Crispy and crunchy Air Fryer Fish is a simple recipe that will satisfy your fried fish cravings! Flaky, white, fish is dredged in a flavorful mayonnaise mixture so the coating sticks, then coated in a seasoned cornmeal crust before being air fried to perfection. Make up this quick and easy dish in just 20 minutes for an easy weeknight meal.

Breaded fish made in the air fryer is served on a white plate.

Quick and Easy Air Fryer Fish

I love a good fish fry.

The fresh fish and shrimp are caught locally in the Gulf coast, coated in a cornmeal crust (because that’s how we do it in the South!) and then deep fried until golden and crunchy on the outside and tender and flaky on the inside.

While deep-fried fish is definitely something to be enjoyed on special occasions, it’s not exactly weeknight dinner-friendly for those watching what they eat.

So instead, I took the basic recipe for that deep-fried fish and turned it into this easy air fryer fish recipe!

You’ll get all of the flavor and crunchiness you love but without a TON of oil.

The cornmeal adds a nice grit that gets crunchy when fried, and the flour helps it to bind to the fish.

Speaking of binding; mayonnaise is our secret binding agent in this recipe. Others either don’t use a binder at all, or some simply use a drizzle of oil which results in the coating sliding right off of the fish.

But that’s not so with this recipe! Because of the egg-based sauce, the cornmeal crust sticks beautifully to the fish and won’t fall off after air frying.

White fish fillets, cornmeal, mayonnaise, gredients for this air fryer fish recipe.

Ingredients

  • Fish. Mild white fish is best for this recipe. You want no more than about ¼- to ½-inch thick fillets or the cooking times will vary. Read below for more information on selecting fish.
  • Cornmeal. Find a medium to fine grit to achieve the right texture. Also, look for a certified gluten-free kind if you are avoiding gluten.
  • Flour. Regular all purpose or a gluten-free 1-to-1 blend will both work. Mixing flour and cornmeal creates a crunchy exterior while also binding easily to the fish.
  • Mayonnaise. The secret ingredient that works incredibly well to help the coating stick to the fish!
  • Cajun seasoning. This gives the flavor a nice kick. You can also use blackened seasoning for a little more spice, or even old bay seasoning for a milder fish.
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How to Air Fry Fish

Please see the recipe card below for more detailed ingredient amounts.

1. Dredge the Fillets

Combine mayonnaise and lemon juice in a separate bowl.

Toss the fish in the mayonnaise mixture until they are completely covered. Pat the filets dry before doing this so it will stick better.

The fish is coated in mayonnaise in a glass bowl.

2. Coat the Fish

Measure the cornmeal, flour, Cajun seasoning, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper into a medium-sized bowl and mix.

One at a time, dip each filet into the cornmeal and flour mixture. Make sure the coating covers all of the sides, and then shake off the excess.

The fish fillets are coated in a cornmeal and flour mixture.

3. Air Fry

Arrange the coated fish filets into a 6-quart Air Fryer basket in a single layer. If the fish overlaps it won’t get crispy where the fish is touching. Work in batches to ensure there is plenty of room in the basket.

Cook at 400°F for 8-10 minutes, flipping the fillets after 5 minutes.

You’ll know the fish is done cooking when it flakes easily with a fork. Repeat with remaining fillets.

The fish is air fried until golden brown and crispy.

4. Serve with Sauce

Serve this fish simply with lemon wedges, or one of these easy homemade sauces:

Cod fillets and other types of white fish are shown for this recipe.

Best Fish to Air Fry

This recipe coats the fish in a crispy cornmeal crust. You want to use a firm, mildly flavored white fish. The types of fish that fit these characteristics include:

  • Cod – Depending on where you live, either Atlantic or Pacific cod will be more readily available. While not technically cod, often Haddock and Whiting fish are sold as cod.
  • Sole – This flatfish has a more firm texture than cod, with a mild and slightly sweet taste. Some compare it to a cross between tilapia and cod.
  • Halibut – Another flatfish, halibut has dense, firm, flesh with a light and clean taste.
  • Mahi-Mahi – Also known as Dorado or Dolphin (not to be confused with Flipper!), Mahi-Mahi’s firm texture and sweet taste resembles Swordfish, although a bit milder.
  • Catfish – While firm, Catfish is less flaky than the other varieties. It also has the fishiest flavor, but a soak in milk before cooking can help take some of that taste away.

You can also air fry salmon, or another red fish without the cornmeal coating if you’d prefer!

An overhead shot shows air fryer fish served on a white plate with tartar sauce.

FAQs

Does fish need to be thawed before air frying?

If the fish is not coated yet it needs to be thawed before frying. Otherwise it will release a lot of moisture into the coating and will come out soggy instead of crispy.

