Craving delicious and nutritious salmon but forgot to grab some out of the freezer in time to defrost? Don’t fret! I’m going to teach you how to cook salmon from frozen!
Using two simple yet effective techniques, you can turn your scrumptious salmon from completely frozen to perfectly cooked in either the air fryer or the oven!
In this post, you will learn how to properly freeze your salmon, how to thaw it, and two methods for cooking it from frozen solid. For those times you want a quick and delicious fish recipe but forgot to defrost your salmon.
Raising salmon in farms, which is the main way we get to buy salmon, can harm the environment in a few ways. The medicine given to the farmed salmon can end up polluting the water around the farms, and catching fish to feed the farmed salmon can also hurt other fish populations.
On the flip side, catching wild salmon in the ocean has its own set of problems, like accidentally catching other animals and catching too many fish, which can be harmful. Also, sometimes it’s hard to find and purchase wild-caught salmon.
Now, how can we make sure we’re getting salmon in a way that’s good for the environment?
In the U.S., we have two good options: buying sustainably farmed salmon, or wild-caught Alaskan salmon.
Green tip: Look for Marine Stewardship Council and Friend of the Sea labels on your fish to ensure they were harvested sustainably.
How to Freeze Salmon
Start By Slicing into Individual Portions
I like to buy my salmon in bulk and then slice it into single-serving portions. I usually buy about 2 pounds of salmon at a time.
It’s best to freeze your salmon in individual portions. This will allow each piece to cook faster. Plus, when salmon is frozen, it’s harder to cut, so doing so before you freeze it is critical.
A typical portion size for salmon is about 3-5 ounces. I use my kitchen scale to weigh out equal portions from a larger piece of fish.
Wrap Each Individual Piece
Once you’ve sliced your salmon into individual portions, wrap each piece in saran wrap or beeswax wrap. This will make sure the individual portions don’t get stuck together, allowing you to easily grab just one piece out of the freezer when you are ready to cook it.
Add all of those individual portions to a freezer-safe storage bag (consider reusable storage bags for a more sustainable option).
I like to label my bag with the date as well, so I can make sure to use the frozen salmon within 6 months.
How to Defrost Salmon
Defrosting Salmon Overnight
If you know you want to enjoy salmon 12-24 hours ahead of time, defrosting the salmon is as simple as transferring it from the freezer to the refrigerator to thaw.
This is definitely a long and slow process and requires some planning, so if you need to thaw it more quickly, I’ve got an option for you!
Defrosting Salmon Quickly
To thaw your salmon more quickly, add it to a tightly sealed storage bag. Add the bag with the salmon to a large bowl with lukewarm water and submerge it. Allow it to sit in the water for about 30-45 minutes to thaw.
Green tip: Learning how to freeze different types of foods properly is the best way to extend their shelf life and avoid food waste.
Ingredients Needed for Cooking Salmon from Frozen
Here’s everything you need:
- Salmon. It’s best to use individual portions of salmon (3-5 ounces each) rather than a bigger piece. However, if you do need to use either of these methods for a larger cut of salmon, you can, but the cooking time will increase.
- Lemon juice. The acidity from citrus is a natural pairing with any seafood and brings tons of flavor to this cooking-from-frozen salmon.
- Dijon mustard. Another simple and super effective way to add tons of flavor to your salmon.
- Salt & pepper. To add basic seasoning.
- Vegetable broth. You will only need broth if you are poaching the frozen salmon in the oven, not for the air fryer method. You can buy broth at the store or make your own vegetable broth from veggie scraps.
How to Cook Salmon from Frozen in the Air Fryer (Preferred Method)
Add Salmon to the Air Fryer Still Frozen
Get your air fryer ready by heating it up to 390°F (about 200°C). Take two pieces of frozen salmon and put them right into the air fryer basket. If the salmon has skin, make sure the skin is facing down.
Let the salmon air fry for around 7 to 9 minutes. This will help defrost the salmon right in your air fryer.
Air Fry Again with Quick Marinade
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.
After the salmon is defrosted, open your air fryer basket and brush the salmon with a generous amount of the quick marinade.
Air fry it again with the marinade for another 7 to 9 minutes. Keep an eye on it until the inside of the salmon reaches a temperature of at least 125°F (around 52°C) and you have a tender, flaky textured salmon dish.
How to Cook Salmon from Frozen in the Oven
How to Poach Salmon to Defrost
Before you start, warm up your oven by setting it to 425°F (about 220°C). Take the frozen salmon and put it into a baking dish that’s either 8×8 or 9×9 inches in size.
