Oven Baked Blackened Tilapia

Oven Blackened Tilapia from 101 Cooking For TwoBursting with spicy goodness, everybody will love this easy recipe. This is now the current leader for recipe of the year and it is FISH.

Do you want grilled version? Try my Grilled Blackened Tilapia
grilled blackened tilapia

I have been thinking of doing this for awhile. I had 5 or 6 recipes saved in my file with one over a year old. I looked at Paula Deen but really lots of thyme and no pepper. It just didn’t seem right for me. I ended up with an Aaron MaCorgo Jr (Food Networks “Big Daddy”) recipe. This man can really cook and is a joy to watch, highly recommended.

Only a few changes. I use spanish paprika instead of smoked. I just like the taste better. I cut the cayenne pepper a little. It was just right for me and my wife. The whole teaspoon would have been way too much for me. The big change was going from fry pan to oven. See my reason below.


rating system 5


I did an easy tartar sauce that went well with this. This is included in the recipe. The seasoning would go well on chicken and other things and I will be trying it there. My tilapia was frozen and ended up being very large fillets. I cooked them for 10 minutes and they were just right. Thinner fillets probable need a minute or two less.

I was oven baking but did not want dry so I use more oil on the tray and even sprayed the top with some oil in the form of PAM. I find frying fish in a pan a “pain”. You have to do multiple batches, keep it warm in the oven and stand there all the time. Oven baking is just a lot easier and less messy.

Lastly the heat… I use a half teaspoon plus of cayenne pepper. This was a 7/10 hot.

ingredients for blackening seasoning

Preheat oven to 425 convection. Combine 3 T paprika, 1 t salt, 1 T onion powder,1 t black pepper, 1/2 to 1 t cayenne pepper, 1 t dry thyme, 1 t dry oregano and 1/2 t garlic powder.

bush tray with oil

Line a sheet pan with foil and add 2 T olive oil. Brush it over the foil in any area that will have fish.

clean and pat dry the tilapia

Rinse and pat dry 1 pound of tilapia.

brush the tilapia with oil

Brush with olive oil.

rub with blackening seasoning

Cover the fillets with the spices and rub it in (both sides). You may not need it all.

give a light spray of PAM to keep the top moist

Place on the oiled pan and give the fish a light spray of PAM. Place in the preheated oven.

mix a simple tartar sauce

If you want a homemade tartar sauce, combine 1/3 cup mayo, 2 t lemon juice, 1 t sweet pickle relish and 1/4 t onion powder. Mix well.

cook until nicely brown and flaking

Cook until nicely brown and flaky. This is about 10-11 minutes for big fillets and a minute or two less for small to medium fillet

4.6 from 10 reviews
Oven Baked Blackened Tilapia
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Bursting with spicy goodness everybody will love this easy recipe. This is now the current leader for recipe of the year and it is FISH
Recipe type: Fish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 servings
  • 1 pound tilapia fillets
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
Blackening Rub
  • 3 T Paprika
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 T onion powder
  • 1 t black pepper
  • ½ to 1 t cayenne pepper
  • 1 t thyme
  • 1 t oregano
  • ½ t garlic powder
Simple Tartar Sauce
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 t lemon juice
  • 1 t sweet pickle relish
  • ¼ t onion powder
  1. Preheat oven to 425 convection. Combine 3 T paprika, 1 t salt, 1 T onion powder,1 t black pepper, ½ to 1 t cayenne pepper, 1 t dry thyme, 1 t dry oregano and ½ t garlic powder.
  2. Line a sheet pan with foil and add 2 T olive oil. Brush it over the foil in any area that will have fish.
  3. Rinse and pat dry 1 pound of tilapia. Brush with olive oil. Cover the fillets with the spices and rub it in (both sides). You may not need it all.
  4. Place on the oiled pan and give a light spray of PAM. Place in the preheated oven.
  5. If you want a homemade tartar sauce, combine ⅓ cup mayo, 2 t lemon juice, 1 t sweet pickle relish and ¼ t onion powder. Mix well.
  6. Cook until nicely brown and flaky. This is about 10-11 minutes for big fillets and a minute or two less for small to medium fillets.

