Meaty air fryer Branzino fillets with crispy skin and tri-color potatoes, zucchini, red bell pepper, and onions mixed with a Mediterranean spicy herb blend done all in the air fryer, then served with a quick lemon sauce.
Best Way to Cook Branzino
Get ready for Mediterranean spices of Italian herbs, smoked paprika, red chilis, and lemons in every bite. The air fryer can do amazing things, and it is not only used to fry up fries and chicken nuggets!
For this air fryer branzino recipe, you'll get nicely roasted potatoes with blistering golden brown skin and fish that is still moist with crispy skin and an amazing and healthy lemon herb sauce to serve it.
If you are looking for other air fryer fish recipes, try the following:
- Roasted Harissa Salmon with Paprika Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts
- Chili Herb Crusted Rainbow Trout with Cannellini Beans, Spinach Mushrooms, and Tomatoes
- Spiced Salmon with Pepper Cabbage Slaw and Yellow Rice
- Blacken Trout with Chorizo Beans and Garlic Broccoli
When You Have an Idea. Don’t Quit!
Would you believe this simple air fry dish helped me set my future goals for this blog? I tried making this air fryer branzino recipe four times to get it right! With frustration, subsequently, I wanted to give up! But I couldn't; I love branzino, and it held nostalgia from cooking in commercial kitchens.
Remember Einstein's quote? "Insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result." Sometimes, when something doesn't work, it sends you a message. For instance, it means it is time for a change and not always the time to quit.
Focusing Attention on This Blog’s Goal
You are here for spicy, flavorful, easy, and quick meals, which you will get! In addition, the number one thing in cooking I am passionate about is spices. As a result, I love creating new blends and developing my version of traditional ones.
I used to have a spice store online but sadly had to shut it down not to spread myself so thin by working full time, attending school full time, and raising my son on my own, but things are not over yet; it’s just the beginning.
For an excellent spicy air fryer branzino recipe, you'll start by making the spice blend; this blend will be used separately for the fish and the potatoes. Firstly, you'll need Italian herb seasoning, paprika powder, chili flakes, onion powder, black pepper, salt, and oil to make a wet rub for the spice blend.
You will be using avocado oil for this fish recipe since it does have a higher smoke point than olive oil, which is excellent for air fryer cooking.
The instructions mention using a large bowl when mixing the spices to help reduce the amount of cookware because after brushing the branzino, you will toss the vegetables in the rest of the wet rub. The seasoned vegetables will be thrown in the air fryer basket first, then later on, the fish fillets will be placed on top.
While the fish is cooking, reduce the olive oil, vegetable broth, and lemon juice in a saute pan to quickly evaporate and bubble up to create an emulsion, making a thick, savory lemon herb sauce. Then add zest and chopped parsley to finish.
In addition, the fish will come out fork-tender and flaky thanks to being air-fried. Therefore, get ready to have a fantastic dinner!
See the air fryer branzino recipe card for quantities.
Slice off the top and bottom. Then cut the pepper in half, and remove the pith and seeds. This will also give you a flat pepper that you evenly slice.
Don't discard the ends; slice them to the same thickness.
Using oil when seasoning for air frying helps create crispy potatoes and roasted vegetables.
Two branzino fillets make one serving.
Pinch the branzino to create an arch to slit the fish with a sharp knife.
In addition, watch the tip of your fingers, keeping them safe from the sharp blade.
Serving Suggested Sides
- Mixed Greens and Tomatoes Salad
- Lemon Wedges
- Vegetables - Try jumbo asparagus, cut into thirds, or green beans kept whole with tips cut.
- Potatoes - Use baby Yukon, fingerling (halved), baby reds, or large diced baby or irregular sweet potatoes. However, if you don't want to use potatoes, just double the vegetables or serve with rice. For example, try the Spiced Brown Basmati and Quinoa Rice recipe.
Change Heat Level - Modify the recipe's heat level to your liking and learn more about the Scoville Scale and Chili Pairings.
- Caper Lemon Sauce - Add capers to the lemon sauce.
- How to Cook Branzino in a Skillet
- A cast iron pan would be the best skillet; a thick pan holds its heat evenly, helping create a great golden brown sear.
- Also, use a metal Fish spatula; it’s a spatula that gets wider towards the end with a thin blade, making it ideal for flipping delicate meat like fish.
- Create slits on the fish to help keep it flat while searing. Then season the skin only with salt and pepper, and you can brush the wet rub on the flesh side.
- First, get your pan nice and hot before adding oil on high heat.
- Add the oil to the hot pan. Use a neutral, high-smoking point oil, like avocado or rapeseed; these oils can withstand temperatures above 400 degrees Fahrenheit before smoking up your kitchen.
- Wait for the oil to heat up, about three to five minutes, before adding the fish; you might have to wait before you see the oil just about to smoke.
- Lay the fish in the pan away from you, skin side down, so that the oil does not splatter on you.
- Depending on the thickness of the fish, sear for about 1 to 3 minutes.
- Then flip and sear the other side for less time; the skin side downside should be where the fish cooks the most.
- To summarize, pan-seared branzino with the skin on helps lock in the moisture.
- No Air-Fryer? Try Oven the Instead
- Set the oven to the same temperature of 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In addition, use a baking tray. For example, try the Checkered Chef Baking Sheet with Wire Rack.
- Potatoes should roast for about 35 minutes.
- While the fish will take about 10 to 15 minutes.
- This means after the first 20 minutes of the vegetables in the oven, give them a good toss, then place the branzino fillets on top and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes.
If you're in the mood for a stew, you must try the Pepper Fish Yam Stew. This hearty meal will satisfy you with just the right amount of spice.
