This post may include affiliate links; for details, see our disclosure policy.

This grilled tilapia is perfectly seasoned and easy to make! It’s a light and flaky fish that’s full of flavor, making a simple healthy dinner recipe.

Grilled tilapia
Save this recipe!
Get this sent to your inbox, plus get new recipes from us every week!

Here’s a recipe that’s impressive with little effort: grilled tilapia! This flaky white fish has nudged its way into our hearts over here. We eat the Mediterranean diet, opting for mostly plant-based meals with occasional seafood throughout the week.

Why we love this recipe: If you’re looking for a fun grilled fish recipe, this flaky tilapia is bursting with savory, smoky flavor. Top it with sweet and tender blistered cherry tomatoes and it looks stunning. It’s the ideal summer meal for entertaining or even a weeknight. (Plus, our kids actually love this one: double score.)

Ingredients for grilled tilapia

This grilled tilapia recipe is one of those back pocket recipes that every home cook needs. Once you’ve made it once, memorize it and make it on repeat! Here’s what you’ll need for this easy healthy recipe:

  • Tilapia fillets: Tilapia is a mild, flaky white fish that’s a relatively affordable choice. You can use fresh or frozen here. (Most tilapia is farm raised; keep reading for choosing sustainable options.)
  • Olive oil: This heart healthy oil is great for grilling.
  • Spices: Our homemade spice blend includes smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and celery seed.

How to grill tilapia: step by step

Just throw those beautiful fish fillets right onto those grill grates: there’s no need for any monkey business with foil! The best grilled fish is made right on the hot grill. You can use this method for other white fish like grilled cod or grilled salmon. Here’s what you need to know about the heat level and grill time (or jump to the full recipe):

Step 1: Season the tilapia with seafood seasoning.

Step 1: Preheat a grill to medium-high heat (375 to 450°F). Pat the tilapia dry with a clean towel. Rub it with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Mix 2 tsp smoked paprika, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, and ⅛ tsp celery seed in a small bowl, then pat it onto the fish.

Step 2. Grill the tilapia.

Step 2: Grill the tilapia skin side down for 3 to 4 minutes until grill marks appear and it releases from the grates. Flip and cook another 3 to 4 minutes, depending on the thickness, until flaky and the internal temperature is 130°F.

Step 3. Remove and allow to rest.

Step 3: Remove from the grill to a baking sheet and allow to rest for a few minutes, then serve.

Pro tip

How to keep fish from sticking on the grill? You don’t even need to oil the grates. Here’s the secret: don’t turn it too soon! Wait until the fish is cooked enough that it releases from the grates, then flip it.

What to look for when buying tilapia

Is tilapia a sustainable fish? Most of the of tilapia available to buy is farm raised, so you’ll want to look for responsibly farmed tilapia. Here’s what Monterrey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch recommends when looking for sustainable tilapia.

Seasoning for grilled tilapia

The spice blend we love for grilled tilapia is a spin on our popular “magic” seafood seasoning, but simplified! Here are a few notes on the ingredients:

  • Smoked paprika: This Spanish version of paprika infuses a smoky essence to foods, and it’s one our secret weapons! Find it in your local grocery store labeled as pimentón, Spanish smoked paprika, or sweet smoked paprika. You can also buy it online here. We recommend seeking it out if at all possible, though standard paprika works as a substitute.
  • Garlic powder and onion powder: These bring big savory notes to this spice blend.
  • Celery seed: This spice is absolutely worth stocking, and it brings a nuance that’s evocative of Old Bay. You can also use it again in other recipes like our fan-favorite chickpea salad sandwich or chicken tacos.

Other seasoning ideas? Try 2 tablespoons of our Blackened seasoning (mild) or Cajun seasoning (spicy). Or go Tex Mex with fajita seasoning or taco seasoning.

Grilled tilapia

Step it up with blistered tomatoes

Here’s a way to dress up grilled tilapia: top it with blistered cherry tomatoes! These blistered tomatoes are cooked in a hot pan for a few minutes until charred and tender. The pop of sweet is the perfect complement to the flaky savory fish! Follow these basic steps:

  1. Heat a generous drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet or cast iron pan.
  2. Add a handful or two of cherry tomatoes. Cook for 1 minute without touching the pan, then 2 to 3 more minutes until blistered, shaking the pan several times to rotate the tomatoes.
  3. Turn off the heat and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar, gently shaking a few times. Add 2 pinches kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

Take it over the top! Add a drizzle of this tangy basil vinaigrette for a restaurant-style meal. Or, swap out the tomatoes for a fruit salsa like pineapple salsa, peach salsa, or mango salsa.

