Blackened Tilapia is a delicious way to have healthy baked tilapia in the oven bursting with taste and spicy goodness. With a great flavor profile, you can easily adjust or eliminate most of the heat—a super easy 20-minute dinner recipe.
Baked tilapia recipes are generally very easy and quick to make. And even fish haters will like tilapia.
Baked is much healthier than frying. I find frying fish in a frying pan a "pain." You have to do multiple batches, keep it warm in the oven, and stand there all the time. And the mess, oh the mess, oven baking is just so much easier.
I ended up with an Aaron MaCorgo Jr (Food Networks "Big Daddy") recipe. This man can cook and is a joy to watch, highly recommended.
The big change was going from fry pan to oven. This was not that hard. Just spice it up and cook with a bit of oil, including a light spray of PAM, so the top is not dry. I also adjusted the spicing some.
Do you want the grilled version? Try my Grilled Blackened Tilapia.
👨🍳How to make this recipe
- Start with frozen or fresh tilapia. If frozen, thaw completely in the refrigerator overnight. Give it a good brush of olive oil.
- A large baking dish, a sheet pan, or a baking tray work well. I like to use foil for easy clean-up and a heavy coat of oil or cooking spray like PAM to prevent sticking.
- Give the tilapia a nice coat of the blackening seasoning (Not all of what you mixed). You can use a different seasoning if you want.
- Fish is best cooked in a high oven. 425° conventional for tilapia, but you may adjust the oven temperature to lower if you need to for other dishes.
- Bake to an internal temperature of 145° in the thickest part by FDA rules. Always check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer. Also, it should flake easily with a fork. It will take 7-8 minutes or about 10 minutes per inch of thickness. but always check the fish a minute or two early.
- Do not overcook the tilapia or it will become very dry rapidly.
Tilapia is a mild-tasting fish that even non-fish eaters will love when appropriately seasoned. It has much less of that "fishy" smell and taste many people don't like.
Tilapia is a good source of low-fat protein. It is also low in sodium, low in calories, low carb, and, of course, gluten-free. It fits nicely in a healthy diet even if a few "health" sites have attacked tilapia with click bate headlines.
Most tilapia is farm-raised around the world. While farm-raised tilapia is slightly lower in omega-3 fatty acids than some wild fish, it is also lower in mercury.
Can I substitute a different fish for the tilapia? Generally, yes, another fish, like cod or halibut, can be used and will normally cook about the same thickness adjustment. Generally, fish will need about 10 minutes per inch of thickness.
🔥The Blackening Seasoning
First, a brief discussion about blackening, Cajun, and Creole seasoning: all have a base of paprika, pepper, and some garlic and onion powder.
But Creole tends to add more herbs and is milder, while Cajun is generally very hot. So depending on how you vary your spice choices, you can change the term.
For this blackening seasoning, there are two ways to adjust the heat. Or, if you prefer, buy creole or cajan seasoning mix.
First is the paprika. Many people will like to use smoked paprika. Hungarian paprika is generally hot. But most paprika is just called paprika is what is called sweet paprika, which is what I usually prefer.
The second heat adjustment is the amount of cayenne pepper amount.
- 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper will be 9/10 hot
- ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper will be 7/10 hot
- ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper will be 3-4/10 hot—my usual
- none-the heat will depend on the paprika
Yes. Many people will use this for fish tacos or just served on a bun as a blackened fish sandwich.
Tartar provides a great contrast to the spiciness of the blackened fish.
I did an easy tartar sauce that went well with this. This is included in the recipe to use if you wish.
Lime or lemon slices for fresh lemon juice or lime juice. Side dishes of veggies, rice, or potatoes.
Oven Baked Parmesan Crusted Tilapia
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Preheat oven to 400° convection or 425° conventional.
Line a sheet pan or baking sheet with foil. Spray the foil with PAM or add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and brush over the foil.
This makes more blackened seasoning than you need. Store the extra for later sealed airtight.
In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoon paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon black pepper, ¼ to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon dry thyme, one teaspoon dry oregano, and ½ teaspoon garlic powder. The cayenne heat level will be 9/10 at 1 teaspoon, 7/10 at ½ teaspoon, and 3-4/10 at ¼ teaspoon.
Rinse and pat dry with paper towels 1 pound of tilapia.
Brush the tilapia with olive oil.
Cover the fillets with the spice mixture and rub it on both sides. You will only need about ¼ to ⅓ of the spice mix you made. DO NOT USE ALL THE MIX.
Place on the oiled pan and give the fish a light spray of PAM. Place in the preheated oven.
Cook until nicely brown and flaky. This is 8-9 minutes for big fillets and a minute or two less for small to medium fillets. For safety, fish needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°
If you want a homemade tartar sauce, combine ⅓ cup mayo, 2 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon sweet pickle relish, and ¼ teaspoon onion powder. Mix well.
