Mediterranean style healthy and easy salmon recipe with air fryer and baking instructions for tender and flaky salmon fillets served with a delicious dill sauce.
Lots of people love recipes with salmon because they're healthy, quick and delicious!
This Mediterranean-style salmon recipe can be made in the oven or in the air-fryer and will give you tender and flaky salmon fillets.
There's really no need to marinate the fillets, just rub them with some olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper before cooking. They'll come out perfect!
I usually don't add any herbs before cooking. I like to add them fresh, after the salmon is cooked. This way they keep all of their flavor and nutrients.
Fresh or frozen salmon?
You can actually use both. If the salmon is good quality, it almost has no difference if it's fresh or frozen.
For fresh salmon, it's best to take it out of the fridge 30-60 minutes before cooking to let it come to room temperature. This will ensure even cooking throughout the fillets.
For frozen salmon fillets, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and take them out of the fridge one hour before cooking.
How to prepare the salmon fillets
1. Bring the fish to room temperature (about 30-60 minutes before cooking). This helps with even cooking and also reduces the white substance (albumin) you sometimes see on the surface of the fillets.
2. Pat-dry the fillets with paper towels to remove any extra moisture.
3. Rub the salmon with olive oil (use a kitchen brush or your fingers) and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. There's no need to add anything else at this stage because fresh herbs will be added after baking/air-frying.
If you like garlic you can mince 1-2 garlic cloves and rub them with the oil on the surface of the fillets. For a milder garlic flavor, instead of adding minced garlic to the fish, I usually add some dried garlic powder to the dill sauce.
Baking the salmon fillets at a high temperature cooks the meat perfectly without drying out the interior. This results in a tender, juicy and flaky piece of salmon.
Note that you'll arrange the salmon fillets with the skin side down and you won't have to flip them during baking.
For a fan oven: bake the salmon fillets at 400˚F (205 °C) for 12 -15 minutes (the exact time will depend on the thickness of the fillets). Don't worry too much about the exact time though, even if you bake it for a minute longer than the ideal, the salmon will still be juicy.
For a conventional oven (without a fan): bake the salmon fillets at 430˚F (220 °C) for 12 -15 minutes.
Air-frying the salmon will give slightly better results than baking it, especially if you prefer the exterior to be more caramelized.
For easy cleanup, I prefer to line the air fryer basket with a piece of aluminum foil or baking paper.
I've found that there's no need to preheat the air fryer. Just transfer the fillets in the basket so that they are not touching each other and air-fry at 400˚F (205 °C) for 8 -10 minutes.
How can you tell when the salmon is cooked
The fork method: Check the middle of one fillet with a fork to make sure it's cooked. The meat should flake very easilly and the color of the interior should be light pink.
The internal temperature method: If you have an instant read thermometer you can check the internal temperature of the salmon to determine if it's cooked through. The internal temperature is the same regardless the cooking method and should be approximately 140-145 degrees F (60°C - 63°C.)
If the salmon isn't completely cooked, return to the oven or the air-fryer and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes more.
The dill sauce
This dill sauce is one of the best Mediterranean-style dressings. Dill pairs perfectly with salmon, but you can also use fresh or dried oregano or parsley.
However I must admit that when I have dill I always use that!
The ingredients for this easy dill sauce are:
Olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is best for this recipe
Lemon juice. Freshly squeezed lemon juice is the only thing you should use. Since some lemons can be tangier than others, it's always best to taste the sauce and adjuts the quantity to your liking.
Dried garlic powder. Dried garlic gives a subtle taste to the salmon without overpowering it.
Chopped dill weed. I add 1-2 tablespoons of chopped fresh dill to the sauce but I always add some more on top of the salmon.
Chopped capers. Capers are optional but they will give you small bursts of flavor and they also pair beautifully with salmon. If you can't find capers, you can also use some chopped onion or chopped pickles.
Can you eat the skin of the salmon?
Yes you can, but the skin will not crisp up and the texture will most likely be unpleasant.
That's why I usually remove and discard the skin, which peels-off very easilly, especially when the fillets are still warm.
The white goop you sometimes see on cooked salmon.
According to food52.com that white thing you sometimes see on the surface of cooked salmon is albumin (a type or protein).
Though it is perfectly safe to eat, it can be unpleasant to the eye, so if you don't like it you can gently scrape it off with a knife. I've noticed that fish that has been brought to room temperature before cooking tends to form less of this white substance on the exterior.
What to serve salmon fillets with:
- Potato salad with cucumber, tomato and green onion or this Greek potato salad without eggs and no mayo.
- Boiled quinoa or this quinoa and bean salad.
- Simple pearl couscous (Israeli) recipe
- Lentil salad
- Mediterranean bulgur and lentil salad
- A tossed green salad
Easy Salmon recipe - air fryer and oven instructions
For the salmon:
- 4 salmon fillets, about 6 ounces (170 grams) each
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the dill sauce:
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped dill weed (plus some more to sprinkle over the salmon)
- ½ teaspoon dried garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon chopped capers, optional (you can also use chopped red onion or chopped pickles instead).
- Bring the salmon fillets to room temperature about 30-60 minutes before cooking.
- If you plan to use the oven preheat it to 430˚F (220 °C) for a conventional oven or 400˚F (205 °C) for a fan oven.
- Pat-dry with paper towels, rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Baking instructions: Transfer the fillets (skin side down) to a baking pan lined with parchment paper and bake the salmon fillets for 12 -15 minutes (the exact time will depend on the thickness of the fillets).
- Air-fryer instructions: Transfer the fillets (skin side down) in the air-fryer basket so that they are not touching each other and air-fry at 400˚F (205 °C) for 8 -10 minutes.
- The salmon is cooked when an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 140-145 degrees F (60°C - 63°C) or when the meat flakes very easily with a fork and the color of the interior is opaque pink. If the salmon isn't completely cooked, return to the oven or the air-fryer and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes more.
- Make the dill sauce: transfer all the ingredients for the sauce to a bowl and beat gently with a fork until homogenized.
- Serve the salmon with the side of your choice, drizzle a tablespoon of the dill sauce over each fillet and sprinkle with extra chopped dill if desired.
- If you want more dill sauce you can double the quantities.
- If you want to use fresh garlic you will rub the fillets with 1-2 minced garlic cloves before cooking and you will omit the dried garlic from the dill sauce.
- About the skin: you can peel the skin off very easily before serving while the fillets are still warm.
- Serve these salmon fillets with a simple potato salad with boiled potatoes, 1-2 chopped cucumbers, 1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes, 1 chopped green onion, 2 tablespoon capers, ½ cup chopped parsley, 2-3 tablespoon lemon juice and ¼ cup olive oil, plus salt and pepper to taste.