The best 10-minute air fryer tilapia with lemon caper sauce is healthy, easy to make, and perfectly flakey. Seasoned with a blend of paprika, garlic, lemon, and melted butter, it is the ideal weeknight dinner!
The best flakey air fryer tilapia recipe
I love fish; anyone else? From these air fryer salmon bites to tuna crispy rice, seafood is one of my favorite proteins. I remember eating tilapia at least once a week as a kid, so that is why I had to bring it back in air fryer form!
This air fryer tilapia is flakey and super flavorful. It is topped with a homemade lemon caper sauce and seasoned with a blend of lemon, paprika, salt, and garlic powder.
Let’s not forget that it only takes 8 minutes to cook in the air fryer! That is one of the many reasons I love cooking with my air fryer. The tilapia is tender and flakey yet slightly crisp on the edges without any oil or breading.
If you are looking for an easy weeknight family dinner, meal prep, or lunch, you’ll have to try this air fryer tilapia recipe! It is one of my all-time favorites, and I am so excited to hear what you think.
Why you’ll love this easy air fryer recipe:
- Air fryer tilapia only takes 8 minutes to cook.
- It is perfectly seasoned, moist, and flakey.
- A healthy weeknight dinner everyone will love.
- It’s gluten-free, paleo-friendly, and dairy-free option.
- This recipe has over 24 grams of protein per serving.
- Air fryer tilapia is perfect for meal prep, a quick dinner, or a date night.
- Served with a simple lemon caper butter sauce.
- Try these air fryer teriyaki salmon bites for another delicious fish recipe!
Ingredients in air-fried tilapia
There are two simple parts to this healthy dinner recipe. First, the tilapia, and second the homemade lemon caper sauce. All in all, we only need six ingredients plus a few seasonings!
Air Fried Tilapia:
- Tilapia: You need two 4-ounce tilapia filets for this recipe. You can use freshly brought or frozen!
- Olive Oil Spray: We’ll use an olive oil spray to make sure the tilapia does not stick to the air fryer when we cook it.
- Seasonings: We use a blend of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and black pepper for the best-tasting tilapia.
Lemon Caper Sauce:
- Butter: The base of this 1-minute lemon caper sauce is butter! The taste is amazing. You only need 1 Tablespoon.
- Capers: Next up, capers for a salty addition to the sauce.
- Lemon: Plus, the juice from 1/2 a lemon for that tangy flavor.
- Parsley: And a dash of freshly chopped parsley. Fresh herbs add a wonderful depth of flavor to this lemon caper sauce.
Kitchen tools need
Air fryer tilapia requires a few different kitchen tools. Clean-up will be super easy since we are doing the majority of cooking right in your air fryer. Here is a list so you are prepared and ready to cook!
- Air Fryer
- Small Bowl
- Measuring Tools: 1/2 teaspoon and 1 Tablespoon.
How to make air fryer tilapia
I love this healthy air fryer tilapia recipe! It takes 8 minutes to air fryer, the fish is flakey and crisp, and the lemon caper sauce is outrageously delicious. This recipe makes for a great quick weeknight dinner option for families and busy people. Here are step-by-step directions with pictures for visual reference:
First, preheat your air fryer to 400°F and spray with olive oil non-stick spray.
Meanwhile, pat your tilapia filets dry with a paper towel and combine all your seasonings in a small bowl. Then, season both sides of the tilapia. Use your fingers to pat the seasoning mixture onto each filet gently.
After that, once the air fryer is ready, use a spatula to add both seasoned tilapia filets to the basket carefully. They should not overlap. Lightly spray to tops with olive oil spray. Air fry for 3 – 4 minutes, then use a spatula (not tongs) to flip them over and air fry for another 3 – 4 minutes until cooked through. The thickest part of the fish would be 145°F.
While the tilapia is cooking, melt the butter in a small saucepot on the stove or microwave in a microwave-safe bowl. Then mix the melted butter, capers, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and parsley.
Finally, carefully remove the fish from the air fryer with a spatula and drizzle the lemon caper sauce over each filet.
Enjoy immediately with extra lemon if desired!
Air fryer tilapia cooking tips:
Tilapia is a super delicate fish that break easily after cooking. Here are my top cooking tips to make sure this recipe turns out perfectly for you:
- Preheat your air fryer. This ensures an even cook and crispy edges!
