We love the classic fish and chip combo and normally turn to our favorite Beer Battered Fish when the craving hits. Sometimes, though, we just don't like the idea of pulling out the big Dutch oven and filling it up with way too much oil. Frying can be messy and we'd like to skip that part. This air fryer fish is the perfect substitute. It is every bit as crunchy and the fish stays perfectly flaky. Skipping the frying means no unnecessary oil and it takes far less time.
This recipe works well with any firm, mild white fish. Haddock, pollock, cod, halibut, flounder, whiting, walleye–you get the idea. Cod is usually on the thicker side, so if you’re using a thinner fish like whiting or flounder, just adjust the cook time. You'll know the fish is done when it can be flaked with a fork.
Even if you sprung for a jumbo-sized air fryer, you'll want to work in batches to avoid overcrowding the air fryer. Overcrowding means creating steam and steam is the enemy of perfectly crispy fish.
To make sure the breading adheres to the fish when you bite into it, pop the breaded pieces into the refrigerator for 10 minutes on a parchment-lined sheet tray while you make the tartar sauce. Once it's chilled, if you see any spots that look wet or soaked through, sprinkle a pinch of panko on the wet spot and pat gently before frying.
Most air fryers have a nonstick coating on the basket, but if want to be extra careful, try lining the basket with air-fryer friendly parchment paper. If you use your air fryer a lot, they come in handy and pay for themselves in the time you spend scrubbing your air fryer basket. If you're in a pinch, cut a square of regular parchment paper thats about the same size as your basket, and pierce it with holes using a skewer, making sure the holes are evenly spaced. Avoid the urge to use a nonstick aerosol spray. Most air fryer manufacturers caution against using aerosol non stick sprays because they can cause the basket coating to chip.
While Old Bay is certainly the gold standard when it comes to seafood seasoning, there's plenty of room to get creative here. Try your favorite brand of Cajun seasoning, a spicy jerk seasoning blend, or even za'atar. You'll be making this recipe so much that you'll want to switch it up every now and then.
For a low carb, keto-friendly version, sub in almond flour for the AP flour and crushed pork rinds for the panko. The pork rinds will break down with a few pulses in a food processor but be sure not to grind them into a powder.
For a gluten ree version, go for almond flour and crushed corn flakes.
Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Editor's note: This recipe was updated on February 13, 2022, with more information.
cod, cut into 4 strips
Freshly ground black pepper
large egg, beaten
panko bread crumbs
Old Bay seasoning
Lemon wedges, for serving
Tartar sauce, for serving
- Pat fish dry and season on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Place flour, egg, and panko in three shallow bowls. Add Old Bay to panko and toss to combine. Working one at a time, coat fish in flour, then in egg, and finally in panko, pressing to coat.
- Working in batches, place fish in basket of air fryer and cook at 400° for 10 to 12 minutes, gently flipping halfway through, or until fish is golden and flakes easily with a fork.
- Serve with lemon wedges and tartar sauce.