Pan-Seared Tilapia Recipe

Background and History

Tilapia is a versatile and mild-flavored fish that has been a staple in many cuisines around the world. Its popularity surged in the 1990s due to its affordability, ease of farming, and sustainability. Pan-searing is a simple cooking method that quickly cooks the fish with a flavorful crust while keeping the inside moist and tender. This recipe combines the best of both worlds, offering a delicious and healthy meal that can be prepared in minutes.

Serves: 4

  • Time: 10 minutes prep, 15 minutes cooking
  • Cooking Time: 15 minutes


  • 4 tilapia fillets (about 6 ounces each)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 lemon, sliced into wedges
  • Fresh parsley, chopped (optional, for garnish)


Prepare the Fish

  • Pat the tilapia fillets dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
  • Season both sides of the fillets with salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder

Heat the Pan

  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.

Cook the Fish

  • Carefully place the tilapia fillets in the hot skillet. Do not overcrowd the pan; cook in batches if necessary.
  • Cook for 3-4 minutes on one side, until the edges begin to look opaque and the fish releases easily from the pan.
  • Flip the fillets and cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side, until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork.


  • Transfer the tilapia to a serving platter.
  • Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the fillets.
  • Garnish with chopped parsley if desired.
  • Serve immediately with lemon wedges on the side.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

  • Calories: 200
  • Protein: 36g
  • Fat: 6g
  • Carbohydrates: 1g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Sodium: 550mg


Tilapia Selection

Choose fresh, firm fillets with a clean smell. Frozen tilapia can be used; thaw thoroughly before cooking.

Seasoning Variations

Experiment with different spices such as cumin, chili powder, or Italian seasoning for a different flavor profile.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with steamed vegetables, rice, or a fresh salad for a complete meal.

Allergy Warning


This recipe contains fish, which is a common allergen. Ensure that those with fish allergies avoid this dish.


If preparing for someone with a fish allergy, thoroughly clean all utensils and surfaces to prevent cross-contamination.

How to make tilapia not taste fishy?

Soaking tilapia in a mixture of milk and lemon juice for 15-20 minutes before cooking can help reduce any fishy taste, as the acids in the milk and lemon juice neutralize the fishy odor.

How to cook tilapia in a stainless steel pan?

To cook tilapia in a stainless steel pan, preheat the pan over medium-high heat, add a small amount of oil, and ensure it’s hot before adding the fish. This helps create a non-stick surface and gives the tilapia a nice sear.

Is tilapia healthy?

Yes, tilapia is a healthy option; it is low in calories and fat, high in protein, and a good source of vitamins and minerals like vitamin B12, phosphorus, and selenium.

Can you pan fry frozen tilapia?

It’s best to thaw frozen tilapia before pan frying to ensure even cooking. However, if you need to cook it from frozen, use a lower heat and cover the pan to allow the fish to cook through more evenly.

How do you fry tilapia without it sticking to the pan?

To prevent tilapia from sticking to the pan, make sure the pan and oil are adequately heated before adding the fish, and avoid moving the fillets until they naturally release from the pan.

Is it OK to pan fry frozen fish?

Yes, you can pan fry frozen fish, but it may not cook as evenly. It’s better to thaw the fish first for the best results.

Do I need to defrost fish before frying?

For best results, defrost fish before frying to ensure even cooking and a better texture.

How to marinate frozen tilapia?

To marinate frozen tilapia, thaw it in the refrigerator first, then marinate it for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to penetrate the fish.

Is it bad to cook frozen fish without thawing?

Cooking frozen fish without thawing can result in uneven cooking. It’s generally recommended to thaw fish before cooking to achieve the best texture and flavor.

What is the best way to fry frozen fish?

The best way to fry frozen fish is to thaw it first, pat it dry, and then cook it over medium heat with sufficient oil to prevent sticking and ensure a crispy exterior

Fitzroy Neville
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Fitzroy Neville, the culinary maestro behind this site, boasts the impressive title of Cooking Prodigy. With a natural flair for the culinary arts, Fitzroy brings innovation and expertise to the world of pet cuisine. His site is a haven for pet owners seeking imaginative and nutritious recipes to delight their furry companions. Fitzroy's passion for transforming pet meals into culinary experiences is evident in the creative and delectable content he shares. For those looking to elevate their pets' dining experience, Fitzroy Neville's site is a testament to the artistry and skill of a true cooking prodigy dedicated to pampering our four-legged friends.