Can you cook frozen fish in air fryer? You sure can! Air fryer frozen breaded fish fillets take only 12 minutes to cook without thawing! You’ll love this quick and simple dinner entrée on busy weeknights. Even novice cooks will have success with this one-ingredient air fryer recipe. Don't miss this easy seafood recipe, with everything you need to know to ensure air frying success!
Let’s make frozen breaded cod in the air fryer! It’s pretty much the easiest thing ever.
By the way, it’s totally fine make air fryer frozen fish from the standpoint of food safety. You don’t have to defrost the fish first!
When I was a kid, we’d always get the Van de Kamp’s frozen crispy haddock fillets. Air fryers weren’t a thing back then, and it’s too bad! Air fryers are the BEST way to make frozen breaded fish crispy, with no sogginess at all.
Plus, you can air fry frozen breaded fish filets in about the time it would take to preheat the oven. How’s that for near-instant gratification?
There are a lot of frozen breaded fish options out there! Gorton’s beer battered fillets are another popular option in the United States. For this recipe, I’m using Trader Joe’s Breaded Cod Fillets.
Tilapia, haddock, cod, halibut... whatever your favorite breaded white fish, you should be able to cook it in an air fryer. If your fish fillets are bigger or thicker than mine, you may need to cook them a bit longer. Also, some brands of breaded fish benefit from a light misting of cooking spray before air frying.
With some very minor tweaks to the recipe, pretty much any fish in the sea becomes a good contender for air frying. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
The general nutrition guideline is that adults should aim for two servings of seafood per week. Unfortunately, most Americans are not meeting that target. If some frozen breaded fish gets you eating more seafood, that’s a good thing in my book!
Yes, it’s true that store-bought frozen breaded fish fillets tend to be highly processed foods. In general, making your breaded fish from scratch is better. However, before you turn up your nose at these products, let me throw a few benefits out there:
- Fast: Your fish will be done in 12 minutes with this recipe. You don’t even have to preheat the air fryer. If you’re hungry NOW, I’m thinking this is going to be healthier than many fried fish fast food options.
- No Prep: There’s no measuring, chopping, or shopping for a long ingredients list for this “recipe.” All you need is the box of fish to make it. (Though having some tartar sauce and side dishes on hand is recommended.)
- Great for Novice Cooks: If you are new to cooking, this recipe should give you a boost of confidence. It’s pretty easy to do! I hope it encourages you to keep cooking and try some more complicated dishes in the future.
- Perfect for Picky Eaters: It’s common for picky eaters to turn down fish but accept bread and grain group foods. Breaded fish can be a bridge to help picky eaters enjoy seafood. (Increase the likelihood the air fryer “fried” fish will be accepted by serving it with a dip!)
What do you need to make frozen fish in the air fryer? Here’s what I used:
- One box of frozen breaded fish fillets
I used Trader Joe’s Oven Ready Frozen Breaded Cod Fillets. These are par-cooked fish fillets (partially cooked). The packaging says they’ve been coated with crispy breadcrumbs and seasoned batter. YUM!
Since this product already contains plenty of oil, there’s no need to use cooking oil spray before air frying. If you’re using a low oil or no oil breaded fish, you should mist the fillets with oil before air frying. The oil will help them to crisp nicely without drying out.
The fish fillets I used were approximately 4-inches long, 2-inches wide, and ¼-½ inch thick. If your fillets are considerably larger or smaller, you may need to adjust the air frying times.
I also recommend having tartar sauce or cocktail sauce on hand to go on the fish. It’s hard to find tartar sauce made with olive oil or avocado oil. I use these two items to make a quick no added sugar tartar sauce substitute:
- Chopped pickles (dill, not sweet pickles)
It’s also nice to have some quartered fresh lemons. Use them to squeeze some lemon juice over the fish. YUM!
The only piece of kitchen equipment you really need to air fry frozen fish is an air fryer. A kitchen thermometer can be helpful if you want to ensure your fish reached the minimum safe internal temperature after cooking.
There are a ton of air fryers and air fryer ovens out there! Your Ninja Foodi, Philips, Instant Pot Vortex, Cosori, Nuwave, Breville, or whatever brand you have should cook fish.
However, some air fryers cook more quickly than others. Always keep a close eye on the food the first time you try a new air fryer recipe.
I make my air fryer recipes in a 10-Quart Kalorik Digital Air Fryer Oven. It comes with two air fryer trays, but I only needed one for this recipe. Using two trays can elongate the cooking time, since the food spends less time in the position closest to the heating element.
🔪 How to Air Fry Frozen Fish Fillets
Let’s air fry frozen breaded fish fillets! Remove the fish from the box and put them in a single layer on your air fryer tray or air fryer basket. I was able to fit them all in one batch.
If your breaded fish contains a significant amount of fat or oil, you should not need to use cooking spray. White fish is naturally very low in fat (i.e., it’s not a fatty fish). However, most of the time store-bought breaded fish contains a lot of fat/oil in the breading.
️⏲️ Cooking Time and Temperature
How long does frozen fish take in an air fryer? It took a total of 12 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit to air fry frozen fish.
I put the tray with the fish fillets in the top rack position of my air fryer. This is the position that is closest to the heating element.
