Bold, zesty oven baked tilapia recipe is a delicious and healthy main dish that's easy to make in 20 minutes! Tender fillets are coated in a blend of butter, lemon, and spices, then quickly roasted for the most flaky and flavorful fish with minimal effort. This baked tilapia is a perfect low carb, healthy and gluten free dish for your weekly dinner!
Why we love this baked tilapia recipe?
One pan recipes are the best for fast weeknight dinners with little cleanup. But quick and simple doesn't mean boring! And here is a great example: This fiery chili lemon baked tilapia is one the easiest and the most delicious sheet pan tilapia recipes that's on your dinner table in just 20 minutes, from start to finish!
Boneless and skinless ready-to-use fresh fillets (or frozen and thawed) make prep a breeze. Place them right on a baking sheet and brush with a blend of luscious melted butter, fresh lemon juice, and spices. There is no need to marinate... It's really that easy! (And if you line the pan with aluminum foil, cleanup is a snap, too!)
Although the fish has a gorgeous bright color and big flavors, this sheet pan tilapia recipe is not as spicy as it looks! In fact, you can control the heat level by using chili powder that is as mild or spicy as you like. We use milder chili powder that has less intense spiciness, but still has a bit of a kick and all that lovely color.
Customize the fish to your tastes to put your own touch on the dish, then roast for about 10 minutes. Tilapia baked in the oven is tender, moist and flaky, and flavorful - with basically zero effort! I promise you'll agree that this is the best way to cook tilapia fish fillets for a quick and healthy meal that everyone loves.
*For more quick and easy dinner dishes, be sure to also try these recipes:
Tilapia Fillets: Fresh or frozen and thawed. Below are tips for how to properly thaw fish fillets.
Melted Butter: Keeps the baked tilapia fillets deliciously moist and buttery.
Lemon: Both zest and juice for the most bright citrus taste.
Garlic Powder: Beloved savory spice for deep umami flavor.
Chili Powder: Your choice of mild or spicy heat.
Smoked Paprika: This warm and smoky spice pairs well with chili powder.
Ground Cumin: Earthy and spice-y (not hot), cumin is another seasoning commonly used with chili powder.
Salt and Pepper: These two classic seasonings bring all of the other flavors together.
Sugar: Tames any spiciness and give the tilapia a nice bit of caramelization.
How to bake tilapia in the oven?
Pre-heat the oven at 400°F.
Lay tilapia fillets on a greased rimmed baking sheet pan in a single layer and pat dry with paper towel to remove any excess moisture.
Stir to combine melted butter, lemon juice and zest, garlic powder, chili powder, smoked paprika, ground cumin, salt, freshly cracked pepper and sugar in a small bowl.
Brush the tilapia fish evenly with prepared marinade and arrange the lemon slices over the fish.
Bake the fish for 10-11 minutes (with the last 2 minutes broiling - optional) or until fish is opaque, flaky and internal temp reaches 140F.
Garnish with fresh chopped parsley or cilantro and serve hot!
- Although it can be a little difficult, purchase wild caught tilapia if you can for this recipe. Or choose fish from farm that has been raised in a clean environment of highest international standards, and is therefore free from harmful chemicals.
- Choose fillets that are the same size to ensures uniform cooking.
- Whether fresh or thawed, pat the fish dry with a kitchen paper towel. This will keep the fillets from getting mushy in the oven.
- I use butter for the most delicious flavor and moist, juicy meat. You can swap with olive, vegetable, or coconut oil, if you like! Any of these options are great to add a bit of fat and help keep the tilapia from turning dry.
- It's easy to modify the spiciness per your preference. Use mild or spicy chili powder to taste. You can absolutely skip the chili powder altogether it if do not like spicy foods!
- Try this chili lemon recipe with other types of white fishes. Instead of tilapia try cod, halibut, bass, or trout.
- And hooray: There is no need to flip the fish while baking!
Yes, it is! Tilapia is low fat and low calorie, and is a great source of lean protein. It is also rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids.
