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Air Fryer Breaded Fish Sandwiches

These easy Air Fryer Breaded Fish Sandwiches have flavorful crispy fish fillets, melted cheese and homemade tartar sauce on soft potato buns…all made with hardly any oil. And they’re ready in just under 30 minutes!

Do you enjoy a crispy fish sandwich from your favorite fast-food restaurant? If so, I say skip the drive-thru, pull out your air fryer, and make one of these delicious homemade fish sandwiches that are so much better!

Yep, I’ve had my share of those grab-and-go fish sandwiches over the years, especially during Lent when we would always eat fish on Friday. I liked them, and they’re totally fine.

BUT there’s nothing better than a homemade crispy fish sandwich where you can control the ingredients and make it exactly how you want.

For me, that means a substantial piece of fish that’s got more flavor thanks to Old Bay seasoning and seasoned breadcrumbs, extra crunch thanks to panko….and one that has no problem standing up to a whole piece of melted American cheese (Filet-O-Fish, I’m looking at you!).

Top it off with a generous amount of a creamy homemade tartar sauce, put it all on a soft potato bun, and you’ve got yourself an incredibly delicious fish sandwich that’s perfect for dinner or lunch (and may very well keep you out of that drive-thru lane).

And cooking the fish in the air fryer means that it comes out wonderfully crispy with a very minimal amount of oil. I’m talking only about ½ teaspoon per sandwich. Take that, deep fryer. I never liked cleaning you anyway.

Now, let’s make some fish sandwiches!

Ingredients You Need

all of the ingredients (with labels) needed to make air fryer breaded fish sandwiches
  • Mayonnaise
  • Sweet pickle relish
  • Onion (white)
  • Lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
  • Fresh parsley
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • All-purpose flour
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • Egg
  • Seasoned regular breadcrumbs (for good coverage)
  • Seasoned panko breadcrumbs (for crunch)
  • Pollock fillets (about ¾ inch thick, skinless and boneless; or any other firm white fish)
  • Olive oil (for spraying; use a light olive oil that is intended for frying/high heat)
  • American cheese
  • Potato buns (sandwich/hamburger size)

Note: Ingredient amounts are in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

How to Make Air Fryer Breaded Fish Sandwiches

1: Preheat the air fryer to 400°F.

2: Make the tartar sauce by mixing together the mayonnaise, relish, onions, lemon juice, parsley, salt, and pepper in a small bowl until well-combined.

3: Set up your breading station with the flour and Old Bay seasoning in one bowl, the lightly beaten egg in another, and the breadcrumbs in a third bowl.

4. Pat the fish fillets dry with a paper towel.

a collage of 4 numbered images; number 1 is of an air fryer showing a temperature of 400 degrees Fahrenheit; number 2 is of a bowl of tartar sauce being mixed with a spoon; number 3 is of 3 bowls, one filled with seasoned flour, one filled with beaten egg, and one filled with breadcrumbs; number 4 is of fish fillets being patted dry with paper towel

5: Take one fish fillet and dredge it in the seasoned flour.

6: Dip the fish in the beaten egg.

7: Coat the fish with the breadcrumbs.

8: Repeat the breading with the remaining pieces of fish.

a collage of 4 numbered images; number 5 is of a piece of fish being dredged in seasoned flour; number 6 is of the piece of fish being dipped in egg; number 7 is of the piece of fish being coated with breadcrumbs; number 8 is of the 4 pieces of breaded fish on a plate

9: Place the breaded fillets in the air fryer basket.

10: Spray the tops of the fish with olive oil.

11: Air fry for 5 minutes, then flip the fish and spray the other side with oil.

12: Air fry for an additional 5 to 6 minutes or until the coating is golden brown, the fish flakes easily with a fork and the flesh is opaque. Be sure to cook to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F as per the USDA.

a collage of 4 numbered images; number 9 is of the breaded fish fillets in an air fryer basket; number 10 is of the fish being sprayed with oil; number 11 if of the fish fillets being turned over; number 12 is of the finished fish fillets in the air fryer basket

13: Turn the air fryer off and top each piece of fish with a slice of cheese.

