Can you air fry tilapia? Yes! Try my healthy air fryer tilapia recipe with no breading. It's a great fit for gluten free, low carb, and keto diets. Learn how to cook fresh tilapia and frozen tilapia in the air fryer. You’ll love this inexpensive white fish recipe, served with an optional garlic chive miso butter. Enjoy baked tilapia fillets whenever you need a quick and easy dinner idea!
Oh, tilapia. When it comes to fish, you’re definitely not one of my top contenders for a rich and flavorful pick. Without the right seasoning, tilapia fish tends to be a bit bland.
However, if you want a budget-friendly fresh seafood option, tilapia is a great choice. Fish can be expensive but you can get tilapia cheap at Costco and other stores. It’s one of the least expensive fresh fish you can buy, and when you air fry tilapia, it’s convenient too!
Here’s a meal that proves that even a simple weeknight dinner can be special. This air fryer tilapia recipe is served with a salty, savory garlic chive miso butter. (And if miso tilapia is not your thing, I have lots and lots of additional tilapia seasoning ideas below!)
Even ardent seafood haters may be won over by the mild flavor of tilapia. Why not air fry tilapia fish tonight? You don’t even need to thaw it first!
Tilapia fillets tend to be thin, so they can be air fried very quickly. You can make this tilapia air fryer recipe in about the time it takes to preheat the oven. How’s that for near-instant gratification?
📋 What are the calories, net carbs, and protein?
One serving of air fryer tilapia with compound butter provides 303 calories, 0.7 grams net carbs, and 27.5 grams protein. One tilapia filet has 133 calories, 0 grams net carbs, and 26.6 grams protein. (All values are approximate.)
Why make air fried tilapia fillets? Here are some of the benefits of this fish recipe:
- Quick: Fresh fish in air fryer is ready in 12 minutes. Frozen fish in air fryer is ready in 14 minutes.
- Low effort: If you find cooking fish intimidating, this is the recipe for you. It is very easy, with minimal clean up. (I love it when I’m feeling lazy too! Haha)
- Keto tilapia recipe: If you’re all about the low carb way of eating, you’ll love this pescatarian recipe. The compound butter is a great way to flavor fish without breading.
- Healthy: Are you looking to get more seafood in your diet? Tilapia is a great option for lean protein. (Well... it's lean before we put the butter on it. Haha)
- Delicious: This recipe is healthful without sacrificing flavor. The tasty chive butter really elevates the flavor of this humble white fish. YUM!
What do you need to make air fryer tilapia? Here’s the roundup:
- Tilapia fillets
- Olive oil
- Cooking oil spray (non-aerosol)
That’s all you need for the basic air fryer recipe. While it cooks, you can mix up a quick compound butter with chives and miso.
It sounds fancy, but compound butter is simply softened butter with stuff mixed into it. Here’s the “stuff” we’re using:
- Finely chopped garlic chives
- White miso
You can substitute regular chives from the grocery store if you don’t have garlic chives. You might also want to add in a minced garlic clove or some garlic powder to get the garlicky flavor. If you serve the fish over rice, the butter can melt into and flavor both fish and rice.
I also like to season the tilapia with black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice after cooking. It’s simple and good.
To air fry tilapia safely, I recommend having a meat thermometer in addition to an air fryer. I developed this recipe with a 10-Quart Kalorik Digital Air Fryer Oven.
I can cook 3-4 tilapia fillets at a time in my air fryer oven. You may need to cook the fillets in multiple batches if you have a small air fryer basket. It’s important not to overcrowd the fish; air circulation is needed for proper cooking in the air fryer.
Cooking times may need to be adjusted slightly if you are using a different air fryer than I use. The Ninja Foodi, Actifry, Nuwave, Cosori, Instant Vortex, Philips, Pampered Chef, Cuisinart, Power Air Fryer, etc. can air fry tilapia. It’s a good idea to keep a close watch on the food the first time you try a new air fryer recipe.
🔪 How to Make
Let’s learn how to make air fryer tilapia! If you have time, it’s nice to start the compound butter first to give time for the flavors to meld. Otherwise, make it while the fish air fries.
Chop the chives as finely as possible. To make the chive butter, mix the softened butter, miso, and garlic chives together. If time allows, refrigerate to let it firm up.
Mist two air fryer trays with cooking oil spray. If you are using frozen filets, you may need to carefully separate them if they are not wrapped individually.
Put the tilapia filets on the prepared air fryer trays and brush with olive oil. Believe it or not, you’re already ready to pop the fish in the air fryer!
️⏲️ Cooking Time and Temperature
How long to air fry tilapia? Air fry for a total of 12-14 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Flip the fish fillets and switch the position of the air fryer racks in the oven after 8 minutes of cooking.
You can cook both fresh tilapia and frozen tilapia this way. The only difference is that frozen tilapia has a slightly longer total cooking time (14 minutes versus 12). You do not need to preheat the air fryer to cook tilapia.
How to know when tilapia is done cooking? Tilapia and other finfish should reach a minimum safe internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the fish to ensure it has been cooked safely.
Don’t try to determine that tilapia is done with a visual check only. The fish may look opaque and flaky but still be slightly undercooked inside.
Tilapia fillets are very thin, so they’ll cook quickly. Just don’t overcook them- they will dry out on you!
After cooking the fish, plate it with a pat of miso butter on top. Watch it melt and spread it all around, finishing with a sprinkle of black pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Ahhh...
How to reheat leftover tilapia? Leftover fish really isn’t the best, so I recommend cooking only what you need and avoiding leftovers when possible. If you want to reheat it, try microwaving briefly or reheating in a skillet with a little lemon butter.