- Air Fryer - This air fryer branzino recipe was developed using the Ninja Foodi 5-in-1 Indoor Grill. However, you can try roasting in the oven if you do not have an air fryer. You have two options with different results: a sheet pan with parchment paper or a sheet pan with a sheet pan rack.
- For example, the parchment paper will produce vegetables roasted in their juices and caramelization at the bottom.
- In contrast, the sheet pan rack will result in just roasting around the vegetables due to the hot air flowing around the vegetables. Now, the trick is not to overcrowd in whatever method you choose, but if this happens, toss in between cooking.
- Large Mixing Bowl - For combining the vegetables and seasoning with oil before being placed in the air fryer.
- Whisk - I love using a mini whisk for small bowls and measuring cups. So try Babish 2-Piece (5” and 7”) Stainless Steel Tiny Whisk Set.
- Frying Pan - Preferably a 10-inch pan. Therefore, try the All-Clad Stainless Steel Nonstick Fry Pan or the Lodge Cast Iron Skillet with Red Silicone Hot Handle Holder. In addition, I highly recommend All-clad and Lodge pans for the long-lasting build.
Kitchen Must Haves - Find other tools I use here.
- Refrigerator - To store in the fridge, place the air fryer branzino and vegetables in separate 2-inch shallow pans to cool down quickly. Then, place the leftover sauce in a small 2 to 4-oz storage container and place it in the fridge. Then, store in an air-tight sealing container. The fish and vegetables will last for up to three days.
- Freezer - Follow the refrigeration process mentioned above, except for the sauce. Then, you can place it in the freezer in a labeled, airtight container. Label a zip lock bag for the sauce, then store the cool-down sauce. Afterward, spread the sauce and freeze it flat; you might have to use a small dry tray.
Air Tight Food Containers - I use Glass Food Storage Containers with a plastic clipping lid to store food. For example, I always suggest glass storage containers since you can microwave them and hold food without staining the container, and the glass keeps them at a more stable temperature, which keeps the food fresher longer.
Premixed Seasoning Blends - I like to make spice, and herb blends to avoid the preservatives and salt content in premade blends. So make sure you double-check to see if the blend that you are using has any added salt.
Most herb blends also will not have salt, but as I mentioned, double-checking your sodium intake is always a good idea.
Frequently Asked Questions
It is a meaty white-fleshed sea bass fish widely eaten in the Mediterranean. It is also called the European bass since you can find it in the southwestern area of Europe. The name says it all; named by the Italians, this fish is also quite popular in Italian cuisine.
You'll find it roasted whole and paired with lemons and herbs in most recipes. And don't be fooled; one whole fish or two fillets is usually the amount served per person, compared to one portioned salmon.
This prevents curling when cooking branzino fillets in addition to cooking faster. Learn more about prepping fish.
It has a higher smoking point. In addition, this oil is beneficial for air fryers, preventing a smoky kitchen.
Looking for other seafood recipes like this? Try these:
Looking for other air-fryer recipes like this? Try these:
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Air Fryer Branzino with Lemon Potatoes and Vegetables
- 1 teaspoon Italian herbs blend
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika powder
- ¼ teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 garlic cloves minced or garlic pressed
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 452 grams branzino four fish fillets
- 2 cups baby potatoes medley quartered
- 2 cups of zucchini halved, then sliced
- 1 cup red bell pepper large sliced
- 1 cup onions large sliced
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- ¼ cup lemon juice about one large lemon
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- chopped parsley
- Save time in the kitchen: Read the instructions thoroughly, then gather and prep all your ingredients before cooking! Learn Prepping Tips.
- Make the Spice Blend: In a large mixing bowl, whisk the Italian herb blend, paprika, chili flakes, onion powder, black pepper, salt, and oil and set aside.
- Prep the Fish: For the fish prep, place the fish fillets on a cutting board for raw fish, skin side up. Make three slits on each fish fillet; please refer to the photo and video for an overview. Pinch the fish to create an arch to slit the fish with a sharp knife. Watch the tip of your fingers, keeping them safe from the sharp blade.
- Using a paper towel, pat both sides of the fish dry and place on the cutting board flesh side up. Then Brush on one layer of the spice-herb blend onto the flesh and set aside the fish and spice-herb.
- Set Air Fryer: Preheat the air fryer to 350, and set the cooking timer for 25 minutes.
- Cook the Vegetables: In the same large mixing bowl, combine the potatoes, zucchini, bell peppers, and onion with the rest of the herb-spice blend and set aside. When the air fryer is ready, add the vegetable mixture, spreading it out evenly.
- After 15 minutes, give the vegetables a toss, then close to continue cooking.
- Check for the doneness of the potatoes by poking them with a fork or taking one out, cutting it in half, and tasting it. A knife or fork should easily insert. If the potatoes are cooked through, place the fish on top of the vegetables, skin side up, and cook for the last 8 minutes.
- Make the Sauce: Heat a medium saute pan with oil on medium-high heat. Then add the vegetable broth, lemon juice, and olive oil; the sauce will rapidly evaporate while bubbling, so do not reduce the heat; this is normal.
- Boil the sauce and reduce it to half of its content. The pan's surface allows the sauce to reduce quickly.
- Remove the pan from the heat, season the sauce with salt if necessary, and add the lemon zest and chopped parsley.
- Serve: Plate the potatoes and vegetables first, drizzle on the lemon sauce, place the fish fillets on top, and garnish with chopped parsley.
- Cook chicken to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C).
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food that previously touched raw meat to prevent foodborne illness from contaminated uncooked meats.
- Wash hands after touching raw meat to prevent cross-contamination.
- Don't leave food at room temperature for extended periods; this can breed bacteria.
- Never leave cooking food unattended to prevent burns and fires.
- Use oils with a high smoke point to avoid harmful compounds.
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
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