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Perfectly cooked air fryer whole fish. Using whole tilapia, we will show you the easiest and most flavoursome way to enjoy fish in the air fryer.

You can also mix and match your air fried whole fish. Whilst we are using Black Tilapia you can use sea bass, red snapper or even catfish.

Did You Know? This whole fish recipe is so so popular with our air fryer readers that it features in our popular air fryer cookbook The Complete Air Fryer Cookbook. Perfect for beginners with 140+ everyday recipes and how to knowledge. You can get a copy here and read the amazing reviews.

air fryer whole fish recipe
Air Fryer Whole Fish Recipe
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Air Frying Whole Fish

We have all got our food phobias, haven’t we? Well, I like to be totally honest with you and mine is whole fish.

As a child we would go on holiday to France, Spain and Portugal and they would all serve whole fish in the outside cafes.

I would watch my parents eating the whole fish and be convinced the fish was staring at me.

I absolutely hated it and along with wondering where the bones where, I avoided it whenever I could.

But after many of my readers complained to me that there were no air fryer whole fish recipes that they liked, I decided to deal with it head on and cook a whole fish in the air fryer.

I went to the supermarket and picked up loads of whole tilapias. I got extra because I wanted to cook it many times in the air fryer, just to make sure I got it spot on.

I held the fish in my hand and made sure the eyes were clear, made sure it was scaled and then brought it home, chopped off the fins and set to work air frying it.

Of course, I didn’t like touching it, which my chef hubby found hilarious.

But I did it and fell in love with air fried whole fish and now want to cook it again and again.

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Can Raw Fish Go In Air Fryer?

Yes, raw fish can certainly be cooked in the air fryer and just like chicken you have so much choice.

You can cook air fryer fish and chips, air fryer cod fillets, air fryer homemade fish fingers and even air fryer homemade fish nuggets.

Or go frozen and do air fryer frozen salmon, air fryer frozen fish sticks, air fryer frozen fish and chips or even air fryer frozen fish cakes.

You can also reheat fish and chips in the air fryer, as well as what we are showing you how to do today with whole fish.

Can You Cook Whole Tilapia In An Air Fryer?

Yes, you sure can and that is exactly what I am going to be showing you how to do today.

What I did was buy some of the fresh black tilapia from Morrisons. At the time of purchase, they were at a special price of just £7.00 each making it a perfect purchase for 2 of you for lunch.

This is a picture of them close up from the fish mongers, counter:

Can You Cook Whole Tilapia In An Air Fryer

And of course, I was taught by my chef hubby to make sure it was scaled, gutted and had clear eyes before purchase, which is exactly what I did.

Air Fried Whole Fish

If you are new to air fried whole fish, then let me run through some basics before you head to the fish counter to buy your fish and before you air fry it.

Firstly, you want fish that has been gutted, scaled, and also has clear eyes. This is very important and also means the prep process for you is very quick.

Because then what you need to do is quickly stuff it, score it, and air fry it. Making it a very quick process.

And of course, the gutting, scaling, and checking the eyes can be mentioned to a fish monger and if its not gutted or scaled, they will do this for you.

Secondly, you need to choose the right whole fish. There are some fish that wont work well for cooking whole in the air fryer, whilst there are others that are perfect for air frying.

The best whole fish choices include:

  • Air Fryer Whole Red Snapper
  • Air Fryer Whole Seabass
  • Air Fryer Whole Tilapia
  • Air Fryer Whole Pollock
  • Air Fryer Whole Bream

As these whole fish are very similar, you can easily follow our recipe for whole tilapia whilst using one of the other whole fish mentioned above.

Then once you have done this, you are ready for bringing your fish home and preparing it for the air fryer.

Air Fried Whole Fish Ingredients

Air Fried Whole Fish Ingredients

Fish – You have a few choices here, (see above) and we will be showing you how to air fry whole fish with black tilapia. Just remember to make sure it is gutted, scaled, and has clear eyes first.

Lemon – Lemon and fish go together like salt and pepper. I recommend chopping up some lemon and adding it to the fish.

Seasoning – I also recommend adding in some fresh herbs with the lemon. We used a mixture of fresh thyme, fresh curly parsley, and fresh dill.

Garlic – Then alongside the lemon and fresh herbs I recommend slicing up a little garlic. Garlic, fresh herbs, and lemon just taste so good with fish.  

Oil – Then after scoring the tilapia fish skin I recommend extra virgin olive oil and salt, pepper, and dried dill tops.

Then for the kitchen gadgets that we have used in this whole fish in air fryer recipe it has just been our Cosori air fryer. We have this one and its wonderful for many types of air fryer recipes.

Plus, we recommend you head over to our air fryer recipes category as we have more than 500 tried and tested air fryer recipes and have been air frying for 10 years.

