Blackened Tilapia


5 from 10 votes
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This blackened tilapia recipe is perfectly seasoned and grilled to perfection. It’s quick to make and makes the foundations of a healthy dinner! 

blackened tilapia.

We adore cooking with tilapia, as it’s a mild-flavored fish that benefit from the generous use of different spices. We often cook it in the air fryer or grill it with salt and pepper but to take it up a notch, we love to douse it in some blackened seasoning. 

The tilapia fillets first are first seasoned using a mix of aromatic spices and then seared in a hot pan until they are crispy on both sides and have their signature blackened look. 

Table of Contents
  1. The best blackened tilapia 
  2. Ingredients needed
  3. How to make blackened tilapia
  4. Tips and tricks
  5. What to serve with blackened fish?
  6. Storage instructions
  7. More seafood recipes to try
  8. Frequently asked questions
  9. Blackened Tilapia (Recipe Card)

The best blackened tilapia 

Like our blackened chicken and salmon, the simple seasoning truly elevates the humble fish and turns it into something quite special. 

  • Quick and easy.  It takes a total of 10 to 12 minutes to cook tilapia using the blackening technique. 
  • Few ingredients. A few spices, olive oil, butter, and a few tilapia fillets are all you need to cook this versatile protein. 
  • Healthy. This dish is low in calories and carbs, and packs in tons of protein!

What we love about this recipe is that it works as a simple weeknight dinner but also can be jazzed up for special occasions too. 

Ingredients needed

  • Tilapia. You can use both skin-on and skinless fillets. 

Fish substitution idea

If you can’t find tilapia, you can switch it out for any mild-flavored white fish, like halibut or swordfish.

  • Blackening spices. The spice mix used for this blackened fish recipe includes cumin, cayenne pepper, black pepper, smoked paprika, and dried thyme. 
  • Salt. To taste. 
  • Olive oil. To sear the fish fillets. 

How to make blackened tilapia

Making blackened tilapia is a two-step process. Here’s how you do it. 

Step 1 – Season the tilapia 

Mix all spices in a small bowl and add salt to taste.

blackened seasoning mix.

Season the tilapia fillets generously. 

seasoned tilapia fillets.

Step 2 – Sear it 

Heat oil in a non-stick skillet. Once the oil is hot, add the fish and cook it for 5 minutes per side until it’s crispy on both sides. Serve warm. 

blackened fish.

Tips and tricks

  • Use frozen tilapia fillets. You don’t have to use fresh tilapia fillets. Simply thaw the frozen fillets in the fridge overnight. Then pat them dry with paper towels and cook them using the blackening technique. 
  • Dip the uncooked fillets in melted butter. Doing this is a great way to help all the spices stick to the fish. 
  • Oven bake them. If you prefer oven-baking your fish, you can easily do that with this recipe. Heat the oven to 400F degrees and bake the seasoned tilapia fillets for 10 to 12 minutes. 

What to serve with blackened fish?

Tilapia is a healthy, flavorful, and protein-packed main, and goes well with almost anything. Vegetables and potatoes are always a great side dish. 

Storage instructions

To store: Transfer leftover tilapia into an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 3 days. 

To reheat: Heat up the leftover fish in a covered skillet over medium heat or in the oven preheated to 275F degrees until the internal temperature of the fish reaches 125F degrees. 

Leftover ideas

  • Make blackened tilapia tacos by adding the cooked fish in soft taco shells and adding all the fix-ins.
  • Swap out the chicken in a spicy chicken sandwich for the tilapia.
  • For a low carb lunch, serve the tilapia over your favorite salad.
tilapia blackened.

More seafood recipes to try

Frequently asked questions

Is tilapia a healthy fish to eat?

Tilapia is a healthy source of lean protein. It is also rich in a range of essential vitamins and minerals. While it does not contain nearly as many omega-3 fatty acids as salmon, it contains the same amount of protein and half the calories as salmon.  

So long as it is cooked in a healthy way, tilapia is a healthy fish to include in your diet. 

Is this gluten-free?

Yes, this tilapia recipe is gluten-free. Anyone with gluten intolerance and Celiac disease can make it and enjoy it. 

Can I air fry this?

Yes, you can make air fryer blackened tilapia. Simply follow the same instructions once the fish is seasoned as the standard air fryer tilapia.

Can I freeze leftovers?

Avoid freezing pre-cooked tilapia as it does not thaw out well.

blackened tilapia recipe.

Blackened Tilapia

5 from 10 votes
This blackened tilapia is perfectly seasoned and cooks up in less than 10 minutes to make. It's healthy and makes the perfect easy dinner.
Servings: 4 servings
Prep: 1 minute
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 11 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 fillets tilapia 4-6 ounces each
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  • In a small bowl, whisk together the spice mix until combined.
  • Rub the spice mix over each fillet of fish.
  • Add the oil to a large non-stick skillet and cook the fish for 5 minutes, before flipping and cooking for another 5 minutes. 


TO STORE: Transfer leftover tilapia into an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to 3 days. 
TO REHEAT: Heat up the leftover fish in a covered skillet over medium heat or in the oven preheated to 275F degrees until the internal temperature of the fish reaches 125F degrees. 


Serving: 1tilapia filletCalories: 236kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 35gFat: 10gSodium: 673mgPotassium: 574mgFiber: 1gVitamin A: 576IUVitamin C: 0.3mgCalcium: 41mgIron: 3mgNET CARBS: 1g
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Author: Arman Liew
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

Arman Liew

I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

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