Baked Tilapia with Lemon Garlic Butter


See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.


Baked Tilapia is a quick to prepare weeknight meal that the whole family will love. The tilapia is drizzled with a lemon garlic butter sauce and then baked to flaky perfection – one of the easiest tilapia recipes!

Close up of flaky fish on a fork.

If you’re looking for more ways to incorporate fresh fish into your diet, this tilapia recipe is a delicious option. And the best part? It couldn’t be simpler to prepare.

While my go-to fish recipe is this easy and flavorful salmon recipe, sometimes my family enjoys tilapia for a change. You’ll love how hands-off this recipe is. Once you spoon the lemon butter sauce over the fish, all you have to do is put it in your oven and wait for it to bake.

Serve this baked tilapia alongside sautéed green beans or roasted carrots and brown rice or Instant Pot mashed potatoes. You’ll have a meal that is both satisfying and nutritious.

What is Tilapia?

Tilapia is a flaky white fish with a mild flavor. It’s relatively inexpensive, and it is easy to prepare. As with all fresh fish, it’s best to cook tilapia fillets the day you purchase them for optimum flavor and freshness.

Tilapia retains a lot of moisture as you cook it, so it doesn’t dry out easily. Even if you overcook tilapia a bit, the fillets will still be tender, flaky and moist, especially when you serve them with the extra lemon butter sauce from the pan.

Overhead view of tilapia with lemon garlic butter sauce in a baking dish.

How to Make Baked Tilapia

Ingredients

  • Butter: I use unsalted butter but you can use salted if that’s what you have. You will melt the butter before mixing up the sauce.
  • Lemon Juice: I recommend using fresh squeezed lemon juice for the best flavor.
  • Garlic: You will need two cloves of fresh garlic for this recipe. The garlic flavor is not too strong in this dish. You can adjust the amount of garlic to your tastes.
  • Salt and Pepper: These are to season the fish. You’ll sprinkle on salt and pepper before you bake the tilapia and can adjust the seasonings to taste when serving.
  • Tilapia Fillets: To serve four, you will need four tilapia fillets of about 6 ounces each.
  • Lemon Slices and Fresh Parsley: I like to arrange a few lemon slices in the pan with the fish before baking, both for flavor and presentation. I recommend sprinkling on some chopped fresh parsley right before serving, but this is optional.

Recipe Directions

  1. Make the lemon garlic butter sauce in a small bowl by whisking together the melted butter, lemon juice and minced garlic.
  2. Pat the tilapia fillets dry and place them in a 13×9-inch baking dish. Season the fish with salt and pepper.
  3. Pour the lemon butter mixture over the tilapia. If desired, arrange a few lemon slices over the fish.
  4. Bake at 425° F for 12 to 18 minutes, until the tilapia registers 145° F when you insert an instant read thermometer into the thickest part. If your baking dish is broiler safe, you can put the dish under the broiler during the last few minutes of the cook time to lightly brown the fish.
  5. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing, if desired.

Baked tilapia fillets on a plate with lemon wedges.

What other fish can I use?

This method of preparation works well for any mild white fish. Cod, halibut and sole are other good options.

Recipe Variations

  • Make this dish spicy by adding red pepper flakes, sriracha or a little cayenne pepper to the lemon butter sauce.
  • You can substitute olive oil for the butter, but the flavor of the meal will change. If using olive oil, I would reduce the amount to 1 1/2 tablespoons.
  • For a different flavor, try lime juice instead of lemon.
  • You can substitute 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder or garlic salt for the fresh garlic. If using garlic salt, be careful to not over-salt the tilapia with regular salt.

More Tilapia Recipes

Baked Tilapia with Lemon Garlic Butter

This Baked Tilapia is a quick to prepare weeknight meal that the whole family will love. The tilapia is drizzled with a lemon garlic butter sauce and then baked to flaky perfection - one of the easiest tilapia recipes!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword baked tilapia, tilapia recipes
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time25 mins
Servings 4 servings
Calories 242kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tilapia fillets (about 6 ounces each)
  • 1 lemon sliced, optional
  • chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425° F with a rack in the upper third of the oven. Lightly grease a 13x9-inch baking dish.
  • Combine the melted butter, lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl.
  • Pat the tilapia fillets dry and put them in the baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour the lemon garlic butter mixture over the fish. Place a few lemon slices on the fish, if desired.
  • Bake for 12 to 18 minutes, or until the tilapia registers 145° F on an instant read thermometer. If desired you can put the dish under the broiler for the last two minutes of the cook time (make sure your dish is broiler safe) to lightly brown the fish.
  • Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and serve, with lemon wedges if desired.

Notes

  • Make this dish spicy by adding red pepper flakes, sriracha or a little cayenne pepper to the lemon butter sauce.

Nutrition

Calories: 242kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 108mg | Sodium: 164mg | Potassium: 513mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 262IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutrition information is an estimate.
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