Air-Fryer Tilapia With Smoky Tartar Sauce

The fish of the day is now super easy to make for dinner.

Air-Fryer Tilapia With Smoky Tartar Sauce
Photo: Jennifer Causey; Food Styling: Melissa Gray
Cook Time:
30 mins
Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
50 mins

Break out the air fryer to make this delicious fish dish with a perfectly crispy exterior–no grease included. While the Test Kitchen chose tilapia, this recipe can be made with any white fish you prefer or find at the supermarket, such as flounder, sole, cod, or turbot. If you're a fan of flavorful new sauces and condiments, then you're in for a real treat. We developed this homemade tartar sauce that has just a bit of kick from the combination of mayonnaise, dill pickle relish, canned adobo sauce, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, fresh lemon juice, and whole-grain mustard. The sauce can be made up to three days ahead and should be refrigerated in an airtight container.



  • ½ cup cornstarch or potato starch

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

  • ½ teaspoon onion powder

  • 1 large egg, beaten

  • 2 cups panko

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 4 (4-oz.) tilapia fillets

  • Cooking spray

Smoky Tartar Sauce

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise

  • 1 tablespoon dill pickle relish

  • 2 teaspoons canned adobo sauce (from 1 [7-oz.] can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce)

  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

  • 1 teaspoon whole-grain mustard


  1. Prepare the Tilapia:Stir together cornstarch, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder in a shallow dish. Place egg in a second shallow dish. Toss together panko and oil in a third shallow dish until panko is evenly coated. Working with 1 fillet at a time, dredge tilapia fillets in cornstarch mixture. Dip fillets in egg, and turn to coat; let excess drip off. Dip fillets in panko mixture, pressing to adhere.

  2. Preheat air fryer to 350°F for 4 minutes. Lightly coat fry basket with cooking spray. Working in batches, if needed, add prepared fillets to basket, and cook until golden on bottoms, about 10 minutes. Gently flip fish in basket, and continue to cook at 350°F until fillets are golden on second side and fish is flaky, about 5 minutes.

  3. While fish cooks, prepare the Smoky Tartar Sauce: Stir together mayonnaise, relish, adobo sauce, lemon juice, and mustard. Serve alongside cooked fish.

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