Tender, flaky and easy to prepare, this Air Fryer Tilapia recipe is a healthy dinner option for busy weeknights. You just need a few basic ingredients and this tilapia is ready in less than 20 minutes from start to finish!
If you haven’t tried cooking fish in your air fryer yet, you should definitely give it a try! It’s quicker than oven baked fish and less messy than pan fried fish.
You can just place your fish fillets in the air fryer basket, set the timer and come back to perfectly cooked fish. It’s always moist and flaky, and never dry or rubbery!
This air fryer salmon has been in our dinner rotation for years (the spicy crust is the best), and this crispy breaded air fryer cod is one of my faves (and oil free)!
While this tilapia recipe doesn’t have a spicy crust or crispy breading, it’s generously seasoned with dried herbs, garlic and salt. (No breading also means this tilapia is prepped for the air fryer in 5 minutes or less!)
Just add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice before serving, and this tilapia is mouth watering and delicious!
For a spicy kick, you can also serve it with a drizzle of this jalapeño vinaigrette.
Serve this air fried tilapia with some roasted broccoli or air fryer green beans and a side of rice, and dinner is ready!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- The tilapia turns out perfectly tender, moist and flaky. It’s cooked on a high heat, but doesn’t dry out or get rubbery.
- You just need a few basic ingredients for the seasoning, which you probably already have in your pantry.
- It’s a quick and easy recipe with very little prep time. There’s no breading for this tilapia. You just need to season it and air fry. You don’t even need to flip the fillets while they’re cooking.
What is tilapia?
Tilapia is a freshwater white fish, typically farmed, with a mild and slightly sweet flavor. The texture is actually similar to cod since it’s so light and flaky.
Air fryer tilapia ingredients
*Below is an overview of the ingredients for this recipe. See the recipe card at the end of this post for the exact quantities used.
Tilapia – You’ll need one pound of tilapia for this recipe. I used two loins that were about 1-inch thick, but you can also use fillets (they will just be thinner).
Oil – Just a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil is brushed on the fish to keep it moist and help the seasonings stick. You can use another type of oil, if you prefer.
Seasonings – The tilapia is seasoned with a simple mix of garlic powder, salt and dried herbs (oregano, basil and parsley). Feel free to change it up. I think some cajun seasoning would be delicious!
Lemon – This is optional, but a squeeze of fresh lemon juice before serving is the perfect finishing touch.
How to cook tilapia in the air fryer
Preheat your air fryer at 400F for 5 minutes.
Pat the fish dry with paper towels and brush the oil on both sides.
Season both sides with the salt and garlic powder and then season with the dried herbs, using your fingers to rub the herbs into the flesh.
Place the fish in a single layer in the air fryer basket and air fry on 400F for 8-12 minutes. (The amount of time depends on the thickness of your loins/fillets).
Serve immediately with fresh lemon wedges or slices.
Storage and reheating
Store any leftover tilapia in an airtight container in the fridge and enjoy within 3-4 days.
To reheat, you can warm the fish in the microwave for 60-90 seconds (depending on the thickness) or warm in the air fryer at 350F for 3-4 minutes.
Be careful not to reheat leftovers for too long as you don’t want the fish to dry out or get rubbery.
Frequently asked questions
It can take anywhere from 8-12 minutes to air fry tilapia, depending on the thickness of your fish. The tilapia loins I used in this recipe were about 1-inch thick and they took 10-11 minutes at 400F to fully cook. If you use thinner loins or fillets, your tilapia will cook quicker. The air frying time also depends on the type of air fryer you’re using and on the target internal temperature for the fish (see next question).
The internal temperature of the thickest part of the fish should be cooked to 145F degrees (according to the USDA). In Canada, Health Canada recommends cooking fish to 158F degrees. I like to use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. You’ll also be able to tell the fish is ready when it’s opaque and flakes apart easily with a fork.
You can use frozen tilapia fillets or loins for this recipe, but I recommend defrosting them first. You can do this by letting them thaw in the fridge overnight or use the cold water method. Just place your tilapia in a resealable plastic bag and remove as much air as possible. Submerge the bag in a large bowl of cold water. Replace the water every 5 minutes. The tilapia should be thawed in about 30 minutes.
Absolutely! If you don’t have tilapia, you can replace it with cod, haddock or even halibut in this recipe.
Fish always pairs well with crispy potatoes like these air fryer potato wedges or these air fryer potato slices. Other veggies like air fryer carrots or mixed vegetables are a great side dish option too. You can also use this air fryer tilapia as a taco filling, similar to these air fryer fish tacos!
This recipe was tested in a Cosori 5.8 quart air fryer. Depending on the size, brand and model of your air fryer, you may need to adjust the temperature and cooking time slightly. If your air fryer is smaller, you may need to air fry the fish in batches or cut it into pieces.
Key recipe tips
- Even cooking. When air frying tilapia, make sure your loins/fillets are roughly the same thickness so they cook evenly. Thinner pieces of fish will cook faster.
- Flipping the fish. The tilapia loins cook evenly on both sides without flipping them over, but if they start to brown too much on one side, turn them over.
- Use a spatula. When flipping the fish or removing it from the air fryer, use a spatula. The fish will be delicate and tongs will cause it to break apart.
- Overcrowding. Try not to overcrowd the air fryer and cook the tilapia in a single layer. Depending on the size of your air fryer, you may need to air fry the fish in batches.
- Non-stick basket. The Cosori has a non-stick air fryer basket so I didn’t need to spray the basket. If you don’t have a non-stick basket, you may need to spray it with cooking oil or use parchment paper. (You can get parchment paper for air fryers with little holes in it).
- Safe temperature for fish. Make sure the tilapia is cooked to a safe internal temperature of 145F degrees (United States) or 158F degrees (Canada).
More air fryer seafood recipes
If you make this air fryer tilapia recipe, please leave a comment and rating below to let me know how it turned out!
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Air Fryer Tilapia
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 12 minutes
- Total Time: 17 minutes
- Yield: 2 servings
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Air Fry
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Gluten Free
This Air Fryer Tilapia recipe is an easy and healthy dinner option with a few basic ingredients and ready in less than 20 minutes!
- 2 tilapia loins or fillets (about 1 pound)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
- Preheat your air fryer at 400F for 5 minutes.
- Pat the fish dry with paper towels and brush the oil on both sides.
- Season both sides with the garlic powder and salt.
- Mix together the dried herbs and season both sides of the fish with it. (Use your fingers to rub the herbs into the flesh).
- Place the fish in a single layer in the air fryer basket and air fry on 400F for 8-12 minutes. (The amount of time depends on the thickness of your loins/fillets). Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.
- Serve immediately with fresh lemon wedges or slices.
- Make sure your loins or fillets are roughly the same thickness so they cook evenly.
- I used 1-inch thick tilapia loins. Thinner pieces of fish will cook faster.
- Try not to overcrowd the air fryer and cook the tilapia in a single layer. Depending on the size of your air fryer, you may need to air fry the fish in batches.
- If you don’t have a non-stick air fryer basket, you may need to spray the basket with cooking oil or use parchment paper.
- The tilapia loins cook evenly on both sides without flipping them over, but if they start to brown too much on one side, turn them over.
- When flipping the fish or removing it from the air fryer, use a spatula. The fish will be delicate and tongs will cause it to break apart.
- Cook the tilapia to a safe internal temperature of 145F degrees (United States) or 158F degrees (Canada).
- Be sure to check out the other sections above the recipe card for more detailed advice and suggestions for making this recipe.
Keywords: air fried tilapia, tilapia recipe, no breading
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