Last Updated

September 9 2014


  1. says

    Thanks for the great website! I made the tilapia, strawberry salad, and smashed potatoes and it was all good. I’m new to cooking, so I really appreciate your photos.

  2. says

    I mean to give the fish a light spray of PAM (oil…) to prevent it from drying so much and give a little oil texture and you will hardly know it is oven baked. I can see the wording is a little confusing. Fixed…

  3. says

    I just tried making this. Left it in the oven for 11 min. It looked and tasted good but it wasn’t too brown or crisp. Should the outside have a crisp crust?

  4. says

    It is not very crispy but it should brown a bit like the picture. I would question the temp of the oven some if you’re have issues with other high temp baking since this is at 425 convection. You could skip the spray of PAM but it will dry some. Be sure to keep that spray light.

  5. says

    I just made a trip to Tesco to buy the ingredients for this, and I’m cooking it as we speak. I haven’t even put them in the oven yet but OH MY GOD it smells amazing! I’ve also put the rub on a Pollock fillet, just to see what happens…

  6. says

    My husband and I loved it! Great recipe! I make my own tarter sauce too but I just had to try your tarter sauce recipe and it was just right. Delicious. I found this recipe on my mobile phone in the middle of prepping and I wanted something different. Easy and yummy.

  7. says

    Use the oil you have. The olive oil is healthier (the doctor in me says) use what you have. I also had an email this morning from EdS. who had a question about the ground vs leaf oregano. The oregano is ground. I believe the leaf is more for salad or salsa like things.

  8. says

    I’m going to make it next week too. I think I’m gonna do all the work the night before and then put them in the oven when I’m ready to cook them. Do you think they can be frozen with all the ingredients and cooked in a few days? Have a great day everyone!!!!
    Happy cooking

  9. says

    I would suggest mixing the spices and tarter sauce ahead. If using frozen fish, thaw for a day or two in the refrigerator. The rest can be done in only a few minutes. A lot less time than the oven will take to preheat.

  10. says

    Of course the seasoning would be fine on any meat. The cooking technique almost for sure would not. The thickness and the total mass being different. Check out other references for the prep and cooking of the whole fish.

  11. says

    Im not a big seafood person but I’m fond of tilapia. I give my fish a quick soak in vinegar and lemon juice to alleviate the fishy taste and smell.

  12. says

    This is one of the easiest Tilapia Recipes I have tried. It is definitely spicy, Oh Baby…Hot! Next time I’ll use about half as much cayenne pepper. The tarter sauce is a perfect compliment. We have fish a couple of times a week and this was on the request list for next week too.

  13. says

    It does have some bite. A half tsp is the most I can tolerate. The original blackening recipe has 1 tsp and it burns just to think of it. 1/4 tsp is probably more for us normal humans.

  14. sberrychan says

    I just made this for my boyfriend and I. We left out the Cayenne (because neither of us like it) and the Thyme because we didn’t have it, and used vegetable oil in place of olive. My boyfriend loves it, but me not so much.
    I have to admit, it smelled pretty amazing while cooking. I think I’m not much of a tilapia fan. It has a weird taste to it that I just can’t really get past.

    Other than that I give this a 4/5! If I can make something that my boyfriend will eat, I’m more than happy to keep making this recipe. Even if I’m not the one eating it. =D

  15. says

    I’m clad it mostly worked for you. You may like it a bit better with the thyme. Also, try a pinch of cayenne, maybe an 1/8 tsp. it will balance the recipe.

  16. says

    I’m from Iowa and if it doesn’t moo, oink or cluck then you don’t eat it. With this recipe, I don’t even think I’m eating fish and no fish smell (I really hate fish smell). I continue to repeat this recipe at home. Try the grilled version, I think it is even better with a little grilling char on it.

