This super simple recipe for baked tilapia with butter and lemon will be your go-to fish dinner recipe for busy nights. It’s perfectly seasoned and ready in just 15 minutes!
I love cooking tilapia fillets! They are inexpensive, especially if bought frozen, and mildly flavored. This delicate fish can be dressed up with any kind of seasoning and is pleasing to most palettes, (including kids who might not otherwise like fish).
This recipe for baked tilapia is fairly basic, but that doesn’t mean it’s boring! A perfect blend of savory seasonings with garlic, lemon, and butter gives tilapia exquisite flavor.
If you have a little bit more time, you might like to make my Fish Piccata recipe. Similar to this Pan Fried Tilapia recipe, It’s cooked on the stovetop with a delicious lemon caper sauce. Or if you have an air fryer, check out my Air Fryer Tilapia recipe.
Tilapia isn’t your favorite? I have a tasty recipe for baked cod too!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Fast and Simple – Fish cooks so much more quickly than meat, chicken, and other proteins. Tilapia loins bake up in under 10 minutes, and that means less time in the kitchen and more time for other things.
- Easy Family Dinner – Tilapia is a great choice for cooking for kids, as the flavor is less fishy than some other types of fish.
- Budget Friendly Fish – Compared to other types of fish, Tilapia is an inexpensive choice! You can use either fresh or frozen tilapia fillets to make this baked fish recipe. Get Frozen tilapia at the grocery store in bulk to save even more.
Ingredients in Baked Tilapia
Here’s what you need to make this easy baked fish recipe.
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.
- Butter: The fish is cooked with butter and seasonings to make it extra rich and juicy.
- Garlic: Butter plus garlic plus lemon equals bliss! Mince the garlic for this recipe.
- Lemon: You’ll need the juice from a lemon as well as the zest. Nothing is wasted, and the lemon flavor is amazing. Use a Microplane to easily zest the lemon before juicing it. You’ll also want to slice a few extra pieces of lemon to garnish the platter for serving.
- Seasonings: Simple pantry staples like salt, pepper, and paprika complete the recipe. You’ll want a bit of fresh parsley to garnish at the end too. Want to try something more flavorful? This salmon seasoning is delicious and would work well here.
How To Make Baked Tilapia
It’s so simple to make oven baked tilapia! Here’s how:
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C while you prepare the garlic lemon butter. Mix melted butter, garlic, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl or glass mixing cup.
- Season Fish: Add your tilapia to a baking pan, and season it with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. Be sure to get both sides of the fish!
- Bake: Pour the butter mixture over the fish, and use a pastry brush to distribute the butter and garlic pieces over the top of each piece. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the internal temperature of the tilapia is 145°F/62°C.
- Brown: If you want to get a gorgeous brown color on your fish, switch the oven to the broiler and broil for 2-3 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley and fresh lemon slices before serving.
Try this amazing and easy cream sauce with baked tilapia to make the dish extra special!
- Use Fresh Lemons: Bottled lemon juice is just not good enough! Fresh is best.
- 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.
- Don’t overfill the pan: It’s important that the fish is in a single layer in your baking dish so that it cooks evenly. If you need to make more pieces of tilapia, use a larger pan or just use two of them.
- Adjust the Seasonings: If you want to, you can add your favorite spices to this dish. Tilapia is very versatile and will work well with a variety of different flavors. Try Italian Seasoning or Cajun seasoning in place of paprika, salt, and pepper.
Store any leftover baked tilapia in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for 3-4 days. Reheat fish gently in the microwave or a skillet.
What To Serve With Baked Tilapia
This fish recipe is delicious, and because its flavor is mild, it is easy to mix and match with all of your favorite side dishes! Try these combinations for a delicious weeknight dinner:
Veggies to Serve with Tilapia
Sides to Serve with Tilapia
Pasta: The garlic butter flavor of baked tilapia makes it delish with garlicky pasta! Try linguini or fettuccine with my easy cream cheese alfredo sauce, or Creamy Lemon Pasta made with angel hair. Lemon Ricotta Pasta with spinach is a perfect flavor pairing too.
I buy tilapia loins at Costco in bulk and I love them so much! They are individually wrapped, and trimmed nicely to include only the thickest part of the Tilapia fillet.
The best way to quickly and safely thaw frozen tilapia fillets is to place them (still wrapped if they are in plastic) in a large bowl with cold water. The water should be just a bit colder than room temperature. It takes 30 minutes or so to thaw fish in cold water. Avoid microwaving fish, or thawing it with hot water, as this will affect the fish’s texture.
I don’t recommend baking frozen tilapia fillets. Thaw your fish fully before cooking it so that it can cook evenly and perfectly.
This is the best, basic baked tilapia recipe! It’s a total winner at my house, and I know your family is going to love it too. Pin the recipe for later!
- 4 tablespoons (56g) unsalted butter melted
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 4 tilapia fillets or loins thawed completely
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- extra lemon slices for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C
- In a bowl, combine melted butter, garlic, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Set aside.
- Add your tilapia to a baking pan season with salt, pepper, smoked paprika on both sides.
- Pour the butter mixture over the fish, and use a pastry brush to distribute the butter mixture over the top of each piece.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the tilapia is 145°F/62°C. Place under the broiler for a couple of minutes if you wish to get some color on the fish.
- Garnish with chopped parsley and fresh lemon slices.
- The fish must be in a single layer in your baking dish so that it cooks evenly. If you need to make more pieces of tilapia, use a larger pan or just use two of them.
- You can add your favorite spices to this dish. Tilapia is very versatile and will work well with a variety of different flavors. Try Italian Seasoning or Cajun seasoning in place of paprika, salt, and pepper.
- To store: Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat gently in the microwave or a skillet.
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.
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