Baked Blackened Tilapia
- 1 pound Tilapia fillets - about four
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Blackening Rub- More than you need - Keep sealed for future use.
- 3 tablespoons paprika - of your choice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper - to taste
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
Simple Tartar Sauce - optional
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon sweet pickle relish
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- Preheat oven to 400° convection or 425° conventional.
- Line a sheet pan or baking sheet with foil. Spray the foil with PAM or add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and brush over the foil.
- This makes more blackened seasoning than you need. Store the extra for later sealed airtight.In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoon paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon black pepper, ¼ to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon dry thyme, one teaspoon dry oregano, and ½ teaspoon garlic powder. The cayenne heat level will be 9/10 at 1 teaspoon, 7/10 at ½ teaspoon, and 3-4/10 at ¼ teaspoon.
- Rinse and pat dry with paper towels 1 pound of tilapia.
- Brush the tilapia with olive oil.
- Cover the fillets with the spice mixture and rub it on both sides. You will only need about ¼ to ⅓ of the spice mix you made. DO NOT USE ALL THE MIX.
- Place on the oiled pan and give the fish a light spray of PAM. Place in the preheated oven.
- Cook until nicely brown and flaky. This is 8-9 minutes for big fillets and a minute or two less for small to medium fillets. For safety, fish needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°
- If you want a homemade tartar sauce, combine ⅓ cup mayo, 2 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon sweet pickle relish, and ¼ teaspoon onion powder. Mix well.
Your Own Private Notes
- The spice mix makes more than you need. You only need ¼ to ⅓ of the mix for one pound of fish. Save the rest sealed tightly for another cooking.
- The cayenne heat level will be 9/10 at 1 teaspoon, 7/10 at ½ teaspoon, and 3-4/10 at ¼ teaspoon. Or skip it if you want.
- Use a cajun seasoning or any other seasoning you want.
- Remember, you can cook fish with different seasonings on the same tray.
- Generally, there will be about four filets of tilapia per pound.
- You may use other fish. Be sure frozen fish is completely before using these instructions. If you want to cook frozen fish, cook by temperature.
- Fish needs to reach 145° for safety and should be flaky when done.
- Cooking time is about 5 minutes per half-inch thickness of the fish.
- The oven temperature should be 400° to 450°. I like 425° convection, which gives a better texture.
- A light spray of oil (PAM) helps prevent a dry surface.
- Check the fish a minute or two early.
- Nutritional information does not include the tarter sauce.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
© 101 Cooking for Two, LLC. All content and photographs are copyright protected by us or our vendors. While we appreciate your sharing our recipes, please realize copying, pasting, or duplicating full recipes to any social media, website, or electronic/printed media is strictly prohibited and a violation of our copyrights.
Editor note: Originally published August 3, 2012. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.
I am a baby boomer from Canadian Maritimes and I appreciate your publicity for my homeland. I have used your method for cooking fish many times since I discovered your recipe, and it gives wonderful results with tilapia and every other type of fish I've tried.
I have a favour to ask. I would like to get my millenial daughter hooked on your recipe to get her to eat more healthy but text and photos are not her style. Is there any chance of you adding a small video to your page for this recipe?
Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan
Welcome to the blog.
Even a small video requires hours of work. Although my ad agency and other bloggers want me to do video, I just can't get into it. At my age (older boomer also) I have no interest in learning a new trick. This is my retirement hobby.
But most younger food bloggers add video for most of their recipes.
I never cook telapia fish like that, But i think it will be so delicious.
I must try it .
Thank you! Excellent!
I forgot about Pam, omitted cayenne (don't like it),halved dry ingredients, baked at 425 convection and was totally surprised how moist and tasty the pieces of tilapia turned out.
Who knew :-)
P.S. Beautiful pictures of your dog. My dog got baked tilapia too minus all the spices. He's still licking his chops lol. Thank you again :-)
Love love!!! I added coriander, slap your momma, and magic shrimp seasoning. I also soaked my tilapia in butter for about 30 minutes before seasoning/cooking. Turned out AMAZING ( I always tweak recipes and I never really measure, just how I was taught ) but the base you have posted is wonderful, and I will be making this again. Btw kids loved it too. Also I added dill weed and Dijon mustard to the tarter sauce.
Excellent recipe. Cooked on grill at 425.next time I'll leave it on a bit longer for the blackening effect, but the spices were perfect. We used the full amt of cayenne because we love spicy!!
Sounds great. I've tried cast iron on the stove, but the smoke alarm was not happy.
A couple of questions: Can I use un-oiled silicone baking pads instead of foil? If I'm doing a smaller quantity of fish, does the cooking time change?
Welcome to the blog.
