Tortilla Crusted Tilapia
I first tried tortilla crusted fish at a restaurant out West and have been tinkering around trying to recreate the recipe for a long time. Initially, I tried coating the fish with crushed tortilla chips — it was good but no matter how I cooked it, the crust was always a little too tough. Finally, it dawned on me to try grinding fresh corn tortillas in my food processor, like I would make fresh bread crumbs. Bingo! The result was a deliciously crunchy and flavorful crust with soft, flaky white fish within — and a new supper standby the whole family loves.
The recipe works best with smaller tilapia filets; if you can only find large ones (over 7 ounces), cut them in half.
Begin by combining the corn tortillas with the spices in the bowl of a food processor, and process until the tortillas are coarsely ground.
I use a 3-step breading process to coat the fish: first flour, then eggs, then the tortilla crumbs. This ensures that the coating adheres perfectly to the fish.
Set up an assembly line with flour in the first bowl, beaten eggs in the second, and the ground corn tortillas in the third. Dredge the fish in the flour, shaking off any excess.
Dip in the eggs.
Then coat in the ground corn tortillas.
This can be done ahead of time (and even frozen), so all that’s left to do at dinnertime is pan-fry the fish.
When you’re ready to cook, coat a nonstick pan generously with oil. Pan-fry the fillets for 3-4 minutes on the first side, or until golden brown. Flip the fillets and cook a few minutes more.
Serve the fish with lime wedges and fresh cilantro, if desired. For a side dish, try my Mexican Rice Pilaf.
Tortilla Crusted Tilapia
- 8 corn tortillas, cut into quarters
- 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1-1/2 pounds tilapia fillets (cut in half if the fillets are larger than 7 ounces)
- Vegetable oil for cooking
- 1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving
- A few springs cilantro, for garnish (optional)
- Combine the corn tortillas, paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, onion powder and garlic powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until the tortillas are ground into coarse crumbs. Transfer the tortilla crumbs to a dinner plate.
- Crack the eggs into a wide, shallow bowl and beat with a fork until blended. Place the flour on a dinner plate. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Set up an assembly line with the flour first, the beaten eggs second, the tortilla crumbs third, and the baking sheet fourth.
- Lightly season the tilapia with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Working with one fillet at a time, dredge in the flour mixture, shaking excess over the plate so just a light coating remains; dip in the eggs and turn to coat evenly, letting any excess drip off so just a light coating remains; then dredge in the tortilla crumbs, turning to coat evenly. Place the breaded fillets on the lined baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook (this can be done several hours ahead of time).
- Coat a large non-stick sauté pan generously with vegetable oil and place over medium heat. When the oil is hot, place 2 tilapia fillets in the pan (you don't want to crowd them) and cook until the first side is golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until done, about 2 minutes more. Transfer the tilapia to a serving platter. Wipe the pan clean and repeat with remaining fillets.
- Per serving (4 servings)
- Calories: 556
- Fat: 28g (approximate, depends on how much oil you use)
- Saturated fat: 3g
- Carbohydrates: 35g
- Sugar: 1g
- Fiber: 4g
- Protein: 42g
- Sodium: 1166mg
- Cholesterol: 178mg
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