Fish Piccata is an easy fish dinner, made in a skillet with inexpensive tilapia fillets. You’ll love this tender, seared fish topped with a briny and savory lemon caper sauce.
Bright and lemony, and topped with salty capers, this fish piccata recipe with pan-seared tilapia is delicious and ready to serve in under 20 minutes.
Serve it over mashed potatoes, buttered noodles, or rice for a satisfying, filling, easy weeknight dinner.
This recipe for piccata with fish is very similar to my Chicken Piccata recipe, but with a few adjustments that make this method perfect for tilapia or any type of mild fish fillets.
Looking to make grilled fish tonight instead? Try my Grilled Tilapia that is topped with a luscious lemon butter piccata sauce too.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Fast and Easy – Fish cooks so much faster than chicken or other proteins! Tilapia is cooked in under 10 minutes, and then all you need to do is make an easy piccata sauce to finish the meal.
- Budget Friendly – Use either fresh or frozen tilapia fillets to make this recipe. Buying frozen tilapia pieces in bulk is a great way to stretch your grocery budget.
- Family Friendly – Tilapia is a great fish for kids since it’s less “fishy” than other types. Leave a few fillets off to the side if you have picky eaters who might not enjoy the lemon caper sauce.
Ingredients In Fish Piccata
Here’s what you need to make this tasty fish dinner:
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Tilapia: Tilapia fillets work perfectly in this recipe, or use tilapia loins, shown in the images. The loins are trimmed to only include the thickest part of the fillet, allowing the pieces to cook evenly.
- Flour, Salt, Pepper: These create a simple dredging mixture to coat and season the fish before pan-frying it.
- Olive Oil and Butter: I like to use both to cook fish. You get the best of both worlds this way! Butter is added in throughout the recipe to make the sauce silky and delicious.
- Garlic: To create a flavorful sauce, minced garlic gets the party started.
- Wine and Lemon Juice: Piccata sauce is definitely lemony, and a bit of dry white wine cooks down with it to create the best flavor. Feel free to use chicken stock in place of the wine if you prefer.
- Capers: If you see capers on top of fish or chicken, it’s safe to assume you’re eating piccata. These small pickled flower buds are sour, a bit bitter, and a must for this dish.
- Lemon Zest and Chopped Parsley: Added into the sauce at the last minute, these two items add the finishing touches.
What is the difference between Tilapia Loins and Tilapia Fillets?
Tilapia loins are generally cut from the thickest part of the fillet, which is a term that refers to any cut from the side of a fish. I enjoy buying tilapia fillets in bulk from Costco. They are individually wrapped and frozen and easy to thaw in the package.
How To Make Fish Piccata
- Dredge the fish: Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl, and coat each piece of fish in the flour mixture. Shake to remove any excess.
- Cook Fish: Heat olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Cook the fish in batches for 4-5 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through. The internal temperature of tilapia should be 145°F/63°C with an instant read thermometer.
- Start the Sauce: Remove most of the oil from the pan, and return it to the heat. Melt one tablespoon of butter, add the garlic and cook for just 30 seconds, making sure not to burn it.
- Finish the Sauce: Add wine (or chicken stock) to the skillet and cook until the liquid reduces by half. Then add the lemon juice and the remaining butter and cook gently until the sauce emulsifies. Finally, add in the capers, lemon zest, and chopped parsley. Stir and then remove from the heat.
- Serve: Spoon the sauce over the tilapia and serve warm.
If there is burnt flour in your pan after cooking the fish, add a small amount of water and then wipe up just the burnt parts with a paper towel!
- Fresh Lemon Juice! Don’t use bottled lemon juice for making this dish. Fresh citrus is always best.
- Don’t overcrowd the pan: To get the fish fillets browned, there needs to be plenty of room around them in the pan. Work in batches if you need to.
- Use the right tools: I love my citrus juicer and Microplane when it comes to fresh lemons. You should only need one lemon to make this dish. Zest it first, then cut it in half and get all the juice out.
Store any leftover fish piccata in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat gently in the microwave or in a skillet.
What To Serve With Fish Piccata
A skillet fish dinner like this one needs nothing more than a veggie side and something starchy to soak up all of the delicious piccata sauce!
Salad: A big healthy salad is a perfect side dish for fish piccata. Try a simple tossed salad, my copycat Olive Garden Salad, or a Caesar Salad with homemade croutons.
Sides: I love fish piccata served with creamy Boursin Mashed Potatoes. It’s also tasty with your favorite pasta side dishes! Creamy Lemon Pasta is perfect.
Don’t forget the Garlic Bread, or try some Olive Garden Breadsticks instead.
Choose a dry white wine for cooking. Anything too sweet should be avoided when making this sauce. Some chefs might tell you that you should use an expensive wine that you’d enjoy drinking, but honestly, that’s not the case. Because the wine is reduced when cooking, you will get the same flavor regardless of the price of the bottle.
If you’d prefer not to add wine to this dish, substitute it with chicken broth instead. I’ve made it both ways and while the flavor is a bit different, it’s still quite tasty. You can also use a mixture of 50% white wine vinegar and 50% water to get the same type of acidity as the wine would add.
I enjoy making fish piccata with tilapia, but you can modify this recipe to use your favorite mild, flaky fish instead. Try cod, snapper, pollock, or sea bass for this skillet fish recipe.
Fish Piccata is a delicious way to serve tilapia to your family, and I promise that they will love it! Be sure to Pin this recipe and add it to your menu plans ASAP.
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest!
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1.5 pounds (650g) tilapia loins or fillets thawed completely, see note 1
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter divided
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic about two cloves
- ¾ cup dry white wine or chicken stock, see note 2
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice fresh
- 3 tablespoons capers in brine
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl and place each piece of fish into the flour. Turn to coat and then shake off any excess.
- Heat olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a non stick pan over medium-high heat and cook the fish in batches for 4-5 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through. Remove the fish from the skillet onto a plate.
- If there’s too much oil in the pan, discard most of it. Return the pan to heat, melt one tablespoon of butter, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add wine (or chicken stock) to the skillet and cook until it reduces in half. Add lemon juice, and the remaining butter and cook gently until the sauce emulsifies.
- Add in the capers, lemon zest, and chopped parsley and stir before removing from the heat.
- Spoon the sauce over the tilapia and serve warm with mashed potatoes and vegetables or salad.
- You will use 4 or 5 tilapia loins or fillets, depending on their size. Other types of mild white fish will also work well in this recipe.
- If you’d prefer not to add wine to this dish, substitute it with chicken broth instead. I’ve made it both ways and while the flavor is a bit different, it’s still quite tasty. You can also use a mixture of 50% white wine vinegar and 50% water to get the same type of acidity as the wine would add.
- Don’t overcrowd the pan. To get the fish fillets browned, there needs to be plenty of room around them in the pan. Work in batches if you need to.
- I love my citrus juicer and Microplane when it comes to fresh lemons. You should only need one lemon to make this dish. Zest it first, then cut it in half and get all the juice out. Use fresh lemon juice rather than bottled whenever possible.
- If there is burnt flour in your pan after cooking the fish, add a small amount of water and then wipe up just the burnt parts with a paper towel!
- When fully cooked, the internal temperature of tilapia must be 145°F/63°C with an instant-read thermometer.
- To store: Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
© Little Sunny Kitchen
Leave a Review!