Air Fryer Tilapia

5 from 5 votes
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This Air Fryer Tilapia recipe is so quick and easy. Simply seasoned mild white fish is cooked to flaky perfection and served with a bright lemon-caper sauce. Requiring less than 20 minutes, this meal is sure to make its way into your busy weeknight rotation.

Air fryer tilapia on a serving platter with lemon caper sauce, fresh lemons, and a serving spatula.


 

If you are short on time, this tilapia recipe will help you get dinner on the table in about 20 minutes. Mild white fish is seasoned with just the right amount of salt and pepper and cooked for around 6 minutes in the air fryer, rendering it flaky and delicious. It’s finished off with a buttery lemon-caper sauce that adds the perfect burst of flavor to the dish. If you’d rather bake the tilapia, don’t pass up my fabulous Garlic Butter Oven Baked Tilapia.

Why We Love This Air Fryer Tilapia Recipe

  • Easy Prep: All you have to do is rub the tilapia with olive oil and seasonings, and it’s ready for air frying.
  • Delicious Flavor: The combination of flavors and the air-frying technique makes delicious fish that will impress even the pickiest eaters.
  • Efficient Cooking: The air fryer’s hot air circulation cooks the tilapia evenly, resulting in a golden brown exterior and a tender, flaky center.
  • Nutritious Option: Air frying requires significantly less oil compared to pan-frying, making this a better choice for those mindful of their oil intake.
Ingredients for air fryer tilapia separated and labeled.

The Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Fresh tilapia filets:  Try to find fillets that are equal in size so they all will cook through at the same time.
  • Salt, BlackPepper & Garlic powder: A simple seasoning to enhance the flavor of the fish.
  • Olive oil
  • Salted butter
  • Garlic: Use freshly minced garlic, but if unavailable, you can use garlic powder instead.
  • Lemon juice: I highly suggest using freshly squeezed lemon juice here.
  • Capers

How to Make Air Fryer Tilapia

Cooking this tilapia is as straightforward as it is delicious. Follow these easy steps to achieve a beautifully golden and flaky fish that’s ready to impress in mere minutes.

  1. Season the fish. Coat the tilapia in olive oil and arrange it in a single layer in the basket of an air fryer. Season both sides with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  2. Air fry the tilapia. Cook the tilapia for 6 minutes in an air fryer preheated to 415˚F.
  3. Make the sauce. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the garlic, and sauté until fragrant. Add the lemon juice and capers.
  4. Serve. Spoon the sauce over the cooked fish and serve.
Air fryer tilapia served on a plate with lemon caper sauce and fresh lemons.

Recipe Tips And Variations

  • Preheat. It might be tempting just to toss the fish in the cold air fryer, but let it preheat first. It will shorten the cooking time and improve the texture.
  • Cooking Spray. Unless you want your fish to stick to the air fryer basket and likely fall apart when you try to flip it, give the basket a light coating of cooking spray.
  • Avoid Overcrowding: Ensure not to overcrowd the air fryer to allow heat to evenly reach every part of the tilapia for uniform cooking.
  • Adjust Cooking Time: For larger or thicker fillets, they may require extra time in the air fryer. Check at 6 minutes; if it doesn’t flake easily with a fork, continue cooking for another 1 to 2 minutes until it’s done.
  • Keep an eye on the butter. When preparing the sauce, melt the butter over medium heat, ensuring it doesn’t brown to maintain the sauce’s intended flavor.
  • Fish Options: This recipe also works with sea bass, cod, or salmon. Cooking times may vary based on the fish’s thickness. If not done after 6 minutes, air fry for an additional 2 minutes or until desired doneness.
  • Boozy Twist: Enhance the sauce with 2 tablespoons of white wine, boiled for 30 seconds, then add lemon juice and capers.
  • Sauce Variations: Besides the classic lemon-caper sauce, consider alternatives like the cream sauce from my Air Fryer Lobster recipe, Hollandaise Sauce, or the garlic soy dressing from our Baby Bok Choy recipe.
  • Breaded Tilapia Option: For a twist, coat the tilapia in a mixture of 2 cups breadcrumbs and seasonings, then dip in a beaten egg with water. Air fry as usual, flipping halfway through.

