Easy Blackened Tilapia

This blackened tilapia recipe comes together in 15 minutes with big flavor! Each tender bite is loaded with spices.

Craving seafood for dinner? Try this Blackened Tilapia! This Cajun technique for cooking seafood and meat makes it taste restaurant-style in minutes, ideal for fast and easy meals. Here we used homemade blackened seasoning, which has a savory intrigue and makes a crispy darkened crust on the outside of the fish. Tilapia is a fun variation on the more popular blackened salmon: it’s one of our favorite ways to cook this mild white fish! This one was a big winner at our house and we hope it will be at yours too.

What is blackening?

Blackening is a style of cooking fish and meat in a cast iron skillet with a special blend of Cajun-style spices until the outside is crispy and blackened. This technique was popularized by celebrity Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme of Louisiana. He created a recipe for blackened redfish in a 1980’s cookbook that took the world by storm. Since then, blackening has become a popular technique used with different meat and fish, commonly chicken, salmon and shrimp.

Blackened seasoning

Use homemade or purchased blackened seasoning

The most important part of this blackened tilapia recipe: the seasoning blend! Every chef has their own recipe for blackened seasoning, so there’s no official definition. The famous chef Paul Prudhomme had his own technique, and ours is heavily influenced by his method. We added a hint allspice and cloves to add intrigue and nuance. This homemade blackened seasoning blend has a hint of heat, but it’s mild. Feel free to substitute purchased seasoning if you’re in a rush! For the homemade Blackened Seasoning you’ll need:

  • Smoked paprika or sweet paprika
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Oregano
  • Celery seed
  • Allspice
  • Cloves
  • Cayenne
  • Salt and black pepper
See also  Easy Eggplant Parmesan

Basic steps for blackened tilapia

Blackened tilapia takes just 15 minutes to put together, so it’s ideal for easy weeknight meals! Here are the basic steps for the process (or skip to the recipe below to get started):

  • Pat the tilapia dry and add blackened seasoning. Rub the fish with olive oil and season with the seasoning blend.
  • Sear the fish skin side up for 2 to 3 minutes. A stainless steel or cast iron pan get the best sear on the fish (not a non-stick pan). Cook on medium high heat until it’s cooked about halfway.
  • Flip and cook 2 to 5 more minutes. The timing depends on the thickness, so use your best judgement. It should be just tender and starting to flake: about 140 degrees Fahrenheit when measured with a food thermometer.
Blackened Tilapia

What to look for when buying tilapia

Is tilapia sustainable? The vast quantity of tilapia available to buy is farm raised, but it’s considered a sustainable fish if you find responsibly farmed fish. Here’s what Monterrey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch recommends:

  • Look for tilapia farmed in Peru in raceways and Ecuador in ponds. Then look for tilapia from Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Indonesia, and Taiwan. 
  • Tilapia is a Best Choice when farmed in indoor recirculating tanks with wastewater treatment and a Good Alternative when the wastewater isn’t treated.
  • Also, look for tilapia certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, Best Aquaculture Practices, and Naturland.

What to serve with blackened tilapia

Got your skillet sizzling with blackened tilapia? We love that this recipe is so quick, so we love pairing it with quick and simple side dishes. Here’s what we’d recommend serving it with:

See also  Easy Grilled Salmon
Blackened Tilapia recipe

More tilapia recipes

Want more with tilapia? Here are some of our other favorite ways to cook it:

This blackened tilapia recipe is…

Gluten-free, dairy free (with olive oil), and pescatarian.

Print

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Description

This blackened tilapia recipe comes together in 15 minutes with big flavor! Each tender bite is loaded with spices.


  • 4 4-ounce tilapia fillets, (wild caught if possible)
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or more olive oil for dairy free)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus one drizzle
    ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons homemade Blackened Seasoning (or purchased seasoning)
  • Lemon wedges, for serving


  1. Pat the tilapia dry with a clean towel. Rub it with a drizzle of oil and sprinkle it with the kosher salt and blackened seasoning.
  2. Heat a large skillet (not non-stick*) over medium high heat and add the butter and olive oil. 
  3. When butter is melted, add the tilapia and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until cooked about halfway to the center of the thickest part.
  4. Flip the tilapia (a fish spatula makes easy work of it). Tilt the pan down slightly and quickly spoon the pan juices over the top of the fish a few times. Cook for 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness, until just tender and starting to flake (the internal temperature should be between 140 Fahrenheit in the center when removed). Remove from the heat and serve, spritzed with lemon wedges. 
See also  Easy BBQ Shrimp

Notes

*You’ll get the best sear from a stainless steel or cast iron skillet.

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Keywords: Blackened tilapia