Bang bang salmon bites
Bang bang salmon bites are a delightful protein option perfect for an appetizer, salad topping, in a crispy salmon bowl, or for holiday finger food. Healthy and delicious, this flavorful salmon is juicy inside, yet caramelized and crisp on the outside. Ready in under 30 minutes!
This baked salmon bites recipe uses my creamy and tangy bang bang sauce with options to bake salmon bites in oven or air fryer. For another creamy salmon option, try these air fryer salmon bites with capers and chive.
This bang bang salmon bites air fryer and oven recipe comes together fast but packs a big and balanced flavor. I use my homemade version of the salmon bites sauce but include recommendations for store-bought options in the substitutions section below.
- Center-cut salmon fillets: Atlantic, King, or wild-caught salmon fillets with skin on or off. Avoid sockeye salmon for this dish.
- Coarse salt, garlic powder, and ground black pepper: We coat the fish with these dry spice seasonings.
- Smoked paprika: You can also use sweet paprika. This adds a subtle sweet and smokey flavor while giving the salmon a beautiful orange hue.
- Honey (optional): Adds a nice sweet flavor to the fish while helping it to caramelize beautifully on the outside whether cooking in the air fryer or the oven.
- Olive oil: Use olive oil to toss the salmon. Olive oil spray can be used to coat the air fryer basket to prevent sticking.
Bang bang creamy sauce:
- Mayonnaise: I prefer Japanese kewpie mayonnaise, which is made using whole eggs and thus has a rich, eggy flavor. If you don’t have kewpie mayo, regular will work too.
- Rice vinegar: Gives the sauce a sweet, tangy flavor while keeping it light and refreshing.
- Hot sauce: I use a Mexican hot sauce here, but Siracha or Thai sweet chili sauce are also great options.
- Grated garlic: A touch of garlic gives the sauce an added pop of flavor.
- Coconut aminos: A sweeter and less salty alternative to soy sauce. You can also use half the amount of soy sauce if you prefer.
- Ketchup: Adds a tangy flavor to the dish—don’t skip it!
- Scallion: Chopped. You can also use chive.
- Toasted sesame seeds: I use a mix of black and white sesame seeds for a nice toasted and nutty flavor. You can also use Japanese furikake rice seasoning.
Substitutions and variations
- Another fish: Steelhead trout good substitute for salmon. It looks like salmon but has a milder, sweeter, less “fishy” taste. Or try this Whole 30 bang bang shrimp!
- Store-bought sauce: Try Yellowbird sriracha, Thai sweet chili sauce, or Vietnamese sweet chili sauce for sweet chili salmon bites. You could also try firecracker or buffalo salmon bites.
- Cajun seasoning: Swap out the seasoning to make spicy Cajun salmon bites if you prefer.
How to make the dish
Let’s dive into how to make this easy bang bang salmon bites recipe. We’ll talk about how to cook salmon bites in the oven or the airfryer in under 30 minutes—just 10 minutes of prep time and 8-10 minutes of cooking. (How long to bake salmon bites depends on your cooking method.)
- Prep the salmon. Remove the skin (or ask a fishmonger to do this for you). Dice the fillet into 1-inch (2.54cm) cubes and add them to a large bowl.
- Season the salmon. Toss in salt, garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, honey, and olive oil to coat the salmon evenly.
- To airfry: Place the cubed salmon in an oil-coated air fryer basket, leaving space between them. You might need to cook them in 2 batches. Air fry at 350°F (177°C) for 8 minutes.
- To bake: Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and add the salmon chunks with a little space between them. Bake at 400°F, top rack, for 10-12 minutes.
- Make bang bang sauce: In the meantime, combine mayonnaise, rice vinegar, hot sauce, garlic, soy sauce, and ketchup in a bowl and stir well.
- Carefully remove: Open the basket and wait 10 seconds before removing the salmon. The cold shrinks the meat, helping it “unstick” from the basket.
- Garnish and serve. Drizzle the salmon bites with sauce, spring onions, and sesame seeds.
What type of salmon is best for salmon bites
For the best salmon bites, I recommend using center-cut fillets of Atlantic, king, or other wild-caught salmon. Their thick, middle sections provide great moist texture when cubed. Thinner end pieces can overcook and dry out.
Whether you choose skin-on or skinless salmon fillets is up to you—both work well for this recipe. Steelhead trout also makes a good, meaty substitute. The key is starting with high-quality salmon that will cook evenly into tender, flavorful bites without getting overly dry or mushy. Center-cut wild salmon gives you the ideal balance of texture and rich salmon taste in each bite.
How to make ahead, store, and reheat
This dish comes together so quickly—just 10 minutes of prep!—that there’s usually no need to prep ahead. You can make the sauce in advance though and use it for other dishes, like my air fryer bang bang shrimp!
- Make-ahead: You can make the bang bang sauce ahead and store it in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.
- Storage: Separate the cooked salmon from the sauce and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Reheat: To reheat the salmon chunks, air fry at 360°F (182°C) for 6 minutes or oven broiler on low for 3 to 4 minutes.
What to serve it with
These tasty salmon bites are so versatile—serve them as an appetizer or snack, use them to top salads and poke bowls, or serve with rice and your favorite vegetables for a balanced meal.
- Salmon bowl: Build a bowl over air fryer rice, with spicy cucumber salad or frozen broccoli in air fryer. Top with avocado and air fryer poached eggs if you’re feeling fancy!
