Air Fryer Tilapia

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5 from 1025 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.

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. Recipe highlights
  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 air fryer recipes to try
  9. Air Fryer Tilapia (Recipe Card)

Recipe highlights

  • 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. 

Find the printable recipe in the recipe card below.

How to cook tilapia in the air fryer

Like most air fryer recipes, this one is very simple to make. The air fryer takes care of all the hard work.

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.

patting dry fish.

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. 

seasoned raw tilapia.

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.  

raw fish in the air fryer.

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

garlic butter sauce.

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

tilapia in air fryer.

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 air fryer recipes to try

air fryer tilapia recipe.

Air Fryer Tilapia

5 from 1025 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. 
Servings: 4 servings
Prep: 1 minute
Cook: 7 minutes
Total: 8 minutes

Video

Ingredients  

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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.
    seasoned raw tilapia.
  • 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.
    raw fish in the air fryer.
  • While the fish is cooking, make the sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, garlic, lemon juice and parsley. 
    garlic butter sauce.
  • Brush the lemon butter sauce generously over the top of the fish fillets and serve immediately.
    tilapia in air fryer.

Notes

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. 

Nutrition

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!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.

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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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    The recipe doesn’t list the smoked paprika and the 1/2 teaspoon garlic doesn’t say if it’s fresh garlic (chopped? minced?) or garlic powder or salt.
    I’ve made it work for me and its delicious. But it would be nice to have the correct listing of the ingredients on the recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    I have never rated or sent comments about a recipe before but I have to do this now. This air fryer tilapia was delicious, and typically I do not like my cooking. I had enough of a filet left over to make a sandwich the next day and it was excellent! Just a couple of suggestions: under the ingredients section for the rub you did not list the smoked paprika and the amount. Under the sauce ingredients you listed The Parsley but not the cilantro. I just winged it and it still turned out delicious! I look forward to some of your other air fryer recipes.

  3. 5 stars
    The recipe calls for salt, pepper, garlic powder, and smoked paprika to be combined. But the list of ingredients and the video don’t include smoked paprika. How much smoked paprika should go into the salt and pepper mixture?

  4. 5 stars
    So easy and tasty! I make salmon in my air fryer often, but have never tried with tilapia and this made me a huge fan. It was delicious and flaky and I really enjoyed the flavor of the smoked paprika with it.

  5. 5 stars
    WOW! 😋this is the best fish recipe I have ever tried! I used halibut, my husband ate 3/4 of the piece I only got a quarter lol He said to me that the best halibut he ever tasted. I’m from the coast and always cooked halibut the traditional way. (Frying pan and butter) I was so impressed by this recipe I’m sending it to my sister. I can’t wait to try the Salmon one. I will never cook my halibut in a frying pan again.