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Enjoy this 20-minute Lemon Butter Baked Tilapia for weeknight dinners or meal prep! Lightly seasoned and dressed in a luxurious lemon butter sauce, every tender and flaky bite of fish is perfectly lemony, garlicky, and melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Did you know that fresh or frozen tilapia can be transformed into an impressive fish dinner? It’s true! This Lemon Butter Baked Tilapia recipe is proof that with simple seasonings and a butter sauce, you can take an everyday white fish and turn it into a restaurant-quality meal.
Much like my baked Mediterranean cod and baked salmon fillet, you can have this lemon butter baked fish on the table in just 20 minutes! The recipe starts by coating the lightly seasoned fillets in a simple lemon butter sauce that’s packed with garlicky goodness. From there, the fish is baked, then finished under the broiler.
As a result, every bite of the baked tilapia is deliciously crisp on the outside while maintaining its moist and flaky meat. It’s a real treat for family dinners or weekly lunches!
- It’s the perfect light and healthy weeknight meal because it’s so easy to prepare and ready in just 20 minutes.
- All it takes are 3 everyday seasonings to compliment tilapia’s natural light and tangy flavors.
- The bright and lemony butter sauce is drizzled over the fish, transforming it into a restaurant-worthy meal!
Tilapia - You can use fresh or frozen tilapia fillets for this recipe. Just be sure to thaw frozen tilapia in the fridge before baking. This recipe works well with most kinds of white fish, so feel free to use your favorite!
Seasonings - A blend of paprika, salt, and pepper is used to season the fish.
Butter - Because you can’t make lemon butter sauce without butter. You can use ghee as a substitute or vegan butter to keep it dairy free.
Lemons - Freshly squeezed lemon juice brightens up the butter sauce while lemon slices are tucked underneath and placed on top of the fish as it bakes.
Garlic - Minced garlic infuses the butter sauce with irresistible savory notes.
Step 1: Season the tilapia. Place the tilapia fillets side-by-side in a baking dish, then sprinkle them with paprika, salt, and pepper.
Step 2: Make the lemon butter sauce. Whisk the melted butter, lemon juice, and minced garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle the sauce over the fillets.
Step 3: Bake. Place some lemon slices underneath and on top of the fillets, then bake the fish until it’s just about done.
Step 4: Broil. Switch the oven to broil for a few minutes to help the outside crisp slightly. Garnish the fish with fresh parsley, then serve and enjoy!
Tips and FAQs
- Pat the fish dry: Blotting each fillet with a paper towel absorbs the excess moisture and ensures that the seasonings stick to the outside.
- For an extra boost of lemon, add lemon zest to the garlic butter sauce and/or the top of the fish fillets before baking.
- If tilapia isn’t your thing, swap it for any white fish you love, like cod, flounder, or pollock.
What side dishes go with baked tilapia?
This bright and tangy oven baked tilapia pairs best with light, family-friendly side dishes. My bone broth rice, mashed red potatoes, sauteed asparagus, or roasted broccoli recipes all pair well and can be prepared as the tilapia bakes in the oven.
How long does tilapia take to cook in the oven at 375ºF?
The exact time it takes to bake tilapia fillets at 375ºF varies on the thickness of your fillets. I always have great results when I bake tilapia for 11 minutes, then finish it under the broiler for another 2 to 3 minutes.
How do you know when tilapia is done baking?
The easiest way to tell if your baked fish is done is by gently twisting a fork into the thickest part of the fish. It should be opaque in color and flake apart easily. Alternatively, you can use a meat thermometer to check that the internal temperature is 140ºF to 145ºF.
Does baked tilapia need to be flipped?
No. Since tilapia filets are thin, they tend to easily fall apart when fussed with during the cooking process. It’s best to leave them undisturbed as they bake.
Can you make this in the air fryer instead?
Yes! Line your air fryer basket with a piece of foil, then preheat it to 400ºF. Season the fish, then place the tilapia in the basket. Top with lemon butter sauce and cook for 10 minutes.
You may need to do this in two batches, depending on the size of your air fryer basket. To learn more about cooking tilapia in the air fryer, check out my air fryer tilapia recipe for tips and FAQs.
Refrigerator: Wrap the leftover fish fillets in foil and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.
Freezer: Let the fish cool before wrapping it in foil and placing it in the freezer-safe bag or container. Freeze for up to 4 months.
Reheating: You can reheat the foil-wrapped fish in the oven or air fryer at 325ºF until it’s warmed through.
More easy seafood dinners
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Lemon Butter Baked Tilapia
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Place the tilapia into a 9x13 baking dish, then sprinkle the salt, paprika and pepper overtop.
- Whisk the butter, lemon juice and garlic together in a small bowl, then pour it over the tilapia. Put the lemon slices over and under the tilapia.
- Place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 11 minutes, then switch the oven to broil and broil the tilapia for 2-3 minutes.
- Sprinkle with fresh parsley and enjoy!