recipe with a twist. It only takes about 15 minutes to finish cooking this salmon. Plus, "Hell's Kitchen" contestant Alex Belew has shared his tip for cooking salmon, which involves dry curing the fish before cooking it. Another bonus is that it's harder to overcook salmon if it's dry-cured, according to Belew. 

If after all of our warnings, you still have your salmon-loving heart set on cooking the fish in your air fryer, this teriyaki salmon recipe may come in handy. But with a cook time of only eight to 10 minutes, don't plan on catching up on Netflix until the timer goes off. Cooking it for too long can ultimately turn that sought-out, nice piece of fish into a dry, chewy meal. At that point, the most we can hope for is that you have a pet — and one that doesn't mind eating dried-out salmon at that!