May 2021 Recipes

Recipes: Crappie Cooked with Fiery Air, by Vernon Summerlin

Air Fry Crappie

Whoo-eee, hot air! I never thought one of those new-fangled fryers would woo and win me, but I’ve always been a late bloomer. Remember those 8-track players? I didn’t catch on to them until they were on the way out yielding to cassettes. Guess who waited until old-fashioned vinyl was back in style before I got a CD player? I’m glad I saved my 60’s albums!

It seems the next new thing, whatever it may be, would on the way out before I got a hot air fryer. My conversion goes like this. My wife bought one. Being a skeptic, I got online to read about them. The first thing I learned, reading the how-to air-fry instructions was that the one she bought didn’t measure up to the ones I’d read about. She got “a deal” on a 3-quart fryer – first of all it isn’t a fryer, it’s a hot air cooker.

Bless her heart. I rained on her parade by pointing out something that small couldn’t cook much. With grudge-less sweetness, she returned it and I quickly began reviewing ones I’d seen online so I could get one before the urge-to-buy got cold and fell off our radar. We needed a cooker that would cook enough fillets at one time, which the 3-quart couldn’t do but a 12-quart machine seemed ideal for us. We bought an Emeril Lagasse brand was $100 at Costco that has a lot of bells, whistles and gizmos.

First, I tried a fish recipe and it was so good and easy I tried it again the next night to see if I’d just been lucky. No luck involved; it was de-lish again. So simple and so good. No skillet of oil left over to deal with. Just stick the removable shelves into the dishwasher, wipe out the cooker and you’re done. The two shelves can hold four good-sized fillets each.

What I realized after the third batch was how versatile we all could be by mixing and experimenting with various seasonings. You can learn a lot about different air fryers online, that’s where I suggest you start if you don’t have one and want an easier way to cook fish. Below are two recipes to demonstrate how effortlessly it is to make crispy crappie fillets. The more you use the fryer the more comfortable you’ll become trying dishes like fried chicken and roasting beef on the rotisserie.

  • 6-8 crappie fillets, fresh or thawed
  • 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
  • 1 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or granules
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Rub the fillets with oil making sure that the fish is well coated. In a shallow dish, mix the bread crumbs with paprika, chili powder, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and salt. Coat each fish fillet in bread crumbs and transfer to an air fryer shelf. Cook in the air fryer at 390°F for 12-15 minutes. After the first 8-10 minutes, open the air fryer and flip the fish fillets, swap shelves and then continue cooking.

  More Hot Air Crispy Crappies

  • 6-8 crappie fillets
  • 1/3 cup unseasoned Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons seasoning mix (Cajun, Mrs. Dash or mix your own)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • Salt to taste
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • Oil spray


Combine Panko crumbs, yellow cornmeal, seasoning blend, paprika, turmeric and salt in a small bowl. Pour buttermilk into a second bowl. Pat fillets dry with paper towels and lightly dust both sides with flour. Dip each flour-coated fillet into the buttermilk, then in the crumb mixture. Pat the crumb mixture on all sides of fillets and spray each fillet with oil. Place them on the shelves and cook in the air fryer until the fish flakes easily, 12 to 15 minutes. After the first 8-10 minutes, open the air fryer and flip the fish fillets, swap shelves and then continue cooking.

Zesty Cheese Grits For Crispy Crappies

  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 3/4 cup quick grits
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese


Bring chicken broth, water and half-and-half to a boil over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in grits. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook 5 to 7 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Add remaining ingredients, stirring until well blended. Remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly.

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