This blackened tilapia recipe is not for the weak! It’s spicy, with bold flavors. For those of you who think healthy eating is boring, think again!
I love eating and cooking healthy foods.
I know this food blog has more decadent recipes than healthy recipes, but I really do try to follow the 80/20 rule, where you eat healthy 80% of the time. Usually, Trevor and I try to eat healthy Sunday – Thursday and splurge Friday and Saturday.
For breakfasts lately, we’ve been doing my healthy egg muffin cups. It takes me 30 seconds to rewarm them in the microwave, and I love getting in tons of protein and veggies first thing in the morning!
Lunchtime, we have a salad with tons of veggies, cottage cheese, and hard boiled eggs. It’s fresh, light, and full of protein to keep you full!
Then there’s dinner. Chicken is usually my go-to, because it’s healthy, it’s easy, and it’s so versatile.
Although my love for chicken runs deep, sometimes ya gotta mix it up a bit.
Next time you feel like you’re in a rut, but want to eat something healthy that’s packed with flavor, make my blackened tilapia!
This blackened tilapia recipe uses a homemade rub that you can store in the fridge if you have any leftovers. It makes for a super quick and easy weeknight meal that seriously packs a punch. It’s spicy, and so full of flavor, you won’t feel like you’re eating anything “healthy”!
Tilapia was the first fish I liked, because it’s not a… you know…fishy-fish. The flavor is so mild that I think even the strongest fish haters would enjoy it!
It tastes good, BUT . . .
Is tilapia healthy?
Absolutely! It’s low in calories and saturated fats, high in protein, and is loaded with vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.
SO . . .
What do you season tilapia with?
Today we’re doing a blackened seasoning which contains:
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Celery seed
I’ve never tried to “blacken” any food before, though sometimes it just happens unintentionally when not desired 😉
Have no fear, because I’ve made all the mistakes for you already, seriously, many, many mistakes, so you won’t have to worry about it.
The first time I made this was over the holidays when my mother in law was in town. She’s a huge fan of tilapia, too, and Trevor loves spicy, so I thought blackened tilapia would be a perfect recipe to make!
Wrong, because I pretty much smoked my mother in law out of the apartment.
The pan and oil got too hot, something was stuck under my burner coils, and I forgot to turn the fan on.
To paint the picture a little further, the smoke detectors were going off, Teddy was running around confused, the room was slowly filling with smoke, everyone was coughing, and the rub is spicy, so my eyes were burning and watering like crazy, while I trying to save my fish!
Shortly after Trevor stopped, dropped and rolled just to be safe, emerging from the smoke came perfectly cooked and blackened tilapia!
If that doesn’t deserve a fist bump, I’m not sure what does.
I made this again yesterday, over lower heat this time, and successfully made the tilapia again, but without smoking anyone out!
How do you make healthy baked blackened tilapia?
Start by making your rub. Combine paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, dried oregano, dried thyme, celery seed, and salt and mix together.
Take your tilapia – mine was frozen then thawed (place fish in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours OR place in a ziplock baggie and submerge under cold water for 15-20 minutes) – and gently dab with a paper towel to remove some of the moisture.
Cover generously with your spice rub, making sure to press it in with your finger tips.
Gently shake off any extra rub and set aside. You can let the rubbed fish rest at room temperature for up to 20 minutes.
Now heat a skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes, add in a tablespoon of oil, turn to coat the pan, and immediately add in your tilapia (I usually make two at a time, but I’d suggest testing just one out first, until you get the hang of it).
I add my tilapia immediately, because I don’t want the oil to get too hot and start smoking!
The pan is hot enough if you hear it sizzle when you drop the tilapia.
Cook on one side for about 2-3 minutes. Flip it over, add in a another half tablespoon of oil, and cook for another 2 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through.
The tilapia will be opaque and can be flaked with a fork. Don’t forget that this is blackened tilapia, emphasis on the blackened, so don’t worry when the outside is black! 😉
PSST – Just a little hint, even though I know you’re going not to smoke anyone out, I’d recommend getting your fan going…just in case! 😉 It’s pretty much inevitable that when you’re blackening anything, a small amount of smoke will occur!
Remove the blackened tilapia from the pan, squeeze lemon juice generously over it, and serve immediately!
What is a good side dish for tilapia?
- Asian Roasted Broccoli
- Lemon Garlic Cauliflower Rice
- Roasted Green Beans
- Honey Goat Cheese Strawberry Spinach Salad
- Balsamic Roasted Vegetables
- Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans
- Lemon Garlic Chicken & Orzo Pasta – pictured
What would YOU serve with this tilapia?
This blackened tilapia recipe is not for the weak! It’s really spicy, the flavors are bold, and the lemon juice brightens the whole thing up! For those of you who think healthy eating is boring, think again!
Are you a fish hater? Have you tried tilapia yet? Show me the yummy!
- 1 pound tilapia fillets should be 4 fillets, fresh or thawed (according to package directions) if frozen
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper more or less to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
- 1 tablespoon salt more or less to taste
- lemon juice to taste
Combine paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, dried oregano, dried thyme, celery seed, and salt together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Gently dab tilapia with a paper towel to remove some of the moisture.
- Cover generously with your spice rub, making sure to press it in with your finger tips.
- Gently shake off any extra rub and set aside. You can let the rubbed fish rest at room temperature for up to 20 minutes.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes
Once hot, add in a tablespoon of oil, turn to coat the pan, and immediately add in 2 of the tilapia filets.
Cook on one side for about 2-3 minutes. Flip, add in a another half tablespoon of oil, and cook for another 2 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through.
The tilapia will be opaque and can be flaked with a fork. The outside will be VERY dark.
Remove tilapia from the pan, squeeze lemon juice generously over cooked fillets.
Repeat with remaining tilapia and serve!
I always buy frozen tilapia in bulk. I then defrost only what I need for dinner that night. This rub recipe is for 1 pound of tilapia, but if you don't want to make a pound of tilapia, make what you like, and save leftover rub in an airtight container in your fridge!