🧂 How to Season
Wondering how to season tilapia for the air fryer? I kept things simple here with just a sprinkle of black pepper. The garlic-chive miso butter is really doing most of the work.
If you don’t like miso or chives, there are lots of other sauces and seasonings that are good with tilapia. Here are some suggestions:
- Lemon pepper
- Parmesan cheese
- Blackened tilapia with Cajun spice
- Taco seasoning (make air fryer tilapia tacos!)
- Teriyaki sauce
- Italian seasoning
- Creole seasoning
- Chimichurri sauce
- Butter garlic sauce
- Make a tilapia curry with coconut milk (perfect for no dairy tilapia)
- Make breaded tilapia with panko, almond flour, wheat flour, or cornmeal
🥗 Side Dishes
What are some good sides for tilapia? I added cooked wild rice (¼-cup dry per serving) to my meal and a large side salad. Here are some other ideas:
- Air Fryer Carrots
- Air Fryer Squash
- Frozen French Fries in Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Garlic Bread
- Air Fryer Frozen Tater Tots
💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 2 recipe (transition or weight maintenance). The nutrition information for this recipe is for the tilapia and garlic chive miso butter only. I’ll say upfront that throwing a tablespoon of butter on your fish is *not* the best move for weight loss. If you don’t want to entirely forego the butter, cut back to one teaspoon. The leftover compound butter would be great on steak, potatoes, other fish…
I mean, it’s butter. You probably don’t need me to tell you what to do with it. Haha
If you have a fat loss goal, you can easily compose a meal that fits a low carb or diabetes plate method using this air fry tilapia. (The diabetes plate is ¼ protein, ¼ starch, and ½ non-starchy veggies.) Here I have the tilapia air fry, some wild rice, and a huge side salad with leafy greens.
Give the air fryer tilapia a squeeze of lemon, and you’ve got a well-portioned and tasty plate!
Most of us in the U.S. are not getting the recommended amount of seafood in our diets. If you avoid seafood because you don’t like the strong flavors, try tilapia. Better yet, try this air fried fish recipe, because it’s about as easy as you can get!
Yes, you can make air fryer breaded tilapia as well! Don’t miss my post on Air Fryer Breaded Fish Fillets to learn more!
Tilapia is a lean (low-fat) protein. If you are looking to gain weight, add more energy-dense foods to your tilapia meal. This could include sauces or dressings with added fats and oils, a double-serving of rice (or other grains), or other high-energy foods.
Tilapia is considered a white fish, not an oily fish. The benefit of white fish is that it’s an extremely lean protein (and low in calories). The disadvantage is that since it is so lean, you get less of the good-for-you omega-3 fatty acids than you do with oily fish. Examples of oily fish include salmon and sardines.
You typically get 3 tilapia fillets per pound (i.e., they are 5-6 ounces each). I like to serve one fillet per person. Small children may only want half a fillet.
You can use other white fish in the air fryer, such as haddock, cod, flounder, and halibut. However, air frying times can vary depending on the thickness of the fish fillets. Tilapia fish fillets tend to be very thin!
👩🏻🍳 Other Air Fryer Seafood Recipes
Looking for more easy air fryer recipes using seafood? Here are some air fryer fish recipes (and other recipes for seafood) to check out next:
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats no sugar post. Let's get cooking!
Air Fryer Tilapia (Frozen or Fresh Fish Fillets!)
- Mist your air fryer trays or basket with the cooking spray. Put your tilapia fillets on the prepared racks in a single layer and brush them with the olive oil.
- Air fry the tilapia at 400°F (200°C) for 8 minutes. While the tilapia cooks, work on the compound butter.
- Chop the garlic chives as finely as possible. Mix the softened butter, miso, and chives together. Refrigerate this mixture to let it firm up (if time allows).
- After the 8 minutes of cooking are up, flip the fish and switch the position of the racks in the air fryer. If using fresh fish, cook for 4 more minutes at 400°F (200°C). If using frozen fish, cook for 6 more minutes at 400°F (200°C).
- Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature in the thickest part of the fish. Fin fish should reach a minimum safe internal temperature of 145°F (63°C).
- To serve, put 1 tablespoon of your garlic chive miso butter on each fish fillet. Finish your fish with a sprinkle of black pepper and a squeeze of lemon, if desired.
This is a level 2 recipe (transition or weight maintenance). The nutrition information for this recipe is for the tilapia and garlic chive miso butter only. I’ll say upfront that throwing a tablespoon of butter on your fish is *not* the best move for weight loss. If you don’t want to entirely forego the butter, cut back to one teaspoon. The leftover compound butter would be great on steak, potatoes, other fish… I mean, it’s butter. You probably don’t need me to tell you what to do with it. Haha If you have a fat loss goal, you can easily compose a meal that fits a low carb or diabetes plate method using this air fry tilapia. (The diabetes plate is ¼ protein, ¼ starch, and ½ non-starchy veggies.) I enjoyed the tilapia with some wild rice, and a huge side salad with leafy greens. Give the air fryer tilapia a squeeze of lemon, and you’ve got a well-portioned and tasty plate! Most of us in the U.S. are not getting the recommended amount of seafood in our diets. If you avoid seafood because you don’t like the strong flavors, try tilapia. Better yet, try this air fried fish recipe, because it’s about as easy as you can get! Nutrition information is for one serving of air fryer tilapia with garlic chive miso butter.
This recipe has been updated from 2020 to include new photos, a new recipe video, and more nutrition information. Enjoy!