Can you cook fish in the air fryer?

Yes, you can cook fish in the air fryer! It’s a great healthy way to cook fish, especially to recreate the fried fish texture.

Is Air Fryer fish healthy?

Yes, Air Fryer fish is healthy since it avoids using any oil.

Do you have to use breading in an air fryer?

While air frying is a great way to get an oil-free crispy crust on breaded food, it is not necessary to bread food before air frying.

Recipe Tips

  • Coat it first. Using mayonnaise as a binder adds flavor, and gets the coating to stick better.
  • Get the right texture. Choose a firm, white fish so that it will be flaky while still holding its shape.
  • Look at the thickness. Fillets closer to ¼-inch thick will be done in as little as 8 minutes. Thicker fish can take 10 minutes or more.
  • When it flakes, it’s finished. No need to pull out the meat thermometer, when the middle of the fish flakes easily with a fork, it’s ready to eat!
  • Make it spicy! Substitute the Cajun seasoning for a blackened seasoning.
A few air fryer fish are shown on a white plate.

More Air Fryer Recipes

Create the best flavors and crispy textures with this handy appliance! Here are a few more dishes to try next:

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 15 votes

Air Fryer Fish Recipe

Crispy and crunchy Air Fryer Fish is a simple recipe that will satisfy your fried fish cravings! Make up this quick and easy dish in just 20 minutes for an easy weeknight meal.
Crispy air fryer fish is served on a white plate with fresh lemon and tartar sauce.
Yield 6 servings
Prep 20 minutes
Cook 10 minutes
Total 30 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 ½ lbs. white fish fillets about ¼- to ½-inch thick
  • ½ cup cornmeal medium grind
  • ½ cup all purpose flour or gluten-free 1-to-1
  • 2 tsp. Cajun seasoning or Old Bay
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt to taste
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice

Instructions 

  • Dredge the Fish: Add mayonnaise and lemon juice to a large bowl and whisk until combined. Place fish filets into the mayonnaise mixture and toss until completely covered.
    1 ½ lbs. white fish fillets, ¼ cup mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • Coat the Fish: Mix together cornmeal, flour, Cajun seasoning, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper in a medium-sized shallow bowl. Dip each filet into the cornmeal mixture and coat all sides.
    ½ cup cornmeal, ½ cup all purpose flour, 2 tsp. Cajun seasoning, 1 tsp. paprika, ½ tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • Cook in Air Fryer: Place the coated fish filets into a 6-quart Air Fryer basket in a single layer. Cook at 400 °F for 8-10 minutes.* Flip filets over after 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining filets. You’ll know the fish is done cooking when it flakes easily with a fork.
  • Serve Air Fryer Fish with Tartar Sauce, Remoulade, or Secret Sauce.

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 15 votes

Notes

This recipe works well with cod, sole, halibut, or any other firm and mild-tasting white fish.
You’ll need to cook the fish longer for thick filets, and shorter for thinner filets.
Prep-Ahead Instructions:
You can mix up the coating and binder in advance, or store separately until ready to use.
Storage Directions:
Keep air fried fish in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. To freeze, arrange fried fish in a single layer and freeze for 2-3 hours; then transfer to a freezer safe Ziploc bag for up to 3-4 months. Add fried fish back into the air fryer at 350° for 3-5 minutes or until heated through to warm back up.
Recipe Tips:
  • Coat it first. Using mayonnaise as a binder adds flavor, and gets the coating to stick better.
  • Get the right texture. Choose a firm, white fish so that it will be flaky while still holding its shape.
  • Look at the thickness. Fillets closer to ¼-inch thick will be done in as little as 8 minutes. Thicker fish can take 10 minutes or more.
  • When it flakes, it’s finished. No need to pull out the meat thermometer, when the middle of the fish flakes easily with a fork, it’s ready to eat!
  • Make it spicy! Substitute the Cajun seasoning for a blackened seasoning.

Nutrition

Calories: 249kcal, Carbohydrates: 19g, Protein: 23g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 53mg, Sodium: 441mg, Potassium: 574mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 1266IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 33mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Made this recipe?Leave a comment below!
5 Secrets to Healthier Family Dinners
Tips & recipes for getting yummy — and healthy — meals on the table.

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Comments

  1. 4 stars
    Loved the spices in this, think i would substitute panko for cornmeal, as I thought the cornmeal made it a little gritty.

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Deb! Let me know how it turns out. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!

  2. 2 stars
    This recipe would have been better had the coating actually stayed on, when I tried to turn them over all of it fell off.

    1. I’m sorry that happened. The fish needs to be dry before coating, or the breading might fall off.

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Jan! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment!