Garlic Butter Baked Tilapia

4 Servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Garlic Butter Baked Tilapia is easily made in under 30 minutes with refreshing, buttery fish topped in lemon, garlic, and Old Bay Seasoning.

If you’re new to making seafood, this baked fish recipe is a great place to start. Tilapia has a mild, but delicious taste without a lot of fishy taste. So, even those who don’t love seafood will probably enjoy Garlic Butter Baked Tilapia because the fish absorbs the flavor from the blend of lemon, garlic, and butter baked around it. Garlic Butter Baked Tilapia makes an amazing Weeknight Dinner Recipe that you can make in a half hour. For more fish recipes, try Baked Thai Peanut Salmon or our easy Shrimp Boil Recipe.

Sabrina’s Garlic Butter Baked Tilapia

Garlic Baked Tilapia is also a fairly healthy option for a weeknight meal. Fish in general are a good dinner option for healthy recipes because they’re usually lower in calories and sodium than other meats. Plus they’re full of healthy fatty acids. So, you get the benefits of protein, important nutrients, and fewer unhealthy drawbacks. Plus, this recipe is so easy as you just prepare the ingredients and bake until ready!

portioned ingredients for baked tilapia

Ingredients

  • 2 Lemons: One of the major ingredients in this recipe is the slices of fresh lemon. As it bakes, the slices leak lemon juice that mixes with the butter and gets absorbed into the fish for lemon flavor. Feel free to garnish with lemon zest for an extra zing!
  • 4 Tilapia Fillets: It is a mild and flaky white fish. It serves as the main protein in this dish, absorbing the flavors of the garlic butter and Old Bay seasoning. You can use other white fish fillets like cod or sole as alternatives. Bonus points if you’re using wild-caught fish! 
  • 4 tablespoons Unsalted Butter: Butter adds richness and a creamy texture to the dish. When melted, it coats the tilapia and infuses it with a buttery flavor. 
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning: Old Bay Seasoning is a bold blend of spices that typically includes celery salt, paprika, and red pepper. It provides a savory and slightly spicy flavor, enhancing the overall taste of the dish. You can make your own spice blend if Old Bay is not available, but it won’t be exactly the same.
  • 2 cloves Garlic: Garlic adds a robust and aromatic flavor to the butter sauce. It complements the fish and lemon, creating a harmonious combination. You can adjust the amount of garlic to suit your taste preferences.

Kitchen Tools and Equipment

  • Oven: You’ll need an oven to bake the Garlic Butter Baked Tilapia. Make sure it’s preheated to the specified temperature (375 degrees Fahrenheit) before placing the dish inside.
  • Baking Pan (9×13): A baking pan of the specified size (9×13 inches) is essential for arranging the lemon slices and tilapia fillets. Grease it to prevent sticking.
  • Mixing Bowl: You’ll require a mixing bowl to combine the melted butter, Old Bay seasoning, and minced garlic for the yummy butter sauce.
  • Spoon or Basting Brush: A spoon or a basting brush is handy for evenly spooning or brushing the butter mixture over the tilapia fillets before baking. 
  • Cutting Board and Knife: You’ll need a cutting board and a Quality Chef’s Knife to slice the lemons into rounds. 

How to Make

Time needed: 30 minutes.

  1. Preheat the Oven and Prepare the Baking Pan

    Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius). Grease a 9×13 baking pan.

  2. Cut Lemons into Slices

    Place the lemon slices at the bottom of the pan in a single layer. sliced lemons on a cutting board

  3. Arrange the Tilapia

    Rinse the tilapia in clean water and pat them dry with paper towel. Then, lay the tilapia fillets on top of the lemon slices in the baking pan.tilapia fillets in a baking dish

  4. Step 4: Make the Butter Sauce

    In a mixing bowl, combine the melted butter, Old Bay seasoning, and minced garlic. Mix well until it forms a flavorful butter sauce.adding ingredients together to make garlic butter sauce

  5. Coat the Tilapia

    Season tilapia by spooning the butter mixture evenly over the tilapia fillets, ensuring they are well-coated with the sauce.spooning butter sauce over tilapia fillets

  6. Bake

    Bake the prepared dish in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until it is cooked through and the fish flakes easily with a fork. When you take it out, spoon the garlic lemon butter sauce over top of each fillet for extra flavor before serving. layers of lemon on seasoned baked tilapia in dish

  7. Serve

    Serve your Garlic Butter Baked Tilapia hot, garnished with fresh parsley, extra lemon slices, and red pepper flakes if desired.a cut of tilapia showcasing its baked flakiness.

Can Tilapia Be Made Ahead Of Time?

The Garlic Butter Baked Tilapia recipe is best enjoyed fresh out of the oven to maintain its optimal texture and flavor. While you can prepare some components in advance, such as slicing lemons or mixing the butter sauce, it’s recommended to assemble and bake the dish just before serving for the best results.

