Air Fryer Tilapia


5 from 1086 votes
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This air fryer tilapia is a quick, easy, and delicious dinner idea that cooks in just 7 minutes! This tender white fish is perfect for those skeptical of seafood.

Want more air fryer recipes? Try air fryer fried chicken, air fryer garlic bread, and air fryer meatloaf.

tilapia air fried.

I love using my air fryer to cook seafood. My family adores seafood cooked in this magical gadget, including air fryer shrimp, air fryer salmon, and tilapia. 

Unlike using the oven or the pan, I never have to worry about overcooking or undercooking the fish. It’s also incredibly quick, and the cleanup is minimal.

Table of Contents
  1. Why I love this recipe
  2. Ingredients needed
  3. How to cook tilapia in the air fryer
  4. Tips to make the best recipe
  5. Flavor variations
  6. Storage instructions 
  7. Frequently Asked Questions
  8. More delicious things to cook in the air fryer
  9. Air Fryer Tilapia (Recipe Card)

Why I love this recipe

  • Easy and quick. No marinating is needed, and the tilapia takes just a few minutes to cook. I often make this during busy weeknights.
  • Economical yet delicious. Compared to other fish, tilapia is affordable and easy to find at most grocery stores. 
  • Fresh or frozen. Either fresh or frozen tilapia fillets work!
  • Healthy. Tilapia is a low calorie and low carb fish, with just 120 calories per 4-ounce serving.

What I love about this tilapia recipe is that it NEVER leaves a fishy flavor. Unlike other seafood, it’s mildly flavored and can easily be customized. I mean, as someone who grew up not liking the taste of any fish, this one was an immediate winner!

air fryer tilapia.

Ingredients needed

You’ll love the basic ingredient list to make this air fryer tilapia recipe. Besides a few spices, the fish is really the only thing you’ll need to find, and honestly, everywhere sells it! Here is what you’ll need:

  • Tilapia fillets. While fresh or frozen fillets work, always choose fresh tilapia fillets when possible. Also, try to choose equal-sized fillets so they cook evenly.  
  • Salt and pepper. To taste. 
  • Smoked paprika. Adds a lovely smokey flavor. 
  • Garlic powder. Adds a subtle garlic flavor without needing to use actual garlic. 
  • Lemon juice, garlic, and butter. To prepare the sauce. You can replace the butter with olive oil.
  • Lemon wedges, cilantro, and parsley. To serve. 

How to cook tilapia in the air fryer

I’ve included step-by-step photos below to make this recipe easy to follow at home. For the full printable recipe instructions and ingredient quantities, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Step 1- Prepare the air fryer. Start by preheating the air fryer to 200C/400F and spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray. 

Step 2- Prep the fish. Next, pat dry the tilapia fillets.

Step 3- Season the fish. Mix the salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and garlic in a bowl then rub it on both sides of your tilapia fillets using your hands. 

Step 4- Air fry the tilapia. Now, add the fish to the air fryer basket and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, flipping halfway through.  

Step 5- Make the sauce. Finally, whisk together the butter, garlic, fresh lemon juice, and cilantro in a bowl. 

Step 6- Season and serve. Brush the sauce generously on your cooked tilapia fillets and sprinkle with more cilantro.

how to air fry tilapia.

Tips to make the best recipe

  • Don’t overcrowd the air fryer basket so your tilapia cooks evenly. If needed, cook the fish in batches.
  • If you are worried that the fish will stick to the basket, you can use parchment paper to line the base. I’ve also recently tried using air fryer liners, which work quite well (the base of the fish won’t be as crispy).
  • Flip the tilapia fillets during cooking to avoid over-cooking on one side. Once is more than enough.
  • I find the easiest way to tell if the fish is cooked is to check the internal temperature using a meat thermometer. Tilapia is safe to eat once the thickest part reaches 145F (as per the FDA).

Flavor variations

The beauty of this fish is that it is so mild tasting, you can change up the spice mix a plethora of ways. 

  • Cajun– Coat the fish with Cajun or taco seasoning
  • Blackened– Make my blackened tilapia recipe.
  • Teriyaki– Dredge the fillets in teriyaki sauce for ten minutes before air frying. 
  • Lemon pepper– The classic. Rub 1/2 large juiced lemon and black peppercorns over the fish. 
  • Spicy– Add some cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes to the spice mix. 

Storage instructions 

To store: Leftover tilapia can be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for up to three days. 

To freeze: Place cooked and cooled tilapia in an airtight container and store in the freezer for up to two months. 

Reheating: Either microwave the fish for 20-30 seconds or reheat it in the air fryer for 2 minutes until crispy around the edges. 

tilapia in air fryer.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does fish take in the air fryer?

Whitefish, like tilapia, need just 7-8 minutes to cook in the air fryer.

Do you have to thaw the fish before air-frying it?

It depends; you can thaw it or cook it without thawing. If the fish isn’t thawed, you’ll need to increase the cooking time.

Are air fryers good for fish?

Air frying fish is considered to be the best way to cook fish. It’s healthier, the fish is flakier, and it cooks in less time.

More delicious things to cook in the air fryer

air fryer tilapia recipe.

Air Fryer Tilapia

5 from 1086 votes
This air fryer tilapia is a quick, easy, and delicious dinner idea that comes together in less than 10 minutes! Healthy, tender, and flavorful. Watch how I make this in my kitchen in the video below!
Servings: 4 servings
Prep: 1 minute
Cook: 7 minutes
Total: 8 minutes



  • 4 tilapia fillets 4-6 ounces each
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic

For the lemon butter sauce

  • 1/4 cup butter melted
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon parsley


  • Preheat the air fryer to 200C/400F. Spray the basket with cooking spray. 
  • Pat dry the tilapia fillets. Mix the salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and garlic and using your hands, rub the spices over both sides of the fish.
  • Add the tilapia filets in the air fryer basket and spray the top with cooking spray. Air fry for 7-8 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  • While the fish is cooking, make the sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, garlic, lemon juice and parsley. 
  • Brush the lemon butter sauce generously over the top of the fish fillets and serve immediately.
    tilapia in air fryer.


TO STORE: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for up to three days. 
TO FREEZE: Place cooked and cooled tilapia can in an airtight container and stored in the freezer for up to two months. 
TO REHEAT: Either microwave the fish for 20-30 seconds or reheat in the air fryer for 2 minutes, until crispy around the edges. 


Serving: 1filletCalories: 155kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 28gFat: 8gSodium: 471mgPotassium: 540mgFiber: 1gVitamin A: 441IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 28mgIron: 1mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Author: Arman Liew
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

Arman Liew

I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

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5 from 1086 votes (1,045 ratings without comment)

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