  17. says

    I just made this with 4-good sized fillets. I loved the flavor profile and the quick assembly. For my taste, I would cut most of the spices in 1/2 or take it up to the broiler for the last 2-4 minute to crust the seasonings on top. just a tad too much dry/bulk seasonings on the surface… AWESOME flavor, will make again. My wife and I have a rating scale 5-Keeper as is, 1-wadded and thrown away. Strong 4.5 with adjustments…

    • says

      I’ll take a 4.5 any day. Yep, it is 7/10 hot with the 1/2 t cayenne. The original recipe for the seasoning was a full tsp. That is really manly man stuff… I have stayed at 1/2 tsp but maybe I should sneak it down a little. I have tried the broiler to “crisp” it up some and it seemed to dry before it browned much. Maybe a tad more PAM would help. The grilled version is nicely crisp.

      Thanks for the comment.

  18. Nikki says

    I just made this for dinner. I had small to medium fillets, so I only left them in the oven for 8 minutes. I also only used 1/8 tsp ceyenne pepper. Had to think about my kids lol Nonethess it was tasty with just tad bit of kick! Thanks for the recipe!

    • says

      Thanks, the 1/8 t may still be too much for some. I can’t imagine the whole teaspoon the original Big Daddy recipe had…

  19. Theresa says

    I tried this recipe and it was good, but a little hot and spicy, I think I will cut down on the cayenne, next time.

    • says

      Thanks for the comment. The 1/2 tsp of cayenne is more than hot enough for me. The 1 tsp (which is what was in the original rub) is just too much for me.


  20. Rich says

    I tried the recipe; since I like spicy foods I amped up the cayenne a bit. I had three fillets, but was cooking for young kids too, so I used all the rub on only two of the fillets. It was a little spicy even for me; could have halved the amounts like suggested and would have been perfect. I will try again with this mod along with hitting them with the broiler for the last few minutes to get more of the blackened effect.

  21. says

    I call the full teaspoon of cayenne the “Manly Man” setting. 1/2 teaspoon is really all I can do here and that is pushing it some. Plus you put all that spice on just two fillets. Wow…
    The broiler will brown them a little but also dried them some… maybe I just over cooked a little those times but be careful and don’t overdo it….

    Thanks for the comment

  22. KC says

    What an AMAZING recipe for tilapia! Thank you SO much for this! :-) ..I didn’t have any onion powder on hand so, I substituted that portion of the ingredients for 1/3 cup of chopped onions and it made this delicious dish, in my opinion, that much more flavorful. :-) . Also, I totally agree that 1/8 Cayenne pepper is the perfect amount for this recipe… (if not just a pinch less…LOL). It gave it just enough “bite” to it, that I didn’t even taste it until I was going for the next bite! :-) . It was JUST right. In addition to this, instead of just using extra virgin olive oil, I actually incorporated an organic “Tomato Infused Oil” that already has the extra virgin olive oil in it’s own ingredients! :-) . I coated the tin foil with this, the fish (before the seasonings..) and also, used what was left over on the plate from the fish, to saturate the chopped onions before I added those to the top last! Long story short…(hah)…this was an AMAZING dinner and I WISH I had another bag of tilapia right now so I could make some more! Thanks again!!! :-)

    • says

      Great write-up. I occasionally use infused oils for “private” cooking. I don’t use them for published recipes since somebody would go crazy trying to find what I used from that small specialty oil storefront. So I just keep it basic. As you obviously know, a recipe is just guidelines. This recipe does make me “want” to eat fish.


