Blackened Tilapia

blackened-tilapia

This is one of my favorite fish recipes, and it’s super quick and easy. Mild tilapia fillets are dusted with a bold Cajun spice rub, then sautéed in olive oil until crisp and flavorful on the exterior and tender and flaky within. 

Begin by making the Cajun spice rub. In a small bowl, combine paprika, brown sugar, oregano, salt, cumin, garlic powder and cayenne. Don’t worry about the amount of cayenne — the fillets have a little kick to them but they’re not too spicy, even for kids.

Next, dust the spice rub evenly over the tilapia fillets.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan, then cook the fillets a few minutes per side, until crisp and reddish-brown (“blackened”) on the outside and flaky on the inside.

Enjoy!

Blackened Tilapia

Print Recipe
Servings: 4
Total Time: 15 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 six-ounce tilapia fillets
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges (optional, for serving)
  • Olive oil, for cooking

Instructions

  1. Combine the paprika, brown sugar, oregano, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt in a small bowl; mix until well combined (use your fingers to break up the lumps of brown sugar). Sprinkle the spice rub evenly over both sides of the tilapia fillets.
  2. Heat two tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat in a large non-stick pan. Cook the fillets for 2-3 minutes on each side until reddish-brown on the outside and flaky on the inside. Serve immediately with lime wedges.
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  • Now that’s a simple and delicious AND quick dinner!
    Happy New YEar to you!

  • Jesselyn Andersyn

    Hi Jennifer – I am definitely going to try this recipe.

    One of our New Year’s Resolutions is to eat healthier and that includes more fish.

    Problem is, my husband firmly BELIEVES that he HATES Tilapia – and I have to agree that most restaurants do a lousy job with it . Still I’ve been afraid to try making it at home because I don’t want him to think I’m making something he doesn’t like just to be mean!

    This recipe sounds perfect for a secret test run to see if I can “trick” him into changing his mind. Right now our repertoire is limited to and by his pricey favorites: FRESH Alaskan Halibut, Tuna, Swordfish and Salmon… If this recipe works with him – I’ll feel emboldened and liberated!

    Oh and I been meaning to tell you that one of my (OUR) favorite and regular recipes is one of yours from last year:
    “Golden Roasted Cauliflower with Pecorino Romano Cheese” (Feb 19)

    My Honey/Hubby went from being a confirmed cauliflower hater to sometimes actually preferring this recipe to Mac & Cheese! And THAT is really something!

    Thank Jennifer and Happy New Year!

    I’ll let you know how Project Tilapia goes!

    • Jenn

      Hi Jesselyn, Nice to hear from you! I agree with you both — most restaurants do a lousy job with tilapia. It really needs the right preparation to be as good as those pricier options. This would definitely be a good one to try but you might try another recipe on my site first — the Crispy Tilapia Fingers with Lemon-Garlic Mayo — then graduate to this one. Good luck!

      • Mary

        hi jenn,
        i tried the tilapia fingers with garlic-lemon mayo during christmas eve. it was perfect! those who arent fish lovers become one! no joke. the mayo was so perfect too. but i added 2 more choices of sauce – ready made thai sweet chili and soy-vinegar sauce made from scratch.
        thanks for this recipe.
        happy new year!

  • julianne

    Looks fantastic ~ especially because I don’t have to change anything to make it gluten free! Thanks so much.

  • I will most definitely be trying this one!
    Thanks.
    Teresa

  • Kim

    This recipe was wonderful! I had to use packaged, frozen salmon on hand (which I thawed — salmon is one of our emergency staples) and luckily the fillets were really thin, so they were similar to tilapia in size. The rub was delish!!! It wasn’t overly spicy, so the spice level was perfect. My husband raved and asked me to add it to my recipe collection. Yay!! Thanks again, Jenn, for another winning recipe!

  • Sofia

    We loved your recipe. It was quick and easy and I already had everything in my cupboard. Both my two and five year old enjoyed a large portion each. They especially enjoyed squeezing the lime wedges and we all talked about how the juice enhanced the flavor. Thanks for the wonderful and easy recipe.

    • Jenn

      You’re welcome, Sofia. Glad to know it is kid-friendly!

  • Liesel

    Made this tonight for a quick mid-week supper. This was so delicious and easy, too. I had to double the recipe for my big family and not one bite left! I substituted 1/8 tsp granulated garlic for the 3/4 tsp garlic powder. Served the fish with a basmati rice pilaf and some fresh steamed green beans. Thank you, Jenn, for another simple but unbelievably tasty recipe. My husband and I had forgotten how good fresh tilapia can be!

    • Jenn

      Glad you all enjoyed it, Liesel!

  • Kristen

    This looks great! I’m not a huge fan of tilapia. Can I substitute another white fish? Any suggestions?

    • Jenn

      Hi Kristen, You could substitute just about anything here, but snapper, grouper or mahi mahi would work particularly well. Salmon would be good too.

  • your blog is so pretty.. love this dish.. my favorite fish is salmon, tilapia is on my list too, love any kind of fish spiced up.

  • Karen

    Jenn — I loved this recipe! I used tilefish — was on sale at Balducci’s — and it was delicious! My picky 10 year old asked for seconds. Thanks so much — keep these great recipes coming!

  • Pam

    Another fantastic dish!! I have gone from not cooking at all to cooking 5 nights a week, and everything is from your blog!

  • Tonya

    I have cooked this recipe for my family three times since I discovered it on your site. I reduce the cayenne pepper to 1/8 of a tsp, as I am cooking for young children. After seasoning with the spice blend, I use a light dusting of a seafood breading mix. My family loves this dish.

  • Pam

    Love this recipe. It even got a non fish eater to eat fish.

  • Sharon

    Loved this recipe. Have used it with shrimp as well.

    It was the first receipe I tried from you and got me to follow you and “Like” you on Facebook.

  • We use this spice combination on tilapia, haddock, flounder and halibut. It makes any fish taste delicious! I sometimes bake the fish in parchment paper in the oven to avoid using oil. It’s still moist and delicious!!

  • Jackie

    We loved the tilapia recipe. My kids don’t like a lot of spice so I used 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper instead of 1/4 and it was just as good with a little less”spice” for them

  • Katie

    A delicious go-to dinner! I’ve made this dish numerous times and shared it with many friends and family who also give it rave reviews. If you are sensitive to heat you can leave out the cayenne or just use less. So good…a must try!

  • Mommy222

    I feel a bit embarassed, but what do you serve this with beside the lime wedges? Fries or mashed potatoes? Any suggestion would appreciated. Thank you.

    • Jenn

      I like to serve this with roasted sweet potatoes, but roasted potatoes or buttered rice would also work well. And any simply prepared vegetable would be good too…check out my recipes for roasted carrots or garlicky roasted broccoli.

  • I LOVE this recipe!! I made the tilapia exactly as you suggest, and used it in fish tacos (after eating a bite or 5 of the fish). This seasoning rocks. Would love to see more easy fish recipes :)

  • This is Not Really Blackened

    To do a proper backened fish of any type, you MUST use a cast iron skillet and the spice mix is only pressed to one side.

    You recipe is great – I am not debunking it – but it is not blackened by definition.

  • Lindz

    Great when combined with the Black Bean Salad with Corn, Red Peppers, Avocado & Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette!!!

  • Ruchita

    This is one of my favorite ways to make tilapia. It delicious and perfect for a quick, weeknight meal. I prefer to use fresh tilapia and I it cooks up easily in my cast iron skillet. I like to serve it with sauteed swiss chard or roasted broccoli. In the summer, it is great with fresh corn on the cod.

  • Abby

    Simple, fast, and yummy. Perfect weeknight recipe.

  • Amber

    I have served this tilapia dish often. It is quick and delicious, a hit with my whole family. The rub is awesome; I have used it on salmon and chicken as well. I have made the rub as is, and also cut the paprika in half and used regular chili powder in its place. They are both good; it is a little spicier with the added chili powder, which we like. Serve with rice and a green vegetable.

  • Tracy

    This is a fantastic weeknight meal – simple and quick to prepare, and best of all delicious! My entire family loves this recipe – I do put a little less of the spice mixture on the kids’ fillets, my husband loves it loaded up. To keep things quick and simple, I serve it with couscous and sautéed spinach.

  • Mary Redmiles

    I have made this dish many times as it’s so very easy and tasty. My husband loves it every time and even my grandaughters’ have eaten it. I have doubled the spice mixture to make it easy to prepare it the next time we have it. I’ve served it with rice and roasted vegetables for an easy, nutritious meal. Thank you Jennifer for creating this recipe!

  • Sharyn

    Another fabulous recipe. Served it with oven roasted broccoli splashed with a little fresh squeezed orange to balance out some of the heat. We ate on a OUAC kick and have been using your recipes almost every day. Keep them coming. I love checking my emails for new recipes !

  • Steven

    Absolutely delicious! A new go to for quick dinners! This is easy to make for one person, esp since you can keep the spice mixture sealed up!

    I paired with sauteed green beans and brown rice & quinoa mixture.

  • Theresa

    This is a super easy full proof fish recipe and we all love it. Thanks for taking the fear out of cooking fish!

  • Karen T

    Saw this in my inbox yesterday and picked up the tilapia at the store. The rest is history. This goes down as the “best fish I have ever made, as exclaimed by my 22 year old son”. I had all the ingredients on hand except the fish, and it was a very quick, simple, impressive and delicious high point of our meal. Thanks once again! All I have to say is once upon a chef…and my family knows what to expect! (This would be great to use in a fish taco dish).

  • Flo

    This was so easy and very good. I’ll be making it again soon.

  • Jen, this recipe is wonderful. I’ve made these three times for my teens and I’m making again tonight at the request of my uber-finicky son. I always find frozen tilapia on sale and never really knew how to make them taste good compared to other fleshier fish. Thanks. Really love your blog, visuals, and most importantly…your recipes. Nice job!

  • Halimah

    This was delicious! I’ve always been afraid to cook fish but when I saw this recipe I just knew I had to try it and it turned out great. This will become a regular dish. Thank you!

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