I air fried frozen fish for 5 minutes at 350F. Then I flipped the fillets over and put the tray with the fish back in the top rack position. After air frying for 7 minutes more at 350F, the fish was done.
If you want to be extra certain that your frozen breaded fish fillets are done cooking, check them with a kitchen thermometer. They should have reached the minimum safe internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
I like to make a simple tartar sauce and prepare my sides while the fish cooks. Hope you’re hungry- dinner will be ready before you know it!
👪 What to Serve with Breaded Fish
French fries are a classic side dish for breaded fish! Lucky you, I have both fish and chips air fryer recipes on this site. Here are some of my favorite recipes for breaded fish side dishes:
- Air Fryer Frozen French Fries (delicious and healthy recipe!)
- Air Fryer Frozen Sweet Potato Fries
- Jicama Fries Air Fryer Recipe (a low-carb substitute for fries)
- Air Fryer Radish (these aren’t fries but they’re a fabulous keto substitute for potatoes)
If you really want to pile on the carbs, you could take a cue from British cuisine and also add some mushy peas to your plate. I know that they’re not a popular food in the U.S., but I really like them. If you haven’t tried them yet, consider adding them on the side the next time you have breaded fish!
💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 3 recipe (weight maintenance and active lifestyles). Here’s the bad news. The Trader Joe’s breaded fish I used provides 280 calories and 17 grams of protein per 5 ounce serving. Per Cronometer, a 5-ounce serving of cod (no breading) provides 108 calories and 25 grams of protein.
White fish without breading counts as a low-calorie lean protein. The breading typically adds a lot of calories from refined flour and added fat, turning the entree into ultra-processed food.
In this case, you could save over 170 calories by choosing a serving of plain fish instead of breaded. You’ll also get more filling protein in your meal.
All of that said, it’s possible to fit less optimal food choices into an overall healthy diet. I like the Diabetes Plate method for healthy weight management. This plate is ¼ protein, ¼ starch, and ½ non-starchy veggies (with just a small amount of added fat).
If you’re a volume eater like I am, feel free to add even more non-starchy veggies to feel full. I added a HUGE salad to my 10-inch diameter dinner plate. The breading on the fish counts as the starch, while the fish provides the protein.
If you need a higher energy meal, you can add a serving of whole grains as well. I added ¾ cup of cooked wild rice mix to my meal. The rice adds fiber, B vitamins, and around 150 calories to the meal.
Though fries are extremely tasty with breaded fish, this duo is not the best pairing nutritionally. (I know, what a bummer!) Fries add even more added fat to an entrée that is already fairly high in fat. On the other hand, non-starchy veggies would add fiber and low-calorie volume to the meal, items lacking in breaded seafood.
Yes, you can make air fryer battered fish as well! If your fish fillets are about the same size as the breaded fillets I used, the air frying time should be similar.
Yes, you can reheat frozen fish in the air fryer. The cooking time and temperature will depend on the size of your fish fillets. As a general guide, try preheating your air fryer at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 minutes. Mist the previously cooked fish with cooking oil spray and air fry at 350F for 3-5 minutes.
Cooked fish should flake easily with a fork and should be opaque rather than translucent. The color of the fish depends on the type. (Cooked salmon and cooked tilapia will not be the same color, of course!) The best way to ensure fish is thoroughly cooked is to check that it reached a minimum safe internal temperature of 145F with a kitchen thermometer.
Yes! To air fry frozen white fish, add oil and seasonings first. White fish is very lean and will stick to the air fryer without the addition of some sort of fat (or fatty breading).
A serving of this breaded cod fish provides 30 grams of net carbs per 5 ounce serving. For keto frozen fish, you could air fry frozen fish without breading. Alternatively, try buying plain fish fillets and breading them with a low carb “breading” like almond flour or pork panko.
👩🏻🍳 Other Air Fryer Fish Recipes
Are you looking for more ways to cook fish in an air fryer? I’ve got you covered! Check these out:
- Air Fryer Fish Sticks
- Air Fryer Tilapia with Garlic Chive Miso Butter
- Salmon Patties in Air Fryer with Lemon Dill Tartar Sauce
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!
Frozen Fish in Air Fryer (Breaded Fish Fillets)
- 1 lb. frozen breaded fish fillets (454 grams; I used Trader Joe's Frozen Breaded Cod Fillets; fillets are 4-inches long by 2-inches wide by ¼-½ inches thick)
- 1 medium lemon, quartered
- Put the fish fillets in a single layer on an air fryer tray. I was able to fit them all on one tray. If your breaded fish contains a significant amount of fat or oil, you should not need to use cooking spray.
- Place the tray with the fish fillets in the top rack position of your air fryer. This is the position that is closest to the heating element.
- Air fry frozen fish for 5 minutes at 350°F (175°C). Then flip the fillets over and put the tray with the fish back in the top rack position. Air fry for 7 minutes more at 350°F (175°C).
- Check your fish with a kitchen thermometer to ensure it has reached the minimum safe internal temperature of 145°F (63°C). If it has not, you will need to air fry it a little longer.
- While the fish cooks, make a simple substitute for tartar sauce by stirring the mayo and pickles together.
- To serve, squeeze the lemon over the fish. Serve tartar sauce on the side.