Make this super easy Air Fryer Tilapia recipe in just 10 minutes, using either fresh or frozen fish fillets. It’s a healthy fish dinner seasoned with a homemade blackened seasoning blend, that comes out perfectly tender, flavorful, and moist, every single time!
Why It Works
And once your try this recipe, air frying will be your new favorite method of cooking tilapia, too!
🐟 So delicious! Air frying tilapia cooks it to tender, flakey perfection! Tilapia is a naturally mild in flavor fish, so pairing it with bold homemade blackened seasonings and lemon juice really brings it to life!
🐟 Easy to make! This mostly hands-off recipe is perfect if you’re new to air fryer cooking or are just looking for a quick and easy dinner! Simply season the fillets and lay them in the air fryer to cook, and dinner is ready in under 10 minutes total.
🐟 Good for you! Tilapia is a nutritious choice because it’s a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and minerals like calcium and selenium, and it’s low in fat. There’s no sugar or artificial ingredients added to the rest of the recipe, making it Low Carb, Whole30, Paleo, and Gluten Free friendly!
- The homemade blackened seasoning is made with: Cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt, and pepper.
- Buy frozen fillets for the best price, or if buying fresh fish, look for firm, pinkish-white flesh and a mild, fresh smell.
- You can substitute any other whitefish, like cod, halibut, or haddock.
- Tilapia is super versatile and pairs great with a variety of seasonings! You can easily modify the flavor of tilapia when you use any other seasoning blend you enjoy, like herby Greek, zesty Italian, bold BBQ spices, or simple salt and pepper.
Step 1: Preheat the air fryer to 400℉ (204℃). If your air fryer doesn’t have a preheat setting, simply turn it on and wait about 3-4 minutes while it warms up.
Meanwhile, pat the tilapia fillets with a few paper towels to dry them on all sides. Sprinkle it generously with the blackened seasoning.
Use your hands to gently rub it in, coating the pieces of fish on all sides.
Step 2: Spray or drizzle the air fryer basket with oil. Working in batches, place 1 to 2 tilapia fillets in the air fryer basket so they don’t overlap. Spray the fish with a little oil for extra crispiness.
Close the air fryer and cook for 7 minutes.
👉 Watch closely near the end of cooking time to check and see if it needs more or less time cooking.
Step 3: Once the fish is cooked through and flakey, use a plastic spatula to carefully remove the fish, and set it on a plate. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top!
Repeat steps 2-3 until all the fish fillets are cooked, and serve!
Air Frying Frozen Tilapia
Tilapia cooks beautifully straight from frozen! Like air frying frozen shrimp, there’s no need to defrost it first.
- Simply preheat your air fryer, then spray the basket with oil. Season the fish and lay them in the basket without overlapping the pieces.
- Close the air fryer and cook for 9-12 minutes, until the fish is cooked through and flakey.
Storing Cooked Tilapia
Transfer the cooled leftover tilapia to an airtight container or bag, and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, per USDA.
Reheating Cooked Tilapia
👉 The key to reheating fish is to gently warm the fish without continuing the cooking process since fish can become overcooked and dried out very quickly.
- Microwave: Microwave the fish in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate for 30 seconds at a time until warmed through.
- Air Fryer: Air fry in a single layer at 300°F (148°C) for 3-4 minutes, just until warmed through and beginning to crisp on the top.
- Don’t overlap the fish fillets in the air fryer. The air needs to be able to circulate around the food to cook it evenly. Instead, cook the food in batches.
- Don’t flip the fish halfway through cooking! Tilapia is so delicate that it will crumble a bit if you flip it. It will still cook beautifully and evenly and will stay in one piece if you leave it until cooked through.
- Exact cook time will vary and depend on the thickness of the fish fillets and your individual air fryer. You may need to adjust the cooking time +/- 1 to 3 minutes.
- Stop cooking the tilapia once it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C), per USDA, to avoid overcooking it. The fish will be flakey when it’s cooked through.
- To keep the fish from sticking, remember to spray the basket again before each batch of fish is cooked.
To keep fish from sticking, generously spray the basket with oil before adding the fish, or use special air fryer parchment liners in the basket.
Yes. Preheating the air fryer will ensure the fish cooks evenly. If your air fryer doesn’t have a preheat setting, simply turn it on and wait 3-4 minutes before cooking.
When fully cooked, tilapia has an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C), per USDA. It will flake easily with a fork and be opaque in color.
Cooking at 400°F, it takes between 7-9 minutes to cook tilapia in the air fryer.
You can cook both fresh OR frozen tilapia. If you’re in a hurry, you can cook tilapia without thawing before air frying. Simply add 3-5 minutes to the cooking time.
First, unplug your air fryer. Wait for it to cool to room temperature. Soak the basket and pan in warm soapy water in the sink for 10-30 minutes. Scrub them gently until all the grease is removed. Let all the pieces air dry. Be sure to follow your air fryer’s user manual for any specific cleaning instructions.
Air Fryer Tilapia
- 6 tilapia fillets 4-6 oz. each
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lemon
- 3 Tablespoons blackened seasoning or mix together 1 Tbsp Cumin, 1 Tbsp Chili Powder, ⅓ Tbsp Paprika, 1 ⅓ tsp Onion Powder, 1 ⅓ tsp Garlic Powder, ⅓ tsp Oregano, ⅓ tsp Salt, ⅙ tsp Pepper
- Preheat the air fryer to 400℉ (204℃). Meanwhile, pat the tilapia fillets with a few paper towels to dry them on all sides. Sprinkle the fish generously with the seasonings, using your hands to gently rub it in and coat each piece on all sides.
- Spray or drizzle the air fryer basket with oil. Working in batches, place 1 to 2 tilapia fillets in the air fryer basket so they don't overlap. Spray or drizzle the fish with a little extra oil for extra crispiness. Close the air fryer and cook for 7 minutes.
- Once the fish is cooked through and flakey, use a spatula to carefully remove and set it on a plate. Repeat steps 2-3 until all the fish fillets are cooked. Squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice on the plated fish.
- Cooking Frozen Tilapia: Preheat your air fryer, then spray the basket with oil. Season the fish and lay them in the basket without overlapping the pieces. Close the air fryer and cook for 9-12 minutes, until the fish is cooked through and flakey.
- Don’t overcrowd the air fryer. The fish should lay in a single layer without overlapping.
- Don’t flip the fish halfway through cooking! It will stay together better and still cook evenly.
- The exact cooking time will vary. You may need to adjust the cooking time +/- 1 to 3 minutes.
- Stop cooking the tilapia once it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C), per USDA, to avoid overcooking it. The fish will be flakey and opaque when cooked through.
- To keep the fish from sticking, spray the basket again before each batch of fish is cooked.