Why You Should Never Cook Skinless Salmon Fillets In Your Air Fryer

The air fryer has become a kitchen staple for its speed and ability to create restaurant-quality dishes. Salmon is a perfect candidate for air frying, but there's a common misconception: You need to remove the skin first. We have a few reasons to keep the skin on your salmon fillets.

Salmon is prized for its healthy fats and flaky texture. Air fryers circulate hot air and create a perfectly crispy exterior, which can be a game-changer for many proteins. However, this rapid and intense heat can be a double-edged sword for fragile, skinless salmon fillets. Without the protective layer of skin, the flesh is at a higher risk of overcooking, turning dry, and harsh. Salmon skin provides a protective barrier during cooking, helping to retain moisture and flavor. When you remove the skin, you expose the delicate flesh to direct heat, leading to faster moisture loss and potential flavor dilution. 

Additionally, let's not forget about the visual appeal. The golden-brown, crispy skin adds aesthetic appeal to the dish, making it more appetizing. Skinless salmon fillets can appear less visually appealing without the skin, potentially impacting the overall dining experience. Finally, leaving the skin on provides a buffer zone during cooking. Since the skin takes longer to cook through than the flesh, it can be a handy indicator of doneness.

Don't ditch the skin!

Need more reasons? We've got a few! Salmon skin contributes to the overall texture of the dish and contains nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and vitamin B. When crisped up properly, salmon skin adds a delightful crunch that contrasts beautifully with the moist interior, adding a lovely textural contrast. Without it, the texture profile of the dish may be lacking, missing that satisfying combination of crispy and tender elements that makes salmon dishes so enjoyable. Can we say something about clean up? Easy cleanup is one of the best parts about cooking with the skin on. Skinless salmon tends to stick to the air fryer basket, making cleanup a chore. But with the skin on, you have a non-stick layer, ensuring easy removal and minimal mess. Finally, if you prefer to cook with the salmon skin off, consider grilling, baking, pan-searing, or using your cast iron skillet for delicious results showcasing the fish's natural qualities without compromising taste and texture.

While air fryers can be fantastic tools for cooking a wide range of foods, skinless salmon fillets are best prepared using other methods to ensure optimal moisture retention, flavor, texture, and presentation. For flawless air-fried salmon, ditch the knife and leave the skin on. You'll be rewarded with moist, flavorful fish that's a breeze to cook and clean!