My Air Fryer Tilapia is a delicious and healthy weeknight dinner that the whole family will love! Made with just a handful of simple ingredients, this is a great recipe for busy weeknights and can be made in 15 minutes! This easy fish recipe is low carb and keto too.
Although I was initially hesitant to get one, my air fryer has quickly become one of my most used kitchen appliances! I make everything from quesadillas to turkey burgers to salmon teriyaki in my air fryer. I even use it to reheat leftover pizza!
We eat a lot of seafood in my house. I love using my air fryer to cook fish like this healthy Air Fryer Tilapia recipe. It's easier than flipping fish in a hot skillet on the stove and it won't leave a fishy odor in your kitchen.
The air fryer heats up and cooks food really quickly. This makes it perfect for those busy weeknights when you've got hungry mouths to feed and need to get dinner on the table fast!
Why You'll Love This Dish
- Quick and easy- all you need is 15 minutes from start to finish! It's become one of my favorite easy last minute dinners on busy days.
- Healthy meal- packed with protein, vitamins and minerals ; uses minimal oil because the air fryer cooks food with hot air rather than oil
- Family-friendly- this recipe is a great way to introduce your kids to seafood; it has a mild flavor so many kids will enjoy this tasty fish
- Low carb and keto- a good option if you're watching your carbohydrate intake
Tilapia is a nutritious fish and can be part of a healthy and balanced diet. It's a popular fish because it has a mild flavor, is easy to prepare, and is relatively inexpensive.
This mild, flaky white fish is packed with protein and is low in calories and fat. It's also rich in many vitamins and minerals including vitamin B12, vitamin D, selenium, and phosphorus.
It has heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, however it's omega-3 content is not particularly high compared to other varieties of fish like salmon.
Tilapia is native only to the Middle East and Africa but is farm-raised in over 120 countries worldwide. Wild tilapia is hard to find. The vast majority of tilapia available to consumers is farmed.
Questions have been raised surrounding tilapia farming practices. Farming conditions can affect the safety and nutritional content of the fish. So it is important to choose tilapia from a responsible source to ensure that the fish you are eating is eating is safe, nutritious, and sustainable.
You can look for the country of origin or the Ocean Wise symbol (which labels fish according to their sustainability) on the packaging.
If you can't find a good tilapia option at the store, you can substitute any mild, flaky white fish in this recipe like flounder, cod, grouper, or halibut.
Keto Fish Recipe
If you're following a low carb or keto diet, then this dish is a great option for you!
While many fish recipes use bread crumbs in the topping, this healthy recipe does not. I use dried spices instead to add a punch of flavor this mild fish.
Each serving is packed with a whopping 34 grams of protein and less than 1 gram of net carbs.
Recipe Notes and Substitutions:
- Tilapia fillets- you can use fresh or frozen fillets; you can also substitute any mild, white fish such as flounder, cod, grouper or halibut.
- Olive oil- I like to brush the tilapia with heart-healthy olive oil or use an olive oil spray to help the spices adhere; I also use it to brush or spray the air fryer basket to prevent the fish from sticking
- Dried spices- I use a mixture of onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika (along with salt and black pepper); you can substitute other spices like Cajun seasoning, thyme or even cayenne pepper for some heat
- Lemon- a squeeze of fresh lemon juice is the perfecting finishing touch for this dish
- Parsley- I like to add Italian flat leaf parsley for color and a pop of fresh flavor but it's optional
- Step 1- Mix the dried spices together in a small bowl.
- Step 2- Brush the tilapia fillets with olive oil. You can also use an olive oil sprayer.
- Step 3- Sprinkle the spice mix on the fish.
- Step 4- Preheat your air fryer to 380°F and spray or brush the basket with a little oil. Place tilapia in the basket in a single layer (depending on the size of your air fryer, you may need to cook the tilapia in batches). For easy clean up, you can line your air fryer basket with a perforated silicone liner or perforated parchment sheets.
- Step 5- Cook for 8-10 minutes until the fish is opaque and cooked through. The final cook time will depend on your air fryer model.
- Step 6- Plate the tilapia and garnish with fresh parsley and a nice squeeze of lemon juice. Serve with extra lemon wedges on the side.
Chef's Top Tips
- Tilapia is a mildly flavored fish so season it liberally. Use your favorite spices- Cajun seasoning, thyme, and cayenne pepper are all good options.
- There's no need to flip the fish in the air fryer- it will cook evenly.
- Leftover tilapia is perfect for repurposing into other dishes like fish tacos, burrito bowls or salad.
