How to Get Crispy Ikan Bilis in an Air Fryer

The air fryer is really a friend. I use it on numerous occasions and it’s an extra good friend when I’m making nasi lemak. I not only air fry the peanuts but also the ikan bilis and trust me when I say it’s CRISPY!

There are some must-do’s if you want them crispy tho:

They must be dried well after rinsing.

They must NOT be overcrowded in the air fryer.

Coat them nicely in oil.

Pre-heat AF.

After rising, I usually spread them out in a tea towel, pat dry pat dry, pat dry and leave them to dry off for a while. I find using a tea towel more effective and absorbent than using kitchen paper towels. 

I almost always preheat my Air Fryer for just about 5 mins just to get some heat in there once I pop in the ikan bilis.

After they’ve dried off, I put them in a bowl and add 1-2 tbsp oil and use my fingers to nicely coat each one. This will definitely help with the crispiness.

I then layer them and not overcrowd them on the tray. Otherwise the air circulating will not be able to ‘fry’ each one well. This is essential for the crispiness. I usually do two batches in my airfryer. (Mine is an old model of maybe 7 years!).


It’s important to store the ikan bilis well in an air tight container. Best enjoyed with a plate of nasi lemak!

Did you try this recipe?

Please do let me know if you've tried it, by leaving a comment or tagging me on IG @thesuddencook.

Crispy Air Fried Ikan Bilis

Find out the little tricks to get golden, crunchy ikan bilis in the Air Fryer!


  • Ikan bilis Rinsed and dried well (see notes)
  • 1-2 tbsp oil Depending on how much ikan bilis you have


  • Pre-heat Air Fryer at 180C for 5 mins.
  • Rinse ikan bilis and dry well. Place in bowl and add oil. Use your fingers to coat the ikan bilis well in the oil.
  • Air Fry ikan bilis in two batches so as to not overcrowd the tray/basket. Lay them in one layer. Set timer for 4-5 mins. Shake the basket in between.
  • Remove and let to cool completely. It will continue to crisp up once cooling.


My tips for getting golden, crunchy ikan bilis:
  • Pre-heat the Air Fryer.
  • You have to dry the ikan bilis well. Use a tea towel to pat dry after rinsing and leave them for a bit more to dry off after.
  • Coat the ikan bilis well in oil.
  • It's important to lay them in one layer so the air can circulate around and crisp them up. Don't pile the ikan bilis on top of each other in the tray/basket.
  • Let them cool completely (they will continue to crisp up) and store in an air tight container.
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3 months ago

Oh! Recently I have been playing a lot with my air fryer too! Love that your recent blog posts have all these air fryer ideas!! The ikan bilis looked crisp and yummy.

2 months ago
Reply to  Noob Cook

Yes the air fryer really does come in handy for me. I have more recipes but yet to share them!

3 months ago

So good with the air-fryer! I don’t have one 🙁 That is why the ikan bilis are sitting in the freezer forever cos I don’t like to deep-fry them. Tried oven method before but did not turn out as expected.

2 months ago
Reply to  tigerfish

Same for me too! Also, I find them crispier and faster fried in the AF.