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How to Cook Frozen Tilapia Without Thawing

It’s so easy to cook frozen tilapia in an air fryer. Simply pull the fish out of the freezer, add some seasonings that you like, and put it in the air fryer to create a delicious main dish.

You’ll love how quickly you can cook a meal from start to finish and then have very little to clean afterward. And it’s the best way to cook frozen tilapia because you don’t have to thaw the fish first. Read more to learn how I do this.

seasoned tilapia on a plate with tartar sauce and lemon wedges

Tilapia is available at almost any grocery store. I find frozen fish fillets in the seafood freezer section. I love air frying almost anything. You don’t even have to preheat your air fryer. The cooking process is smooth, and cleanup is a breeze. It’s a low-carb and keto-friendly way for the entire family to enjoy a tilapia fish dinner.

bite of tilapia on a fork over a plate with tartar sauce and lemon wedges

Fresh Tilapia Fillets

If you have fresh tilapia, you can use the same basic recipe. The only difference is that the fish will cook more quickly. Check it after 8 minutes. You can always add more time if you need to.


I’ve cooked tilapia with a variety of ingredients. It’s a mild flavored white fish that can handle a lot of seasoning.

package of frozen tilapia fillets

Here are the ingredients for this recipe:

  • 2 frozen tilapia fillets
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika (regular or smoked paprika)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Parsley flakes (optional)
  • Lemon slices (optional)
bottle of olive oil
onion powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika
salt and pepper
parsley flakes and lemons

If you want to print this recipe, you’ll find a printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.

You can swap out or add to any of these ingredients. Here are some that we’ve tried and liked:

  • Cajun seasoning
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Chili powder
  • Italian seasoning
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Panko bread crumbs

Almost any spice mix works for this air fryer tilapia recipe. Try the original version first and adjust it in the future to suit your family’s taste.

tilapia on a plate with tartar sauce and lemon wedges

How to Cook Frozen Tilapia in an Air Fryer

Cooking this tilapia couldn’t be any easier. Just make sure you don’t overcook it. If you do, it will become dry and rubbery. First, spray the air fryer basket with some type of oil. I used avocado oil. Or cover the bottom with air fryer parchment paper.

frozen tilapia on a plate

Place tilapia in a wide bowl or on a plate.

drizzling olive oil over tilapia

Drizzle it with olive oil or use an olive oil spray.

spreading oil over fish with brush

Either brush or rub the oil all over the fish so the seasonings will stick to it.

seasonings in a small bowl

In a small bowl, combine all of the spices. Whisk or stir them. Sprinkle the seasoning mix over the tilapia. Coat both sides of the fish.

seasoned frozen tilapia in air fryer basket

Now place the seasoned fillets in a single layer on the bottom of the air fryer basket. You don’t need a preheated air fryer. Cook the fish at 400 degrees F at 11 minutes, turning the fish over halfway through. Cooking time may vary, depending on the thickness of the fish. 

The fish is done when the internal temperature is 145 degrees F and the fish flakes easily with a fork. I just use a standard meat thermometer. If the fish isn’t done, return it to the air fryer in 1 or 2 minute intervals until it’s ready.

I like to sprinkle parsley flakes over the fish after it’s plated. Also add lemon wedges or lemon slices and offer either this tartar sauce. Or if you prefer more of a tomato-based sauce, try this easy cocktail sauce.

Another sauce we enjoy is this lemon dill cream sauce. This one is especially good for people who love an extremely tart flavor. Or you can add a little honey to it for the sweet and tart combination. For thawed or fresh fish, cut a couple of minutes from the cook time. It obviously doesn’t take the same amount of time to cook as frozen fish.

tilapia on a plate with tartar sauce and lemon wedges with a fork resting on the edge of the plate

What to Do with Leftover Fish

I normally cook just enough tilapia for one meal. However, there are times when I want to have it for lunch the next day, either with a salad or in fish tacos.

When you want to store some for the next day, either wrap it in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container and put it in the refrigerator. Sometimes I give it an extra squeeze of fresh lemon juice so the flavor will seep into the fish. It should be good for another day or two. I don’t recommend freezing cooked tilapia because the texture of the fish will change.

More Air Fryer Recipes

Ever since I got my air fryer, I’ve discovered some amazing recipes. And I’ve learned that almost anything that you can cook in a conventional oven cooks more quickly in an air fryer.

Here are some of the recipes we’ve enjoyed:

Garlic Lemon Chicken – Cooked in an air fryer, these delicious chicken thighs come out with a crispy crust and juiciness that will have everyone asking for more.

plate of garlic lemon chicken

Pork Tenderloin – It’s easy to cook this delicious lean meat to perfection when you use your air fryer.

Country Style Ribs – If you like barbecued ribs as much as we do, you’ll love the ease of cooking them in the air fryer. Plus cleanup is super easy.

plate of air fryer country ribs

Boneless Chicken Breast – Air frying chicken breast is an easy way to cook this popular meat without losing flavor.

Crispy Juicy Pork Chops – For a delicious main dish, cook pork chops in an air fryer using this wonderful recipe from Back to My Southern Roots.

Corn Tortilla Chips – Make a big batch of fresh corn tortilla chips in your air fryer and watch everyone’s face light up!

Caramelized Pineapple Rings – Put some fresh or canned pineapple rings in your air fryer, and you’ll be amazed by how delicious they are. Serve with the meal or dessert … or all by themselves.

tilapia in an air fryer and on a plate with tartar sauce and lemon wedges

Quick and Easy Dinner

Pick up a package of frozen tilapia for those nights when you’re too tired to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Next time you want a quick and easy dinner, simply pull out the fish, add the seasonings, and pop it into your air fryer. Dinner will be ready in a flash!

Yield: 2 servings

How to Cook Frozen Tilapia in an Air Fryer

plate of seasoned tilapia with tartar sauce and lemon wedges

For a quick, easy, and delicious meal, cook frozen tilapia in an air fryer. You don't even have to thaw it first!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 11 minutes
Total Time 16 minutes


  • 2 frozen tilapia fillets
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika (regular or smoked paprika)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Dash of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Parsley flakes (optional)
  • Lemon slices (optional)


  1. Spray the air fryer basket with oil. I used avocado oil.
  2. Drizzle the oil over the frozen fillets. Rub it all over the fish to make sure it’s coated.
  3. In a small bowl, mix all of the spices. Sprinkle them over the tilapia fillets.
  4. Place the seasoned fillets in the bottom of the air fryer basket.
  5. Cook at 400˚ F for 11 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  6. The fish is done when you can easily flake it with a fork. The internal temperature should reach 145˚ F.
  7. Garnish with parsley flakes and lemon slices.


If the fish doesn’t flake easily with a fork, return it to the air fryer and cook for another 2 minutes. The size of the fish determines how quickly it cooks.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 282Total Fat 11gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 97mgSodium 361mgCarbohydrates 1gFiber 0gSugar 0gProtein 45g

The nutrition information is a product of online calculators. I try to provide true and accurate information, but these numbers are estimates.

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