Tortilla Crusted Tilapia

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Ground tortillas give this tilapia a deliciously crunchy (and kid-friendly) coating.

Tortilla-crusted tilapia on a plate.

I first tried tortilla crusted fish at a restaurant out West, and ever since, I’ve been on a quest to recreate that dish in my own kitchen. Initially, I experimented with crushed tortilla chips as a coating. While it was tasty, the crust ended up being too tough, no matter the cooking method. Then, an idea struck: what about grinding fresh corn tortillas in my food processor, much like making fresh breadcrumbs? Bingo! That was the key to achieving a tender, flaky fish encased in a deliciously crunchy and flavorful crust. It’s quickly become a new dinner standby that my whole family loves.

What You’ll Need To Make Tortilla Crusted Tilapia

Tilapia ingredients including lime, spices, and flour.

The recipe works best with smaller tilapia filets; if you can only find large ones (over 7 ounces), cut them in half.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Tortillas and spices in a food processor.

Begin by combining the corn tortillas with the spices in the bowl of a food processor, and process until the tortillas are coarsely ground.

Food processor of tortilla and spice mixture.

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.

Bowls of flour, eggs, and tortilla crumbs.

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.

Tilapia being dredged in flour.

Dip in the eggs.

Tilapia being dipped in egg.

Then coat in the ground corn tortillas.

Tilapia being coated in tortilla crumbs.

This can be done ahead of time (and even frozen), so all that’s left to do at dinnertime is pan-fry the fish.

Tortilla-crusted tilapia on a lined baking sheet.

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.

Tortilla-crusted tilapia in a skillet.

Serve the fish with lime wedges and fresh cilantro, if desired. For a side dish, try my Mexican Rice Pilaf.

Tortilla-crusted tilapia on a plate.

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Tortilla Crusted Tilapia

Ground tortillas give this tilapia a deliciously crunchy (and kid-friendly) coating.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes


  • 8 corn tortillas, cut into quarters
  • 1½ teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • ¾ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 1½ 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)


  1. Combine the corn tortillas, paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, 1½ 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Set up an assembly line with the flour first, the beaten eggs second, the tortilla crumbs third, and the baking sheet fourth.
  4. Lightly season the tilapia with ¼ 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).
  5. 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.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

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  • 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

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • Hi Jenn,

    Thank you for your wonderful recipes! I have made several from your site. Quick question, could you use substitute cornmeal instead of the tortillas?

    • — Lorena on February 22, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Lorena, so glad you like the recipes! You can use cornmeal in place of the tortillas but the texture will be very different. The cornmeal will give it more of a breading as if you were coating it in flour.

      • — Jenn on February 23, 2024
      • Reply
  • So in this morning’s comment (that I don’t see it posted yet) I suggested I may use this recipe with chicken cutlets because I loved it last night with my tilapia so I did it for lunch and boy was that great. I am sold! Thank you so much.

    • — Marie Lawton on January 28, 2024
    • Reply
  • I used to love Costco’s corn crusted tilapia until you could barely see it was fish because the tilapia was so so thin. I then found frozen individual wrapped tilapia fillets at Sam’s Warehouse. So yesterday I tried this recipe. OMG it was so so good. I followed the recipe to a T except at the end I sprinkled some Tajin to add a little more lemon taste (if you haven’t tried that seasoning try it, I put it on everything since I found it in stores and Amazon). I plan on using this recipe with other seasonings and I wonder if I could use it with thin cutlets of chicken. Will try that today. Thank you, friend, for a great recipe.

    • — Mariel on January 28, 2024
    • Reply
  • My family loved it, of course! Because all of your recipes are always a hit with them! My son loves tarter sauce with fish, so as a substitute I whipped up the lime crema from your shrimp street taco recipe. He thought it was even better with this addition! Any other tarter equivalent ideas for next time?

  • This was ahhhhh-mazing. I’m not usually fan of either corn tortillas or fish (had to buy both just for this recipe), but we’re trying to eat more fish, and I’ve always had good luck with the other recipes I’ve tried from Jenn, so I decided to go for it. I wasn’t expecting the flavor profile to be so deliciously reminiscent of tacos. I followed the recipe exactly as written, and the crust crisped up beautifully and the tilapia came out perfectly cooked. Thanks for another great recipe, Jenn! You’re such a blessing to those of us that are clueless in the kitchen!

  • Amazing!!! I had some corn tortillas that were about to expire and came across this recipe. I used flounder fish, the crust was so tasty and crunchy but the inside was tender and juicy. This is definitely a keeper.

  • Just made this for dinner tonight with some trout I had in the freezer. So good! I loved the combination of flavors with the cumin and a tiny kick with the cayenne pepper. My family was glad to have fish a different way. I will definitely be making this again.

