Air Fryer Tilapia with a crispy panko parmesan crust is irresistible! You can make it under 15 mins and you'll always get juicy, flakey fish. Make this panko crusted Tilapia with fresh or frozen fillets in your air fryer for a healthy, delicious meal at home.
Do check out our other Air Fryer Recipes!
Panko Crusted Tilapia
The crispy crunchy crust kicks up the flavor of this panko parmesan crusted tilapia and there's very little oil involved!
If you are on a low carb diet you can easily skip the panko crust & make air fryer tilapia no breading recipe with just a few common seasonings. Read on to learn more!
The best part of this air fryer tilapia recipe is that you can make it with both - fresh & frozen thawed fillets and it lasts for quite sometime in the fridge. So easy to crisp it up in the air fryer without making the fish dry!
Ingredients & Substitutions
Find the Ingredients with actual measurements at the bottom of the post. The list below is just a reference.
- Tilapia Fillets: I used frozen thawed tilapia fillets. However, you can use fresh fillets as well.
- Seasonings: Old Bay seasoning, sweet paprika, ground black pepper powder, garlic powder & salt according to your personal taste preference.
- Panko breadcrumbs: I used lightly toasted panko breadcrumbs for extra flavor.
- All purpose flour: You can also sub the all purpose flour with whole wheat flour for a nutritional boost.
- Parmesan Cheese: Grated parmesan works best in this recipe.
- Fresh Parsley: Used as garnish.
- Cooking oil spray: I always prefer using avocado oil cooking spray or olive oil cooking spray. You can use canola oil spray.
- Panko breadcrumbs: Lightly toast the panko breadcrumbs to achieve a gorgeous golden color panko crusted air fryer tilapia. The lightly toasted crumbs will also boost the crunch factor and elevate the flavor profile. I normally toast the bread crumbs over medium high heat in a skillet stirring them frequently so that they do not burn. You can also toast them in the oven.
- Panko alternatives: If you don't have panko crumbs, feel free to substitute toasted bread crumbs, crushed melba toast, or cracker meal. However, the result won't be quite as crispy and fantastic. These alternatives will also require a bit more oil to achieve the right flavor.
- Parmesan cheese: You can skip the parmesan if you are on a dairy free diet.
- Egg alternative: If you are on an egg free diet just skip the add and stir about 2 tbsp flour in 4 tbsp water to form a smooth thin slurry. Coat the tilapia fillets in that instead of coating it in the egg batter. The rest of the recipe will remain the same.
How to Air Fry Tilapia?
Find the detailed step by step recipe along with measurements + Video at the bottom of the post.
Air fryer Tilapia with breading is easy to make. Here's how to do it:
Step #1 Prep Tilapia fillets & panko
- Prep Tilapia fillets: Rinse the fresh or frozen thawed tilapia fillets under running tap water. Pat them dry completely with the help of kitchen towels. Drizzle the lemon juice and coat the fillets with the juice. Season the fillets and coat them well both sides.
- Prep panko: Dry roast the panko breadcrumbs on stove top in a skillet until uniformly golden in color. Add the parmesan cheese & the left over seasonings in the panko and whisk to mix well.
Step #2 Coat tilapia with panko parmesan crust
- Coat tilapia fish: Coat the fish fillet in flour first, shake off excess flour. Than, dip it in whisked egg batter & coat both sides. Immediately place it on the parmesan panko bed and coat both sides very well until. You may gently press down the panko crumbs with your finger tips so that they cling to the surface of the fish well.
Step #3 Air Fry Tilapia Fillets
- Air fry tilapia: Coat the air fryer basket with cooking oil spray. Place the panko crusted tilapia fillets. Spray oil on the fillets. Air fry at 400 F for 8 mins. Serve the crispy panko parmesan crusted tilapia immediately and enjoy!
What do I serve with Tilapia Fillets?
We always prefer a light salad or a side of steamed veggies along with a small amount seasoned rice on the side to make this air fryer tilapia panko recipe a complete healthy meal. Here's some of our favorite sides:
- Instant Pot steamed broccoli.
- Instant pot steamed carrots.
- Instant Pot beets.
- Instant pot green beans no steamer basket.
- Easy cowboy caviar with avocado.
- Air Fryer baby gold potatoes.
- Chipotle cilantro lime rice instant pot.
- 15 minute instant pot Mexican rice.
- Perfect jasmine rice instant pot.
Fridge: This air fryer tilapia panko recipe will last for 4 days in the fridge. Store the fish in air tight containers or each fillet wrapped in aluminum foil.
Freezer: You can freeze the individual fillets by placing them on a parchment lined baking sheet first and than pop the frozen fillets in a large heavy duty freezer safe bag. They will last for 3 months in the freezer.
Fridge: Reheat the fridge cold air fryer tilapia in the microwave oven until warm or hot. You can also use the air fryer to reheat the fillets uniformly and add a bit of crunch.
