Air fryer fish tacos are perfect for quick and easy weeknight dinners. They’re loaded with flavor and have a crisp and flaky texture. They can easily be made gluten-free. Top it off with your favorite garnish, and you’re good to go.
Traditional California Baja-style fish tacos are battered and fried, usually using cod or halibut. For this air fryer recipe, I went with a tastier and meatier, Mahi Mahi.
Mahi Mahi is perfect for fish tacos because it’s a firm and tastier white fish that holds up well through the cooking process. It’s easy to find at the market and can be less expensive.
I chose to use the air fryer because it’s a quick and easy method that gets a perfectly crisp texture in less time, with little oil, and the result is incredible.
If you love fish tacos but don’t want to stand over a pot of boiling oil, then these air fryer fish tacos are for you.
What is the best kind of fish for fish tacos?
Any lean, white, saltwater fish will work great for tacos. You can use snapper, Mahi Mahi, grouper, flounder, halibut or cod.
None of these will be overly fishy. They’ll cook quickly, and by adding a simple fresh garnish, the flaky white fish will shine through.
Using fresh toppings works well to dress up the tacos a little. You can use raw red onions, spicy chilis, cut purple cabbage, or a bit of aioli with avocado and jalapenos.
Adding a squirt of lime or lemon juice adds a little spark, too, so getting the toppings right is key to any good taco.
As for freshwater fish, you will often find tacos made with tilapia, bass or catfish. These fish are often fried, and somewhat tasteless. The toppings should be strong and flavorful which will make the tacos sing. So your flashy mango or corn salsas or creamy guacamole with fresh ingredients are perfect options.
I don’t recommend dense, oily fish like tuna or salmon for battering and frying. It’s better suited for grilling which of course is great for tacos, just not the battered ‘fried’ ones like we are making today.
Like I said above, Mahi Mahi, to me, is perfect for these air fryer tacos. Its sweet, mild flavor and meatier texture will make crispy, and flaky fish tacos that everyone will love.
Can I use frozen fish?
Certainly! Frozen fish fillets are a great option, especially if you’re landlocked. It’s less expensive and works just as well as fresh fish. A lot of fresh fish sold at the markets were purchased frozen and then thawed, so there isn’t much of a difference unless, of course, you live near a fresh fish market with the fish coming straight off the boat.
If you decide to use frozen fish, it’s best to thaw the fish overnight in the fridge and remove as much water content as you can before battering and frying them.
How to make air fryer fish tacos:
It’s pretty simple.
- First, line the air fryer basket with a piece of parchment paper.
- Set up a dredging station with one medium and two small mixing bowls.
- In the medium bowl, stir together the flour and spices: paprika, oregano, chili powder, ground cumin, and garlic and onion powder.
- In the small mixing bowl, whisk the egg.
- In the third bowl, add the panko bread crumbs. Use gluten-free crumbs, if needed.
- Pat the fish dry with a paper towel and cut into strips. If the strips are too wet, the fish can steam, leaving soggy battered fish instead of golden brown crunchy nuggets.
- Season the strips with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the air fryer to 375 °F (190 °C). Failing to preheat the air fryer results in unevenly cooked fish.
- Place one strip of fish into flour and spice, then dip it into the egg wash, and finally place it into the breadcrumbs to coat both sides.
- Place the battered fish into the air fryer basket (don’t overcrowd the basket. Be sure to leave room in between each strip so that the hot air can circulate evenly to get them perfectly crackly). Spray the top with olive oil spray.
- Cook for 5 minutes, flip over, spray with oil and cook another 5 to 10 minutes.
- You will cook these in batches, but you can keep the cooked fish warm in an oven set at 250 °F (120 °C) for up to 30 minutes before serving.
Air fryers can differ, and depending on the size and thickness of the fish, you should use the first batch as your test run.
Fish is cooked properly when it turns opaque, and it flakes easily with a fork.
Add the fish to flour or corn tortillas, and serve with your favorite toppings!