Easy grilled tilapia

Sides to serve with grilled tilapia

This grilled tilapia makes a stunning healthy dinner recipe! It’s one of those meals that works for a dinner party or a weeknight meal: which is our kind of cooking! (You know, pretty simple.) What to pair with this easy fish recipe? Here are some sides that make this a tasty Mediterranean-style meal:

A few more tilapia recipes

While we love salmon recipes most, we love to mix it up with tilapia too! This white fish always makes a tasty dinner. Here are some of our top tilapia recipes and other grilled fish recipes:

Dietary notes

This grilled tilapia recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free and pescatarian.

Frequently asked questions

Is tilapia a good fish for grilling?

Yes! Tilapia’s mild flavor and delicate texture make it a fantastic choice for grilling. Just be mindful of overcooking as it can become dry.

How do you keep tilapia from falling apart on the grill?

Here are a few tips:
Use medium high heat: This helps sear the fish and create a crust for easier flipping.
Wait for the fish to release from the grates before flipping. This takes about 3 to 4 minutes with tilapia.
Handle with care: Use a wide spatula to avoid breaking the fillets.

What’s the best way to season tilapia for grilling?

Tilapia’s mild flavor welcomes a variety of seasonings! Here are some ideas:
Simple: Salt, pepper, lemon, garlic powder
Citrusy: Lime juice, zest, chili powder, cumin
Herby: Fresh dill, parsley, a touch of thyme
Cajun: Blackened seasoning

How long should I grill tilapia?

Grill tilapia for about 3-4 minutes per side, or until it’s cooked through and flakes easily with a fork. The internal temperature should reach 130 to 140°F (54 to 60°C).

What are some delicious sides to serve with grilled tilapia?

Grilled tilapia pairs wonderfully with:
Rice or quinoa: To soak up the flavorful juices
Grilled vegetables: Asparagus, zucchini, bell peppers
Tropical salsa: Mango, pineapple, avocado
Simple salad: A light side salad to balance the meal

Save this recipe!
Get this sent to your inbox, plus get new recipes from us every week!
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Grilled tilapia

Easy Grilled Tilapia

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 3 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 23 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
Save Recipe


This grilled tilapia is perfectly seasoned and easy to make! It’s a light and flaky fish that’s full of flavor, making a simple healthy dinner recipe.


  • 4 4-ounce tilapia fillets, (wild caught if possible)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (also called pimentón)*
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon celery seed
  • For serving: blistered tomatoes or chopped cherry tomatoes


  1. Preheat a grill to medium-high heat (375 to 450°F).
  2. Bring the tilapia to room temperature for about 15 minutes.
  3. Pat the tilapia dry with a clean towel. Rub it with the olive oil and sprinkle it with the kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Mix the smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and celery seed in a small bowl, then pat it on to the fish.
  4. Grill the tilapia skin side down over indirect heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until it releases from the grates. Flip and cook another 3 to 4 minutes, until the fish is tender and just cooked through (internal temperature is 130 to 140°F or 54 to 60°C). Allow to rest for a few minutes, then serve, topping with blistered tomatoes if desired. Store leftovers for up to 3 days refrigerated in an airtight container. 


*If you can’t find it, you can use sweet paprika. But smoked paprika brings the best flavor with a hint of smokiness.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Grilled
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free

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 and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

Leave a Comment

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star


  1. Anonymous says:


  2. ANN BRAGONJE says:

    Tried this tonight. I was delicious. I just used spray avocado oil. We’ll have it again!

  3. Anonymous says:

    My husband and I tried this tonight and it was delicious. I even sent recipe to my kids and best friend. Thanks so much. Will make it this way every time

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed!

    2. Mary says:

      You are marvelous. Just needed to switch to Med diet after heart attack and your recipes are, quite
      literally, life savers. Thank you so much!