- On salads: Top your favorite salads, like this tatsoi salad recipe or my Paleo broccolini salad, for an added dose of protein.
- With rice and veg: Serve over rice with your favorite vegetables. Opt for Shirataki rice with Sauteed bok choy if you’re eating low-carb.
- Use fresh, high-quality salmon fillets: Select center-cut Atlantic, wild-caught, or king salmon. Avoid sockeye salmon for this dish.
- Salmon chunks: Cut the salmon into even 1-inch cubes so they cook evenly.
- Pat the salmon cubes dry before seasoning. This helps the seasoning stick better.
- Don’t overcrowd the air fryer or baking sheet. Cook in batches if needed.
- Be gentle: use a light hand when tossing the seasoned salmon. You don’t want the cubes to fall apart.
- Check internal temperature with a meat thermometer. Salmon should reach 145°F.
- Let the salmon rest for a few minutes after cooking before serving. This allows the juices to be redistributed.
- Sauce: make the bang bang sauce ahead if possible so flavors can meld. Store chilled.
- Garnish with fresh herbs and crunchy sesame seeds or furikake. Provides texture contrast.
- Serve the salmon warm or at room temp. Don’t let it sit too long or it will dry out.
The salmon is done cooking when it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F. The salmon should be opaque throughout and begin to flake when gently poked with a fork. The salmon will appear slightly translucent when undercooked. Let it rest 3-5 minutes before serving.
You can use previously frozen salmon that has been fully defrosted to make this bang bang salmon air fryer recipe. However, it’s not recommended to cook the salmon directly from frozen in this recipe, as the outside will overcook before the inside is done. For cooking salmon directly from frozen, a recipe like my air fryer frozen salmon is a better choice, as it helps prevent overcooking.
An air fryer liner is helpful but not absolutely necessary for this air fryer bang bang salmon recipe. Spraying the basket with oil will help prevent sticking. If using a liner, spray it lightly with oil too. Waiting 10 seconds before removing the salmon allows it to shrink back so it releases from the basket or liner more easily. Either way, use care when removing the fish to prevent sticking and breaking apart.
To make salmon skin crispy, place the fillet skin-side down in a hot nonstick pan. Let cook undisturbed for 2 minutes so the skin renders its fat and crisps. The direct contact with the heat crisps the skin without overcooking the rest of the fish.
Nope, Bang Bang Sauce and Yum Yum Sauce are not the same. Bang Bang Sauce is a little bit spicier. It’s creamy and made with mayo, Sriracha, and sweet chili sauce. Yum Yum Sauce is milder, blending mayo with tomato paste and spices. Both are delish!
More salmon recipes you might like
If you love these tasty salmon bites, be sure to check out some of my other recipes using this versatile and nutritious fish!
- Air fryer teriyaki salmon: Delicious, tender salmon made in the air fryer and topped with a homemade keto teriyaki sauce.
- Whole30 gochugaru salmon: Sweet, savory, and a little bit spicy, this flavorful salmon dish is an easy Korean-inspired masterpiece.
- Crispy rice sushi: A great appetizer for the holidays with smoked salmon on top!
- Air fryer salmon with Dijon mustard: Another fast and convenient air fryer dish with a tangy Dijon sauce that’s ready in 15 minutes!
Bang bang salmon bites recipe
For the salmon:
- 1 lb center-cut Atlantic salmon fillet, skin removed and diced to 1-inch chunks
- 0.5 tsp coarse sea salt
- 0.5 tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika, or sweet paprika
- ⅛ tsp ground black pepper
- 1-2 tsp honey, optional
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Olive oil spray, for the air fryer basket
For the bang bang sauce (makes about 1 cup):
- 1 bulb scallion, chopped or chive
- Toasted white and black sesame seeds, or furikake
- Remove the salmon skin. You can also ask a fishmonger to do this for you. Dice the fillet into 1-inch (2.54cm) cubes and add them to a large bowl.
- Season the salmon chunks with salt, garlic power, paprika, black pepper, honey, and olive oil. Gently toss them well to coat the salmon evenly. I wear a cooking glove to do this.
To air fry:
- Spray the air fryer basket with olive oil, add the cubed salmon with some space between them. You might need to cook them in 2 batches. Air fryer at 350°F (177°C) for 8 minutes.
- In the meantime, prepare the bang bang sauce. Combine the ingredients in a bowl.
- Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and add the salmon chunks with a little space between them. Bake at 400°F, top rack, for 10-12 minutes.
- When done, open the basket and wait for 10 seconds before removing the salmon. The cold air will make the meat shrink a bit and therefore helps it “unstick” from the basket. Carefully and gently transfer the cubes to a serving plate so they won’t fall apart.
- Garnish the salmon bites with spring onions and sesame seeds and a few drizzles of bang bang sauce. Serve the extra sauce on the side. Serve warm.
- You can also line the inside of the air fryer basket with a thin layer of parchment paper/air fryer liner to prevent the fish from sticking. Spray the parchment with oil otherwise the fish might still stick to the paper.
- When adding a liner to the air fryer basket, only add the paper AFTER you reheat the air fryer. Place the salmon cubes on top of the paper to weigh the parchment down. If the paper is not weighted down, it’ll fly up and catch fire in the air fryer.
- I recommend using center-cut salmon fillets such as Atlantic, king, or wild-caught salmon for the best texture. Steelhead trout is also a good choice.
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