Air Fryer Mahi Mahi

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Air fryer Mahi Mahi may sound a bit exotic and out of reach, but it is so easy to make! It’s a tender and flaky light fish that is mild enough that it can carry whatever seasoning you add to it without overloading it with a strong flavor. It’s got a beautifully seasoned crust on the outside and is so fresh and flavorful that you’ll never feel the need to check out the freezer section at your grocery store again.

air fried mahi mahi in air fryer.

Using the air fryer means using far less oil than you would if you were to deep-fry the fish, which makes it not only taste lighter but is much healthier too. Fish itself is a great source of protein and Omega 3s, so why would we want to drown out the good stuff with an excess of grease?!

You can use fresh or frozen Mahi Mahi. If by chance you don’t find Mahi Mahi, feel free to substitute with swordfish or halibut but if you can get your hands on some I highly recommend it! This simple recipe is an introduction to making a restaurant-style tropical fish right at home!

Serve with a side of rice and veggies for a complete easy dinner idea or with a side of fries for a fancy take on the classic fish and chips!

Why You’ll Love this Recipe

  • Having healthy fish a couple of times is a no-brainer when you’ve got quick and easy recipes to fall back on. Especially for kids that don’t particularly love fish, this is one everyone loves!
  • The air fryer has this magical ability to create a delicious outer crispy crust while keeping everything on the inside nice and moist. There’s nothing worse than rubbery fish and this recipe gives amazing results every time.
  • There are ways to switch up this recipe to suit your tastes because the seasoning for the fish and the ingredients for the crust can be switched up. This recipe works to have a different take on the same meal every time!

Ingredients Needed

ingredients for air fryer mahi mahi.
  • Mahi Mahi – Use fresh or frozen. I use about 4 filets but you can easily increase the amount to double or triple the number of filets. You just want to make sure you work in batches if that’s the case, so you’re not overcrowding the air fry basket.
  • Pecans – These are quite oily, which is super helpful in an air fryer! This can only help get a really nice brown color on the crust. Pecans are nice and buttery and slightly sweet so they’re great for taste and texture.
  • Breadcrumbs – You’re going to mix the pecans with the breadcrumbs and seasonings, so using plain unseasoned breadcrumbs works. It’s your choice as to whether you want to use Panko or not. I use Panko, but either is great.
  • Herbs and spices – Garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, thyme, and oregano. The cayenne gives it a little kick but by no means makes it spicy. It’s a great kid-friendly fish recipe but feel free to omit if you prefer.
  • Egg – This is used to help the breadcrumb mixture adhere to the fish so that the crust stays on!
  • All-purpose flour – Dredging the fish in flour first, helps to dry it off, but also coat and lock in moisture, but also so that the egg and breadcrumbs have something to stick to. If you tried adding anything to a wet fish, it would all just slide right off.

Please scroll ⬇️ to the recipe card to see the full ingredient amounts and instructions.

How to Make Crusted Fish in the Air Fryer

Step 1: Preheat the air fryer and spray the basket with oil. Gather your pieces of fish and pat dry each one with a paper towel, getting rid of any excess moisture. Use a processor or high-speed blender to grind pecans until they resemble coarse meal.

Step 2: Set up your 3-dish dredging station. In the first shallow dish, combine pecans, breadcrumbs, and seasoning. In the second shallow dish, whisk the egg. In the third, add the flour.

dredge station with 3 bowls: flour, eggs, and pecan with breadcrumbs.

Step 3: Take one piece of Mahi Mahi at a time and dip it into the flour, making sure it’s completely coated on both sides. Lift it out of the flour and shake off any excess.

Step 4: Dip it into the egg and then dredge it into the pecan and breadcrumb mixture. Press the crumbs onto the fish making sure it’s all completely coated. Place into the air fryer basket and do this with the remaining fish.

Step 5: Place all filets in the air fryer tray or basket with enough space in between for air to circulate. Spray cooking oil into the filets which helps with browning.

Step 6: Air fry for 10 minutes and carefully flip them over, using a spatula, and continue cooking for an additional 2-3 minutes.

air fried mahi mahi in air fryer.