- Use a spatula, NOT tongs. It is very important to handle the air-fried tilapia carefully with a spatula. If you use tongs, the fish will break.
- Rub seasoning in with your fingers. To make sure the seasonings stick to the fish when cooking, it is important to make sure they are rubbed in prior to air frying.
- Don’t allow tilapia to overlap. Make sure when you add the tilapia to the air fryer, that the filets do not overlap. This ensures that they cook evenly.
- Flip the tilapia halfway through. To ensure even cooking, carefully flip the tilapia filets over in the air fryer with a spatula.
- Do not overcook the tilapia. If you over-air fry the tilapia filet, it will be dry.
What to serve with air fryer tilapia:
The sky is the limit when it comes to side dishes for tilapia! Personally, I love serving mine with this lemon caper pasta, healthy cornbread, Greek pasta salad, crispy smashed potatoes, cheesy scalloped sweet potatoes, or sweet potato steak fries. Let me know what you serve yours with down in the comments!
Why this recipe is healthy:
Air fryer tilapia is healthy for many reasons. First, it is an excellent source of lean protein; each filet has about 24 grams of protein. Second, it is low in saturated fat. Third, it is low carb and keto. Fourth, we use the air fryer to cook the fish, meaning there is no oil from deep-frying or pan-frying. Air-fried tilapia is an excellent option for pescetarians, keto, and gluten-free eaters.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use frozen tilapia?
Yes! I used frozen tilapia for this recipe. Before cooking, let it defrost at room temperature for 1 – 2 hours or place it in the refrigerator for 6 hours.
Is it gluten-free?
Yes, this air fryer tilapia is gluten-free since we do not use any breading.
Can I freeze cooked tilapia?
You can freeze cooked tilapia for up to 6 months. Simply let it cool to room temperature, add it to freezer-safe tupperware or bags, and freeze. When you are ready to enjoy, let the cooked tilapia defrost in the fridge overnight or reheat it in your air fryer by following the instructions below.
How do I store leftovers?
Store for meal prep by placing leftovers in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. I recommend keeping the lemon caper sauce in a separate small container. Once you are ready to enjoy, you can top the tilapia with the warm sauce.
How do I reheat leftovers?
Reheat leftovers in the microwave or the air fryer. To reheat in the microwave, place tilapia on a microwave-safe dish and heat for 30 – 75 seconds until warm. Then top with the warmed lemon caper sauce. To reheat in the air fryer, place tilapia in a preheated air fryer for 2 – 3 minutes at 350°F.
Try these air fryer recipes next!
- Air Fryer Teriyaki Salmon Bites
- Crispy Salmon with Pesto and Vegetables
- Air Fryer Teriyaki Chicken
- Air Fryer BBQ Chicken
- Blackened Salmon with Mango Salsa
Did you make this recipe?
If you make this recipe, be sure to comment and rate it down below. Also, don’t forget to tag me @healthfulblondie on Instagram and use the hashtag #healthfulblondie so I can see your delicious creation and share it with my followers!
Air Fryer Tilapia
- 2 tilapia fillets, around 4 ounces each
- Olive oil or avocado oil spray
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp paprika
- Salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- 1 lemon, for serving
Lemon Caper Sauce:
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp capers
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
- Preheat your air fryer to 400°F and spray with olive oil non-stick spray.
- Meanwhile, pat your tilapia filets dry with a paper towel and combine all your seasonings into a small bowl.
- Season both sides of the tilapia. Use your fingers to gently pat the seasoning mixture onto each filet.
- Once the air fryer is ready, use a spatula to carefully add both seasoned tilapia filets to the basket. They should not overlap. Lightly spray to tops with olive oil spray.
- Air fry for 3 – 4 minutes, then use a spatula (not tongs) to flip them over and air fry for another 3 – 4 minutes, until cooked through. The thickest part of the fish would be 145°F.
- While the tilapia is cooking, melt the butter in a small saucepot on the stove or microwave in a microwave-safe bowl. Then mix together the melted butter, capers, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and parsley.
- Carefully remove the fish from the air fryer with a spatula and drizzle the lemon caper sauce over each filet.
- Enjoy immediately with extra lemon if desired!
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