Nutritional Facts

Nutrition Facts
Garlic Butter Baked Tilapia
Amount Per Serving
Calories 285 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 115mg38%
Sodium 92mg4%
Potassium 604mg17%
Carbohydrates 6g2%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 35g70%
Vitamin A 388IU8%
Vitamin C 29mg35%
Calcium 47mg5%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

How to Store

Storing

If you have any leftovers from this weeknight dinner recipe, don’t leave it out for more than an hour or two. To store leftover fillets, you can cover the dish with foil, or transfer them to an airtight container. Then store it in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Reheating Tips

When you’re ready to reheat the tilapia, take the airtight container out of the fridge or freezer. Then lay the fillet on a baking sheet and reheat for 7-10 minutes in a 450-degree oven, or 370º in the toaster oven until warmed through 5-7 minutes.

Freezing

Garlic Butter Baked Tilapia can also make a great meal prep meal. Once the fillets have cooled transfer them to serving serving-sized meal prep container. As long as they’re carefully sealed, frozen tilapia fillets can stay good for up to 3 months.

Ideas to Serve Baked Tilapia

While the delicious meal is cooking in the oven, you can get to work on prepping some simple and delicious sides. Lemon Butter Baked Tilapia would taste amazing with vegetables like Sauteed Green Beans, or Mushrooms. You can also add a side of creamy and filling Mashed Potatoes.

Once you have the meal ready, you can serve it up with the side dishes and drizzle any extra garlic lemon sauce over the sides.

Frequent Questions

What is tilapia?

Tilapia is a freshwater fish commonly used in cooking. It has a mild, white flesh and is known for its versatility. Tilapia is often chosen for its neutral flavor, making it a popular choice in various recipes, including this one. It’s readily available in most supermarkets and seafood markets.

Can I substitute tilapia with another fish?

Yes, you can substitute tilapia with other mild white fish like cod or sole for a similar result.

Can I use salted butter instead of unsalted butter?

While unsalted butter is recommended, you can use salted butter, but be mindful of the overall saltiness since Old Bay seasoning already contains salt.

Is it okay to skip Old Bay seasoning if I don’t have it?

You can make your own spice blend, but it won’t replicate the exact flavor of Old Bay. It’s a key ingredient for the recipe’s unique taste. Try other blends such as Cajun Seasoning or a paprika & celery salt blend.

Can I use frozen tilapia fillets?

Frozen tilapia can be used, but thaw them completely and pat them dry before following the recipe.

Can I use garlic powder instead of fresh garlic?

Fresh garlic provides better flavor, but you can use garlic powder as a substitute. Use ½ to 1 teaspoon of garlic powder per clove as a rough guideline.

Recipe Card

Garlic Butter Baked Tilapia

Garlic Butter Baked Tilapia is easily made in under 30 minutes with refreshing, buttery fish topped in lemon, garlic, and Old Bay Seasoning.
Yield 4 Servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder

Ingredients
 

  • 2 lemons , cut into 8 slices
  • 4 tilapia filets
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Grease a 9×13 baking pan and add the lemon slices, then top with the tilapia.
  • Mix together melted butter, Old bay seasoning and garlic.
  • Spoon the mixture over the tilapia and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Notes

  • Click on the “yield” amount to slide and change the number of servings and the recipe will automatically update!
  • Click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.
  • To convert measurements to grams, click on the “Metric” option next to “Ingredients” in the recipe card.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 285kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 115mg | Sodium: 92mg | Potassium: 604mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 388IU | Vitamin C: 29mg | Calcium: 47mg | Iron: 2mg
Keyword: Garlic Butter Baked Tilapia

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Variations

  • Seasonings: You can easily experiment with the flavor of Lemon Butter Tilapia by adding different kinds of fresh herbs and spices. You can add an herb mixture to the butter sauce with ingredients like flat-leaf parsley, fresh dill, or rosemary. Spices like black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper, or a dash of paprika powder would also taste great sprinkled on top.
  • Crusted Tilapia: To add a delicious crispy coating to the Baked Tilapia, you can use a cracker crumb, panko breadcrumb, or parmesan coating. Start by brushing the butter mixture over the fish fillets. Then toss them in the crumbs mixture until they’re coated. Place the fillets back in the baking dish and bake as usual.
  • Lime Tilapia: You could also make more of a tangy and spicy fish dish. Replace the lemons with limes at the bottom of the pan. Then lay the fish over the top. Add ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper to the butter mixture and spoon it over the lime fillets. These ingredients give the Tilapia more of a bold Southwestern-inspired flavor.

More Tasty, Easy Fish Recipes

Garlic Butter Baked Tilapia Pin

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

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