How to Cook Frozen Tilapia in the Air Fryer
For best results, it's always a good idea to start with fresh tilapia fillets. Fresh fish fillets will cook more evenly than frozen. Plus, it's hard to get the seasoning mixture to adhere to frozen fish.
So if you have time, ideally, you should defrost the tilapia before cooking it.
The best way to defrost fish is to put it in the refrigerator overnight. You can also defrost it a lot faster by putting it in a bowl of cold water in the sink for 20-30 minutes.
However, if you're really pressed for time, you can cook frozen tilapia in the air fryer.
To cook frozen tilapia, first rinse it under cold water to remove any frost or ice. Then pat it dry with paper towels. Then brush the tilapia with oil and sprinkle on your spices as per the recipe instructions.
The cooking time will be longer for frozen tilapia compared to fresh fillets. Cook frozen tilapia in the air fryer about 12-13 minutes at 380°F. If it seems like it's getting dark on the outside too quickly, turn the temperature down to 350°F or 360°F.
The best way to make sure the fish is done is to check it with a meat thermometer. It should have an internal temperature of 145°F.
Recommended Air Fryer Accessories
Line your air fryer basket with these reusable perforated silicone mats. You can buy square or round mats. The holes allow hot air to circulate around the food prevent it from sticking.
You can also line your air fryer basket with one-time-use perforated parchment sheets. They come in different shapes, sizes and colors- white or brown (unbleached).
This EVO oil sprayer is perfect for evenly spraying your food and air fryer basket with oil. It doesn't clog up like many other brands.
What To Serve With This Dish
Pair this Air Fryer Tilapia with one of my favorite side dishes for a delicious dinner that the whole family will love!
Tilapia is a lean protein so you can round out your meal with some complex carbs. Since you'll have the air fryer on, make my Easy Air Fryer Diced Potatoes or Air Fryer Baked Sweet Potatoes. If you're watching your carbs, try my Air Fryer Zucchini or Perfect Air Fryer Asparagus.
This tilapia is also delicious topped with a fresh salsa like my Mango Salsa or Chipotle Corn Salsa.
You can also pair this fish with other vegetables, rice, bread and more. Looking for some more tasty ideas? Read my post on the 30 Best Side Dishes for Tilapia.
Yes, you can cook frozen tilapia in the air fryer. When you cook frozen fish, rinse it with cold water first to remove any frost or ice. Then pat it dry, brush it with oil, and top it with your spices. The cooking time will be longer for frozen tilapia compared to fresh fillets. Cook frozen tilapia in the air fryer about 12-13 minutes at 380°F. If it's getting dark on the outside too quickly, turn the temperature down a little.
Brush the fish fillets with olive oil and sprinkle on your spices. Preheat your air fryer to 380°F and spray or brush the basket with a little oil. Place the fish in the basket in a single layer. Cook 8-12 minutes until the fish is opaque and cooked through. The final cook time will depend on the type of fish and your air fryer model.
Cook tilapia to an internal temperature of 145°F as checked with a meat thermometer. You can test it with a fork at the thickest point, twisting it gently. The fish will flake easily when it's done and will look opaque rather than translucent.
Learn how to adapt any recipe to cook in your air fryer! Read my Easy Oven to Air Fryer Conversion Guide and get my helpful conversion chart!
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Air Fryer Tilapia (Fresh or Frozen)
- 4 tilapia fillets (about 6 ounces each), fresh or frozen (can substitute any mild, flaky white fish like flounder, cod, grouper, or halibut)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh parsley
- Fresh lemon juice
- Make the spice rub by mixing the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
- Brush the tilapia fillets with olive oil. Sprinkle the spice rub evenly over the fish.
- Preheat the air fryer to 380°F. Spray or brush the basket of your air fryer with a little oil. Place the tilapia in the basket in a single layer (depending on the size of your air fryer, you may need to cook the tilapia in batches).
- Cook for 8-10 minutes until fish is opaque and cooked through. Plate the tilapia and garnish with parsley and a nice squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
To Cook Frozen Tilapia:
- To cook frozen tilapia, first rinse it under cold water to remove any frost or ice. Then pat it dry with paper towels. Then brush the tilapia with oil and sprinkle on your spices as per the recipe instructions. The cooking time will be longer for frozen tilapia compared to fresh fillets. Cook frozen tilapia in the air fryer about 12-13 minutes at 380°F until cooked through. If it seems like it's getting dark on the outside too quickly, turn the temperature down to 350°F or 360°F.
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