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This pan fried tilapia recipe is an easy favorite! Lightly dredge the fish in seasonings, then fry it up to perfection in minutes.

Fried tilapia

When it comes to easy and healthy weeknight meals, fish is ideal: it cooks quickly and it’s full of protein and omega 3s. So why not try another way to make it taste amazing: this Pan Fried Tilapia recipe! Coat the white fish fillets in seasonings and flour and pan fry them in a bit of olive oil. The tilapia comes out savory and tender with a light crispy coating: in minutes! Spritz with lemon wedges and it’s the perfect easy dinner idea with a few simple sides (and maybe a dipping sauce!).

Ingredients for fried tilapia

Fried tilapia is quick and easy dinner: it takes just 5 minutes to pan fry the fish to perfection! Here, you’ll need just a few high quality ingredients:

  • Tilapia fillets
  • Garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and kosher salt
  • All-purpose flour: or use cornmeal for gluten-free
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh parsley and lemon wedges, for serving
Fried tilapia

How to buy the best tilapia

Want to buy ethically-raised tilapia? The vast quantity of tilapia available to buy in the US is farm raised, but it’s still considered a sustainable fish if it’s responsibly farmed. Here’s what Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch recommends:

  • Look for tilapia farmed in Peru in raceways and Ecuador in ponds. Then look for tilapia from Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Indonesia, and Taiwan. 
  • Tilapia is a Best Choice when farmed in indoor recirculating tanks with wastewater treatment and a Good Alternative when the wastewater isn’t treated. (This information may or may not be available on the labeling.)
  • Look for tilapia certified by the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, Best Aquaculture Practices, and Naturland.

Tips for making pan fried tilapia

The cooking technique for this fried tilapia is pan frying, not deep frying. Deep frying is submerging foods directly into a large amount of oil to cook them. In contrast, pan frying uses smaller amounts of oil and requires flipping the meat or fish halfway through. We like pan frying because it’s easier and cleaner to achieve as a home cook: and it uses less oil! Here are a few tips:

  • The cook time depends on the thickness of the fillets. The cooking goes fast with pan frying! Depending on the thickness of the fillets, it should take about 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Use a fish spatula to flip. This handy tool is one of our favorites for all sorts of uses in the kitchen: but especially flipping fish!
  • Tilapia is cooked when the internal temperature is 140°F when measured with a food thermometer
Pan Fried Tilapia

Ways to serve it

This fried tilapia tastes great on its own, but there are a few ways to heighten the flavor when serving. Here are a few ways to dress it up:

More tilapia recipes

Pan fried tilapia is a quick way to get this fish on the table! Here are a few more tilapia recipes for inspiration:

This fried tilapia recipe is…

Dairy-free and pescatarian.

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Fried tilapia

Pan Fried Tilapia

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


This pan fried tilapia recipe is an easy favorite! Lightly dredge the fish in seasonings, then fry it up to perfection in minutes.


  • 1 1/2 pounds tilapia (4 fillets)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour (or cornmeal, for gluten-free)
  • ¼ cup olive oil, for pan frying
  • Finely chopped Italian parsley, for garnish
  • Lemon wedges, for serving


  1. In a small bowl, combine the garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and kosher salt. Pat the tilapia dry and sprinkle all sides with the seasoning. Place the flour on a plate, then dredge the fillets in flour until it coats all sides.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the tilapia and cook for 3 minutes, until the bottom is browned. Flip the fish and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes until the fish is browned (adjust based on the thickness of the fillets). Tilapia is cooked when the internal temperature is 140°F when measured with a food thermometer.
  3. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with the parsley. Serve with lemon wedges for spritzing. 
  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Fried tilapia, pan fried tilapia, fried tilapia recipe, tilapia pan fry

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Excellent! Delicious, quick and easy to make. I’ll adjust the amount of salt down by half next time I make it. Otherwise? A perfect addition to my regular rotation of meals.