Craving fish? You have to try our tender and flakey air fryer tilapia. This quick and flavorful way of cooking white fish makes a slightly crispy and scrumptious meal that will become a staple in your dinner rotation.
To perfectly flavor this mild tasting fish, we seasoned the tilapia with a delicious spice rub before cooking it and then topped it with a splash of fresh lemon juice.
Air fryer tilapia is very versatile and goes well with most side dishes. We love serving it with rice, tartar sauce, garlic bread, steamed or roasted vegetables and a salad. This dairy free, keto friendly and gluten free fish recipe can also be cooked in a pan, in case you don't own an air fryer.
WHAT IS TILAPIA?
Tilapia is a mild tasting white fish that is low in calories but a great source of protein and nutrients. It is especially popular because of its mild fish flavor. Tilapia works well in combination with bold flavors such as lemon, garlic or fresh herbs. It pairs well with most side dishes and also tastes delicious in fish tacos.
❤️ WHY YOU'LL LOVE THIS AIR FRYER TILAPIA RECIPE
✔️ You only need a few household staples for this recipe.
✔️ Seasoned tilapia is ready to eat in less than 15 minutes.
✔️ Air fried tilapia is a healthy, low-calorie meal that pairs well with vegetables.
✔️ This easy fish recipe works great in fish tacos.
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for seasoned tilapia, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
You may have all of these air fryer tilapia ingredients in your refrigerator or pantry and not need to make a trip to the grocery store. See recipe card below for ingredient amounts.
- Tilapia: Tilapia is a flaky white fish that is very mild in taste. Since it has no overwhelming fishy taste it works great in combination with bold flavors like lemon, herbs or garlic.
- Oil: We like using avocado oil or olive oil for this recipe.
- Paprika: We used regular paprika, but if you are a big fan of smoky flavor you can also try smoked paprika.
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Dired Parsley
- Black Pepper
- Fresh Parsley
- Lemon Wedges
VARIATIONS: Try Tilapia with Different Compound Butters!
You can vary the flavor of your air fried tilapia by topping it with different compound butters. Our favorite choices are:
CILANTRO LIME BUTTER - With just three simple ingredients, this flavorful herb butter adds a fresh and zesty flavor to meat, fish and shrimp.
LEMON PARSLEY BUTTER - Bursting with citrus flavor and parsley, this flavorsome butter can be used to top meat, fish, shrimp, pasta, or bread.
This section shows how to cook seasoned tilapia in the air fryer, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique. For full instructions, nutritional information, to print the recipe or to have the recipe scaled to double or triple, see the recipe card below.
SEASON: Drizzle oil on tilapia and rub it in. Mix the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried parsley, salt and black pepper together then rub into both sides of the tilapia filets.
🔴 TIP: Make it spicy, for spicier tilapia, add a pinch or two of chili pepper or cayenne pepper to the rub.
COOK: Spray the air fryer basket to prevent sticking. Lay tilapia filets in air fryer basket without overcrowding. Your basket should fit one or two filets at a time depending on the size of the filets and your basket. Cook at 350°F for 8 minutes or until the fish flakes easily and is cooked through.
🔴 TIP: For easier cleanup, line air fryer basket/tray with aerated parchment paper made for air fryers. You can also easily make your own. Just make sure you cut the paper slightly smaller than your air fryer basket. Then punch a bunch of holes into the paper.
SERVE: Remove from the air fryer and sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve with lemon wedges.
🔴 TIP: Great side dishes for tilapia are rice, broccoli, asparagus, salad, garlic bread and tartar sauce.
Air Fryer – The air fryer works great with this recipe as it makes the tilapia slightly crispy and flakey without adding a lot of oil.
HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE AHEAD
You can make the seasoning blend and rub it into the tilapia filets up to 24 hours ahead of time. Store the seasoned fish filets in an airtight container or ziploc bag in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.
HOW TO MAKE TILAPIA ON THE STOVE
This tasty tilapia recipe can also be cooked on the stove, similar to our Pan Seared Tilapia with Lemon Butter:
- SEASON: Drizzle oil on tilapia and rub it in. Mix the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried parsley, salt and black pepper together then rub into both sides of the tilapia filets.
- HEAT SKILLET: Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with non-stick cooking spary.
- COOK FISH: Add the tilapia filets. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the edges turn white (opaque). Turn your filets over and finish cooking the other side for 2-3 minutes until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily. It should reach an internal temperature of 140ºF.
- SERVE: Remove from the pan and serve with lemon slices and fresh parsley.
⚠️ TIPS FOR THE BEST AIR FRYER TILAPIA
Follow these tips to make the best seasoned tilapia.
✔️ Make sure your fish is fresh. For best flavor only use fresh tilapia.
✔️ Rub seasoning in well. Rub the oil and seasoning in really well with your hands. This helps the seasoning both stay on and to penetrate the fish and give it a more robust flavor.
✔️ Don't move the fish while cooking. You do not need to flip the tilapia while cooking. Tilapia is very delicate and may break into pieces if you try to flip.
✔️ Serve immediately. Tilapia tastes best when eaten hot.
Storing your food properly is important to prevent spoiling or food poisoning.
Refrigerate: Let the air fryer tilapia cool completely. Then store in an airtight container or ziploc bag in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Freeze: Seasoned tilapia is best eaten fresh. However, you can freeze leftovers in an airtight and freezer safe container or ziploc freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.
Defrosting: A great way to defrost is in the refrigerator overnight.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH SEASONED TILAPIA
We love serving fried tilapia with cilantro lime rice, air fryer broccoli, air fryer green beans and tartar sauce. Another great side dish is our crispy and nutritious Italian salad. We also recommend serving some delicious bread with tilapia, like our garlic French bread, homemade dinner rolls or copycat Lion House rolls.
This quick and flavorful fish recipe also tastes great in fish tacos.
MORE AIR FRYER RECIPES
If you love love air fried tilapia you'll also enjoy our other air fryer recipes:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
For perfect results every time, here are answers to the most common questions about cooking air fryer tilapia.
It is recommended to cook fish until it reaches an internal temperature of 145ºF. However, fish is also considered done when it flakes easily and is opaque in color.
You can definitely cook frozen fish in the air fryer, but we do recommend thawing the fish for this recipe. Unfortunately frozen tilapia fillets don't absorb as much seasoning and therefore might not taste as good as fresh ones. If you do cook frozen filets, reduce cooking time by a couple of minutes.
- 4 tilapia filets
- 2 tbsps avocado oil - or olive oil
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon dried parsley
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- fresh parsley
- lemon wedges
- Drizzle oil on tilapia. Rub it into the filets to coat in oil.
- In a small bowl, mix paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried parsley, salt and black pepper together.
- Sprinkle spice mix evenly over tilapia, then rub it into the filets.
- Spray the air fryer basket to prevent sticking. Cook in the air fryer in a single layer for 8 minutes at 350°F. Depending on your air fryer size you may have to cook these in two shifts.
- Remove from the air fryer when the fish flakes easily and is cooked through.
- Serve with fresh parsley and lemon wedges (optional).
- Some air fryers have a pre-heat option. Preheating may reduce the cooking time a little bit.
- Air fryers need space between the food items to circulate and cook properly. Do not overcrowd your air fryer.
- For spicy fish, add ¼-½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
- For easier cleanup, line air fryer basket/tray with aerated parchment paper made for air fryers (or make your own and punch some holes into it).