Air Fryer Tilapia (Fresh or frozen fillets!)
This air fryer tilapia is a quick, easy, and delicious dinner idea that comes together in less than 10 minutes! Healthy, low in carbs, and flavorful.
We love using our air fryer to cook seafood.
Unlike using the oven or the pan, we never have to worry about overcooking or undercooking it. It’s also incredibly quick and the clean up is minimal. Our favorite seafood to air fry include shrimp, salmon, and tilapia.
What type of fish is tilapia?
Tilapia is a mild white fish that is readily available year round and is very easy to cook. It is packed with many essential nutrients, especially omega-6 fatty acids.
Why this air fryer tilapia recipe will be a seafood favorite-
- Easy and quick. No marinating needed, and it takes just a few minutes to cook.
- 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 fillets can be used.
- 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 mild flavored and can easily be customized.
How to cook tilapia in the air fryer
- Tilapia fillets- Fresh or frozen fillets. 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, butter- To prepare the sauce.
- Lemon wedges, cilantro, and parsley- To serve.
Prepare the air fryer: Preheat the air fryer to 200C/400F and spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray.
Coat the fish with spices: Pat dry the tilapia fillets. Mix the salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and garlic in a bowl then rub it on both sides of your tilapia fillets using your hands.
Cook tilapia in the air fryer: Add the fish to the air fryer basket and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Make the sauce: Whisk together the butter, garlic, lemon juice, and cilantro in a bowl.
Serve: Brush the sauce generously on your cook tilapia fillets, and sprinkle with more cilantro.
Can you use frozen tilapia?
Yes, frozen tilapia can be cooked in the air fryer. We recommend thawing it out/defrosting it before using, however, frozen fillets can be added directly into the air fryer. Be sure to adjust the cooking time to compensate for it.
Expert tips for success
- Don’t overcrowd the air fryer basket so your tilapia cooks evenly.
- If you are worried that the fish will stick to the basket, you can use parchment paper to line the base.
- Flip the tilapia fillets during cooking to avoid over-cooking on one side.
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-Like in my blackened chicken, use the same spices to coat the fish.
- 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.
Storing and freezing instructions
- 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.
- Reheating- Either microwave the fish for 20-30 seconds or reheat in the air fryer for 2 minutes, until crispy around the edges.
More air fryer recipes to try
Frequently Asked Questions
White fish, like tilapia, needs just 7-8 minutes to cook in the air fryer.
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.
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.
- 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.
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: 1fillet | Calories: 155kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 8g | Sodium: 471mg | Potassium: 540mg | Fiber: 1g | Vitamin A: 441IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 1mg