Craving bold flavors but short on time? This blackened tilapia recipe is your answer! In this blackened tilapia recipe, we transform mild tilapia fillets into a restaurant-worthy dish with a smoky, spicy crust in under 30 minutes.

Blackened Tilapia Recipe \\ Pass the Sushi

Looking for an easy blackened tilapia recipe?

This recipe is a winner for busy weeknights or when you want to impress with minimal effort. Blackened seasoning is a quick blend of spices that adds a smoky, spicy kick to your tilapia, transforming it from ordinary to restaurant-worthy. 

If you’re tired of chicken and beef, you’ll love this blackened tilapia recipe. Like our other delicious seafood recipes like shrimp scampi and lemon parsley baked fish, this dish is packed with flavor, takes less than 30 minutes to make, and is perfect for any occasion.

What Is Blackened Tilapia?

Blackened tilapia isn’t about the fish being burnt to a crisp! It’s a cooking technique that utilizes a special spice mixture to create a flavorful, dark brown crust on the fish. This “blackened” effect comes from the generous coating of a spice mix that typically includes paprika, cayenne pepper, and other bold ingredients.

What you’ll love about this recipe:

  • QUICK – Blackened tilapia is the perfect healthy dinner for busy people who crave delicious food without a ton of effort.
  • FLAVORFUL – The spice blend infuses the fish with smoky, spicy depth, transforming it from ordinary to exciting.

What You Need to Make Blackened Tilapia

  • Smoked Paprika: Adds a smoky depth of flavor.
  • Salt
  • Onion Powder: Concentrated onion flavor without the moisture.
  • Black Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper: Brings spiciness to the blackening mix.
  • Thyme & Oregano: Earthy herbs that complement the smoky paprika.
  • Garlic Powder: Savory punch without needing fresh garlic.
  • Tilapia Fillets: The main course! Absorbs the blackening spice for a flavorful fish.
  • Grapeseed Oil: High smoke point oil for searing the fish without burning.
  • Fresh Lemon Juice: Adds a touch of acidity to balance the spice and brighten the flavors.

How to Make Blackened Tilapia

  • Mix all the spices in a bowl.
  • Coat both sides of the tilapia fillets with a heaping spoonful of the seasoning mixture. Let them hang out for 15 minutes at room temperature.
  • Heat oil in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until it’s almost smoking hot.
  • Add the fish fillets and cook both sides of the fish for 2-3 minutes each, until crispy.
  • Squeeze some lemon juice on those beauties before serving! Done and delicious.

Expert Recipe Tips

  • While pre-made blackening seasoning is convenient, consider creating your own for a more vibrant flavor profile. Freshly ground spices like paprika, cayenne pepper, and black pepper offer a more intense aroma and taste compared to pre-ground options.
  • The beauty of homemade spice blends is customization. Love a little heat? Add a pinch of red pepper flakes or chipotle powder for an extra kick. Prefer a milder flavor? Reduce the cayenne pepper or omit it altogether.
  • Excess moisture on the fish surface can prevent the spice mix from adhering properly. Before seasoning, thoroughly pat the tilapia fillets dry with a paper towel.
  • Overcrowding the pan can lower the cooking temperature and lead to steamed fish instead of a beautiful sear. Cook the tilapia fillets in batches if necessary, ensuring they have enough space to cook evenly.
  • Want to add a touch of freshness? Incorporate a teaspoon of dried thyme or oregano to the spice mix for a subtle herbal note that complements the smokiness.
  • Leftover blackened tilapia can be flaked and used in tacos, salads, or fish cakes for a delicious second life!

How to Store Leftovers & Reheat

Leftover blackened tilapia can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days and frozen for 2-3 months.

The best method for reheating leftover blackened tilapia is using a skillet. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a cast iron skillet. Gently add the leftover fish and cook for 2-3 minutes per side or until warmed through.

What to Serve with Blackened Tilapia Filets

The bold flavors from the fish pair perfectly with more mild flavors like mango salsa or cucumber salsa. If you want to keep things simple, serve your fish with some baked French fries and hush puppies for a restaurant-like feel. We also love pairing this fish with some red beans and rice for a cajun finish. Finally, if you want to add some veggies to the mix, add a side of air fryer carrots for some color.

Dig in and enjoy this flavorful and satisfying blackened tilapia – a perfect weeknight dinner that tastes like it came straight from a restaurant! If you try this recipe, please rate the recipe card and leave a comment down below to help out the next reader! 

Blackened Tilapia Recipe \\ Pass the Sushi

Big Daddy’s Blackened Tilapia

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Author: Kita


Blackening Spice:

  • 3 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

For Fish:

  • 4 tilapia fillets
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 lemon - juiced


  • n a small bowl combine all of the spices. Press a heaping tablespoon of the spice mix onto each fillet so that both sides are liberally coated. Allow the fish to sit for 15 minutes at room temperature prior to cooking.
  • In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is almost smoking, add the fillets and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Sprinkle with lemon juice and transfer the fillets to serving platter.

Nutritional informations provided as a courtesy and is only an approximatation. Values will changes based on ingredients used.

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Recipe FAQs

Tilapia is a mild white fish found in freshwater. Its delicate texture makes it super easy to cook and not too fishy tasting. 

While tilapia works perfectly in this recipe, you can substitute other mild-flavored white fish like cod, halibut, or flounder. Just be aware that cooking times may vary slightly depending on the thickness of the fish.

Absolutely! The spice mix can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months. This makes whipping up blackened tilapia even faster on busy weeknights.


  1. Uncle Joe says:

    @driving…..hmmmm……perhaps, just perhaps, you are turning into a grumpy OLD person. Time to pull the seat all the way up, put the pocketbook on the seat next to you (complete with stale kleenex and butterscotch candies), and keep the left blinker on….

    @tilapia….Rob makes a great peach/mango salsa that he cooks on top…mmmmm

  2. I’ve noticed the increasing number of bad drivers too and it totally scares me! I mean, I understand when people are rushing to get to work but even on the weekends, people are always tailgating me and cutting me off. Anyway, I’ve actually watched Big Daddy make this tilapia and wanted to try it myself so thanks for the heads up on using another fish!

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