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Air Fryer Tilapia

This spice-rubbed Air Fryer Tilapia is one of the easiest, yet tastiest meals to make! This nutritious dish can be prepared and on the table in about 20 minutes or less! Knowing the basics for air frying tilapia is a great resource to have on hand--it can be a springboard to so many other recipes! Plus, we're not just sharing one spice rub, but two!
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, Healthy
Keyword air fryer tilapia, tilapia in air fryer
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 3 -4 servings
Calories 177kcal
Author Chelsea Lords
Cost $12.56


Mexican-Inspired Spice Blend

  • 3 to 4 tilapia filets (~6 oz each; 1 lb total)
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons ground chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: ground cumin, garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • tiny pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
  • Fine sea salt & pepper
  • For serving: Olive oil cooking spray, 1 large lime
  • Serving suggestions/ideas: See Note 1

Cajun-Inspired Spice Blend

  • 3 to 4 tilapia filets (~6 oz each; 1 lb total)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: ground cumin, dried thyme, dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, optional
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • For serving: Olive oil cooking spray, 1 large lemon


  • PREP TILAPIA: If frozen, thaw according to package directions (Note 2) and then pat dry all over with paper towels. If fresh, rinse under cold water and then pat dry all over with paper towels.
    PREP AIR FRYER: Preheat the air fryer at 400 degrees F for 3 minutes (run on empty).
  • COMBINE SEASONINGS: Combine all the listed spices under either Mexican-inspired or Cajun-inspired seasonings in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt & pepper (I add 1 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp pepper). Drizzle in olive oil and mix until you have a thick paste.
  • COOK TILAPIA: Meanwhile, place fish on a large plate. Evenly rub the seasoning mixture onto each filet (both sides covering all parts of the fish). Once filets are well coated in spices, lightly spray each side with olive oil cooking spray. Add filets to air fryer basket in a single layer. (We can only fit 2 filets at a time in our air fryer). Cook for 7-10 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork (145 degrees F for internal temp is recommended). Remove and drizzle lemon juice or lime juice all over and enjoy. Or read Note 1 for our serving suggestions and how we enjoy this fish. Enjoy!



Note 1: Serving suggestions: Check out the blog post for lots of ideas on how to serve these fish recipes. Our favorite quickest way to serve the tilapia (with either spice rub)? We grab hard taco shells or tostada shells and spread each side with store-bought mashed avocado or guac, then break apart the fish and add it in/on top. Sprinkle on some crunchy iceberg lettuce or a quick slaw, drizzle on some more lemon or lime and dig in!
  • If making the cajun-inspired tilapia, we love it with this quick tartar sauce:
    • Tartar sauce: stir together the following in a small bowl: 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, 1/2 tsp. lemon zest, 1/2 cup good, full-fat mayo, 1-1/2 tbsp. sweet pickle relish, 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce, and 1/8 tsp. each of salt and pepper
  • If making the Mexican-inspired tilapia, we love it with this Cilantro Lime Sauce.
Note 2: To Thaw: Remove fillets from vacuum wrap. Place fillets in a bowl of cool water until completely thawed or place in the refrigerator for 24 hours until thawed. 


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 177kcal | Carbohydrates: 1.3g | Protein: 23.5g | Fat: 9.2g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 61.7mg | Fiber: 0.8g | Sugar: 0.1g