Tips & Variations

  • Do not flip your fish too early. You want it cooked enough so that it is sturdy enough to be flipped without falling apart.
  • You can use fresh or thawed from frozen. It’s very difficult to crust frozen fish, so I recommend thawing it first.
  • For a gluten-free, lighter version, feel free to omit the coating and just add seasoning just like in my air fryer tilapia recipe.
  • Serve immediately for maximum crispness. If you allow it to sit too long it may start to get soggy.
  • Switch up the seasoning to something different! Taco seasoning, lemon pepper, red pepper flakes, you name it. There are a few used in this recipe which means you can pick and choose which you want to use or leave out.
  • I love the buttery pecans, but you can use a different nut for the crust. Walnuts, almonds, or pistachios could all work!

FAQs

What does mahi mahi taste like?

It’s quite mild relative to “fishy” tasting types of fish like swordfish, however, it’s stronger tasting than the mild haddock. It’s light, so it’s not overly filling or heavy and it’s moist and flaky.

Should I remove the skin from mahi mahi?


Yes, if your mahi mahi doesn’t already have the skin off, you should get rid of it. You can grill or bake it with the skin on, just like a salmon, because it helps keep it together, but it’s not meant for eating.

How do I know when mahi mahi is done?

Like any flaky fish, when it is tender enough and flakes easily with no resistance it’s ready. For an accurate reading, use a kitchen thermometer. When it’s ready it will have an internal temperature of 137 degrees F.

What to Serve with Mahi Mahi

plate of air fryer mahi mahi with asparagus and lemon wedges.

A few lemon wedges on the side is always a good idea.

At our house, we enjoy it with a simple side of rice and Instant Pot asparagus or air fryer broccoli, but on occasion we’ll switch it up.

  • Serve with tortillas and all your favorite toppings and use the Mahi Mahi for fish tacos.
  • For a quick and easy lunch, layer it in a sandwich bun with some lettuce, tomato, and veggies.
  • A simple salad, cauliflower rice, or cauliflower mash for an easy-breezy light dinner is great.
  • Since this is a light fish, sometimes we’ll balance it out with heavier potatoes, French fries, mashed potatoes, or even macaroni and cheese!

Storing Suggestions

Store leftover Mahi Mahi in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Make sure to use a container that leaves little room for air. You want to refrigerate it within the first couple of hours so that it maintains its freshness.

To freeze cooked mahi mahi, keep them in an airtight, freezer-friendly bag wrapped airtight. These will keep frozen for up to 2 months. If you have fresh Mahi Mahi that you want to freeze for meal prep, be sure to bread it first! That way you can cook it straight from frozen and still have that nice crust.

RECIPE

plate of air fryer mahi mahi with asparagus and lemon wedges.

Air Fryer Mahi Mahi

Quynh Nguyen
This Air Fryer pecan-crusted Mahi Mahi is easily prepared in the oven and only takes less than 20 minutes to put together for an easy and delicious dinner.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 13 minutes
Total Time 18 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 filets
Calories 319 kcal

Equipment

  • Air Fryer

Ingredients
  

  • 4 mahi mahi filets
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the air fryer to 400°F.
  • Pat the mahi mahi filets dry with a paper towel. In a food processor, grind pecans until they resemble coarse meal.
  • Then, set up the dredge station with 3 shallow dishes. In the first shallow dish, combine ground pecans, panko breadcrumbs, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, dried thyme, dried oregano, salt and pepper. In the second shallow dish, whisk the egg. In the third shallow dish, add all purpose flour.
  • Take one filet of mahi mahi and dredge into the flour mixture; cover all sides fully and shake off any excess. Dip the filet into the egg mixture and then dredge into the pecan and breadcrumb mixture, pressing the coating onto the filet. Repeat for the rest of the filets.
  • Spray the air fryer tray or basket with oil. Place the filets into the air fryer tray or basket, leaving enough space between each one. Spray cooking oil onto the filets.
  • Air fry for 10 minutes, carefully flip mahi mahi, and air fry for an additional 2-3 minutes (the fish will fall apart if you flip too early).

Notes

  • You can use fresh or thawed from frozen. It’s very difficult to crust frozen fish, so I recommend thawing it first and patting it dry with a paper towel.
  • Leave enough space between each fish so that the air can circulate and a crispy crust can form.
  • Do not flip your fish too early. You want it cooked enough so that it is sturdy enough to be flipped without falling apart.

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