Serving Suggestions

This mild fish dish pairs well with a variety of side dishes. A light, fresh Shopska Salad, Jennifer Aniston’s Bulgur Salad, and my Green Goddess Salad are great accompaniments. I also recommend serving it with these Crispy Smashed Potatoes, my Basil Pesto Grilled Potatoes in Foil, or these Garlic Butter Hasselback Potatoes. Try my Grilled Asparagus, this Crispy Air Fryer Roasted Broccoli, or my Lemon Butter Green Beans, too!

Tilapia cooked in the air fryer and arranged on a serving platter with lemon caper sauce and fresh lemons.

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

  • Allow the tilapia to cool, then put it in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Keep the sauce in a separate container. Defrost in the fridge, then reheat.
  • To reheat, place the fish in the air fryer at 325˚F for about 5 minutes or in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Meanwhile, warm the sauce on the stove over low heat.

More Fish Recipes to Try

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5 from 5 votes

Air Fryer Tilapia

Get ready for a flavorful fish with our Air Fryer Tilapia! It's perfectly seasoned, cooked to flaky excellence, and topped with a zingy lemon-caper sauce.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients 

For the tilapia

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 fillets fresh tilapia,, about 6 ounces each
  • cooking spray,, to grease the air fryer basket

For the lemon capers sauce

  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic,, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
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Instructions 

For the tilapia

  • Preheat the air fryer to 415˚F and spray the basket of your air fryer with cooking spray.
  • Whisk together the sea salt, garlic powder, and ground black pepper and set aside.
  • Drizzle the olive oil over the tilapia and massage it into the fish, coating it evenly.
  • Arrange the tilapia fillets in the basket with at least ½ inch of space between each fillet. If the basket is too small, cook the fish in batches.
  • Sprinkle half of the seasoning over the fillets. Flip, and sprinkle with the other half of the seasoning.
  • Air fry for 6 minutes; flip the fish halfway through the cooking time.

For the lemon capers sauce

  • Meanwhile, make the sauce and start by melting the butter in a saucepan set over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 15 seconds or until fragrant.
  • Whisk in the lemon juice to combine, then stir in the capers. Remove from heat.
  • Remove the tilapia from the air fryer and arrange the fillets on a serving platter.
  • Spoon the sauce over the cooked tilapia and serve.

Notes

  • Preheat. Let the air fryer preheat first. It will shorten the cooking time and improve the fish’s texture.
  • Don’t crowd the air fryer. Avoid overcrowding the air fryer to ensure each tilapia fillet cooks evenly. When the fillets touch, it prevents heat from circulating around every part of the fish, leading to uneven cooking.
  • Fish Variety: You can use this recipe with other fish like sea bass or salmon, but cooking times may vary. Most fish is done when its internal temperature registers at 145˚F.
  • Wine: If you want, add white wine to the sauce or use a different sauce to serve with the fish. I like Hollandaise.
  • Breaded Tilapia: Instead of just seasoning the tilapia, mix the same seasonings with 2 cups of breadcrumbs. Beat 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of water and evenly coat the fillets in the egg mixture, followed by the seasoned breadcrumbs. Air fry as per the recipe.

Nutrition

Serving: 1Fillet | Calories: 302kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 115mg | Sodium: 872mg | Potassium: 544mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 0.2g | Vitamin A: 358IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

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5 Comments

  1. Sandra says:

    I love how easy this recipe is!! Such an easy and amazing meal!

  2. Catalina says:

    What a delicious dinner idea! I love tilapia so much!

  3. Allyson Zea says:

    This is so flavorful and delicious!

  4. Erin | Dinners, Dishes and Dessert says:

    Looks incredibly delicious! Can’t wait to make this!

  5. Beth says:

    This is such a delicious recipe. The capers and the lemon are perfect with the tenderness of the tilapia.