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Tilapia is one of my favorite fish varieties to serve on busy weeknights — lemon tilapia, pan fried tilapia, and parmesan crusted tilapia are all winners at my house — but cooking tilapia in the air fryer is the fastest method of them all (just like air fryer shrimp and cod in the air fryer)! It’s flaky with crispy edges, super flavorful, and oh-so easy. My kids love this air fryer tilapia recipe… and let’s be honest, so does my wallet.
Why You’ll Love This Air Fryer Tilapia Recipe
- Garlicky, lemony flavor
- Moist, flaky, tender texture
- Just 5 minutes to prep and 7 minutes to cook
- No flour, bread crumbs, or batter needed
- No flipping required!
- Healthy, naturally gluten-free, low carb, and a great source of protein
- Great for fish tacos or dipping in tartar sauce
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for cooking tilapia in the air fryer, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Tilapia Fillets – Look for pink and white colored flesh. You can use fresh tilapia fillets or frozen tilapia. Read more about choosing tilapia in my post for baked tilapia. Other varieties of white fish fillets will also work, though cook time will vary based on thickness.
- Olive Oil – For brushing over the fillets. You can also use a different neutral cooking oil, such as avocado oil.
- Lemon Pepper Seasoning – Adds a bright, savory taste. I used my homemade lemon pepper seasoning, but you can also use a store-bought lemon pepper seasoning mix, or simply use black pepper and add fresh lemon zest. My homemade version contains salt, but if yours does not, add 3/4 teaspoon sea salt to this air fryer tilapia recipe.
- Spices – Including paprika and garlic powder for more flavor.
- Garnishes – Including fresh lemon juice and parsley. They’re optional, but add another dimension of flavor.
How To Cook Tilapia In The Air Fryer
This section shows how to make air fryer tilapia, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Prep. Turn the air fryer on and let it preheat. Lightly spray the basket with cooking spray (I prefer olive oil spray). Dry the fish with paper towels.
- Whisk. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon pepper seasoning, paprika, and garlic powder.
- Coat. Brush both sides of the fish fillets with olive oil and spice mixture, until evenly coated.
- Cook. Place tilapia in the air fryer basket in a single layer, so they are not touching each other (work in batches if necessary). Cook until tilapia is lightly browned and easily flakes with a fork.
- Garnish. Remove fish from the air fryer. If desired, squeeze a lemon wedge onto each tilapia fillet and garnish with parsley before serving.
How Long To Cook Tilapia In The Air Fryer?
Air fryer tilapia takes 6-8 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fillets. When the tilapia is cooked through, it will be flaky and white all the way through. The fish should reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63 degrees C) — check it with a meat thermometer if unsure.
Can You Cook Frozen Tilapia In The Air Fryer?
Yes, you can air fry frozen tilapia. Season and then air fry for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees F (204 degrees C).
Tips For The Best Air Fryer Tilapia
- Choose fillets that are similar in size. This way, they will cook at the same rate.
- Dry the fish. Pat each fillet dry with paper towels before brushing with oil. This helps the fish crisp up a little on the outside, locks in moisture on the inside, and makes the seasonings stick better.
- Don’t overcrowd the air fryer basket. Make sure the fillets are not overlapping. Cook tilapia in batches if it doesn’t all fit.
- Don’t overcook. The ideal internal temperature for moist, flaky tilapia is 140 degrees F, so use a meat thermometer if you have one. (You can cook it up to 145 degrees F if you prefer it more well done.) If you don’t have a thermometer, check that the fish flakes easily with a fork but is still moist.
- Store: Keep leftovers in an airtight container or wrap in aluminum foil in the refrigerator. Enjoy leftover air fryer tilapia fillets within 3-4 days.
- Reheat: Warm tilapia in the air fryer at 350 degrees F for a couple of minutes, or in the oven at the same temp for 8-10 minutes, until warm. Microwaving is not recommended, but can be done at low power.
- Freeze: If you want to extend its shelf life, you can freeze cooked tilapia. Wrap tightly in cling wrap or aluminum foil and then place it in a freezer-safe bag. Store for up to 3 months.
What To Serve With Air Fryer Tilapia Recipes
One of the great things about air fryer tilapia recipes is that they are so versatile! Here are some simple ideas:
- Asparagus – A natural pairing for white fish. Try lemon garlic sauteed asparagus, cheesy asparagus casserole, or air fryer asparagus.
- Easy Veggies – In addition to asparagus, crispy smashed brussels sprouts, oven roasted green beans, and baked cauliflower all make delicious, healthy sides to tilapia. And, if you want a whole meal using the air fryer, try air fryer vegetables.
- Pasta & Potatoes – Serve with conventional pasta, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted potatoes, or try healthier swaps like mashed cauliflower, zucchini noodles, or cauliflower rice.
- Salads – Pair these fillets with a quick and easy salad, such as Greek salad, creamy cucumber salad, spring mix salad, or strawberry spinach salad — or choose from one of my other healthy salad recipes!
More Easy Air Fryer Dinner Recipes
Air fryer recipes make it so easy to prepare dinner in a snap. Here are more cuts that cook up tender and juicy with it!
Air Fryer Tilapia Recipe
Air Fryer Tilapia (11 Minutes!)
This air fryer tilapia recipe makes a fast weeknight meal, ready in 11 minutes! It's super flaky, with crisp edges and flavorful lemon pepper.
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Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C). Lightly spray the basket with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon pepper seasoning, paprika, and garlic powder.
Brush both sides of each tilapia fillet with olive oil/spice mixture, until evenly coated.
Place tilapia in the air fryer basket in a single layer, so they are not touching each other. (Cook in batches if it doesn’t all fit.) Cook for 6-8 minutes, until the tilapia is lightly browned and easily flakes with a fork.
Remove the fish from the air fryer. If desired, squeeze a lemon wedge onto each tilapia fillet and garnish with parsley before serving.
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Serving size: 1 tilapia fillet
- Nutrition facts do not include lemon or parsley.
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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