Flat fish are brilliant to cook on the bone for extra flavour and to keep the fillets beautifully moist. This guide for How to Air Fry Whole Plaice tells you everything you need to know to cook this delicate white fish from fresh or frozen in the air fryer.
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I love plaice, and I don’t think it gets the recognition that it deserves. Plaice is a flatfish with 4 fillets in total. I sometimes fillet the fish and cook them individually but it’s great fun to cook it as a whole fish.
You might notice in the pictures that I haven’t cooked the fish entirely whole. There are two reasons for this. The first is that with the head and tail on, the plaice wouldn’t fit in my air fryer basket.
The second is that whilst I love the benefits of cooking fish on the bone, like many people I don’t want a fish head staring at me while I eat! But if you have the basket space, and want to cook a truly whole plaice, of course you can do.
How to Serve
One whole plaice is a main meal serving for one or or a lighter meal or appetiser for 2. I remove the skin before eating but if you prefer crispy skin, you can hit it with a blowtorch for a few moments for extra crisp. I wouldn’t recommend air frying the fish much longer than I’ve stated to achieve this because the flesh will overcook. And no one wants dry fish.
Unlike salmon which I will very happily eat cold, plaice is a fish best served hot. Or warm at the very least.
How to actually remove the flesh from the bone is easy. All you need to do is peel back the skin to reveal the perfectly cooked white flesh. The edible fish will come right off the bones. Don’t forget to turn the plaice over to get the other two fillets on the underside.
Like Rick Stein I believe in seasoning, cooking and serving fish like this very simply – this allows the light flavour of the fish to shine. Try some of the following sides for a quick and easy meal –
Fish – Plaice
Plaice is available to buy fresh in a few supermarkets, any fishmongers and many of the online fishmongers. I usually buy from Morrisons – their fish is especially good and varied. You can always ask a fishmonger to trim the fish up and make sure it is gutted – even in a supermarket – don’t be shy.
You can freeze fish and cook it from frozen or allow it to thaw and cook from fresh. If you are planning on cooking from frozen, I’d suggest making sure it is trimmed and prepared before it goes in the freezer.
I’ve added simple flavour to this whole plaice recipe by brushing it with melted butter. Plaice is a very lean fish and needs some fat to cook up beautifully. Butter has a lower smoking point than most fats so this gives the best chance of getting some colour and crisping up the skin in the very short cooking time.
If you prefer to use an olive or other vegetable oil, you can do. This becomes even easier if you are using a seasoning rub or sauce as the smoking point becomes less important. Just try to match the flavour of the oil with the seasonings.
As with the choice of fat, I’ve kept things very simple with the seasonings in these air fryer plaice instructions. Just butter and a little sea salt flakes.
You can use any other seasonings you like but you should make sure that it has a salty element whether that’s sea salt, soy sauce or similar.
This recipe is free from egg, gluten and nuts.
Dairy Free: All you need to do to make this very simple recipe gluten free is use a non-dairy fat so vegetable oil, olive oil or a dairy free butter substitute would all be easy options.
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above and any variations suggested have not been tested unless otherwise stated. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
How Long to Air Fry Whole Plaice?
Like most things in the air fryer, you can cook a whole flat fish in a seriously short amount of time – just 8 minutes. This is in a preheated air fryer – I just pop it on the preheat setting while I’m prepping the fish.
Of course if you have caught yourself an especially large or small fish you will need to adjust the times accordingly. But please don’t panic and end up with overcooked fish – just a little resistance when you press the thickest part and its cooked.
How to Air Fry Whole Plaice From Frozen
I find that a surprising number of items like chicken drumsticks don’t actually need any extra time to cook from frozen. But with this whole plaice, because the cooking time is so short, I find that a couple of extra minutes is needed to make sure the heat permeates all the way through.
To cook from frozen I usually give the fish a quick rinse under the tap to remove any surface frost. I give it a good dry and then butter and season just as I would if it was fresh. Removing this extra moisture before cooking will help to crisp the skin when cooking.
Leftovers – Storage & Reheating
Because of how quickly the plaice air fries, I would always try and cook it just before serving. Cooking in advance and then reheating will make for an edible fish but it won’t be as great as when its cooked and served fresh.
