Salmon is well-loved for its mild flavor and versatility. Whether baked, broiled, fried, raw, or mixed into an irresistibly smoky dip, this gently aromatic fish complements a wide variety of dishes without making the entire meal taste like the inside of an aquarium.

And with so many ways to prepare it, there’s certainly no one right way to make salmon, right? Well, yes and no. While the traditional “salt, pepper, lemon, foil” routine tastes amazing and is an easy prep go-to, we guarantee that after trying this salmon recipe, you’ll never want to eat this fish another way again.

What sets this mouthwatering recipe apart from the rest is the crunchy breading of pretzels, herbs, and spices topped with a lavish honey mustard glaze. All flavors are accounted for in this mind-blowing dish: sweet glaze, bitter and sour herbs, salty pretzels, and umami fish. Your taste buds won’t even know what to do with themselves.

For as much flavor as this recipe delivers, it’s insanely quick and easy to make. Gourmet food that doesn’t require four hours over a hot stove? We’ll take it, thanks.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 frozen salmon fillets
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup pretzels, crushed
  • 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter (half stick)
  • 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions

  1. Remove the frozen salmon fillets from their shrinkwrap and place each fillet in a sealable, quart-sized plastic bag. Fill a casserole dish or medium-sized mixing bowl with cold water; place bagged fish in the water and let thaw for 20 minutes.

  2. Use a spoon, tenderizer, or mallet to mash ½ cup’s worth of pretzels in a Ziploc bag; set aside.

  3. Once the salmon is thawed, remove the fish from the plastic bags and transfer to a plate, skin side down.

  4. Coat both sides of the salmon fillet with olive oil, then return salmon to the plate skin side down. All additional ingredients will be added to the tops of the fillets only.

  5. Add the garlic, herbs, spices, and lemon zest to the fillets, splitting seasoning measurements down the middle. (e.g., One teaspoon of black pepper becomes one-half teaspoon of black pepper per fillet.)

  6. Gently press crushed pretzels into salmon. Carefully transfer breaded fillets to the air fryer basket—Cook at 400º F for 10 minutes.

  7. While the fish is cooking, add honey, butter, mustard, and sriracha to a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until combined.

  8. Use a spatula to remove the salmon from the air fryer. Plate, then use a spoon to drizzle honey mustard glaze over fillets.

Supplies

  • Air fryer
  • Small saucepan
  • Measuring cups
  • Casserole dish or mixing bowl
  • Plate
  • 3 quart-sized sealable plastic bags
  • Wooden spoon, meat tenderizer, or mallet
  • Knife
Pretzel-crusted salmon on floral plate
Melanie Davis/Oola

Recipe Notes:

Pretzel-crusted salmon on floral plate with potatoes
Melanie Davis/Oola

No air fryer? Too sweet? No problem. These easy substitutions and additions help fine-tune this salmon recipe to your exact tastes.

Alternatives to Air Frying

Raw breaded salmon fillets
Melanie Davis/Oola

We use our tried and true air fryer method in this recipe for its fast, no-flip cooking and clean-up. After ruining countless salmon filets trying to maneuver them on a sheet pan or skillet, we’ve found the air fryer to be the best way to cook deliciously moist, perfectly intact filets.

However, if you’re not on the air fryer train yet (although we highly recommend hopping aboard), you can still enjoy this tasty recipe. Place the breaded fillets on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10-15 minutes at 400ºF. The salmon is done when it flakes easily with a fork (the salmon itself, not the breading—make sure to test the actual meat).

Salmon fillets can also be wrapped in foil and cooked on a grill, but we’ve found the breading to not be as crunchy this way, so grill at your own risk. We don’t recommend cooking this type of salmon on the stovetop. Trust us; we’ve climbed that crumbly crusted mountain so you don’t have to.

Subbing Out for Flavor or Dietary Restrictions

Crushed pretzels in measuring cup
Melanie Davis/Oola

Replace the crushed pretzels with equal parts finely chopped pecans for a less salty, more earthy flavor. This is also an easy way to make this recipe completely gluten-free (you can also substitute regular pretzels for your preferred GF version).

If you’re looking to add a bit of a kick to your salmon, add 2-3 teaspoons of cayenne powder to the breading’s herb and spice blend. You can also rub the raw filets with your favorite hot sauce before adding the breading. So spicy. So good.

Is mustard a must-not for you? No problem—leave out this ingredient to make a wonderfully sweet herbal honey glaze. We recommend adding a bit more pretzels to the breading or only using half the glaze to keep the dish from becoming too sickly sweet.

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