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Pan Fried Tilapia – Spend With Pennies

One-pan fried tilapia produces filets that are tender, flaky, and full of flavor!

Lightly fried tilapia fillets are topped with a savory lemon caper sauce made from leftover butter. Easy peasy!

Fried Tilapia with capers

Fried Tilapia Is an Easy Meal

  • This fried tilapia recipe needs just a handful of ingredients and cooks in about 10 minutes.
  • It’s a one pan recipe, making it great for busy weeknights with quick cleanup.
  • Tilapia has a mild taste that pairs well with simple flavors.
  • Pair these tacos with a side of steamed broccoli and white rice.
butter , oil , capers , tilapia , garlic , lemon , salt and pepper with labels to make Fried Tilapia

Ingredients for Fried Tilapia

Tilapia – This recipe uses fresh or frozen tilapia fillets. If frozen, be sure to thaw in the refrigerator. Replace tilapia with cod or other thin whitefish, adjusting the cooking time as needed.

Seasoning – I keep the seasonings simple with salt & pepper but feel free to add garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, or a sprinkle of old bay seasoning.

SauceThis flavorful sauce is made with a little garlic, lemon juice, and capers cooked in the same skillet. It’s easy and delicious! Fresh lemon juice has the best flavor.

How to Make Pan Fried Tilapia

One pan-fried tilapia produces filets that are tender, flaky, and full of flavor!

  1. Season tilapia fillets and pan fry until it forms a light brown crust on one side. Repeat on the second side.
  2. Add butter to the pan and cook garlic until fragrant. Stir in lemon juice and capers as directed in the recipe below.
  3. Return the fish to the pan and cook until the fish is flaky, about another minute or two.

PRO TIP: Fish is cooked through when it’s no longer translucent, and you can gently flake off a piece. When in doubt, use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the fish. It should read 140°F to 145°F.

Fried Tilapia cooking in the pan with lemon

Storing Leftover Tilapia

  • Keep leftover fried tilapia in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
  • Reheat in the microwave in a bowl with a little water, cover with plastic wrap so the fish steams evenly, or in the air fryer.
  • Stretch the leftovers a little further by turning them into tacos.
  • Portions can be frozen but will lose their firm texture once thawed. They’re still great to add to a creamy seafood chowder!

More Favorite Fish Recipes

Did you make this Pan-Fried Tilapia? Leave us a rating and a comment below!

Fried Tilapia with lemon

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Pan Fried Tilapia

Tilapia is pan-fried in butter and olive oil, then topped with flavorful pan juices of capers, lemon juice, and garlic!

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cook Time 15 minutes

Total Time 25 minutes

  • Dab the filets dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.

  • In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of butter and the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the filets and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until browned.

  • Remove the fish from the skillet and transfer to a plate.

  • Reduce the heat to medium, add the remaining tablespoon of butter and the garlic. Stir just until fragrant. Whisk in the lemon juice and capers. Add the fish to the skillet and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more or until cooked through and flaky.

Cook until the fish flakes easily.
If desired, garnish with fresh parsley and serve with lemon wedges. 

Calories: 248 | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 100mg | Sodium: 480mg | Potassium: 528mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 0.2g | Vitamin A: 179IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Entree, Fish, Main Course, Seafood
Cuisine American
plated Fried Tilapia with writing
Fried Tilapia with lemon slices with a title
Fried Tilapia in the pan and plated with a title
Fried Tilapia on a plate with a title

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