If you do find yourself with leftovers, they’ll keep in a sealed container in the fridge for around 48 hours. I would likely remove the flesh from the bones rather than store and reheat on the bone.
If you have a microwave, this is the best way to reheat. Add a drop of water, cover and nuke for 60 to 90 seconds. Check it is piping hot all the way through before serving and increase the cooking times if needed.
You can reheat in the air fryer but I would do this in a dish – the fish is delicate and will flake everywhere otherwise.
Common Air Fryer Questions – A Brief Guide to Air Frying
- What exactly is an air fryer?
- What are the benefits of using an air fryer?
- Are all air fryers the same?
- Is an air fryer always better to use than an oven?
- Do air fryers need to be pre-heated?
- What is the best temperature to air fry at?
- Can food be cooked from frozen in an air fryer?
- Can I reheat food in an air fryer?
- Are air fryer liners a good idea?
The Air Fried Feast Community
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What Exactly is an Air Fryer?
Very simply, an air fryer is a small convection (fan) oven. The benefit is that the hot air is circulated all around the food being cooked which speeds up the cooking time and cooks the food more evenly.
What are the Benefits of Using an Air Fryer?
Size, time and energy usage. Air fryers are ideal for cooking smaller quantities. Heating up a space that the food just fits into requires less energy and means that the heat source is much closer to the food. Combining these two things can speed up the cooking time.
Are all air fryers the same?
Nope! The term air fryer is now used very broadly. I consider there to be 4 main types:
Basket Air Fryers
These are what I would consider to be the most common, especially in the UK. A boxy type unit has a pull out drawer/basket. Food isn’t usually visible whilst cooking.
Some larger models have two drawers so different items can be cooked at different temperatures or for different times.
This is the type that you’ll see in the images in this recipe. I use a Corsori Lite (CAF-LI401S) with a 3.8 litre capacity. The square(ish) shaped basket is 21cm x 21cm and 24cm on the diagonal. It isn’t an overly expensive or fancy model.
Rotary Air Fryers
Round air fryers with a paddle in the centre that rotates to move the food. This is the type I’ve been using for years – the most common is a Tefal Actifry.
Rotary types are not usually good for recipes where the food is breaded, glazed, likely to break up or in a tray/container. They do however make the best chips and roasted veg.
My 2 in 1 version like the one I’ve linked does have a rotating tray for things that could be broken up by a paddle, but the height clearance with the lid isn’t deep enough to use it to cook some items like sausage rolls.
Multicookers with Air Fryer Functions
Some like Ninja 11 in 1 and some of the earlier versions with a few less functions, have an air fryer option. They mostly operate the same as a basket fryer but the basket drops in the top rather than sliding in like a drawer.
Some electric pressure cookers like Instant Pots can also air fry when used with a specific lid.
Is an air fryer always better to use than an oven?
As much as I do love air frying, the honest answer to this is no. And the more detailed answer is that it will always depend on what you’re cooking, how much of it you’re cooking and what type and size of air fryer you have.
Once you need to cook in more than 2 batches, it often makes more sense to use an oven. If you already have the oven on to cook other items, it may make more sense to throw one more item in rather than using an additional appliance.
I don’t think either method is necessarily better than the other. The important point to note is that there is absolutely no difference in the finished product.
Do Air Fryers Need to Be Pre-Heated?
The answer to this is rather annoying – it depends. It depends entirely on your model and type of air fryer. The best advice I can offer is to check your manual and follow their guidance. My Cosori model has a preheat function. I press a button and it heats at 205c for 4 minutes.
It’s also worth noting that regardless of whether you are supposed to pre-heat or not, if you are cooking in batches, it is quite likely that anything after the first batch will cook a little quicker because of the retained heat. It is best to check on them before the cooking time is completed.
What is the best temperature to Air Fry at?
It will always depend on what you are cooking and from what state. All of my air fryer recipes don’t use temperatures above 200c because many of the most common fryers in the UK don’t go above this. Mine goes to 230c and I use this temperature a lot but it is no help for me to share recipes which most people can’t use.