How To Cook Whole Tilapia?

air fryer whole fish step by step
  • Stuff. Using scissors cut off the fins. Then add your fresh herbs, sliced garlic and lemon slices to the inside of the fish.
  • Score. Using a vegetable knife score the outside skin of your whole fish and then drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and then season with salt, pepper, and dill tops.
  • Cook. Place the whole fish into the air fryer basket and cook for 20-22 minutes or until the fish is flaky in the middle.
  • Finish. Then remove the fish from the air fryer and serve.

And I am sure you can see now how easy it is cooking whole fish in air fryer and why you should be doing it too!

How To Cook Fish In Philips Air Fryer?

The exact same way. We have a Cosori and a Philips Air Fryer XL and they sit side by side in our house.

As we tested baked fish in the air fryer, we did them in both air fryers and there were no differences in the two.

How Long Does Fish Take To Cook In The Air Fryer?

This air fryer fried whole fish took JUST 22 minutes to cook. We started the cook times low as we didn’t want to overcook the fish and then checked on it a few times.

I recommend you start checking on your air fryer whole fish from around 18 minutes because you can add time, but you can’t take time away.

Air Fry Fish Temperature

The ideal air fryer fish temp is 180c/360f. Please avoid 200c/400f as it will dry out the fish and it will not cook evenly in the inside.

Whole Fish Air Fryer Tips & Tricks

  • Always make sure the whole fish has been gutted, scaled, and has clear eyes before you purchase it.
  • Focus on an air fryer fish that cooks well whole in the air fryer. Such as tilapia, seabass, or red snapper.
  • Avoid a fish that is too big, or it wont fit inside your air fryer basket. Our air fryer black tilapia was 765g and would only just fit.
  • Remember to score your fish, it allows the seasonings to drip into the inside of the fish as it cooks and stops you eating bland fish.
  • It is optional whether you remove the fins or not. I prefer to, but its your choice.
  • Feel free to mix and match seasonings. Depending on what you have in.
  • I recommend stuffing your fish until you are out of room. Some fish will be bigger than others so you might not be able to add as much as us.

Listen To Air Fryer Whole Fish

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More Fish & Seafood In The Air Fryer

Air Fryer Whole Fish

Your whole fish air fryer recipe is below, note you can print it out with or without photos, adjust servings, or click between metric and imperial depending on where you are in the world.

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5 from 1 vote

Air Fryer Whole Fish

Perfectly cooked air fryer whole fish. Using whole tilapia, we will show you the easiest and most flavoursome way to enjoy fish in the air fryer.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 22 minutes
Total Time: 27 minutes
Servings: 2
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  • 1 Whole Black Tilapia
  • 1 Lemon, sliced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, sliced
  • 2 Tsp Fresh Curly Parsley
  • 2 Tsp Fresh Dill
  • 2 Tsp Fresh Thyme
  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 2 Tsp Dried Dill Tops

Kitchen Gadgets


  • Check that your whole fish has clear eyes, has been gutted and scaled.
    How To Cook Fish In Philips Air Fryer?
  • Cut off the fins with a pair of scissors.
    How To Cook Fish In Philips Air Fryer?
  • Then fill the fish with your lemon slices, garlic slices and fresh herbs. You can do as many as will fit in the fish.
    How To Cook Fish In Philips Air Fryer?
  • Then score the sides of the fish with a veggie knife and then rub in extra virgin olive oil, followed by salt, pepper, and dill tops.
    How To Cook Fish In Philips Air Fryer?
  • Place the whole fish in the air fryer, set the temperature to 180c/360f and cook for 22 minutes. Then serve.
    How To Cook Fish In Philips Air Fryer?


YouTube video


Make Ahead. You can also make ahead your whole fish and then bake it in the air fryer once you are ready.
Scoring. The scoring is essential as it allows the seasoning to go into the flesh of the fish as it cooks.
Thanks for reading our whole fish air fryer recipe on Recipe This. We have many more air fryer recipes for you to check out next. Though if you would like to try more delicious recipes with fish in the air fryer, then do check out our air fryer frozen salmon recipe next.


Calories: 168kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 43mg | Sodium: 48mg | Potassium: 390mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 182IU | Vitamin C: 33mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 2mg
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About Sam & Dom

Hi! I am Sam and along with my chef hubby Dom we love sharing with you easy everyday recipes using kitchen gadgets. We are also the authors of The Complete Air Fryer Cookbook, an amazing air fryer cookbook filled with 140+ everyday air fryer recipes.

Beyond the air fryer we also love the instant pot, slow cooker, soup maker, ninja foodi, pie maker and several other kitchen gadgets.

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1 Comment

  1. 5 stars
    I love a whole fish and this is making it easy to take my healthy eating to another level, many thanks it tasted amazing.