This simple Air Fryer Sea Bass recipe is made with four ingredients and is ready in under 10 minutes. You won’t be able to resist its deliciously flakey flesh and golden brown, crispy skin. Ideal for quick weeknight dinners or as a standout dish for special occasions.
If you want the best tips and tricks on how to cook sea bass in the air fryer, then you’re in the right place, my friend. I’m sharing all my secrets for the most succulent fish and the crispiest skin. And that’s not all. I’ll help you choose the right sea bass to suit your taste and where you live. Plus, I’ll give you some ideas for the most delicious sauces, toppings, and side dishes to pair with your fish.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Minimal Ingredients: All you need is 4 ingredients! Sea bass fillet/s, a little olive oil, and salt and pepper. The flavor of the fish speaks for itself. I’m also adding some parsley and lemon to some herby-citrus goodness, but that’s completely optional.
- Fast: Air-fried sea bass is so simple to make, and it only takes 6-8 minutes to cook! So you can have dinner on the table in less than 10 minutes.
- It’s a Healthy Meal Choice! Compared to deep frying, this air fryer fish recipe keeps calories low but doesn’t skimp on flavor. It features nutritious, anti-inflammatory olive oil to prevent it from drying out and relies on hot air for cooking. The result? A delightful, crispy texture on the skin and perfectly flaky fish.
- Suitable for various dietary lifestyles: It’s gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, vegetarian, low-carb, keto, and paleo.
- It’s delicious! And a great way to meet the weekly seafood recommendation of two servings. Its delicate flavor makes it a winner, even if you’re not a big fan of fish.
Health Benefits: Sea bass is rich in protein, amino acids, omega-3 fatty acids [Source], and other vitamins and minerals. These contribute to its many potential health benefits, like protecting the body’s cells from oxidative damage, lowering inflammation, and wound healing. As such, the bioactive compounds in white fish may provide some protection for organs like the heart, brain, and liver [Source]
Types of Sea Bass
There are several different types of sea bass you might see in grocery stores or at your local fishmongers, and each has its own distinct qualities. Here are some of the most well-known types of sea bass that you might like to use based on your tastes and what is available where you live:
- European Sea Bass: Also known as “branzino” or “loup de mer,” European sea bass is native to the waters of Europe. It has a delicate, mild flavor and firm, white flesh.
- Striped Bass: Often referred to as “striper,” it is a popular game fish found along the eastern coast of North America. It has a sweet and mild flavor with moderately firm flesh.
- Black Sea Bass: Also found along the eastern coast of North America, it has a sweet, mild flavor and lean white flesh.
- Asian Sea Bass: Also known as barramundi or giant sea perch, Asian sea bass is found in the waters of the Indo-Pacific region. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and firm, white flesh.
- White Sea Bass: White sea bass is native to the eastern North Pacific Ocean, particularly along the coast of California. It has a mild, delicate flavor and firm, white flesh.
- Chilean Sea Bass: Despite its name, Chilean sea bass is not a true sea bass. It is actually a type of Patagonian toothfish found in the waters of the coast of Chile and Antarctica. It’s known for its rich, buttery flavor and flaky texture. Chilean sea bass is highly prized in the culinary world.
With just 4 main ingredients plus a couple of optional extras, your sea bass fillets will be ready in no time. Here’s what you’re going to need:
- Fresh Sea Bass: I’m using fresh boneless skin on European Sea Bass fillets (or Branzino) as it’s readily available where I live in the UK. It’s perfect if you like mild and delicate flavored fish. Its flesh is tender and has a pleasant, clean, and fresh taste. Sea bass also absorbs other flavors well, making it an excellent choice to pair with my Sauce Vierge recipe, among others. I’ve provided lots of ideas for you later in the post.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Adds flavor, helps the skin go crispy, and prevents the fish from drying out.
- Sea Salt Flakes and Black Pepper: To boost the flavors.
- Fresh Parsley (optional): Adds a fresh, herby flavor and a vibrant pop of green.
- Fresh Lemon Juice (optional): Brightens the fish.
Did you know… Sea bass is one of the few food sources of vitamin D. A vitamin that helps to regulate mood, energy levels, the immune system, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure! It’s also necessary for the body to absorb calcium. [Source]
Here’s how to air-fry sea bass fillets. You won’t believe how easy the cooking process is!