14: Return the basket to the air fryer until the cheese is melted.

15: To assemble each sandwich, place one piece of fish on the bottom of a potato bun and top with tartar sauce.

16: Add the bun top. Serve immediately and enjoy!

a collage of 4 numbered images; number 13 is of the fish fillets in the air fryer basket topped with cheese; number 14 is of the fillets in the basket with the cheese melted; number 15 is of the fillet on the bottom of a bun and topped with tartar sauce; number 16 is of the finished sandwich with text that says enjoy

Note: This is just a brief overview of the steps. For the full printable recipe with ingredient amounts and detailed instructions, please go to the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

Recipe Tips & Tidbits

  • Use fish fillets that are similar in size, shape and thickness so that they cook evenly. You can use fresh or frozen fillets (completely thawed) for this recipe.
  • Don’t use fillets that are super thin (I would say no less than ½ inch thick), as they will likely become overcooked before the breadcrumbs become golden and crispy. I like to use fillets that are about ¾ inch thick.
  • The cooking time given in the recipe is an estimate. Not only are all air fryers different, but the time will also depend on the thickness of your fish (thinner fillets with cook faster; thicker fillets will take longer).
  • Don’t overcrowd the air fryer basket. The fillets should fit in a single layer with space in between them to allow the air to circulate and create that crispy coating.
    • I use a 6-quart air fryer and can easily fit 4 in the basket. If your air fryer is smaller, cook the fillets in 2 batches if needed. You can keep the first batch warm in a 200°F oven while you cook the second batch. Place the fillets on a wire rack set over a baking sheet to help maintain crispiness.
  • I use a combination of regular and panko breadcrumbs because the regular breadcrumbs give you better coverage, while the panko gives you a great crunch. You can use one or the other if that’s all you have (although if you use all regular breadcrumbs, your fillets might be less crisp).
4 breaded fish fillets in an air fryer basket

Substitutions & Variations

  • Any firm white fish can be used instead of pollock, such as cod, haddock, halibut or even tilapia. Just don’t use fish that is super thin.
  • Cajun seasoning would be an excellent substitute for Old Bay seasoning. Or you could use whatever seasonings you want!
  • You can use another type of cheese that melts well, such as cheddar.
  • If you’re not a fan of fish and cheese together, you can omit the cheese.
  • A different type of bun could be used, such as a brioche bun.
  • If you’re not in the mood for sandwiches, the breaded fish fillets are also excellent on their own dipped into the homemade tartar sauce!
a breaded fish fillet topped with melted cheese on a bun bottom with a spoonful of tartar sauce being spooned on top

Storing Leftovers & Reheating

These fish sandwiches are at their crispy best when made fresh and served immediately.

Therefore, I recommend only cooking as many breaded fish fillets as you plan to eat in one sitting (the recipe can easily be scaled down if you don’t need 4 sandwiches).

Definitely only assemble as many as you plan to eat so that, in the event you have leftovers, you can easily reheat the fillets and assemble the sandwiches fresh later (assembled sandwiches will become soggy).

If you have or want to plan for leftovers, I recommend leaving the cheese off of the extra fillets so that it doesn’t burn when reheating.

Store leftover cooked fillets, once cooled, in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Reheat the fillets in the air fryer at 325°F until heated through and crisp (it should only take a few minutes). Turn off the air fryer, top with the cheese and return the basket to the air fryer for a minute or two to let the cheese melt. Then assemble the sandwiches.

one air fryer breaded fish sandwich on a plate with French fries and a small bowl of coleslaw on the side and another fish sandwich and fries on a plate in the background

What to Serve With Air Fryer Breaded Fish Sandwiches

My favorite way to serve these sandwiches is with French fries. Since I have the air fryer out, I will often make a batch of my Air Fryer Homemade French Fries (but store-bought fries, tater tots or even potato chips are great too!).

I also like to have some sort of veggie side, and I usually go with my Sweet & Tangy No-Mayo Coleslaw or Classic Creamy Coleslaw. A tossed green salad would also be a nice option.

