Air Fryer Fish Sticks, aka fish fingers, are covered in herby and garlicky Italian bread crumbs, then air-fried until they have a crunchy crust with perfectly tender fish inside. This kid-friendly dish is our delicious and healthier take on fish sticks!
Kid-approved dishes like this can take as little as 30 minutes or less to make! For instance, sort out breakfast with these Rainbow Waffles, give them a hearty lunch with our Ham and Cheese Pasta, and finish the day with these Air Fryer Chicken Thighs!
Air Fried Fish Sticks Recipe
Air Fryer Fish Sticks take less than 20 minutes to make, and beat any boxed fish sticks you can buy at the store. For one, we’re only using fresh and healthy ingredients like real fish, eggs, and simple seasonings like paprika. Making it even healthier is the fact that we’re air-frying them, which means they have very little fat or grease.
While we’re using tilapia for this recipe, you can use any light-tasting fish you prefer. You can also get creative with the seasonings, or if you have picky eaters, sub the Italian bread crumbs with plain breadcrumbs or panko. Finally, serve them with tasty dips like ketchup, ranch, or mayo. Watch everyone (especially kids) devour these in minutes!
What fish is best used for air-fried fish sticks?
In general, use white fish with a mild taste like tilapia, such as pollock, cod, or even catfish.
- Tilapia: We’re going to need about 4 boneless fillets for this recipe.
- Breading: Our breading has three layers— flour, fresh eggs, and Italian bread crumbs. This gives us that crispy, crunchy crust that’s a trademark of classic fish fingers. To finish, we’re seasoning them with a slight dusting of paprika.
How do you make homemade air fryer fish sticks from scratch?
- Pre-heat. While breading the fillets, turn on your air-fryer to 350F.
- Prep. Set out three bowls for your breading station. In the first one, place flour. Then, beat eggs in the second bowl, finally, place your Italian bread crumbs in the last bowl.
- Coat. Slice your fillets into bite-sized chunks. Then, give it a flour coating, dip in eggs after that, and finally, cover in Italian bread crumbs.
- Air fry. Finally, arrange the breaded chunks in your air-fryer, making sure to leave small gaps in between. Air-fry for about 12-15 mins., turning all the pieces halfway through. Afterwards, take them out from the air-fryer and sprinkle with paprika.
- Serve. Enjoy hot with your favorite sauces.
Recipe variations and substitution:
- Use other types of fish: Aside from tilapia, you can also use similar types of fish like catfish, bream, striped bass, flounder, or lake trout. Cream dory, cod, haddock, and hake are also great options.
- Use chicken: You can also use this recipe to make air-fried chicken fingers! Simply substitute with boneless breast or thigh chunks.
- Oven: Bake your breaded tilapia in a 370F oven for 15-30 minutes.
- Fried: Skillet-fry in shallow oil, or for maximum crisp, deep-fry the fillets.
- Instant Pot: Turn on the Sauté function, heat oil in your IP, and fry the breaded tilapia.
- Strips: Instead of chunks, you can also slice the tilapia in chunky strips.
- Other seasonings: Switch up the flavors! Try using garlic and lemon zest, parmesan, Cajun seasoning, and even taco blend for your air fryer fish sticks.
How long do you air fry homemade fish sticks from frozen?
You only need to add a few minutes to the original cooking time (12-15 mins.), to account for the frozen sticks. In other words, air-fry frozen pieces anywhere from 15 mins. to 20 mins., flipping halfway.
Are fish sticks bad for you, or are fish sticks good for you?
It depends on how you prepare it. For instance, the pre-made frozen stuff you can buy at the store is usually full of preservatives and fat. That’s why we prefer making our own. In contrast, these homemade fish sticks are made with minimal, wholesome ingredients like tilapia, flour, and simple seasonings.
As a result, you know exactly what goes into what you’re eating. Better yet, you can make your own adjustments to make it even healthier.
More fish recipes to try:
How to store leftovers?
After you’ve cooled them down, store in an air-tight container and chill for up to 2 days. You can also freeze these by flash-freezing them on a baking sheet for 2-3 hours, then placing in a Ziploc.
To reheat, pop them in a 370F air-fryer or in a 400F oven for 5-10 mins. until re-crisped and hot. Don’t defrost them to prevent the batter from turning soggy.
- Don’t forget to leave space in between the breaded fillets, or they may not cook fully or crisp up properly.
- Dry the fillets as much as you can, so the batter sticks well to the fish.
- Note that air fryer brands are different, so please use our cooking times as a guide. Pop the lid at the halfway mark to check for doneness. If it’s browning too fast, flip immediately.
AirFryer Fish Sticks, aka fish fingers, are covered in herby andgarlicky Italian bread crumbs, then air-fried until they have acrunchy crust with perfectly tender fish inside.
- 4 tilapia fillets
- 2 eggs beaten
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat air fryer to 350F.
Cut tilapia into bite-sized chunks.
Set out three shallow bowls, place flour in one, beaten eggs in another.
Add bread crumbs mixed with paprika garlic powder and a bit of salt into the third.
Working with one piece of fish at a time, dip into flour, then into the beaten eggs, and finally into the breadcrumbs mixture.
Place fish pieces into the air fryer basket, making sure they don’t touch. Cook in batches if needed.
Air fry for 12-15 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.