So your questions. The silicon mat. Yes, but I think it needs a bit of oil. So a light spray of PAM in both sides of the fish would probably be better. But you can try without.
Cooking time would be unchanged for smaller quantities.
Dr.Dan, will the recipe be messed up if I don't use the Cayenne pepper at all? My husband is allergic to it.
Welcome to the blog.
There is a lot of tastes other than the cayenne so go ahead. Of course, there will be no heat.
Loved the recipe! I like seafood and I'm always looking for new fish recipes. Baking is way better than cooking on the stovetop. Less mess and more reliable (for me at least).
Welcome to the blog.
I do love this recipe. The seasoning is just right. I have issues with stovetop fish, it is always fried, makes a mess and I always break the fish somehow. Plus I don't seem to get it done correctly. Baking or grill are much more reliable for me.
Thanks for the note.
Ohhh I'm excited to eat this blackened tilapia again tonight. It is VERY good! I've made your tartar sauce as well and it's just as good. My question is if I double the tartar sauce how long will it keep in the fridge?
I would only keep it for about 3 days just like most leftovers.
Thanks for the note.
I usually make our tilapia with fresh lemon and pepper, but didn't have any lemons. So I did a quick google search for recipes with Tilapia, and found yours. Very very good. Happy to not only stumble upon this recipie, but will notlw check out your others. Thanks!
Thank you ! Lots of great ideas, love it !!
Made for dinner tonight and it smells delicious! Yummy. Used 1/4 tsp. Cayenne. Just right!
I'm new to your cooking for 2 recipes (you had me at the oven baked Iowa pork tenderloin recipe a week or so ago! Will be trying that soon!). I haven't searched a lot, but this blackened tilapia recipe made me wonder if you had an oven baked blackened salmon recipe? I'm all about oven baking, too, as it's so much easier than standing over a stove and then cleaning up the grease spatters. Glad to have found a (former) Iowan providing recipes! (I'm nestled halfway between Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. Born and raised an Iowan... GO HAWKS! LOL!)
I do love the baked pork tenderloin. I always get disappointed anymore with the Iowa restaurant versions. They seemed better years ago. Also, I try to bake and not fry if I can. It probably helps that I use real tenderloin and HyVee "tenderloin" is really loin.
I don’t have much seafood on the blog. I'm from deep in farm country (Chariton) and if it didn’t moo, oink or cluck, you didn’t eat it. Having said that, I’m learning to love less “fishy” things like this recipe. About blackened salmon, no I have never done it but if you find “The 10-Minute Rule for Cooking Fish” which should help adapt this to salmon.
Nice to hear from somebody from Iowa. GO CYCLONES ;)
Dr. Dan, I am not sure what to say other than excellent. I was looking for a fish recipe for fish tacos and found your blackened tilapia on a grill. However it was 1*F and my gill was covered in snow so I when noticed a link to the oven baked blackened tilapia I had to give it a try as my wife does not like me to blacken things on the stove top due to the mess and the smoke.
I had 1 lb of halibut fillets (3) just over an inch thick. I used your recipe as written with one change. I was out of cayenne powder so I sub'd 1 teas of NM chili powder. I cooked 6 minutes per side and it came out great. Cooked but still moist and flaky. We made fish tacos with flour tortillas, cole slaw, and your easy tarter sauce. My wife was suitably impressed. This is another recipe that goes in the "do it again" stack. Thanks from Alaska.
Question: do I need to defrost the fish first?
A general role is to double cooking time for frozen fish. I think that is a bit much for something this thin. I would thaw mainly since I don't think the seasoning would penetrate the fish well. Froze is usually vacuum packed so it won't take long in a pan of cool water.
My husband and I both thought this was too salty. And coming from me that's saying a lot because I even put salt on my pizza. I put about 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper and still too salty. I would put 1/2 tsp salt next time. Otherwise it was tasty and thanks for sharing the recipe.
Truly one of my favorite recipes! I feel like I'm a pretty good cook and can handle very complex recipes...but this is so simple and the result is amazing! I have shared this recipe with so many friends and coworkers and they all love it too! I have done this with frozen tilapia filets straight from the bag (cooking temp/time on the bag) and this works great too. Even the tartar sauce is great!
I tried the Oven Baked Blackened Tilapia last night. It was SUPERB!!! I definitely will cook it again. Thanks so much for this Easy to Prepare, Easy to Clean Up recipe. The fish was perfectly Delicious; my Mom and I loved, Loved, LOVED it!
I have to say, Dr. Dan, you're the only other person I've run across who sprays the top of meat or fish before baking. I believe it's a must-do for keeping things moist and helping with browning, especially at higher temps. Love the spice combo for the tilapia, hits just the right taste buds especially with the
tartar sauce. AIas, couldn't stop myself from adding sour cream, finely diced purple onions, and lime juice to the tartar sauce but, Wow! It was perfect!