Frozen: Thaw the frozen fillets over night in the fridge and than follow the reheating direction shared above.
Spray cooking oil or brush cooking oil on the fish and also on the air fryer basket to prevent the fish from sticking to the air fryer basket.
You can cook seasoned fresh tilapia fillets without breading for about 4 mins in the air fryer at 400 F. You can also air fry frozen tilapia fillets directly for about 12 mins at 400 F.
Fresh Tilapia is slightly translucent when it's raw. When it's cooked through, it will turn white and opaque. To check if the fish is completely cooked through, insert a fork at at the thickest part of the meat and twist gently. If it flakes, it's done completely.
Rinse the tilapia several times under running tap water. Pat the fillets dry with a kitchen towel. Drizzle fresh lemon juice on top and let the fillets rest for 10-15 mins. This will take away the dirty taste out of tilapia.
Prevent over cooking tilapia for a long time to make tilapia not mushy. The correct cook time and temperature is the key for juicy and flaky tilapia fish fillets.
I LOVE HEARING FROM YOU! If you try this Air Fryer Tilapia recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment and rate it below. I would love to hear how it turned out for you, or any changes you make. You can also follow me on Pinterest or subscribe our free NEWLETTER for new recipes every week!
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Watch Recipe Video
- 3 Tilapia Fillets (**I used frozen thawed fillets. You can use fresh fillets.)
- 1 tbsp Lemon Juice (**fresh squeezed lemon juice.)
- 2 tbsp All-Purpose Flour
- 1 egg (**I used medium egg.)
- 2 tbsp Parmesan Cheese (**grated parmesan cheese.)
- ¾ cups Panko Bread crumbs (**lightly toasted. )
- cooking oil spray (**I used avocado cooking oil spray.)
Prep Tilapia fillets
- Rinse the tilapia fillets (fresh fillets or if frozen thaw them first). Pat them dry completely with the help of kitchen towels. Place them on a clean plate and drizzle the lemon juice on the fish fillets. Gently massage the fillets with your fingers to lightly coat them with the juice.
- Now, whisk together all the dry seasonings (paprika, garlic powder, ground black pepper, old bay seasoning & salt). Sprinkle about 1.5 tbsp seasoning mix on the tilapia fillets and gently rub to coat the fillets very well both sides. Set them aside.
How to make the panko crust?
- Lightly toast the panko bread crumbs over medium high heat in a skillet on the stove top until they turn golden in color. Stir frequently to prevent them from burning. Transfer them on a flat plate. Also, whisk the egg and place it on a pasta bowl or plate. Place the all purpose flour on a flat plate.
- Mix the remaining ½ tbsp seasoning mix and the grated parmesan cheese with the toasted panko crumbs.
- Form an assembling station on the kitchen countertop and place the plates in this order: All purpose flour, whisked egg & toasted panko. Coat the seasoned tilapia fillet both sides with the flour first, shake off excess flour. Than, dip the flour coated tilapia in the whisked egg (both sides). Immediately, coat the fillet both sides with the toasted panko breadcrumbs, press the crumbs lightly with your finger tips so that they stick to the surface of the fish and coat it uniformly. Repeat this process until you are done breading all the tilapia fillets.
Air Fry Tilapia
- Spray the air fryer basket with cooking oil spray. Than place the panko crusted tilapia fillets in the basket. DO NOT overlap or stack the fillets. Place them in a single layer. I could about 2 fillets at a time.
- Spray the fish with cooking oil spray. Air fry at 400 F for 8 mins. Serve immediately for best crispy texture and enjoy!
- Tips, steps, detailed ingredients substitutions: You can find these in the post body. Just scroll up.
- Can I use regular panko instead of toasted panko: Yes, you can definitely use it but you won't achieve the gorgeous golden colored crispy crust in that case. For an uniform golden crust you need to toast the panko. You can toast it ahead and store it in an air tight container. It'll last for 1 month on the kitchen countertop.
- Fresh or frozen tilapia fillets: You can use any. For frozen fillets you need to thaw them first. You can either thaw them overnight in the fridge or place them in a bowl of warm water and allow them to rest for 1-2 hours or until thawed.
- Gluten free crust option: For a gluten free crust skip the panko and coat the seasoned tilapia fillets with almond flour. The rest of the recipe will remain the same. You can also toast the almond flour lightly and than use it to coat the fish. This will add so much flavor and extra crunch.
- Can I skip the oil: Yes, if you are on a low oil diet just skip spraying the panko crusted tilapia with cooking oil spray before air frying. The cook time won't change.
- Can I make it spicy: Yes, of course. Just add red pepper flakes into the seasoning mix. You can also serve the crispy air fryer tilapia with sriracha sauce or any hot sauce for extra heat.