Quick Air Fryer Salmon and Asparagus with Lemon Brown Butter

If you’re looking for a fast, healthy and delicious weeknight dinner – this is it! This Quick Air Fryer Salmon and Asparagus with Lemon Brown Butter is just the ticket when you’re short on time, but don’t want to compromise on quality!

With no time required to preheat an oven, the air fryer makes light work of this delicious meal. And, at less than 10 ingredients, this is a true weeknight win.

If you’re looking for another salmon idea for dinner, check out this Sheet Pan Salmon with Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta.

A white dinner plate with asparagus, salmon and lemon slices next to a pink napkin, gold and black silverware and a small clear bowl of brown butter sauce.

I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical about the whole air fryer craze, and only reluctantly got one for recipe development purposes. I just feel like I don’t need, yet another, appliance taking up more space.

And anyway, it’s just roasting food – which is the same thing that the oven does.

Well, I was wrong. I don’t love it for absolutely everything, BUT, for many things it is exceptional, and I find it incredibly efficient on weeknights when we’re so busy.

Cue this air fryer salmon and asparagus.

Using the air fryer completely eliminates any need to preheat a hot oven, which in and of itself, is a big time saver. And, it cooked the asparagus until it was crisp-tender and the salmon was beautifully flaky and moist. Two thumbs up for this one!


What you’ll love about this recipe:


  • SUPER QUICK – At only 8 minutes of cooking time and 5 minutes of prep time, dinner does not get much quicker than this!
  • ONLY 7 INGREDIENTS – Truly! Just 7 simple ingredients and that includes the sauce! This makes dinner on even the busiest of nights feel approachable.
  • DECADENT TANGY SAUCE – Oh yeahhh! This lemon brown butter sauce is simple, but such a nice elevated touch. And the best part is that you can make it while the salmon and asparagus are in the air fryer. For more details about this sauce, check out this detailed recipe post!
  • MAKES GREAT LEFTOVERS – If you’re lucky enough to have any!

Recipe ingredients

You’ll need the following ingredients to make this super quick, delicious and healthy Air Fryer Salmon:

An overhead photo of the ingredients required for the air fryer salmon and asparagus: salmon filets, asparagus, avocado oil, lemons, butter, garlic and fresh dill.

Ingredient Notes

Salmon – I used a 1 pound, center-cut filet, cut into 2 pieces for this recipe. If you happen to have 4 thinner filets, that is fine, too. You can leave it in one piece, but I find it harder to remove from the air fryer model that I have when it’s like that. Another reason to cut it into smaller pieces is to have more surface area that gets caramelized.

Avocado oil – I used avocado oil in this recipe for its neutral flavor. You can also use olive oil, if you prefer.


How to make Quick Air Fryer Salmon and Asparagus with Brown Butter Sauce: STEP BY STEP

Be sure to check out the full recipe and ingredient list in the recipe card below

Steps 1 & 2:

First remove the bottom woody portion of the asparagus spears. You can do this by bending the spears where they will snap at their natural breaking point. Alternatively, in the interest of time and weeknight cooking, you can bend one, let it snap, and then use it as a guide to trim the rest with a knife.

Next, roughly chop the dill and set it aside to garnish at the end.

A cutting board with a knife showing how to trim the bottom woody portion of the asparagus spears.
A cutting board and knife with a pile of chopped dill.

Steps 3 & 4:

Prepare the sauce ingredients, by chopping the garlic, zesting both lemons, and juicing just one of them. Set these ingredients aside.

Coat the asparagus and brush both sides of the salmon with the avocado oil. Season everything generously with kosher salt and black pepper.

A cutting board and knife with chopped garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice in a small bowl, and a lemon cut in half.
A pan with a bunch of asparagus lined up next to 2 large salmon filets.

Steps 5 & 6:

In the basket of your air fryer, lay the asparagus on the bottom and place the salmon filets on top. Air fry at 375 degrees for 8 minutes.

In the meantime, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and let the butter cook until the milk solids start to separate and turn brown on the bottom of the pan – it will foam up on top and you may have to swirl the pan to see the brown bits on the bottom. When the butter is brown, remove it from the heat, pour it into a bowl, and toss in the chopped garlic. It will sizzle and smell delicious. Let it cool for a few minutes.

An air fryer basket with a layer of asparagus and 2 salmon filets on top.
A small saucepan on a stovetop burner with butter melting.

Steps 7:

Add the butter and garlic mixture to the bowl of a food processor (or use an immersion blender) along with the lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper and blend really well. Set aside when finished.

Plate it, by laying asparagus on the bottom, and topping with salmon, brown butter sauce, and fresh dill.

A food processor bowl containing brown butter, garlic, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper, ready to be blended.
A white plate in the sunshine with asparagus, salmon, brown butter sauce, and fresh dill next to fresh lemons.

Chef Notes & Tips

  • Air fryers cook differently! This is definitely something to be aware of. Air fryers seem to range from 800 to 1800 watts, whereby the higher wattages cook faster. Also, basket style air fryers tend to cook more quickly than oven style, as they are smaller and have tighter heat circulation. So you’ll need to double check the specifics on your model and make any necessary adjustments. For reference, I am using a Ninja Max XL.
  • Brown butter is NOT difficult to make! Please see my video tutorial below to walk you through the process if you haven’t made it before and are nervous. This will ensure you don’t end up with black butter and instead, a delicious sauce.
  • Be careful not to overcook the salmon! There is nothing worse than over-cooked fish. What you’re looking for, ultimately, is flaky moist salmon.

