This grilled tilapia is perfectly seasoned and easy to make! You’ll be amazed by the amount of flavor in this healthy dinner recipe.
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 generally eat plant-based meals, but we spring for seafood every now and then per the Mediterranean diet. If you’re looking for a healthy seafood recipe that fits into that diet: here’s the one! The flaky fish is bursting with savory, smoky flavor from the grill. Top it with sweet and tender blistered cherry tomatoes, and it looks simply stunning. It’s the ideal summer meal for entertaining or even a weeknight. (Plus, our 3 year old loved it: double score.) Here’s how to make grilled tilapia!
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: you can use fresh or frozen. Wild caught is preferred if you can find it!
- Olive oil
- Spices: Smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, celery seed (see more below)
How to grill tilapia: main method
Just throw that beautiful fish right onto those grill grates: there’s no need for any monkey business with foil! The best fish is made right on the hot grill. You can use this method for other white fish like cod, or even for salmon. Here’s what you need to know about the heat level and grill time:
- The temperature for grilled tilapia? Medium high heat, or 375 to 450 degrees. Medium high heat makes for a perfectly cooked piece of tilapia.
- How long to cook grilled tilapia? Cook it 3 to 4 minutes skin side down, then 3 to 4 minutes skin side up! The fish is done when it starts to flake when pulled with a fork. Another way to measure is when it reads 130 degrees Fahrenheit with an internal thermometer (stick it right into the thickest part of the fish).
- 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.
Best 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 kitchen secret weapons! You can substitute standard paprika, but it’s just not the same. Find it in your local grocery store; you might see it labeled as pimentón, Spanish smoked paprika or sweet smoked paprika. You can also buy it online here.
- Garlic powder & onion powder: These bring big savory notes to this spice blend.
- Celery seed: It’s unique, but this spice is absolutely worth having around. It brings an nuance that’s evocative of Old Bay and adds just the right intrigue to the flavors. You can also use it again in our popular chickpea salad sandwich.
More fish seasoning ideas
Want to use a different seasoning? We’ve got lots of options. Here are a few tasty ways to mix up this grilled tilapia:
- Blackened or Cajun seasoning: Try 2 tablespoons of our Blackened seasoning or Cajun seasoning to bring a Cajun flair. The Cajun is hot, the Blackened seasoning is mild.
- Fajita or Taco seasoning: Go for a Mexican flair by using Fajita Seasoning or Taco Seasoning.
Serve with blistered tomatoes to dress it up
Here’s a way to dress up grilled tilapia: top it with blistered tomatoes! What are they? Blistered cherry tomatoes are simply tomatoes cooked in a hot pan for a few minutes until charred and tender. It’s an incredibly easy method, and they taste sweet and charred. You don’t even need a true “recipe” for this topping. Go to Blistered Cherry Tomatoes, or you can follow these basic steps:
- Heat a generous drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet or cast iron pan.
- 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.
- Turn off the heat and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar, gently shaking several times to coat. Add 2 pinches kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.
Take it over the top! Add a drizzle of this tangy Fresh Basil Vinaigrette for a restaurant-style meal.
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:
- Grilled Veggies: While you’re grilling the fish, add some grilled vegetables like zucchini and squash, broccoli, green beans, potatoes in foil, or peppers and onion.
- Salads: Salads that would work well here: Easy Arugula Salad, Tomato Basil Salad, Antipasto Salad, Classic Corn Salad, Celery Salad with Apples, French Lentil Salad or Creamy Cucumber Salad.
- Grains: Try it with Farro with Mushrooms or Pesto Quinoa.
This grilled tilapia recipe is…
Gluten-free, dairy-free and pescatarian.Print
This grilled tilapia is perfectly seasoned and easy to make! You’ll be amazed by the amount of flavor: and you can use the method for white fish.
- Preheat a grill to medium-high heat (375 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Bring the tilapia to room temperature for about 15 minutes.
- 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.
- Grill the tilapia 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 130-140F). Allow to rest for a few minutes, then serve, topping with blistered tomatoes if desired.
*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
Keywords: Grilled tilapia, How to grill tilapia
More grilled fish recipes
In the summer, grilled fish & seafood are an easy and delicious way to a healthy dinner! Here are some of our favorites:
- Perfect Grilled Shrimp or Grilled Shrimp Skewers Perfectly seasoned, quick and easy to make.
- Grilled Tuna Seared on the outside and tender on the inside! Full of savory flavor.
- Grilled Scallops Easy to grill and need minimal seasoning to taste irresistibly tender and savory.
- Cajun Grilled Shrimp or Blackened Shrimp Covered in a homemade spice blend, they’re fast and easy to grill.
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.