Air fryer frozen tilapia is the ultimate time-saving solution for those moments when you don’t want to thaw your fish or simply need a quick and healthy dinner. In less than 15 minutes, you can have a flavorful and moist tilapia fillet on your table. Let’s dive into this easy and convenient cooking method.
How to Cook Air Fryer Frozen Tilapia Fillets
Cooking air fryer frozen tilapia is a breeze. Start by taking the tilapia out of its package and give it a quick rinse with cold water if desired. Next, slice enough lemon to cover the air fryer basket. The lemon serves a dual purpose: it prevents the fish from sticking to the bottom of the basket and infuses the tilapia with a delightful tangy aroma and taste.
Place the frozen tilapia fillets on top of the lemon slices. If you have an oil spray, lightly spray each fillet. Alternatively, you can use oil and brush the fillets with a silicone brush. Personally, I prefer the spray method as it’s quicker and more convenient. Once the fish is sprayed, mix all the spices in a small bowl and generously cover the fillets with the spice mix. You can season both sides of the tilapia if desired.
No preheating is necessary for the air fryer. Simply close the basket and cook the tilapia for 12 minutes at 390 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re placing lemon pieces on top of the fillets, be aware that they may move around during the cooking process. You can secure them with toothpicks or opt for thicker lemon slices. It’s also perfectly fine to skip using them altogether.
Can I Use Another Fish?
Absolutely! If you don’t have tilapia on hand, you can substitute it with other similar white fish like cod, swai, or mahi-mahi. Just make sure the thickness of the fish is similar to that of the tilapia to ensure even cooking. It’s worth noting that tilapia is an excellent budget-friendly choice, as it’s widely available and affordable in many countries.
Where to Buy Frozen Tilapia
Finding frozen tilapia shouldn’t be a challenge, especially in the US. Major grocery stores like Walmart usually carry it. The size of the fillets may vary, with smaller ones being more common. I was able to fit four small fillets in one batch in my air fryer. Some stores may offer larger fillets, but keep in mind that you may need to adjust the cooking time accordingly. Additionally, larger fillets may require cooking in smaller batches due to air fryer size limitations.
As with any recipe, there are a few tricks to ensure the best results when cooking air fryer frozen tilapia:
- Use an instant meat thermometer to check if the fish is cooked until it reaches at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit. This guarantees that the fish is properly cooked with no raw parts.
- Get creative with your seasoning! In this recipe, I used a combination of garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, salt, and pepper. However, feel free to experiment with your favorite herbs and spices to suit your taste preferences.
- Don’t skip the lemon slices. They not only prevent the tilapia from sticking to the basket but also add a burst of citrusy flavor.
- If you don’t have an instant meat thermometer, you can visually check if the fish is cooked through. The meat should turn opaque, and the fillets should easily flake apart.
Side Dish Suggestions
White fish like tilapia pairs wonderfully with a light salad, making it an ideal low-carb dinner option. If you’re not concerned about carbs, serve your air fryer frozen tilapia with a side of white or brown rice for a classic and satisfying combination. Another fantastic option is homemade mashed potatoes, made easily in a Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot.
How Much Fish to Buy per Person
For a well-rounded portion, it’s recommended to allocate approximately 3.5 oz of fish per serving. In this recipe, that translates to two small fillets per person or one large tilapia fillet per serving.
Cooking Time and Temperature
Cook your frozen tilapia fillets in the air fryer at 390 degrees for 12 minutes. This cooking time is sufficient for four small fillets to be fully cooked. If using larger fillets, increase the cooking time to 14 minutes to ensure thorough cooking.
Should you have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. To reheat, simply use the air fryer or microwave. You can also freeze the leftovers by placing them in a freezer-friendly plastic bag or container for up to four months. When ready to enjoy, reheat the frozen tilapia in the air fryer at 400 degrees for a few minutes.
More Air Fryer Recipes
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More Fish Recipes
If you’re a fan of fish, here are a few more recipes to explore:
Enjoy your air fryer frozen tilapia and happy cooking!