Baked Tilapia in Lemon Butter Sauce
Baked Tilapia in Lemon Butter Sauce

This Lemon Butter Baked Tilapia is ready in 20 minutes! Make this easy weeknight dinner with tilapia or your favorite flaky fish.

Simply baked fish doesn’t get fame, but it does get a thumbs-up from those otherwise suspicious of seafood.

It’s quick and easy; My mom made it when I was growing up for exactly this reason. Now that I’m a parent, I like to know that I can count on my daughter asking for seconds from this dish.

The best way to defrost frozen fish fillets

Fish defrosts faster than other animal proteins like chicken or beef, so it’s especially good for those of us who forget to plan dinner from time to time. Here are some tips for defrosting tilapia.

  • Defrost quickly: Place the frozen fish in a bowl or saucepan of cold (below 40°F) water. Change the water every 30 minutes. Your fish should be thawed in 1 to 2 hours. Once the fish has thawed, do not refreeze it.
  • Thawing in 24 hours: Remove frozen fish fillets from packaging. Place it on a plate or bowl to contain moisture. Cover with a lid or cling film and thaw in the refrigerator. It should be ready within 24 hours. If your fish is particularly thick, it may take a little over 24 hours. Use within 2 days.

How do you know when tilapia is cooked through?

The fish will become opaque and the flesh will fall apart if you gently poke it. Flaking is a sure sign it’s done; Fish like this doesn’t flake until cooked through.

When in doubt, use a thermometer – it should read 145°F when inserted into the thickest part of the fillet. Even though the fillets are sometimes so thin, it’s difficult to get an accurate reading on a thermometer.

How long does it take to bake tilapia?

If cooking fish brings out your cooking insecurities, breathe easy. Sure, you can sauté or grill fish, but it tends to crack that way. Baking in the oven means minimal handling and less mess. Even better, when the fish bakes, you have about 10 minutes to cook some veggies and set the table.

Tilapia fillets cook quickly. This recipe calls for a 450°F oven and the fish should be ready in about 10 minutes. You can prepare all of your meal components while the oven preheats and dinner is on the table before you know it.

Swaps and substitutions for lemon garlic butter tilapia

  • Use any flaky white fish: swai, cod, orange roughy, pollack, or flounder.
  • Add 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme to the sauce before pouring over the fish.
  • Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh dill or parsley over the fish right after it comes out of the oven.
  • Rinse and pat dry 2 teaspoons of capers and add them to the butter when you add the garlic.
  • 1 minute after adding the garlic, add up to 1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes to the butter.

What to serve with tilapia

Couscous is ready in no time and soaks up all the lemony butter sauce. Rice or mashed potatoes also go well with this dish.

You can also layer the fish over hot pasta – reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid and toss with pasta and butter sauce to create a creamy and vibrant pasta side dish. Simple green veggies like steamed broccoli, sautéed spinach, or asparagus can top off this meal.

More delicious tilapia recipes

  • Tilapia with olives, mushrooms and tomatoes
  • Baked tilapia with a sun-dried tomato and parmesan crust
  • Easy Fish Tacos
  • Easy miso fish soup with soba

Baked Tilapia in Lemon Butter Sauce

preparation time
10 mins

cooking time
10 mins

total time
20 minutes

4 servings

Tilapia sirloin comes from the thickest part of the fillet and tends to be a bit firmer; they are what I prefer in this recipe. They usually cost a little more than thin tilapia fillets. The baking time should be about the same.

This recipe works with most boneless, flaky white fish fillets.

If you want to use capers as shown in the photo, rinse and pat dry 2 teaspoons of capers and add them to the butter when you add the garlic in step 3.


  • 1 1/2 lb Tilapia fillets

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

  • 4 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 1 tablespoon garlicchopped

  • 4 teaspoon lemon juice


  1. Preheat the oven and insert the rack:

    Position a wire rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 450°F.

  2. Pat the fish dry and season:

    Pat the fish dry with a paper towel. In a large casserole dish, arrange the fillets in a single layer, being careful not to overlap. Season the fillets with salt and pepper. Put aside.

  3. Make the butter sauce:

    In a small skillet over medium heat add the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and remove from the stove. Pour the sauce over the fish, trying to get the garlic chunks onto the fillets and not the pan.

  4. bake fish:

    Bake the fish until opaque and falls apart easily when gently poked, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately, spooning the sauce over the fish.

nutritional information (per serving)
324 calories
16g Fat
1g carbohydrates
45g protein
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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!