Air Fryer Tilapia

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This post was originally published on A Food Lover’s Kitchen.

This Air Fryer Tilapia is a great way to get crispy fried fish without all the oil and grease of deep frying. The crunchy exterior gets golden brown in the air fryer in just 15 minutes, like these crispy shrimp that we love.

breaded tilapia

This recipe uses and egg wash and breadcrumbs with flour and spices to make an easy breading for the fish. You won’t need a lot of oil, but a quick spray on both sides of the breading will help make it that crispy, golden brown exterior you crave.

The only thing you want to keep in mind when cooking in the air fryer is that you can really only cook what fits on the surface of the basket. You can overlap the fish a little bit, but the more it overlaps, the less crispy the exterior will get. It needs air circulation to crisp up.

I have a 5-quart air fryer basket, and I can easily fit 2 pieces of tilapia in the basket with very little overlap. If you want to make 4 or more servings, they’ll turn out best if you cook them in 2 batches.

You can place the cooked pieces of fish on a wire rack while you’re waiting for the other pieces to cook. Then reheat them all for 1 minute in the air fryer at the end.

» You might like Frozen Salmon in the Air Fryer.

air fryer tilapia

Air Fryer Tilapia Ingredients

I like to bread the tilapia before cooking it in the air fryer. With just a little bit of oil on the breading, it makes a perfectly crispy piece of fish that can be eaten alongside your favorite side dish. You can use it for fish tacos or fish sandwiches, as well.

Of course you don’t have to bread the fish, if you’d rather not add those extra calories from the breading. Just season the fish directly and cook it for 5-6 minutes per side.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Two tilapia filets (you can also use cod, halibut, mahi mahi, etc)
  • Egg
  • Buttermilk or cream (optional)
  • Breadcrumbs
  • All-purpose flour
  • Paprika
  • Garlic Salt
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper

Why Use an Air Fryer

An air fryer is an incredibly easy way to cook just about anything. You place the food in a fryer-style basket and hot air rapidly circulates all around the food, making the food crisp – much like deep-frying, but without the oil. You can cook anything you’d make in the oven.

Ninja Max XL

How to Make Air Fryer Tilapia

Step One: Mix the Breading

The easiest way to bread the fish is to make two dredging stations. One bowl with egg and buttermilk. Whisk those together. And one plate with breadcrumbs, flour, paprika, garlic salt, salt and pepper mixed together.

spices to make breading

Step Two: Dredge the Fish in the Egg & Breadcrumbs

Dredge the tilapia through the egg mixture. Allow any extra to run off before dredging through the breadcrumbs. Make sure you flip the fish in the breadcrumbs and move it around a bit to fully coat the fish.

tilapia in egg and buttermilk

Step Three: Spray With Oil

Spray the fish evenly with cooking oil. I use an olive oil spray. You can use Pam cooking spray. You just want to make sure you can get a nice even coating of oil without over-saturating it. This will help get the breadcrumbs crispy. If you don’t use oil, the breadcrumbs may be a little floury and dry.

breaded tilapia in air fryer

Step Four: Cook the Fish

Pre-heat the air fryer to 350 degrees for 2-3 minutes. It’s good to let the fish rest for these few minutes, so the coating has a chance to stick to the surface. Cook for 10 minutes on one side, then flip and cook another 5 minutes on the other side.

finished tilapia in airfryer

Additional Questions About Air Fryer Tilapia

What Temp Should Tilapia Be Cooked To?

Tilapia should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145° F. Usually you can tell that fish is cooked through when it’s no longer transparent, but with the breading it’s hard to tell. As long as the fish isn’t more than 1 1/2″ thick and wasn’t frozen, it will cook through in 15 minutes. If you’re not sure, use a meat thermometer.

Can You Cook Tilapia From Frozen?

Yes, you can cook the tilapia from frozen in the air fryer. It will take an additional 5 minutes, so cook on both sides for 10 minutes. It’s always good to check the internal temperature of the fish before serving when you’ve started from frozen, just to be sure. Keep in mind that the breadcrumbs won’t be able to properly adhere to a frozen piece of fish.

Can I Use a Different Type of Fish?

Yes, you can use any type of fish you want for this recipe. I’ve used cod, mahi mahi, mackarel, trout, and halibut. If the piece of fish is thicker than 1 1/2″, you may need to cook it longer.

What Oil & Oil Sprayer is Best for the Air Fryer?

The biggest issue most air fryer lovers face is finding the right oil and oil sprayer to use on food cooked in the air fryer. A fine mist of oil will help the entire piece of food crisp evenly, so it’s very important.

My personal preference is to use canola oil, extra virgin olive oil, or avocado oil. I use both a refillable spray bottle like the Evo one pictured below and non-propellant extra virgin olive oil, which has no harmful aerosols or chemicals.

Evo Oil Sprayer Evo Glass Trigger Sprayer Bottle, Non-Aerosol for Olive Cooking Oils, 6-Ounce Capacity, 6 oz, Yellow/Black/Red
Pompeian USDA Certified Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil Non-Stick Cooking Spray, Full-Bodied Flavor, Perfect for Salads and Pasta Drizzling, Naturally Gluten Free, Non-Allergenic, Non-GMO, No Propellants, 5 FL. OZ., Single Bottle
Tenlary Oil Sprayer for Cooking - 210ml Glass Olive Oil Dispenser Bottle Spray Mister-Reusable Food Grade Oil Vinegar Spritzer Sprayer Bottles,kitchen Gadgets Accessories for Air Fryer,BBQ (Orange)
finished tilapia on plate

What Side Dishes to Serve?

You can serve some really easy side dishes with your main dish cooked in the Air Fryer. Sometimes, you can cook them together in the air fryer to make it even faster.

Some of our favorite side dishes to serve include:

Here are 30 more air fryer side dishes to try


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air fryer tilapia

Air Fryer Tilapia

This Air Fryer Tilapia is a great way to get crispy fried fish without all the oil and grease of deep frying. The crunchy exterior gets golden brown in the air fryer in just 15 minutes
4.9 from 61 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 2 servings
Calories 158 kcal



  • 2 pieces Tilapia 200g or 7 oz
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tablespoon buttermilk or cream


  • Mix together the breadcrumbs, flour, paprika, garlic salt, salt and pepper on a plate.
  • In a bowl, combine the egg and buttermilk and whisk together.
  • Dredge the tilapia through the egg then through the breadcrumbs to coat. Spray evenly with cooking oil.
  • Pre-heat the air fryer to 350 degrees for 2-3 minutes. Cook for 10 minutes on one side, then flip and cook an additional 5 minutes.

All air fryers have different wattage and may cook at different rates. You may need to adjust the time or temp for the best results.


Calories: 158kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 7gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 83mgSodium: 1397mgPotassium: 122mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 619IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 71mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Air Fryer
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breaded tilapia

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