  • This was delicious! Just the right amount of crunch and spice. My husband is not overly complimentary of food, and, when he took his first bite, he said, “MMM!” I normally follow Jenn’s recipes to the T (because they are always fantastic), but I couldn’t find corn tortillas anywhere (sold out). So, I used crushed up tortilla chips instead, and it worked out perfectly! I did burn the second batch a little bit, so I might recommend turning the heat down after the first batch (which Jenn probably said anyway!).

  • Instead of pan frying this dish, could I grill the fish? Perhaps on some foil with plenty of oil? Thanks for your amazing recipe collective, all tasted and perfected!

    • — Nader Jazayeri
    • Reply
    • Glad you like the recipes! 🙂
      Unfortunately, I don’t think it will work to grill this — sorry!

  • This is an easy and quick delicious dinner. First I used cod because my husband does not like tilapia. It worked just fine. Next most everything is mixed up in the food processor making the prep time go quickly. Frying the cod leaves a nice crispy outside with just enough heat from the spices for a great meal. I also did the Mexican rice and some fruit for an easy dinner.

  • This recipe is such a favorite in our house! We use the same prep method for chicken for my non-fish eating husband and the whole family is happy. It is also a great gluten-free option (I just omit the flour) for my mom too! What is amazing is that it is just as good as leftovers… I can’t get over how it stays so crunchy. Delicious!

  • Delightful flavor – a spritz of lime is a great addition. Seemed to help hold the heat longer? (maybe it was just so good that we ate faster!) Paired with mashed butternut and parm dusted asparagus. My wife has her Parmesan Tilapia and now I have my own preperation. Thanks

  • This turned out the best tilapia I’ve made. All four of my kids happily ate it (even the baby). Thanks for the recipe!

  • Hi Jenn! I made this recipe a while ago and really enjoyed it. I want to make it again soon and I do have a couple of questions that I’m hoping you could answer! One: would this recipe work with cod instead of tilapia? And two, would using flour tortillas diminish the flavor? I have a bag of small flour tortillas that I’m dying to get rid of. Thanks for the delicious fish recipe!

    • Hi Margarit, I do think the recipe would work with cod. While I think the flour tortillas will work, I don’t think it would be as good b/c it will lack that distinctive corn tortilla flavor.

      • Most tilapia is not considered to be a healthy type of fish, so I no longer buy it. I’ve recently breaded haddock with good results, so I would definitely try cod or haddock in place of tilapia in this recipe.

  • wow my daughter is vegan she left some tortilla chips that staled a day or two but not the crunch you want in a chip, so i did your recipe , omg it looked just like pic and was amazing and I served with your rice pilaf recipe and just added slivered almonds it was amazing, thank you Jenn, im gonna try the Cauliflower Steak and Cauliflower mashed for my Vegan Daughter

    • — carmen garced martinez
    • Reply
  • I was all set to make this recipe for dinner one night but found that my lovely family had eaten the corn tortillas! But I discovered that substituting panko crumbs in place of the ground corn tortillas produces a crunchy and delicious result. The spice mix was very flavorful.

  • Hi Jenn,
    This looks pretty good ! I’m wondering what is the size of the pan that you use and what quantity of oil did you use ? I have the same question for the fish finger recipe. I’m also wondering if you can do this recipe with bread crumbs ? Thanks 🙂

    • Hi Vickie, I would use the largest pan you have as that will cut down on the number of batches you need to cook. Also, you don’t really need to measure the oil- I would just use enough to make sure the bottom of the pan is well covered. Enjoy!

  • I wanted to know why the sodium count is so high, I have to watch my intake. I see you added salt. Was it the garlic or onion powder or chips? Can you make some suggestions on how I can reduce it?

    Thank you, Keep the great recipes coming

    • Hi Shell, sorry for the delay! I thought the sodium looked a bit high, so I wanted to double check it. Albeit high, the program I use to calculate nutritional info confirms that it is correct. Unfortunately, I don’t see a lot of room to decrease the sodium except for looking for reduced-sodium tortillas (if they are available) and decreasing the added salt in the recipe. Thanks for your patience!

  • I’ve tried a lot of breaded and crusted fish recipes and this is by far the best that I’ve made. My family loved this meal. The corn tortillas and spices were the key. Thanks for this recipe – it’s a winner.

  • First time ever that one of your recipes hasn’t worked out! I followed the recipe exactly. It needed serious salt and lime juice–the tilapia is so bland that it just seemed to suck up all the flavor that was added to the fish with the crust (which was, itself, amazing). I had some sliced avocado with mine and thought that, with that plus the lime and salt, it had the potential to be a pretty great fish taco. Next time I try it, it will be with either chicken tenders or a more flavorful fish.

