The Easiest Way To Prevent Salmon From Sticking In Your Air Fryer

When air-frying salmon, the most unfortunate dilemma that can happen to any home cook is the fish getting stuck to the basket. Because the flesh of salmon is rather lean and lacks a lot of connective tissue, it doesn't take much to make an entire filet crumble apart. To ensure beautiful-looking salmon with a great texture, there are many ways to tackle this problem, but the easiest method is to prevent it entirely. Just place a piece of parchment paper at the bottom of your air fryer basket.

Parchment paper has a special, non-stick coating that not only allows it to withstand high heat, but prevents foods from sticking to it. Most home cooks mainly keep it around their kitchen for baking recipes, but it can also be safely used in an air fryer, as long as it sits securely within the basket and you don't cook it at over 450 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Placing some parchment paper under your fish keeps it from directly touching your air fryer's grid plate, and therefore stops it from adhering altogether. It will also catch some of the juices and white goo that can leak from the salmon, minimizing the cleanup you'll have to do afterwards.

Don't use aluminum foil as a substitute for parchment paper

A lot of cooks like to use aluminum foil as an alternative for parchment paper, and foil is called for in many air-fried salmon recipes. While foil can work as a parchment replacement in a handful of baking situations, the two are not interchangeable, and have a number of differences that require careful consideration. 

For example, foil does not always have a nonstick coating, so you might have to oil it to prevent your salmon from sticking. The metal can also break down and leach into your food when it comes in contact with acidic ingredients, such as citrus fruits or tomato sauces. This means you cannot season your salmon with common flavorings such as lemon slices when you use aluminum. While foil is serviceable, it limits the amount of recipes you can make, so parchment still reigns supreme.

Regardless of which lining you use, make sure you don't overcrowd the basket. Since air fryers use hot convection currents to cook and crisp up foods, blocking the vents in the grid will result in your fish filets coming out undercooked and soggy. You can sidestep this by cutting holes in your parchment; using a small sheet cut to the exact size of your filets; or purchasing a premade parchment liner for your appliance.

Other tips for cooking salmon in the air fryer

In conjunction with parchment paper, you'll also want to coat your salmon with either cooking spray or a bit of neutral-flavored oil. This will further ensure that your fish won't fuse to the air fryer's basket, and any dry rubs or seasonings on the fish won't get blown off by the hot air. Most recipes recommend that you cook the filet with the skin side down, but you should position this side facing up if you want the skin to get nice and crunchy.

As you begin to air fry your salmon, keep in mind that the size of your filets will factor into how long they take to cook. Generally speaking, pieces of this fish will need approximately 10 minutes for every inch of thickness, although this can also vary according to the exact temperature you're using in your recipe. You can eyeball the doneness of a salmon by seeing if it starts to flake apart under the gentle pressure of a fork, but feel free to take out a meat thermometer if you aren't sure. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that all fish reach 145 degrees Fahrenheit before consumption, so don't risk a bout of food poisoning if your salmon appears undercooked.