Blackened Tilapia covered in a delicious Cajun spice blend is ready in less than 15 minutes.. It's an easy and healthy dinner full of bold flavors.
This Baked Blackened Tilapia covered in homemade spice rub couldn't be easier to make! It's the best quick weeknight meal when you need something fast, healthy, and delicious. Serve it with veggies and rice, or fold in tortillas with some quick slaw for Blackened Fish Tacos.
When I need something quick and nutritious, fish is always at the top of the list. But it still has to be packed with flavor, especially when it comes to mild white fish like tilapia, which can be bland sometimes. Today's recipe solves that problem.
Adding blackening seasoning is the perfect solution to ensure that the tilapia is packed with flavor. It brings big smoky and spicy flavors with just a few common pantry spices. The butter adds richness to the fish and also cuts the spice slightly. Plus baking ensures it comes out perfectly flaky every time without any mess. We also love making this Blackened Salmon, Blackened Mahi Mahi, and Blackened Shrimp.
Why We Love Blackened Tilapia
- Quick and easy: All you need is 15 minutes and a few common pantry spices to make this bold and flavorful fish.
- Minimal cleanup: Blackened fish is usually made in a cast iron skillet, but it can get messy! Baking the tilapia instead means super easy cleanup.
- Healthy: Fish is a great source of lean protein and this recipe is naturally gluten-free and low carb
- Budget-friendly: Tilapia is one of the most affordable fish options in the market and as long as it is cooked with lots of spice, it can taste really delicious.
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.
Ingredients and Easy Swaps
- Tilapia: Use tilapia or any other fish you like in this recipe. It works great with Mahi Mahi, cod, salmon, snapper, or almost any fish. Just adjust the cooking time for thicker filets.
- Butter: Butter is the classic fat used in blackening since it brings richness to the fish and cuts through some of the heat in the spice rub. Feel free to swap in olive oil, ghee, or avocado oil.
- Blackening seasoning: Make your own homemade blackening seasoning (recipe below) or use store-bought blackening or Cajun spice to cut down on prep time.
- Lemon: Fresh lemon juice is always a great idea with fish. It brightens up the fish and adds a little acidity to each bite. Lime juice works as well.
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 (or smoked paprika for a smokier flavor)
- 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
- Optional: Add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper for extra spice.
Side Dish Ideas
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.
- Salads: 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.
- Grains: For starches, consider using precooked rice or quinoa. I always have frozen brown rice and quinoa on hand for quick meals.
- Potatoes: 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.
- Vegetables: For a low carb option, make this Coconut Cauliflower Rice or some Stir Fried Zucchini Noodles.
Recipe Ideas and Tips
This is a versatile dish that's easy to make and easy to customize. Here are some ideas:
- Make fish tacos: Consider using this recipe for fish tacos! Blackened fish is delicious in corn tortillas topped with fresh toppings like cilantro, cabbage, and tomatoes. Then add this pineapple or mango salsa.
- Summer salad: Using this fish as a protein for a summertime salad is also a creative way to lighten up this meal.
- Adjust the seasoning: Play around with the spices in the seasoning mix to make it spicier, smokier, or more garlicky.
- Grill it: 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.
- Cast iron skillet: This will also work in a heavy skillet. Simply cook the tilapia fillets in melted butter or olive oil for 3-4 minutes per side until flaky with crispy edges. 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.
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 has 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 which can sometimes 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most common questions about making this tilapia recipe.
Blackened fish is very healthy as long as it isn't prepared with too much butter. Fish is a great source of lean protein and also contains minerals and vitamins.
Thie recipe works great in the air fryer. Simply brush the fish with melted butter and coat with the seasoning mixture. Then cook in the air fryer at 400 degrees for 8 minutes or until the fish is flaky and opaque.
Baked Blackened Tilapia
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- 1.33 lbs. tilapia
- 2 tbsp. butter (or olive oil or ghee)
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp oregano
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
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* 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.
Adjust the amount of seasoning to taste.
Skillet method: To make true blackened fish, cook this in a hot cast iron skillet for 3-5 minutes per side depending on thickness. Melt the butter in the pan, add the fish (in batches if needed), and flip once a nice crust has formed.
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