Then, pour the vegetable broth over the top of the salmon so that the bottom and sides of the salmon are submerged.
Now, cover the baking dish with aluminum foil to keep everything snug. Put the dish on the highest rack in the preheated oven.
Let the salmon poach in there for about 15 minutes. This will help thaw it in the oven without making it dry out.
Drain the Liquid Once the Salmon is Defrosted
Next, take the poached salmon out of the oven. Carefully pour out all the liquid so you are now left with thawed and juicy salmon.
Now all that’s left to do is add the marinade and bake it again so it’s perfectly cooked.
Add the Marinate Before Baking Again
While all that’s happening, grab a little bowl. In it, mix up the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper to form a simple yet delicious marinade.
Use a spoon or basting brush to add an even, generous layer of the marinade on top of the poached salmon and bake it again on the top rack for 10-12 more minutes until the internal temperature of the salmon reaches at least 125°F (about 52°C).
How to Serve Cooked-From-Frozen Salmon
This delicious salmon recipe is incredibly versatile, and pairs well with tons of different sides! Here are some of my favorites:
- Pan-fried potatoes and onions. Crispy and comforting potatoes and onions, skillfully pan-fried to a golden perfection.
- Roasted White Asparagus. Indulge in the delicate flavors of roasted white asparagus, a gourmet addition to your dinner table.
- Truffle Mashed Potatoes. Creamy mashed potatoes infused with luxurious truffle essence, a side dish that’s truly a taste of opulence.
- Roasted Maple Balsamic Brussels Sprouts. Enjoy a harmonious blend of flavors as roasted Brussels sprouts are glazed with maple balsamic goodness.
- Quinoa Arugula Salad. A refreshing ensemble of nutty quinoa and peppery arugula, adorned with colorful, wholesome ingredients for a delightful salad experience.
Cooking Salmon from Frozen Frequently Asked Questions
Can you cook salmon directly from frozen?
There are several ways to cook salmon directly from frozen! My two favorite are in the air fryer and in the oven.
If you are cooking the salmon from frozen in the oven, you will have to poach it first to defrost it, and then it can be roasted.
How do you defrost salmon in a hurry?
To quickly thaw salmon, add it to a sealed storage bag and place the whole bag in a bowl with lukewarm water. Submerge it and allow it to sit in the water for 30-45 minutes.
How do you know when salmon is done cooking?
The most accurate and safest way to monitor your salmon and to know when it is done cooking is with a kitchen thermometer. Ideally, you want the internal temperature of your salmon somewhere between 125-145°F.
When taking the internal temperature of the salmon, make sure to stick your thermometer into the center of the thickest part of the salmon.
Visually, the salmon will indicate to you when it’s done when the color changes from a bright, vibrant pink to a more pastel, opaque pink.
Want to sharpen your kitchen skills?
If you’re loving this guide on how to cook salmon from frozen, I think you’ll also love this list of delicious Salmon Pasta Recipes.
How to Cook Salmon from Frozen (Air Fryer and Oven Methods)PRINT PIN RATE
- Air Fryer (Preferred method)
- Square Baking Dish (for oven method only)
- 10 ounces salmon (in individual portions)
- ½ cup vegetable broth (oven method only!)
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice (1 lemon = approx. 4 tablespoons juice)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
Air Fryer Method (Preferred)
- Preheat your air fryer to 390°F.
- Place two portions of frozen salmon directly into your air fryer basket. If there is skin on your salmon, place it skin-side down. Air fry for 7-9 minutes to defrost the salmon.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.
- After the salmon is defrosted, open your air fryer basket and brush the salmon with a generous amount of the quick marinade.
- Air fry again for an additional 7-9 minutes until the internal temperature of the salmon is at least 125°F.
- Preheat your oven to 425°F.
- Place the frozen salmon in an 8×8 or 9×9-inch baking dish and pour the vegetable broth overtop.
- Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and poach on the top rack of the oven at 425°F for 15 minutes to defrost it in the oven without drying it out.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.
- Remove the salmon from the oven and carefully drain the liquid.
- Add the marinade to the salmon and bake again for an additional 10-12 minutes until the internal temperature reaches at least 125°F.
- You can add other spices, seasonings, and sauces and use the same techniques to tailor this to your taste.
- For more recipe inspiration for salmon, check out this list of Simple Salmon Recipes.