These visual step-by-step instructions provide a quick overview of the recipe. You can find the recipe card with the full list of ingredients and detailed recipe instructions at the bottom of this page. ⇩
1: In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper. Then, lather fish portions on both sides.
2: Air Fry: Place the fish skin side down, leaving space around each fillet.
3: If using a tray, slide it into the top rack closest to the heating element.
4: Cook for 6-8 minutes or until skin is golden, the flesh is opaque, and flakes with a fork; there’s no need to flip. Sea bass is done when the thickest part of the fish reaches 140-145°F (60-63°C). Cook for longer if necessary.
- Thickness of the Fillets: For best results, aim for a fillet of fish that is uniformly thick; otherwise, the thinner sides of the fish might end up overcooking before the center is ready. And if you’re cooking more than one, try to find fillets of a similar size. Fillets of different sizes and thicknesses will cook at different speeds.
- Pat Dry: Pat away excess moisture with a paper towel before seasoning the sea bass. This is an essential step for achieving that crispy skin.
Air Fryer Model: I tested this recipe using the Tower 11L Air Fryer Oven. Please keep in mind that cooking times may vary depending on the specific air fryer you have. The best way to ensure your fish does not overcook is to monitor your food closely, especially when trying a new air fryer recipe, and consider checking it a bit earlier than the suggested cooking time.
- Be Careful with Aerosol Olive Oil Spray: The main reason for this is that some can damage your air fryer. Check your air fryer user manual for advice on your specific model.
- Proper Placement: Place fish in a single layer in the air fryer basket or tray, leaving some space between them. This allows for proper air circulation and ensures even cooking.
- Check for Doneness: Sea bass cooks relatively quickly in an air fryer, so keep a close eye on it to prevent overcooking. An instant-read meat thermometer is the best way to check if your sea bass is properly cooked. It is done when the thickest part of the fish reaches an internal temperature of 140-145 degrees F (60-63 degrees C). Add more cooking time if needed.
- Let it Rest: After air frying, let the sea bass sit for a few minutes before serving. This lets the fish absorb its juices, making it succulent and flavorful.
- Type of Fish: If sea bass is unavailable, you can substitute it with other white fish varieties like cod, haddock, mahi-mahi, or red snapper. Ensure that the fillets are of similar thickness for even cooking.
- Seasoning: Feel free to get creative with your seasoning. Instead of salt and pepper, use your favorite seafood seasoning blend or stick to herbs like parsley, thyme, oregano, or dill.
I’m opting for a simple seasoning mix of salt and pepper, lemon, and parsley. I have two reasons for this. 1) It highlights the flavor of the fish. 2) It better pairs with your choice of toppings. That said, there are so many ways you can season sea bass. Here are just some ideas for you to try:
- Fresh Herbs: Parsley, dill, tarragon, basil, cilantro (fresh coriander), and chives.
- Citrus: Lemon juice, lemon zest, lime juice, lime zest, grapefruit juice, and lemon pepper.
- Spices: Smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, ginger, cayenne pepper, cajun spice, chermoula spice, Chinese 5 spice, garlic powder, and onion powder.
- Dried Herbs: Italian seasoning, parsley, dill, tarragon, basil, and chives.
- Sauces: Soy sauce or tamari, Sriracha, white miso paste, mustard, balsamic vinegar, and white wine.
A mild white fish, like sea bass, pairs wonderfully with a variety of sauces that enhance its delicate flavor. Here are some healthy sauces that are delicious with sea bass:
- Sauce Vierge: I love serving air-fried sea bass with the French classic Sauce Vierge (see below image), a fresh and vibrant tomato and olive vinaigrette with a salsa-like texture. It pairs with fish so brilliantly. It’s also quick to prepare, tastes fantastic, and looks gorgeous too!
- Funghi Trifolati: A delicious Italian-inspired dish of mushroom sautéed with garlic and herbs.
- Lemon Dill Sauce: Combine fresh lemon juice, plain Greek yogurt, natural mayonnaise (I use Avocado Mayo), and chopped fresh dill. This sauce provides a creamy texture with a zesty and herby flavor.
- Chimichurri: This Argentine sauce made with fresh parsley, garlic, vinegar, chili, and olive oil adds a bold, herbaceous flavor to sea bass. It’s a great choice if you enjoy a bit of zing.