You can refrigerate the leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 days in an air-tight container. Then you can reheat and have an extra special lunch during the week.
How can I reheat the leftover fish?
Using the air fryer, first, preheat the air fryer, then add the strips for about 3 to 4 minutes. I like to spray more oil on so that they’ll be just as crisp as the day before.
Why use an air fryer?
First and foremost, it’s healthier! Because the air fryer has hot air circulating, food crisps up without having to use excessive amounts of oil.
The air fryer cooks the food like it has been fried, but in a much quicker way, making it energy efficient and less time-consuming.
Cooking with the air fryer is perfect for the summer months because it won’t heat up the house, and you don’t have to stand over a hot stove to get great results.
Keep in mind, the air fryer doesn’t work well with heavy marinades or liquidy batters like a beer batter. Without an oil bath, a wet batter won’t set, and you won’t get that crispy texture you’d expect from a fried fish taco. Instead, you’re likely to get a soggy mess.
But if you follow this recipe, you’ll do just fine.
If you want tacos but don’t want to use an air fryer, you could also check out these Shrimp Tacos!
What to serve with fish tacos
- Obviously, you need some tortillas. These homemade Vegan Tortillas don’t use any odd ingredients – just basic stuff you already have in your pantry!
- This Mango Habanero Salsa is a fantastically colorful, sweet and spicy salsa that will add a tropical taste to these fish tacos. It’s what you see in the photos!
- Tex-Mex Corn Fritters are a satisfying side for most Mexican-inspired dishes.
- Refried Beans and Guacamole are always a perfect pair with any taco.
- This beautiful Citrus Slaw would make a bright fresh topping for these Mahi Mahi fish tacos from Oh So Delicioso.
- This Frozen Pineapple Margarita can be made as a cocktail or mocktail, and is sweet, tangy and refreshing.
- Texanerin’s Gin Margarita is also a great choice as a citrusy, low-sugar, low-calorie margarita.
Also, If you’re new to fish and want to make sure you get the right kind that won’t turn up any noses, I found a great resource that will help you make the best decision on your selection → Best Fish For Someone Who Doesn’t Like Fish
Where do fish tacos come from? The answer may surprise you.
If you have any interest in knowing the secret and surprising story of fish tacos, this is a great podcast episode you can listen to while you’re setting up your docking station. If you’re like me, you’d rather listen than take the extra time needed to research the story, and Food Fun and Travel has done a great job for us. → History of the Fish Taco Al Pastor Carnitas
I love these air fryer fish tacos because they’re quick, easy and healthy! They’re a delicious meal that will surprise everyone at the table – because really, when was the last time you made an excellent fish taco? 😉
If you make these fish tacos or any other recipe you find here I’d love to see 📸 pictures of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Hashtag them #fooddoodlesrecipes so I can check them out. Enjoy!
Air Fryer Fish Tacos
- 1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour or for gluten-free, use a gluten-free baking blend or cassava flour (I've tested all 3 options)
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 1 cup panko crumbs (use gluten-free, if needed)
- 1 pound Mahi Mahi
- 8 flour or corn tortillas
- Line your air fryer basket with a piece of parchment paper.
- In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour through cumin.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk the egg.
- Put the panko breadcrumbs in a third bowl.
- Pat the fish dry with a paper towel and then cut into 1" strips.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Place one strip of fish into the seasoned flour. Then place it in the egg wash and then the panko breadcrumbs.
- Preheat the air fryer to 375 °F (190 °C) using the air fryer setting.
- Place a few pieces of the breaded fish into the air fryer (being sure that they're not touching). Spray the tops with olive oil spray.
- Cook for 5 minutes or until it's started to brown and crisp. Flip, spray with more oil, and cook for another 5-10 minutes or until crisp and cooked through.
- You can keep the cooked fish warm in a 250 °F (120 °C) oven for up to 30 minutes before serving.
- Put the fish strips into the tortillas and top and garnish however you wish.
- Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days in an airtight container.