This Southern-style air fryer fish recipe is healthy and gluten-free and seasoned to perfection. Use cod, catfish, or flounder for a crunchy finish with no deep-frying needed. This recipe also includes an oven-baked option!
This healthy air fryer fried fish uses all cornmeal and a blend of spices to keep it gluten-free.
You’ll only need a few ingredients for this recipe.
- Catfish, cod, flounder, or whiting
- Avocado or other oil sprays
Making this recipe is incredibly easy. Pat the fish dry. Dredge in the seasoned cornmeal. Place in the preheated air fryer and cook!
Don’t have an air-fryer? It’s OK. I’ve included standard oven directions below.
To make this recipe in a standard oven: Preheat oven to 475 F. Spray a shallow baking pan generously with oil spray. Place the cornmeal coated fish onto the baking pan. Bake 10 minutes on the middle rack. Serve hot.
Be sure to thaw the fish fully. Don’t be tempted to cook the fish from frozen. This recipe was developed using fully thawed fish.
Dry the fish well. This will allow the cornmeal coating to stick and the fish to get crispy in the oven.
Eat the fish the same day. Fried fish is best fresh. You can enjoy it as leftovers but it’s not going to be the same.
To reheat the fish: If you need to reheat it, do so in the oven on a rack. This will help to keep the fish from being soggy on the bottom and restore some of the crunch you’ll lose in the refrigerator.
What’s the best fish to air fry?
I grew up eating whiting. It’s a thin, inexpensive fish. It fries up really well – with a crispy, crunchy finish when it’s deep-fried. Whiting is not easy to find in most supermarkets though so here are some of the best other options.
Sustainably caught or raised cod, catfish, and flounder all make good options. Cod tends to be thicker than the other two. That means you may need to slice it thinner or cook it a bit longer to get the same effect. It can also be a bit drier.
Best seasoning for southern fried fish?
The cornmeal is flavorful in itself. Add to it a blend of paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper for a simple but delicious coating that gets crunchy when air-fried.
Don’t skimp on the seasonings.
What goes well with fried fish?
You can pair this fish with a flavorful slaw, your favorite roasted or sauteed vegetables, or simply top with a remoulade, tartar sauce or hot sauce.
More fish recipes
Crispy Cod Tacos with Honey Cilantro Slaw
Walnut Crusted Cod with Tzatziki Sauce
Mediterranean-Inspired Fish in Parchment
Crunchy Air Fryer Fish
- air fryer
- 1 lb. white fish fillets (not more than ½ inch thick)
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- oil spray
- lemon and parsley for garnish (Optional)
- Preheat the air fryer for at least 3 minutes to 400 F. Whisk the egg in a shallow pan. In another shallow pan, combine the cornmeal and spices thoroughly.
- Pat the fish completely dry. Dip the fish fillets into the egg – allow the excess to drip back into the pan. Then press the fish into the cornmeal mixture until well coated on both sides.
- Place the coated fish into the preheated air fryer basket. Spritz lightly with oil. Cook for 10 minutes – stopping midway to flip the fish to ensure even cooking. If you notice dry spots, this is the time to spritz with a bit more oil. Return the basket to the air fryer and cook 5-7 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.Once done, squeeze lightly with lemon and sprinkle with parsley or top with hot sauce as desired. Serve immediately.
Great recipe Marisa, I will make sure to try it out. It is a great food to add up to our everyday plan
These are SO GOOD! So crispy and delicious. I used tilapia, but I think cod would have been so much better. Regardless, they are amazing. I was out of black pepper (idk how that happens), so I used Aleppo pepper and it gave it such a nice kick.
Thank you for this recipe!
I am cracking up. But love that you did run out because that Aleppo pepper substitute sounds really good!! Thanks for the note!!
I made this using Orange Roughy and it was great, and easy. I served it with some I oven fries and pre-bagged broccoli slaw…super simple. My kids (6 and 8 years old) normally refuse to eat fish and they both cleaned their plates!!! My 6 year old said she liked it better than the fries, which shocked me. Definitely adding this to my meal rotation.
I’m a new cook, how do you spritz oil? And how much Old Bay seasoning would you use?
Hi Tina! I suggest buying a bottle of oil spray (or making your own). My favorite to buy is Trader Joe’s Extra Virgin Olive oil or Avocado Oil Spray. To “spritz” it, you just spray lightly in a sweeping motion for 3-5 seconds until it appears the cornmeal is sufficiently coated.
And for Old Bay – I’d add 1 heaping tablespoon. And with that, I’d eliminate the salt.
Would you need a usual oven in your kitchen as well as the fryer?jenifer
The air fryer does a lot but it’s small so it depends what you want to make. I have both!
Pantry was pretty bare, but your recipe saved my day! I had two thawed big barramundi filets and a couple large handfuls of frozen sweet potato fries. Luckily I had a spare egg and enough Kentucky Kernel seasoned flour (highly recommend). I use a shelf-type air fryer (IP Vortex), but your temps and times were perfect. I’ve bookmarked your site and can’t wait to try more. (Side tip: I mixed a couple tbsp of store-bought tartar sauce with a tsp or so of siracha – awesome) Thanks, Marisa!
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This is a great recipe! I made it using barramundi and cod. The barramundi was so much better. It’s a white fish with a ton of omega-3s and no mercury.
I agree! I made this with Barramundi too. I should add that to the post. It’s not a fish that many are familiar with but it’s affordable, healthy and tasty!
Can i use the mix without the egg?
Hi Malcolm. I have not tested this recipe without the egg. I would imagine that less of the cornmeal mixture will stick and therefore the fish won’t be as crunchy. Let us know if you decide to try it!
I actually used buttermilk and it was perfect
I made it without egg. I just left the fish a bit damp and pulled it through the coating mixed with spices. I used bread crumbs instead of corn meal. 15 minutes was too long for my thin filets though. It was my first time using the air fryer, so I’ll figure it out because despite being a little over cooked, the fish was really good!
Andy - Paula
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Can I substitute cracker meal instead of cornmeal?
Hi! I have not tried it. I would guess cracker meal would yield a less crunchy finish and I’d be a bit concerned that it won’t stand up to the egg very well. Let us know if you try it!
I crushed crackers to make 1/2 cup. I dipped the fish in egg. Rolled in crushed crackers and cooked. Probably not as crunchy as your recipe or good, but we thought it had a very Good flavor .
Thanks so much for reporting back! Sounds good. Now we know there’s another option!
I bought a new stove that has an air fryer in oven, but it does not have directions on house to use it. My question is were do you put the basket when place in oven Do you use the bottom rack. Thanks.
Hi! Maybe search for the instruction manual online? They are all so different that I wouldn’t be able to guess how yours works.
Tried this as written. It’s a keeper. My husband & I really enjoyed it. Will make again
Can’t wait to try this! Waiting on my air for to arrive via mail. Thanks for sharing this!
I will try your fish using Air Fryer. Thanks
My son and husband love these. Great recipe. Thank you!!!
Excellent recipe. Since I had a lot of flounder to cook, I chose the regular oven rather than my air fryer. I did not want to cut the fillets in half. Followed recipe exactly & the fish came out crispy but soft inside. I did instead of using a plate for the cornmeal used a plastic gallon bag to coat the fish. A lot less messier. Adding recipe to my rotation. Thanks Marisa
Nice to see a gluten fried ‘fried’ fish recipe in cornmeal! I used to mix cornmeal and a little flour when frying fish at home. We later learned my husband has a gluten sensitivity and stopped using flour in all meals. I haven’t tried the recipe yet but will be sure to provide a rating when we do!