  23. Cas67 says

    This looks incredible. I took out tilapia for Sunday dinner but having found this recipe I can’t wait til tomorrow so gonna cook it tonight. Judging from all the comments it sounds amazing. Will let you know how I get on : D

    • says

      This is really really good but watch the heat a little. I use a half teaspoon plus of cayenne pepper. This was a 7/10 hot. Manly man is 1 tsp and 0 – 1/4 tsp is the family setting. There is a grilled version that is a little crispier but I have 2 feet of snow on my grill now…


  24. says

    Despite the fact that I’m a food blogger, I’ve always been intimidated to make fish at home. One of my 2014 cooking goals was to banish that fear and learn to cook fish at home, and this was the first recipe I tried. I’m SO pleased to report that it was SO simple to make and it turned out delicious! I cut the cayenne way back, and gave it a minute under the broiler at the end, and it was lovely. Thanks for a fab recipe! Cheers, Amy

    • says

      OK….. Anybody can say anything. Too much of anything may not be good for you. This is true of fish more than many other foods due to environmental contamination.

      I believe controlled studies in peered reviewed journals, not internet statements (AKA BS).


  25. Sarah says

    I just made this, and it is absolutely delicious! I will be keeping this recipe around for frequent use. Thanks for sharing!

  26. Camie says

    Hi! I just found your website today. I created an account so that I could save recipes, but when I clicked the save recipe button, it said the page could not be found. Is this on my end or is something not working correctly? Thanks! Can’t wait to try this tilapia recipe!

    • says

      That function is from ZipList and I have little if any control. I did check it as much as I can and it appears to be working. I have not heard of other problems. Try accessing through the menu bar and see what happens. And a restart is always a good thing.
      As for the recipe… great choice

  27. Linda says

    i’m looking for a way to bake tilapia using no oil because my partner is on a diet restricting oil. i usually pan fry my blackened tilapia and i have blackened seasoning that has excellent flavor. can you suggest a way to use this recipe with no oil?
    as soon as this oil free diet ends i will be preparing this dish your way. it looks delish and healthy..

    • says

      Ok…. hummm…. The oil on the pan is easy. Get the non-stick foil. The oil on the fish helps keeps it a little moist but how about an egg white wash. Just take an egg white, discard the yoke and whip it with a tablespoon or so of water and brush on the fish. The cooking time should be the same. Post how it comes out please.

      Doctor type note. I hope this is a prescribed diet and monitored by a physician. Some vitamins need to have oil to absorb. Also some oils being “essential” and must be ingested in a diet.

    • Linda says

      i just happened uopn your response. not sure what happened. thanks i will try to prepare this way this week. i’ll let you know how it comes out. the diet is HCG. no oil of any kind for about 20 days at a time.
      it is not monitored which is why i am not on it.
      i’m to ask my dr tomorrow if i can go on it since i have HBP and MS..

  28. Naomi says

    So good! I have done his recipe on the stove, but the oven is so much better. I made this today and I found your site today. Thanks so much! Linked your version to my FB page.

    • says

      I find the oven or grill much easier for tilapia. Mine just fall apart on the stove top.
      Thanks for the comment.

  29. Sabre says

    I made this for dinner last night, it was great! Plus, it was fast and easy. My husband loved it too:)

    My blog (lifeontheloop.com) is doing a “Best of Pinterest” in a week or so. Would you mind if I post your picture on my site, not the recipe. I will of course link the picture to your site.


    • says

      Of course post away… I’m always happy to have the pictures used in this way. I’m never happy when the whole recipe is displayed.
      Also thanks for the note and the rating.

  30. says

    It’s 2am, just got home and watching some tv before bed, I got hungry and decided to cook the tilapia I had thawing. I google’d “spicy tilapia recipe” and found this recipe. I had to make it right away.. and it eat it right away! No sides, no rice, no sauce, no nothing, and it was A-mazing! Tomorrow I will create a date, invite her over, cook this for her, and report back 😉

  31. Bonnie says

    I made this recipe the other night and it was easy and delicious! I made 2lbs of tilapia and used the same amount of spice rub as in your recipe and it was perfect! We’ll definitely be having this again soon and I’ll try the spice rub for meat too. Thanks for sharing!