Can Food Be Cooked From Frozen In An Air Fryer?
Absolutely! To cook from frozen you usually will need to reduce the cooking temperature and increase the time to make sure your food is cooked right through to the middle.
It is best to check my individual recipes for cooking from frozen advice as some items are a little different.
Can I Reheat Food In An Air Fryer?
Yes. As a general rule I reheat food for roughly 1/3 of the original cooking time at the same temperature. Or at 10 degrees lower for half the time for larger items.
Are Air Fryer Liners a Good Idea?
Unless otherwise stated, I do not use liners when air frying. Basket and rotary type air fryers are designed to be used without liners. Mini oven types will generally require some kind of tray like with a regular large oven although some come with crisper racks to use.
There are many air fryer liners available including quite thick silicone ones. These will affect the cooking times and possibly temperatures of your cooking/baking. I also don’t like how cooking juices are prevented from dripping through the basket rack. This can stop food from crisping all the way around.
If you do prefer to use them, once you have got a feel for how they affect your cooking and baking, you may need to make adjustments to the recipe accordingly.
More Air Fryer Recipes
All my recipes with instructions for how to cook or bake them in the air fryer can be found in my Air Fryer Recipe Index.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?
Still Have Questions?
Simple! Just contact me and I will do my best to help as quickly as I am able. Head over to my Contact Me page, any of my social media channels or post a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll see what I can do.
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How to Air Fry Whole Plaice
- 1 Whole Plaice - roughly 350-400g
- 2 tsp Salted Butter - see notes
- ½ tsp Sea Salt Flakes - see notes
- If your air fryer requires pre-heating, Start this setting now.
- Melt 2 tsp Salted Butter in a small bowl. I do this in the microwave but you could use a small heatproof bowl in the air fryer if you like. The preheat setting will likely do the trick.
- Thoroughly dry 1 Whole Plaice.
- If your plaice has not been prepared, use a sharp knife or strong scissors to remove the fins, tail and head. pull out any guts and rinse out the cavity. Make sure it is dried thoroughly again. Note – You can leave the head and tail etc attached if you prefer but you must gut the fish. I removed them because otherwise they wouldn't fit in my air fryer basket.
- Use a pastry brush to coat the white skinned side of the fish with the melted butter.
- Sprinkle over half of the ½ tsp Sea Salt Flakes. Crush them between your fingers as your sprinkle for thinner even coverage.
- Place the fish into the air fryer basket brown skin side up and butter side down.
- Repeat the buttering and salting on the top of the skin. Be careful not to catch your hands on the side of the hot basket. If you are using a non basket air fryer, you can do this beforehand.
- Cook for 8 minutes at 200c/390f. There is no need to turn the fish .
- Be careful removing the plaice from the fryer as it will be delicate. Serve hot straight away.
To Air Fry From Frozen
- Cook for 10 minutes at 200c/390f.
- Butter – You can use an oil instead of butter but I do find that butter helps the fish skin crisp a little more and adds a nice flavour.
- Salt/Seasoning – You can use any seasoning mix or sauce instead of just salt but make sure that salt is included in the mix. You can also add a little citrus juice. If you use a sauce with a high sugar content, you may want to brush this on towards the end of cooking so it doesn’t catch and burn.
- The air fryer version of this recipe is tested in a Corsori Lite (CAF-LI401S) with a 3.8 litre capacity. The square(ish) shaped basket is 21cm x 21cm and 24cm on the diagonal.
- Not all models advise preheating is required. Please follow the recommended instructions for your model. Mine has a specific preheat setting which is 4 minutes at 205c.
- For this recipe, I can 1 trimmed plaice in the basket at a time. This gives plenty of room to allow air to circulate.
- As all air fryer models are a little different, you may find that you can fit more or less in at a time. Some models include stacking shelves which will increase capacity.
- Required cooking times and temperatures can also vary between models and brands. If you know that your air fryer runs a little hotter than most recipes suggest, use a lower temperature. And vice versa. Equally if you find that food cooks more quickly in your machine than instructions usually state, reduce the cooking time (or check it earlier) and vice versa.