Lime and Basil Tilapia Recipe

Lime and Basil Tilapia

The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Marinate: 30 mins
Total: 55 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
186 Calories
15g Fat
4g Carbs
11g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 186
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 19%
Saturated Fat 2g 11%
Cholesterol 24mg 8%
Sodium 554mg 24%
Total Carbohydrate 4g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 11g
Vitamin C 12mg 61%
Calcium 20mg 2%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 207mg 4%
*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 that happily takes on any flavors you add to it. The combination of lime and basil in this recipe makes for a fresh-tasting, flavorful main dish with minimal ingredients. The grill adds a delicious smoky flavor that can't be beat.

Fresh or frozen fillets will work well for this recipe. If frozen, make sure to thaw completely in the fridge before preparing. Allow half an hour for the fish to marinate—the perfect amount of time for preparing and preheating the grill.

Grilled tilapia can be eaten along with grilled vegetables and rice or flaked and served in tacos. Try topping with a crunchy cabbage slaw and crema. You could even swap the basil for cilantro.

"This recipe is quick, easy, and flavorful—exactly what I'm looking for 95% of the time. Make sure to really clean your grill grates and oil them before adding the fish so that it doesn’t come apart as it comes off the grill." —Laurel Randolph

A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 4 medium tilapia fillets

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

  • 1 lime, zested

  • 1 tablespoon sliced fresh basil

  • 2 teaspoons bourbon, optional

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • Black pepper, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Lime and Basil Tilapia Recipe ingredients

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  2. Combine olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, fresh basil, bourbon if using, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl.

    Combine olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, fresh basil, bourbon, salt and black pepper in a small bowl

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  3. Place tilapia fillets in a resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over the top. Make sure all of the fish is well coated with the marinade. Seal the bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

    Place tilapia fillets in a resealable plastic bag and pour marinade over top

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  4. Remove the fish fillets from the bag and pour the marinade into a saucepan. Bring the marinade to a boil, immediately reduce the heat, and let simmer on low for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and keep warm.

    pour marinade into a saucepan.

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  5. Grill the tilapia fillets for 3 to 5 minutes per side over high heat, or until the fish reaches an internal temperature of 145 F and appears opaque in color throughout.

    tilapia cooking on a grill pan

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

  6. Remove from the grill and serve with a few spoonfuls of the cooked marinade drizzled over top.

    Lime and Basil Tilapia on a plate

    The Spruce / Kristina Vanni


Lean white fish likes to stick to the grill. Here are a few tips to help prevent any sticking:

  • Make sure your grill is nice and clean before starting.
  • Once the grill is hot, lightly oil the grates. Fold up a paper towel into a square and saturate it with oil. Use a pair of tongs to rub the oil on the hot grill grates.
  • Don't flip the fish until it's completely cooked on the bottom side. This will help it separate from the grill.
  • Use a large, flat metal spatula to flip the fish. If you're not sure if it's done, use an instant-read thermometer. The internal temperature should be 145 F.

Recipe Variation

If using the fish for tacos, you can swap the basil for cilantro, if desired. Brush the tilapia with the cooked marinade as it cooks. Remove from heat once done and flake into bite-sized pieces.