    • says

      Thanks so much for the note.
      I think spreading the spice out is a good idea. I have used this rub on a few other things and it is really good.

  32. Patricia says

    I made this last night and my goodness it was delicious! My 17 year old son loved it! I ran a plate over to my daughter who is in college and she texted “SOOO GOOD!” I will be making this again and again and again. Thank you for the easy and tasty recipe!

  33. Chef thirst says

    I kid you not this was crazy easy to make but it taste amazing..thx to who ever post this blacken fish.my wife loved it,before I could even ask her she was like yo this fish is banging..thx again

  34. Pam Caldwell says

    Thanks for the recipe it was delicious. I made fish tacos with it. I just warmed up corn tortillas on a skillet, put some fish in and topped with lime juice, cilantro, cabbage, and a little ranch. YUM

  35. Mike says

    So much oil. Easier to create with just the tilapia being damp. Coat it with pretty much the same except I leave off the oregano and I bake it on a rack. That eliminates the oil, the bad for your heart frying and nitrosamines from frying dry.

  36. Jamica says

    I just made this and the flavor of the spices were good but I think I put too much of the rub on the fillets because when the fish was done most of the spices on the fillets were not moist I had to scrape some of the spices off

  37. Sheila says

    Tried it tonight..Great recipe, husband and I loved it, have been looking for a good baked fish rub!
    Will make again.
    Thank You

  38. Sue says

    I was never a big fan of Tilapia until I tried this recipe last night, it was amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Thank you soooo much !!

  39. Jim in Albuquerque says

    I just made your blackened Talapia. It was very good. I like quick easy recipes. This is the first one I have tried from your site. I think I will be a regular from now on. I will definitely make this one again.

  40. Jack says

    Found your recipe for the talapia and smashed potatoes yesterday and fixed for dinner. AWSOME to both! I love blackened fish but was banned from fixing skillet because of smoke. So glad to find a recipe for fixing in the oven, I will be using this a lot. The potatoes were AWSOME. I used 7-2-1 seasoning and loved the crunch of the potatoes. Wish I had some green onions on hand to top with. Am going back on site to search for dinner for tonight. Thanks so much for your site I know I will use often

  41. Diana says

    This is a great recipe. I found this recipe a couple of years ago while looking up how to oven bake tilapia. I tried it and loved it. My boyfriend is also a big fan! I made it twice this week and I am sure will be using it a lot during Lent!

  42. Arledu says

    Delicious—I cut back the cayenne and it was still hot enough to satisfy our desire for blackened fish. After spraying with Pam I covered with slivered almonds I purchased at Richland WA farmers market. This recipe is the best tilapia I have found.
    Thanks for ahRing.

  43. Bob says

    Great recipe. I like cayenne pepper but some may find that to hot. So I substituted 1/2 t chili powder instead of using cayenne pepper. I lightly rubbed the mixture on one side my girlfriends fillet and fully did mine on one side. Still gave it some kick but definitely not as hot. My girlfriend saved the recipe wants me to make it again.

  44. Sharon says

    This was outstanding!!!! I made my own spice blend because there is not much that is too spicy for me. I used all the ground pepper spices in my pantry(fresh ground black peppercorns, cayenne, ancho chili powder, ground red peppers and more.

  45. DeAundre Cherry says

    It took longer to make than it did for dinner to disappear. This recipe was easy to follow and had great results. I will definitely use this one again. Awesome meal!! 10 points for momma. Lol!

  46. Holly Jackson says

    I just made this tonight and it was absolutely wonderful! My family and my neighbor loved it. Thanks

  47. Dee says

    I made this recipe using 1 tsp of cayenne pepper. It wasn’t too spicy (I’m from south Texas). It was a decent but lacked the crispness you want with blackened fish. All in all it was a good recipe but tastes like it’s missing something.

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