This Baked Tilapia just might be the perfect dinner—it’s deliciously simple, quick and easy enough for weeknights, and special enough for company.
Don’t you just love a recipe that’s both easy and elegant? Whether you’re making it for just you or for a special occasion, it feels like a treat to sit down to. And you don’t have to wear yourself out to make it happen!
This is exactly that kind of recipe, and a great way to enjoy almost any kind of fish (more on that in a sec). Whether you could eat fish every night like me or just enjoy it occasionally, this preparation deserves a spot in your regular rotation.
At one point, I had it in my head that tilapia wasn’t a good choice for seafood, which may or may not have been true at the time. But in case you also have that in your head, I’m here to tell you that it’s not the case anymore. Yes, most tilapia is farmed and there was a time farmed fish was frowned upon. But today there are many fish farming methods that are considered healthy and sustainable and many sources of tilapia that get a green light from Seafood Watch.
The plusses of tilapia include that it’s lean, flaky, and because it’s relatively firm, it’s nicely toothsome. It’s sort of a blank slate that takes to many flavors and preparations.
That said, this recipe will work using any similarly-sized white fish fillet—pollock, haddock, and thinner fillets of cod or halibut, for example. So feel free to substitute your favorite.
Preparing Baked Tilapia
Simply stated, you put the tilapia on a baking sheet, drizzle it with an easy-to-make sauce, bake for 10 minutes, and dinner is served. It’s sounding good already, right?
And the sauce? It’s a heavenly combination of melted butter, lemon, garlic, red pepper flakes, and capers. All the important food groups! 🙂
The essential parts are the butter and lemon, giving the dish both richness and tang. And while the garlic, red pepper, and capers are divine, they’re also malleable. Instead of capers, you can add your favorite herb—chopped fresh rosemary or thyme would be great. Don’t like garlic? Skip it. Ditto for the red pepper. Using minced shallots and/or jalapeno instead of the garlic and red pepper would also be nice. Really, whatever you like or have on hand and that goes with butter and lemon will likely be delicious.
But remember—elegant simplicity is the main attraction here. So resist the temptation to add a lot of bells and whistles.
What To Serve On The Side
I like to keep the simple theme going with side dishes that are pretty basic. Steamed or roasted asparagus or broccoli. Or a crisp spinach salad. But most importantly, some rice, potatoes, or a hunk of crusty bread to sop up all the delicious juices. You won’t want them going to waste.
Like I said, weekdays or weekends, this just might be the perfect dinner. Especially if you’re a fish lover like me.Print
- 4 (5-6 oz.) tilapia fillets, ½– to ¾-in. thick
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. pepper
- 2 lemons, divided
- 4 Tbsp. (½ stick) butter, melted
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2 Tbsp. drained capers
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Meanwhile, arrange the fish on a large rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
- Juice and zest one of the lemons. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and zest, butter, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Drizzle the mixture on top of the fish. Sprinkle on the capers.
- Thinly slice the remaining lemon. Arrange it on and around the fish and bake until cooked through, about 10 minutes.
- Serve with the pan juices drizzled on top.