- Mango Salsa: A fresh mango salsa made with diced mango, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, and a hint of chili adds a fruity and tangy flavor.
- Cilantro Lime Sauce: Blend fresh cilantro, lime juice, and a pinch of cumin for a vibrant and zesty sauce.
- Herb Pesto: Create a pesto with extra nutrition using fresh basil, kale, garlic, pine nuts, pistachios, olive oil, and a squeeze of lime juice.
To make Air Fryer Sea Bass a balanced meal, consider adding some complex carbohydrates and a generous portion of vegetables. Here are some ideas for you to try:
I recommend that Air Fryer Sea Bass is enjoyed fresh! Storing will affect the flavor and texture. However, if you do need to store it, you can do so as follows:
- How to Store Sea Bass: Cool any leftover air-fried sea bass to room temperature, put it into an airtight container, and store it in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Always check for freshness.
- How to Freeze Sea Bass: For longer storage, wrap the sea bass fillets individually in plastic wrap or aluminum foil (kitchen foil). Place the wrapped fillets in a freezer-safe container or a resealable freezer bag. Label and date the container or bag so you can find it easily later. Freeze for up to 2 months.
- How to Reheat Sea Bass:
- From the Fridge: Place the cooked sea bass fillet in the air fryer and cook for 4-5 minutes at 375ºF (190ºC), and the internal temperature of the fish reaches 140-145°F (60-63°C).
- From the Freezer: Thaw the sea bass fillets in the refrigerator until they are no longer frozen (approximately 24 hours). Then, follow the reheating instructions for sea bass from the fridge using the air fryer.
⚠️ Why You Shouldn’t Re-Freeze Previously Frozen Sea Bass: Re-freezing is generally not recommended if you’ve used frozen sea bass for this recipe. Thawed and re-frozen seafood can experience temperature fluctuations, potentially allowing harmful bacteria to multiply, jeopardizing safety and quality. Plan portions to only thaw and cook what you’ll consume immediately for optimal safety and taste.
Yes! Begin by seasoning the frozen sea bass fillets with a light brushing of olive oil, salt, pepper, and your preferred seasonings. Place the seasoned fillets skin side down in a single layer in the air fryer basket or tray, ensuring they are not overcrowded. Cook for approximately 12-15 minutes. Adjust the cooking time based on fillet thickness. The sea bass is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 140-145°F (60-63°C).
Cooking sea bass is simple, but it’s easy to overcook. It’s done when the flesh goes from translucent to opaque and flakes easily with a fork. You can also use a thermometer to ensure it reaches 140-145°F (60-63°C) for added assurance.
More Fish Recipes
Looking for more delicious and nutritious seafood recipes? Here are some of my favorites…
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Air Fryer Sea Bass Fillets (Cooks in 6 minutes!)
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- 2 sea bass (skin-on, boneless fish fillets), about 6.5 ounces or 180 grams per portion and 6mm thick
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt flakes
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice, optional
- 1 teaspoon chopped parsley, optional
- Prepare: Gather and prepare your ingredients. Pat the sea bass fillets dry with a paper towel. This will help ensure a crispy skin when air-frying.
- Season: In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, salt and pepper, as well as the lemon juice and parsley, if using. Then, coat both sides of each sea bass fillet with the olive oil mixture. You can rub it in with your hands or use a silicone pastry brush.
- Air Fry: Arrange seasoned fillets in the air fryer basket or tray, skin side down, leaving space around each. If using a tray, slide it into the top rack closest to the heating element. Cook for 6-8 minutes or until the skin is golden, the flesh is opaque, and flakes with a fork; there is no need to flip. If this is the first time you have cooked this recipe, check doneness at 6 minutes, as cooking times vary based on fillet thickness and fryer model. Sea bass is done when the thickest part of the fish reaches 140-145°F (60-63°C). Cook for longer if necessary.
- Serve: Carefully transfer the fillets to serving plates once the sea bass is cooked. Enjoy with your favorite side dishes.
Nutrition Information (Per Serving)
Nutrition Disclaimer: Nutritional information is estimated using an online nutrition calculator. For accuracy, we recommend you calculate using the exact ingredients and brands you used.