For the most tender and flaky tilapia, I recommend baking at 400F for 10 minutes, or until opaque. (Internal temperature of fish needs to be 140-145F.) Thicker and bigger fillets will need a few extra minutes, but keep a close eye on them. Avoid overcooking the fish as it may turn chewy.
Yes, but the fillets do need to be thawed first. To properly that frozen tilapia, dip the fillets (with its packaging) in bowl of cold water... Not ice cold, but also not hot or warm. Place the bowl in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to thaw. Then rinse gently with water and pat dry well with paper towel.
Bake tilapia in foil packets
For an easy baked tilapia recipe with even faster cleanup, considering making chili lemon tilapia in foil packets!
Place the marinated fish on large individual pieces of aluminum foil. Fold over like an envelope to make packets, but do not "squish" the fish. Place on the BBQ grill or oven racks and bake for 10-12 minutes in the oven, or 15 minutes on the grill.
Vibrant chili lemon tilapia is great to pair with simple yummy starches. Enjoy with quinoa, polenta, pasta, or light and fluffy rice. Try this recipe with Cumin (Jeera) Rice or your choice of classic white rice!
We also love to balance the heat with a fresh salad, other fruits, or sides like roasted cherry tomatoes, brussel sprouts, fingerling potatoes, or roasted veggies. Serve with a refreshing salsa like Corn Salsa, Pineapple Salsa, Peach Salsa or Pico de Gallo. Or a rustic salad - this Tomato Corn Avocado Salad is one of my favorites.
To store leftovers: Cool the tilapia to room temperature before transferring to an airtight container. Store for up to 2 or 3 days in the fridge.
To freeze: Seal room temperature fillets plastic zipper bag, taking care to squeeze out any excess air. Freeze for up to 2 months.
To reheat tilapia: Bake at 350 degrees F for about 10 minutes. Or air fry for 3 minutes at 350 degrees F. I do not recommend reheating in the microwave.
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Chili Lemon Baked Tilapia Recipe
- 1 pound Tilapia Fillets (6 fillets about 2.5 oz each)
- 3 tablespoons Melted Butter (preferably unsalted)
- 2 tablespoons Lemon Juice (or lime juice)
- ½ teaspoon Lemon Zest (or lime zest)
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 2 teaspoon Chili Powder (with mild heat or spicy variety as per the heat you like)
- 1½ teaspoon Smoked Paprika (or regular paprika)
- ¾ teaspoon Ground Cumin
- ¾ teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Freshly Ground Pepper
- ½ teaspoon Sugar (optional)
- Pre-heat the oven at 400°F.
- Lay tilapia fillets on a greased rimmed baking sheet pan in a single layer and pat dry with paper towel to remove any excess moisture.
- Stir to combine melted butter, lemon juice and zest, garlic powder, chili powder, smoked paprika, ground cumin, salt, freshly cracked pepper and sugar in a small bowl.
- Brush the tilapia fish evenly with prepared marinade and arrange the lemon slices over the fish.
- Bake the fish for 10-11 minutes (with the last 2 minutes broiling - optional) or until fish is opaque, flaky and internal temp reaches 140F.
- Garnish with fresh chopped parsley or cilantro and serve hot!
- Purchase wild caught tilapia if you can for this recipe. Or choose fish from farm that has been raised in a clean environment of highest international standards, and is therefore free from harmful chemicals
- Choose same sized fillets for uniform cooking
- Whether fresh or thawed, pat the fish dry with a kitchen paper towel to keep the fillets from getting mushy in the oven
- Modify the spiciness per your preference. Use mild or spicy chili powder to taste or skip it altogether if you do not like spicy food.
- Feel free to swap tilapia with other types of white fishes like cod, halibut, bass, or trout for this recipe.
- The leftover stays in the refrigerator for 2-3 days when stored correctly in air tight box.
- Seal room temperature fillets plastic zipper bag, taking care to squeeze out any excess air and freeze for up to 2 months.
- To reheat tilapia - bake at 350°F for about 10 minutes or air fry at 350°F for 3 minutes or until warm through.
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