This easy air fryer tilapia recipe makes delicious, perfectly cooked fish that happens to be healthy too! The air fryer results in tilapia that is crisp on the outside, but tender and flaky in the center.
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You can always count on fish to be an easy dinner, but if you love crispy fish, it’s not always a healthy dinner. Enter: this air fryer tilapia. It’s got a perfectly crispy exterior, but it’s air fried instead of deep-fried. Yes!
I love how the simple flavors of the fish pair well with a wide variety of side dishes. Serve the air fryer tilapia with some crispy smashed potatoes, creamed spinach, or soft dinner rolls. Or, do a fish-and-chips dinner with our air fryer French fries!
Making a mouth-watering dinner is easy with recipes like these!
Easy Air Fryer Tilapia Recipe
So, how does this air fryer tilapia get all its flavor? Garlic powder, a little salt, pepper, and basil in the seasoned Italian breadcrumbs are the only spices you need. However, these basic seasonings add tons of interest to every bite of fish.
The simple ingredients aren’t the only reason why this recipe is so great. I also love how quickly it cooks. You can have tender, golden-brown fish in under 15 minutes. And, the whole cooking process is entirely hands-off thanks to the air fryer!
You really need to make this air fryer tilapia to see just how good it is.
See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
- Tilapia filets – You can use fresh or frozen tilapia. If you’re using frozen tilapia filets in the air fryer, it is best to let them thaw first. Tilapia filets are nice and thin, so they should thaw quite quickly.
- Flour – Regular, all-purpose flour is perfect for this recipe.
- Milk – I like to use whole milk to add a little richness to the fish. Unsweetened almond milk will work as well and give a little bit of a nutty taste to the fish.
- Garlic Powder
- Italian-style breadcrumbs – Italian-style breadcrumbs are made with a mix of breadcrumbs and herbs. Dried basil, oregano, and parsley are usually in Italian breadcrumbs, a mix of seasonings that adds a ton of flavor in such an easy way.
- Replace the ground black pepper with lemon pepper seasoning. The bright lemon taste is delicious with the flakey air-fried tilapia.
- If you do not have Italian-style breadcrumbs, use two cups of regular breadcrumbs, 2 teaspoons dried parsley, 2 teaspoons dried basil, and 1 teaspoon dried oregano. Mix the breadcrumbs together and then use as directed in the recipe.
- This recipe works well with flounder filets, cod, and also catfish. Try using a different fish for a whole new flavor.
How to Make Air Fryer Tilapia
- Prep your equipment: Preheat your air fryer to 375ºF and spray your air fryer basket with cooking spray.
- Set up the bowls for breading: In one shallow bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and milk together. Pour the breadcrumbs into the third bowl.
- Bread the fish: Dip the tilapia filets into the flour mixture, then into the egg mixture. Then, dip the fish into the breadcrumbs. At every step, be sure to coat the tilapia filets completely so the breading envelopes the fish all the way around.
- Air fry the tilapia: Place the breaded fish onto the greased air fryer basket. Pop it into the hot air fryer and cook for 10 minutes. Once the fish filets are golden brown, they are ready to enjoy!
If you do not have an air fryer, you can still make this easy tilapia recipe. Preheat your oven to 350ºF and line a baking sheet tray with foil. Spray the foil with cooking spray and place the breaded tilapia onto it. Bake for 5 minutes, then flip and bake for 5 minutes more.
How to Store Air Fryer Tilapia
If you happen to have leftover air fryer tilapia, you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. When you want to eat the air fryer tilapia, you can put it back into the air fryer to reheat for 3-4 minutes. This will make it nice and crispy, just like the day it was made.
Thin filets of fish like tilapia, cod, and flounder only take about 10 minutes in a 375ºF air fryer. It is a good idea to flip the filets halfway through the cooking time so they are evenly browned.
Thin, flaky, white fish cooks best in the air fryer. Fresh or frozen filets of haddock, pollock, tilapia, cod, or even mahi mahi will cook well in the air fryer. Avoid making thick fish steaks like tuna or swordfish, which tend to dry out when cooked in the air fryer.
Cooking fish in the air fryer makes fish nice and crispy without needing excessive amounts of oil. The air fryer circulates hot air around the filets of fish, making the breading golden brown and crunchy. By air frying, the fish crisps as if it were fried but, unlike frying, there is no oil or fat used. This definitely makes the fish leaner and healthier when compared to frying fish.
Air Fryer Tilapia
- 4 tilapia filets
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 cups Italian-style breadcrumbs
- Preheat your air fryer to 375 degrees F and spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray.
- Add the flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to a shallow bowl and whisk them all together.
- Add the milk and egg to a second shallow bowl and whisk the egg with the milk, breaking up the egg completely.
- Pour the breadcrumbs into a third shallow bowl.
- Dip the first tilapia filet into the spiced flour mix and coat both sides of the fish with the flour. Then, dip the fish into the eggs, covering it completely in the liquid. Finally, dip the fish into the breadcrumbs and make sure both sides are covered completely in breadcrumbs.
- Place the breaded fish filet on the prepared air fryer tray then continue to dip and bread the remaining fish filets.
- Once you have all the fish breaded and lined up in your air fryer basket, place the basket into the hot air fryer and cook for 10 minutes. The fish will be golden brown and crispy. Enjoy right away!