    • Hi Erika, So sorry you didn’t enjoy the tilapia. If you try it again fish taco-style, you might try seasoning the avocado. I love avocado but it definitely dulls the other flavors unless it is heavily seasoned.

  • We had this a 2nd time & had leftover tilapia. We morphed it into “filet o’ fish sliders” for a leftover weekend lunch.

    The (heated) filet with some (melted) american cheese on top, shredded lettuce and a siracha mayo on a grilled slider bun. OH MY GAWD, heaven.

    I have tilapia (& slider buns) in the freezer and corn tortillas in the pantry. It won’t be too much longer before this gets a three-peat in our house!!

  • This is my new go to or how to prepare Tilapia. I amde no changes to the recipe. It is quick, easy and delicious! And my kids gobbled it up. I only make 2 – 3 fillets at a time and found that the tortilla breading stores well in the freezer for a few weeks. Making the next batch even easier. I serve with whatever fruit and steamed veggie is in season and everyone is happy.

  • Hi Chef, what kind of sauce can be made for this dish?

    • Hi Daniel, I have served it with a lime-jalapeno-garlic mayo; it was delicious but not really necessary. It’s good with just a squirt of lime 🙂

      • Hi Jenn – I want to make that dip! I assume it’s similar to the lemon-garlic mayo from the other tilapia recipe. Would it be the same ingredients – sub the lemon for the lime + 1/4 cup minced jalapeño? Just a guess… Thanks!

        • Hi Chad, that sounds about right but 1/4 cup of minced jalapeño sounds like a lot! I’d probably start with 1 Tbsp. and add more to taste if desired.

  • This was absolutely delicious!! Everyone in the house, including the 3.5 year old, cheered: “Winner, winner, tilapia dinner!!”.

    We had some chipotle bbq sauce leftover from some bacon wrapped shrimp (Guy Fieri) for Father’s Day that hubby used on his. My daughter and I were purists and used lime “squeezies”.

    Served it with a simple roasted yellow squash; absolutely yummy! Thanks for a great recipe edition to my repertoire!

    • So glad you all enjoyed it, Meredith!

  • What would you serve with this? Thanks!

  • We just had the fish and rice with a marinated slaw for supper……delish! Hubby is not a huge fish guy, but loves mexican or southwest food–he loved it. I will try freezing it. My folks have health issues and I cook meals they can reheat. I think they could pan fry if it is all prepped. They like fish and I never cook it for them because it is not a great dish to reheat. Thanks for a great recipe.

  • Do you think I could spray it with olive oil and bake in the oven? Or won’t be as crunchy? Love, love, love all your recipes!

    • Hi Alison, I’ve tried it — it’s not as tasty as pan-fried but it does still get pretty crisp.

      • I’d like to try baking them. Any tips on temp and for how long? Thanks!

        • Hi Donna, I’d suggest baking the fish at 350° for 12 to 15 minutes, until it flakes and separates easily with a fork. I’d love to hear how it turns out!

          • Thanks! I’ll let you know – making it tonight.

            • — donna
          • Hi again, FYI the fish baked well at 350 for 15 mins. Was very tasty but not really crispy. We served it on buns with a mango slaw. Next time I’ll try toasting the ‘breading’ in a pan for a few mins before dredging and baking. Will keep you posted. Thanks again, delish!

            • — donna
          • Hi Donna, glad you enjoyed it – I like the idea of serving it on buns with slaw – thanks for following up!

            • — Jenn
  • Hello, good afternoon. Tortillas are such as one buys? Or they are fried like nachos?

    • Hi Carlos, The fresh tortillas you would use for tacos — they are not fried.

  • Are these crispy tortillas? I am not quite sure what I will be looking for.

    • Hi Marjory, They are not crispy. Corn tortillas are fresh and soft — they are an alternative to flour tortillas. They are usually sold in a plastic bag near the flour tortillas.

  • Could the fillets be baked or broiled instead of pan fried? Thanks! Love your recipes and website!

    • Hi Jamie, I did try baking the fillets — it’s not as delicious as pan-frying (naturally!) but it does still come out crisp. Hope you enjoy!

      • Hi Chef Jenn! Is it ok to use the crumbled remnants of a bag of corn tortillas chips instead of the corn tortillas? If so, do you happen to know how much would be the equivalent? Thank you!

        • Sure – I’d guesstimate you’d need 1-1/2 to 2 cups. Hope you enjoy!

  • I am just about embarrassed to ask this question, but here goes. Could you use the crispy corn tortillas?

    • Hi Karen, I would stick with the fresh corn tortillas. I think the crispy ones will give you the same result as the tortilla chips I tried — the crust comes out a little tough. It’s much better with the fresh 🙂

  • taste great I have also done the same recipe with parmesan cheese it melts in your mouth

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