How to make brown butter: Video tutorial

This is a video I made to show you how to make brown butter. It is unedited so you can see every stage of the butter cooking, from start to finish.


Storage & Reheating

Storage: Store the salmon and asparagus in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The lemon brown butter should be refrigerated in its own airtight container and can be kept for 3 weeks.

Reheating: There are really 3 options for reheating: (1) place salmon and asparagus with a splash of water and a scoop of the lemon brown butter sauce into a saute pan, covered, and heat over medium-low heat until warmed through. (2) place salmon and asparagus in an oven-proof container with a splash of water and a scoop of lemon brown butter, covered with foil, and place in the oven at 375 degrees until heated through. (3) heat salmon and asparagus in the microwave with the lemon brown butter, 30 seconds at a time, until heated through.


A white plate with asparagus topped with roasted salmon next to lemon slices and garnished with fresh dill.

Additions & Substitutions

ADDITIONS

Honey or sugar: You could add a touch of sweetness to the lemon brown butter sauce.

Chili flakes: Adding a pinch of chili flakes to the brown butter, at the same time that you add the garlic, would give a little warmth to the sauce.

SUBSTITUTIONS

Olive oil or other neutral oil: You can easily substitute the avocado oil for either of these.

Oranges: A perfectly good swap for lemons, orange zest and juice would also work nicely with both the salmon and the asparagus.

A different sauce altogether: There are so many different directions that you could go with different sauces, but in the interest of warmer weather headed our way, I would just suggest a simple herb sauce of freshly chopped herbs, olive oil, chopped garlic, and fresh lemon zest.


FAQs

Yes, you can, but the recipe needs to be rearranged a bit. You will first need to cook the salmon alone for about 7-8 minutes. Then, remove the salmon, add the asparagus to the bottom of the air fryer and then add the salmon back on top. Air fry for another 8 minutes or until cooked through. *Please note that different air fryer models cook differently, based on their wattage, so you may need to adjust accordingly.

Yes, actually. If you happen to have pencil asparagus, it will likely cook in half the time. So, you will need to start cooking the salmon first, and then half way through, add the asparagus.


I hope you love this QUICK AIR FRYER SALMON AND ASPARAGUS WITH LEMON BROWN BUTTER! If you make it, be sure to leave a rating so I know how you liked it!

A white dinner plate with asparagus topped with salmon and fresh dill and lemon slices next to a pink cloth napkin with gold and black silverware.

Quick Air Fryer Salmon and Asparagus with Lemon Brown Butter

This Quick Air Fryer Salmon and Asparagus with Lemon Brown Butter is just the ticket when you're short on time, but don't want to compromise on quality!
With no time required to preheat an oven, the air fryer makes light work of this delicious meal. And, at less than 10 ingredients, this is a true weeknight win.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 419 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb salmon filet
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 4 tbsp avocado oil (divided in half)
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 lemon (zest & juice)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup dill (roughly chopped)

Instructions
 

  • Because the cook time is quick in this recipe, it’s helpful to prep a few things before getting started.
  • Prepare the asparagus by trimming the lower woody portion of the stalks.  You can do this by bending each stalk until it snaps at its natural breaking point.  Or, you can do that to one stalk and then use it as a rough guide to trim the rest.
  • Toss the asparagus with 1 tablespoon of the avocado oil and season it with salt and pepper.  Then, lay the asparagus in the bottom of the air fryer basket or tray.
  • Next, rub the salmon with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper on both sides.  Then, lay the salmon on top of the asparagus in the air fryer basket or tray.
  • Air fry at 375 degrees for 8 minutes.
  • In the meantime, make the vinaigrette by melting the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat until the butter starts to foam and the milk solids separate and turn golden brown on the bottom of the pan.  With this small amount of butter, this will happen within a few minutes  (*It is quick to go from brown butter to black butter – so don’t leave it unattended!) When the butter is done, quickly transfer it to a bowl to cool – this will help stop the cooking process.
  • To the warm butter in the bowl quickly add the chopped garlic.  It will sizzle and start to smell delicious.
  • Once the butter has cooled for a few minutes, add it and the lemon juice and zest, remaining 2 tablespoons of avocado oil and salt and pepper to a food processor or you can use an immersion blender and blend until well combined.
  • Finally, plate the asparagus and salmon and drizzle the vinaigrette over everything.  Garnish with plenty of fresh dill and ENJOY!

Notes

  • Note that air fryer times may vary, depending on the model you are using.  I am using a Ninja Max XL in this recipe.
  • When making the brown butter, do not leave it unattended, as it can burn quickly.
  • For more details behind this delicious sauce, please see this recipe post.

Nutrition

Calories: 419kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 26gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 92mgSodium: 347mgPotassium: 852mgFiber: 3gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 1480IUVitamin C: 23mgCalcium: 60mgIron: 4mg
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