Baked Blackened Tilapia

Blackened tilapia covered in a delicious Cajun spice blend is ready in less than 15 minutes and loaded with flavor.


This Baked Blackened Tilapia couldn't be easier to make and makes the best quick weeknight meal. Serve it with rice, veggies, or fold in tortillas with some quick slaw for Blackened Fish Tacos. 

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with tilapia. I love that it is affordable, versatile, and can be found almost anywhere in the country. This makes it accessible for almost everyone. It also has a mild flavor making it an approachable fish for those who aren't in love with fish and seafood. However, I don't love the fact it can sometimes lack flavor, which is why I like to punch it up with lots of spice and flavor whenever I cook it. 

Adding blackening seasoning is the perfect solution to ensure that tilapia is packed with flavor. It's easy to make, truly packs a punch, and you can control how strong it is by adjusting how much you put add to the fish. The butter adds richness to the fish and also cuts the spice slightly. Served with some fresh lemon and it is one delicious and healthy dish.

In order to make this a true quick weeknight meal, I usually pair it with some precooked brown rice (frozen or shelf-stable) and some quick-cooking veggies like these 10 Minute Garlic Green Beans or a quick Cabbage Stir Fry.

How to make homemade blackening seasoning?

The key to this recipe is the blackening spice blend. It's easy to make and I always have a big container ready to go in my pantry. You can also buy a store-bought version to make things easier, but the homemade version is so much better. Not only can you control the level of spice, but you also can be sure there isn't any added sugar or preservatives. If you make a large batch, it will keep for at least a year. 

  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Baked blackened tilapia in a glass dish with lemon slices and blackening spices.

What sides to serve with Blackened Tilapia

Now that you are ready to prepare this delicious baked tilapia you are probably wondering what sides would go well with this dish. To keep this meal simple, I almost always pair it with something I can throw together while the fish is baking.

  • An obvious side dish is a nice fresh green salad or you can mix it up and serve it with a fresh fruit salad on the time. This Watermelon and Avocado Salad is one of our favorites.
  • For starches, consider using precooked rice or quinoa. I always have frozen brown rice and quinoa on hand for quick meals.
  • Another heartier side dish is baked sweet potatoes. Make them in the microwave to speed up the cooking time. The sweetness of the potatoes is delicious with the spices on the fish. You could also try these Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes, but they take a bit longer.
  • For a low carb option, make this Coconut Cauliflower Rice or some Stir Fried Zucchini Noodles.

Is Tilapia Good for You?

Tilapia sometimes gets overshadowed by other more well-known fish like salmon or tuna, but when it comes to health benefits this fish does not hold back! Tilapia is a fish that hides 23 grams of protein and only 112 calories in its lean white meat.  It also has a good amount of B vitamins and potassium.  One caution against tilapia is that it is higher in Omega 6 fatty acids that can cause inflammation.

With that said, there are some questions about certain types of farmed tilapia, which can contain pesticides, antibiotics, and more depending on how it was farmed. Whenever possible, it is best to choose wild caught tilapia, but that can be extremely hard to find. When you can't find wild-caught, look for tilapia that has been farmed in the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Ecuador,  or Peru, where conditions are more closely monitored. Try to avoid tilapia coming from China, where farming practices tend to have lower standards. 

Recipe Ideas and Tips

This is a versatile dish that's easy to make and easy to customize. Here are some ideas:

  • Consider using this recipe for fish tacos! Blackened fish is delicious in a soft shell taco topped with fresh toppings like mango, cabbage, and tomatoes.
  • Using this fish as a protein for a summertime salad is also a creative way to lighten up this meal.
  • Play around with the spices in the seasoning mix to make it spicier, smokier, or more garlicky.
  • This recipe works great on the grill. Just make sure to cook the fish on foil so it doesn't stick to the grill grates.
  • This will also work in a heavy skillet. Simply cook it in melted butter or olive oil f\or 3-4 minutes per side. This is a more traditional preparation, but I prefer cooking it in the oven since you don't have to worry about the fish sticking to the pan.

Looking for more Blackened recipes?

The Recipe
Blackened tilapia in a glass baking dish with lemon slices and blackening seasoning.

Baked Blackened Tilapia

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  • 1.33 lbs. tilapia
  • 2 tbsp. butter (or olive oil or ghee)
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

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Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.


Place the fish in a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Melt the butter and brush or drizzle onto of the fish.


Mix together the spices to create the blackening rub. Coat on one side for a milder flavor or on both sides for a spicier flavor. You may have some extra seasoning.


Bake for 10-12 minutes until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 6 oz.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 193
Calories from Fat 80
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 8g
Saturated Fat 5g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 91mg
Sodium 388mg
Total Carbohydrate 4g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 0g
Protein 29g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the authorMeet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
On Baked Blackened Tilapia
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July 5, 2018 - 14:09
Add a Rating:
Excellent recipe and so simple! My daughter even liked the leftovers the next day. We enjoyed it with some sautéed asparagus and a side salad.
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December 29, 2020 - 10:06
Did you turn fish halfway?
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December 29, 2020 - 11:03
You don't have to turn it halfway. It will cook all the way through without flipping in the oven.
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