This bite-sized seafood sensation might just be the best salmon you’ll ever try. Marinated in a garlic, ginger soy sauce, air fryer salmon bites are cooked to tender perfection then served with the marinade transformed into a dip for extra flavor. It’s a simple salmon meal, perfect for weeknights that delivers big on taste.
For someone who didn’t even touch seafood until almost 16 years old, I’ve come to develop quite the obsession with salmon. Just when I thought I’d probably shared it every which way possible with you, from bacon-wrapped to fish sticks, these air fryer salmon bites come along, begging to be shared.
We eat salmon weekly so I’m always on the lookout for new ways to make it and keep things fresh when this marinated salmon bite recipe popped into my head.
Cutting the salmon into bites made it perfect for the rice bowl type of meal approach that I was going for one night for dinner but also creates a great salmon recipe idea for meal prepping.
And that’s why I love these air fryer salmon bites: not only are they a cinch to make, they’re super adaptable to lots of meal pairings. Plus, bite-sized food like pumpkin pie bites or French toast bites is just more fun.
Air fryer salmon bites ingredients
Here’s what you’ll need to make this tender, delicious salmon:
- Salmon filet — I always advocate for wild salmon after visiting Alaska and diving deep into the sourcing of Copper River salmon. Sockeye and Coho will be cheaper options than King salmon but choose what fits your budget and looks best. And yes, you can also use frozen salmon too. Just thaw it in the refrigerator overnight.
- Marinade — The marinade includes avocado oil, tamari (a gluten-free soy sauce option), garlic, fresh ginger, honey, lime juice, sesame oil and rice vinegar. It functions as both a marinade and an optional sauce for dipping — details below on how to do that safely.
Full ingredient list with amounts and directions are below in the recipe card.
How to make salmon bites in the air fryer
Start by cutting the salmon into bite-size pieces — about 1 inch cubes. The skin on the salmon fillets can be left on if you like crispy salmon skin or, removed with a sharp knife.
My Pro Tip
The skin is where the majority of the omega-3 fatty acids are in salmon. Keep it on for a healthy boost!
Whisk together all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add the salmon chunks to the bowl and toss to combine until each piece is coated in the marinade mixture.
Set aside and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to soak up the flavor of the marinade. The salmon can marinate for up to 6 hours but no longer as the fish will start to break down too much.
When ready to air fry, preheat the air fryer to 400°F. Place the salmon bites in the air fryer basket or on air fryer trays with a sprinkle of extra salt in a single layer with enough space between each bite so the air can flow properly and cook the salmon evenly. If necessary, cook in two batches.
Air fry the salmon bites at 400°F for 6-8 minutes until the outside of the salmon pieces start to get crispy on the edges, flipping them halfway through if they’re in a basket model air fryer. If you have an oven model air fryer, there’s no need to flip the bites but you may want to rotate the trays.
Garnish with sesame seeds and chopped green onions before serving.
To turn the marinade into a sauce for the salmon bites:
Pour the extra marinade into a small saucepan. Place over medium heat until boiling then reduce to a simmer and let the marinade bubble away while the salmon is cooking in the air fryer. It should reduce and thicken by about half. Serve with the air fried salmon bites as a dipping sauce.
Tips & tricks
- Use aluminum foil to line the air fryer to help catch any of the marinade that falls off the salmon while air frying. Aluminum foil or air fryer liners also help tremendously with clean-up for a recipe like this.
- Reheat leftover salmon bites in the air fryer at 350°F for 2-3 minutes for the best texture. The salmon bites can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
- Use olive oil instead of avocado oil if necessary.
- Garlic powder and ginger powder can be substituted for the fresh ingredients if you don’t have either on hand.
- Tamari and coconut aminos are gluten-free options for soy sauce. Coconut aminos is also paleo-friendly since it doesn’t use soy. Soy sauce contains wheat. Any of these will work in the salmon marinade, choose whichever fits your needs.
- Like spice? Add a touch of sriracha to the marinade for some heat. Start with 1 teaspoon and adjust upwards from there.
- Don’t have time to whip up the marinade from scratch? Use a pre-made teriyaki sauce instead!
From oil sprays to muffin cups and from pizza pans to racks, we've got them all, and they make fantastic Christmas presents, too!
How to serve air fried salmon bites
I’ve made crispy salmon bites before and while they may sound the same, those are breaded and meant to be enjoyed more as an appetizer or something you’d put on a salad. These air fryer salmon nuggets, with their Asian-inspired marinade are perfect for serving in a rice bowl.
Rice bowls, like this Greek brown rice bowl or this spicy beef and red pepper rice bowl are just fun ways to enjoy a meal. You can add a bunch of different toppings and veggies to round it out but the easiest approach is white rice and your favorite steamed or roasted vegetable. The marinade sauce makes a delicious salty topping for all the ingredients in the bowl.
You can also take inspiration from this tuna sushi bowl and add things like avocado, pickled ginger, wasabi and seaweed for another variation on how to serve the salmon bites.
Other ideas for serving include as salmon tacos — replace blackened salmon with these marinaded salmon bites — or on top of a salad.
How to keep salmon from sticking to the air fryer
Preheating the air fryer usually eliminates this issue but you can also lightly spray the air fryer basket or trays with an olive oil or avocado spray to prevent the salmon from sticking.
Should salmon be skin up or skin down in the air fryer?
If you choose to keep the skin on the salmon bites, the skin will get crispiest if it’s in the direction of the heating element. For basket air fryers, this is skin side down. For oven-model air fryers, this is typically skin side up. If you rotate the salmon bites halfway through cooking, however, this won’t matter.
Can I use frozen salmon?
Check out this recipe for frozen salmon in the air fryer. Otherwise, it’s best to let the salmon thaw before making these air fryer salmon bites.
Other salmon recipes you’ll love:
Coconut cashew salmon brings major tropical vibes and is a fun meal to escape to warmer weather with.
Sheet pan salmon is seasoned with turmeric and served with roasted broccoli rabe and a cherry sauce that’s quick, easy and super tasty. This is a one-pan meal we enjoy often.
Pesto salmon is a five ingredient recipe that’s perfect for busy weeknights. We rotate between this recipe and the air fryer salmon bites almost weekly.
Looking for a way to enjoy canned salmon? Pink salmon — the kind used it almost all canned salmon — is just as nutritious as the other wild salmon varieties, it’s just more abundant. Use it in this dijon dill salmon salad over toast or on a salad for a nutritious lunch that tastes great.
Marinated Air Fryer Salmon Bites
- 1 pound salmon filet, skin on or removed
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 3 tablespoons tamari, substitute soy sauce or coconut aminos
- 1 tablespoon honey, or maple syrup
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon minced ginger
- Juice of ½ a lime
- Sesame seeds
- Chopped green onions
- Pat salmon filet dry and cut into 1” cubes.
- Whisk remaining ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the cubed salmon, toss to coat in the sauce and set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes, up to 6 hours.
- When ready to cook, preheat the air fryer if necessary to 400°F. Place the marinated salmon cubes in the air fryer in a single layer. Cook for 6-8 minutes, flipping each piece halfway through. Cook in batches if needed so there is ample room around each piece of salmon for the air to flow.
- Serve warm over white rice and garnish with sesame seeds and chopped green onions.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.