I hope you try this Air Fryer Breaded Fish Sandwiches recipe and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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More Fish & Seafood Recipes to Try

If you make this recipe, I’d love to know how it went! Please leave a star rating and comment below. Thanks!

an air fryer breaded fish sandwich on a white plate

Air Fryer Breaded Fish Sandwiches

These quick and easy Air Fryer Breaded Fish Sandwiches have flavorful crispy fish fillets, melted cheese and homemade tartar sauce on soft potato buns…all without a lot of oil. And they're ready in just about 30 minutes!
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Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 13 minutes
Total Time: 28 minutes
Servings: 4 sandwiches
Estimated Calories: 468

Ingredients

For the Homemade Tartar Sauce:

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced white onions
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice, fresh or bottled water
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste

For the Fish and Sandwiches:

  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup seasoned regular breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup seasoned Panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 (4-ounces each) pollock fillets, about ¾ inch thick; fresh or frozen (thawed completely if frozen); skinless and boneless
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, approximate, divided, for spraying the fillets (use a light olive oil that's meant for frying/high temperatures)
  • 4 slices American cheese
  • 4 potato buns, sandwich/hamburger size

Special Equipment

  • air fryer (I use a 6-quart basket-style air fryer)

Instructions

  • Preheat the air fryer to 400°F.
    If your air fryer doesn't have a preheat option, just let it heat for about 5 minutes at 400°F.

Make the Tartar Sauce:

  • In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish, onions, lemon juice, and parsley until well-combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper; set aside.

Prepare the Breaded Fish Fillets:

  • Set up your breading station. In one shallow bowl, mix together the flour and Old Bay seasoning. In a second bowl, lightly beat the egg. In a third bowl, mix together the regular and panko breadcrumbs.
  • Pat the fish fillets dry on both sides with a paper towel.
  • Take one of the fish fillets and dredge it in flour, coating all sides. Lightly tap to shake off any excess flour.
  • Dip the fillet into the beaten egg, coating all sides. Allow any excess egg to drip off.
  • Place the fillet into the breadcrumbs, turning to coat all sides and gently pressing the crumbs into the fish so they adhere better. Place the breaded fillet on a plate.
  • Repeat the breading procedure with the remaining 3 fish fillets.

Cook the Breaded Fish Fillets:

  • Place the breaded fish fillets in the preheated air fryer basket in a single layer, making sure to leave space between each one to allow the air to circulate so they will get nice and crispy. Lightly spray the top of each fillet with olive oil (I do about 3 sprays per fillet).
  • Air fry for 5 minutes.
  • Carefully flip the fillets over and lightly spray the other side of each one with olive oil (I do about another 3 sprays per fillet).
  • Air fry for an additional 5 to 6 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, the fish flakes easily with a fork and the flesh is opaque (the internal temperature of the fish should be a minimum of 145°F).
  • When the fish is cooked, turn off the air fryer and top each fillet with one slice of American cheese while still in the air fryer basket. Return the basket to the air fryer for a minute or so just until the residual heat melts the cheese.

Assemble the Sandwiches:

  • For each sandwich, place one fillet with melted cheese on the bottom of one potato bun. Spoon ¼ of the tartar sauce on the fillet. Add the top of the bun.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!

Notes

  • Use fish fillets that are similar in size, shape and thickness so that they cook evenly.
  • Any firm white fish could be used, such as cod, haddock, halibut or even tilapia.
  • I use and recommend fish fillets that are about ¾ inch thick. Don’t use fillets that are super thin (no less than ½ inch thick), as they will likely become overcooked by the time the breadcrumbs become golden and crispy. 
  • Don’t overcrowd the air fryer basket, as this can result in less-than-crispy coating. If your air fryer is smaller, cook the fish in 2 batches if needed.
  • The cooking time given is an estimate. Not only are all air fryers different, but the time will also depend on the thickness of your fish. It’s always best to go by temperature to know when the fish is done.
  • Please refer to the post for additional tips, substitutions and variations, storing and reheating leftovers, and serving suggestions.
  • Estimated calories shown are for 1 sandwich and take into account that not all of the flour, egg, and breadcrumbs will be used.
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