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This Air Fryer Tilapia recipe has “quick and easy dinner” written all over it! Coated in savory lemon and parmesan breadcrumbs and finished with a drizzle of homemade lemon butter, every bite is deliciously tangy, flaky, crunchy, and moist. Plus, it’s ready to eat in just 15 minutes!
It’s easy to overlook fish when trying to come up with easy dinner ideas. I’m not sure why because they’re usually so quick, delicious, and filling! My Mediterranean cod, whole 30 garlic salmon, and spicy cod sandwich recipes always come in handy when I’m craving something flavorful without having to spend hours in the kitchen.
I think this Air Fryer Tilapia will convert the fish-skeptics because it’s ready to eat in less than 15 minutes, is super simple, and always turns out moist and flaky. Coated in a savory breadcrumb parmesan coating and quickly fried in the air fryer, every bite is flavorful and crunchy! The best part is drizzling the vibrant and luscious homemade lemon butter on top.
You can make this air fryer fish recipe with frozen or fresh tilapia, gluten free or regular breadcrumbs, and add as many herbs or garnishes as you wish. I don’t think weeknight dinners get more delicious or easy than this!
- Air fry + savory breaded white fish = heaven
- I know it’s hard to believe but this recipe only takes 15 minutes from start to finish!
- The ingredients are simple and create an easy, light, filling, and healthy weeknight dinner.
- Every bite is super tangy and flavorful thanks to the homemade lemon butter.
- Tilapia fillets - Use fresh or frozen. If using frozen tilapia, be sure to thaw the fillets completely before frying. If you don’t have tilapia, use another kind of white fish you love.
- Breadcrumbs - You can easily swap the regular breadcrumbs for gluten free instead.
- Parmesan cheese - Freshly grated parmesan adds extra saltiness to the breadcrumb coating.
- Spices - Some garlic powder, salt, and black pepper are mixed in with the breading. Mix and match as much as you’d like here; add paprika, cayenne, chili powder, dried parsley, Cajun seasoning, or Italian seasoning to mix up the flavors.
- Lemon butter - This deliciously luscious butter sauce is made with melted butter, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Drizzle a little on each piece of air fried fish for a natural tangy finish. If you don’t want to use butter, swap it for olive oil or ghee instead.
Step 1: Prepare your air fryer. Line the air fryer basket with a sheet of tin foil and preheat to 400ºF.
Step 2: Set up your breading station. In one shallow bowl, crack and whisk your egg. In a second shallow bowl, combine your breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, lemon zest, garlic, salt, and pepper.
Step 3: Bread the tilapia. Dip each tilapia fillet first into the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumb mixture.
Step 4: Fry the fish. Place your breaded fish fillets into your preheated air fryer and cook at 400°F for about 10 minutes. No need to flip them! Just fry away.
Step 5: Make the lemon butter. Whisk the melted butter, lemon juice, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl while you wait for the fish.
Step 6: Garnish and serve. Drizzle each piece of air fried tilapia with some lemon butter and fresh parsley. Serve with all of your favorite sides and enjoy!
Expert tips and FAQs
- Lining your air fryer basket with tin foil before frying your fish makes for a super easy cleanup. Otherwise, the fish might stick, and we don't want that.
- If you’re a big fan of crispy fried fish, try double breading your tilapia fillets. To do this, simply repeat the breading process twice.
- Be sure to pat your tilapia fillets dry before you bread them, otherwise, the breading will have a hard time sticking to the fish.
What goes well with tilapia?
This light and tangy air fryer tilapia pairs well with comforting, family-friendly side dishes, like mashed red potatoes, honey sriracha brussels sprouts, salad, broccoli and other vegetables, or cilantro lime rice. Alternatively, slice the fried fish fillets and pile them into tortillas to make fish tacos! They’d be delicious with a chipotle lime yogurt crema or pineapple salsa on top.
What temperature should tilapia be cooked to?
To ensure that your tilapia is thoroughly cooked, you’ll want to fry it until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the fillets reads 145°F.
Can I make this recipe with other types of fish?
Yes! Any type of white and flaky fish is perfect for breading and cooking in the air fryer. Alaskan cod, catfish, and halibut are a few of my favorites.
How long does it last?
Enjoy the leftovers for lunch the next day! Leftover tilapia will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days when wrapped well in foil and stored in an airtight container. You can reheat fish for a few minutes in the oven, air fryer, or microwave.
More delicious air fryer recipes
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Air Fryer Tilapia
- Place a piece of foil into your air fryer, then preheat it to 400° (this should take about 3 minutes).
- Add the whisked egg to a shallow bowl, then on a separate plate, combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan, lemon zest, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
- Dip the tilapia one at a time into the egg mixture, then into the breadcrumb mixture, making sure it's completely coated.
- Place the tilapia on top of the foil in your air fryer, then cook it at 400° for 10 minutes.
- While the fish is cooking, make the lemon butter: melt the butter in the microwave, then whisk in the lemon juice, adding more to taste.
- Once the tilapia is cooked, drizzle it with lemon butter, then sprinkle with fresh parsley (optional). Enjoy!