Baked Tilapia

Baked Tilapia

The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 12 mins
Total: 22 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
344 Calories
16g Fat
16g Carbs
38g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 344
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 20%
Saturated Fat 9g 43%
Cholesterol 111mg 37%
Sodium 321mg 14%
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 38g
Vitamin C 51mg 257%
Calcium 57mg 4%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 808mg 17%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Tilapia is a mild white fish with thin fillets that cook quickly, making it ideal for a weeknight main dish. It cooks evenly in the oven and is totally hands off—no need to flip the fish on the stovetop—freeing you up to make any side dishes.

The straightforward preparation and quick baking time make this tilapia recipe perfect for a busy evening. Tilapia is a lean fish, low in calories and high in protein, and tends to be one of the cheapest seafood options out there. You can find it fresh at the seafood counter or frozen, and either will work for this recipe. You also don't have to worry about mercury because the vast majority of tilapia sold at the supermarket is farmed in closed tanks, making it relatively low in mercury. (Look for tilapia that is farmed using environmentally friendly conditions for the best fish.)

Scale this recipe up or down to make the perfect amount for your family. Baked tilapia makes a fabulous meal with steamed rice or a baked potato. Brussels sprouts or broccoli are great with fish, but any steamed vegetable or salad would make a good side, too. Tilapia is a bit of a culinary blank slate.

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan

  • 4 medium green onions

  • 2 small lemons, divided

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

  • Salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 4 (5-ounce) tilapia fillets

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Baked Tilapia ingredients

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  2. Heat the oven to 400 F, Butter a shallow 2-quart to 3-quart baking dish or a rimmed baking sheet.

    Greased baking dish

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  3. Slice green onions. Set aside dark green slices from top of onions for garnish.

    Sliced green onions on a cutting board

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  4. Zest 1 of the lemons and squeeze 1 tablespoon of juice into a small bowl.

    A bowl of lemon juice and a bowl of lemon zest

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  5. Combine lemon zest and juice with softened butter, chopped parsley, salt, pepper, and white and light green pieces of green onions.

    Parsley, butter, onions, lemon juice and lemon zest in a bowl

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  6. Slice remaining lemon into rounds.

    Slice lemon into rounds

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  7. Place tilapia fillets in prepared baking dish, folding any thin ends under as needed to keep uniform in thickness.

    Tilapia fillets in a baking dish

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  8. Spread butter mixture over fish fillets. Lay lemon rounds on top.

    Tilapia, butter mixture, and lemon rounds in a baking dish

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  9. Bake tilapia fillets, uncovered, for about 12 to 15 minutes, or just until the fish flakes easily with a fork and is opaque all the way through.

    Baked tilapia in a baking dish

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

  10. Garnish with sliced dark green onion tops and serve.

    Baked tilapia on a plate

    The Spruce / Madhumita Sathishkumar

Tips

  • Tilapia should be cooked to a minimum temperature of 145 F (63 C) or until the flesh is opaque and flakes easily with a fork. Don't overbake tilapia since it can easily dry out.
  • Small individual baking dishes are convenient because they go from the oven to the table, and they make a nice presentation.

Recipe Variations

  • Make this recipe dairy free by using vegan butter or olive oil.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of finely minced fresh garlic to the butter mixture or about 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder.
  • Omit the green onions and add another herb to the lemon butter mixture. Fresh chopped dill or fresh thyme are both good with fish.
  • Replace the parsley with fresh chervil or use about 1/2 teaspoon of dried chervil.
  • Add a little spice with a sprinkle of smoked paprika or crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Sprinkle a tablespoon of capers over the fish before baking.

How to Store and Freeze Baked Tilapia

Leftover baked tilapia will keep for about two days in an airtight container in the fridge. If you freeze it, wrap it well. It should keep for up to six months, but it will taste best by three months. Defrost in the fridge, and gently reheat it in the oven or on the stovetop.