Lemon Pepper Tilapia

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Lemony tasty tilapia, with just a few ingredients! This Lemon Pepper Tilapia is ready in 15 minutes!

Lemon pepper tilapia on a plate with sautéed zucchini.

This fish makes a perfect entrée for any occasion when seasoned and cooked properly. I am sure that you and your family will love this dish.

The light flavors of this recipe give you room to serve it with side dishes such as Easy Coconut Rice, Sweet Fried Plantains, or Sauteed Vegetables.

Lemon Pepper Tilapia Recipe

I am excited to share this lemon pepper tilapia recipe with you today! It has such a flaky texture and a delicious citrusy, peppery taste, making it a treat for the taste buds. Although the lemon pepper flavor is most prominent, it also has hints of garlic.

Aside from its mouthwatering taste and texture, responsibly farmed tilapia is affordable, making it a fantastic option when you have many mouths to feed! Although this recipe makes four servings, its measurements are easy to modify, so you can make more servings if needed.

2 lemon pepper tilapia fillets on a white plate.

Why This Recipe Works

  • It’s low effort. When you’re looking for simple and quick meal ideas, this lemon pepper tilapia recipe is perfect. With only 5 minutes of prep time and 10 minutes of cooking time, it’s easy to fit into even the busiest schedules. This recipe is beneficial when you don’t have the energy to cook a complicated dinner but still want to make something delicious.
  • It’s healthy. This lemon pepper tilapia can be a great foundation for a nutritious meal! It contains impressive amounts of potassium, protein, B12, and niacin. And because you can serve it however you like, you can pair it with equally healthy sides to keep the healthy streak going.
  • It has simple yet delicious flavors. What you see is what you get! The mild flavor of tilapia, lemon, and garlicky seasonings create simple yet satisfying flavors that aren’t overpowering. This makes it an excellent option for people of all ages to enjoy.

Ingredients Needed 

Here are the ingredients you need to make delicious Lemon Pepper Tilapia:

Ingredients for lemon pepper fish with labels on them.
  • Tilapia Fillets: For best results, use fresh tilapia fillets that are responsibly farmed. If you use frozen, they must be thoroughly thawed first. Otherwise, they won’t cook evenly.
  • Salt-Free Lemon Pepper Seasoning: Lemon pepper creates a delightful burst of simple yet enticing flavor. Its bright taste pairs well with a mild fish like tilapia.
  • Olive Oil: You’ll need a small amount of olive oil to coat the skillet before you add the fish. Not only does it prevent the fish from sticking, but it also helps form a pleasant, golden crust.

Some other seasonings are involved, so take a look at the recipe card below for all the details and measurements.

How To Make Lemon Pepper Tilapia 

  1. Pat dry the tilapia fillets and evenly coat them with lemon pepper seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  2. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  3. Heat the oil in the pan before adding the seasoned fillets.
  4. Cook the fillets on both sides.
  5. Serve the fish warm with your favorite sides.
Seasoned tilapia fillets in a white bowl.
2 cooked fish fillets in a cast iron skillet.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Lemon Pepper: It’s okay to use lemon pepper that contains salt if you can’t find the salt-free version. Just be mindful of the amount of salt you add separately.
  • Butter: You can certainly use butter in place of the olive oil. Just use unsalted butter and keep the heat set to medium so the butter doesn’t burn.
  • Capers: Lemon and capers are an excellent match. You can add capers to the pan when you cook the tilapia, adding flavor and texture to the dish. Spoon the cooked capers over top of the tilapia when serving.
  • Fresh Lemon: Do you want a bolder lemon flavor? You can serve this tilapia with fresh lemon slices. Add them to the pan after you flip the fish, giving the slices a few minutes to soften. You can also sprinkle on fresh lemon zest with the seasonings!
Landscape image of lemon pepper tilapia with vegetables.

Expert Tips For Tilapia

  • Before working with your tilapia, make sure it is fresh, firm, and resilient to the touch. It shouldn’t have an off, fishy odor or feel sticky, which are signs of spoilage.
  • Make sure to use a fish spatula and one that is large enough to do the job. Small spatulas can make it difficult to flip the fish, resulting in the tilapia breaking. You can even use two spatulas if you don’t feel confident using just one!
  • Be careful not to overcook the tilapia. Only cook it until it is white and flaky. The minimum safe internal temperature is 145°F, but you can remove it slightly earlier as it continues cooking. Follow the recommended time for best results!
  • Although it might seem insignificant, patting the fish dry is a must. Any excess moisture on the tilapia’s surface won’t allow it to form a desirable crust.

How To Thaw Tilapia

If you have frozen fillets, planning in advance and thawing them in the refrigerator overnight is best. However, that’s not always doable, so there is a quicker method you can use, too!

Place the fillets in a large bowl of cold water to defrost them. If they’re still not ready at the 30-minute mark, empty the bowl and refill it with fresh water.

It’s essential not to use warm or hot water. Although you might feel it will accelerate the process, it is dangerous to do so because it causes bacterial growth!

A cooked fish fillet garnished with minced parsley.

How To Store and Reheat Any Leftovers

I recommend enjoying the cooked fish immediately, but sometimes you might end up with leftovers, and that’s okay!

However, tilapia easily absorbs flavors and smells since it is so mild. So, if you only loosely wrap it, it might take on other odors from your refrigerator, which you definitely don’t want! To keep it fresh, transfer the tilapia to a sealed container once it cools.

The cooked lemon pepper tilapia will last three days when properly stored. When it comes time to reheat it, avoid using the microwave because it might give it a funky texture or dry it out.

My advice would be to heat it in a 350°F oven. If you want to restore its crispy crust, rub some olive oil on it. Be careful not to overcook it; remove it from the oven once it is thoroughly heated.

Recipe Frequently Asked Questions

Should Tilapia Be Soaked In Milk Before Cooking?

It isn’t necessary, but you can. I believe that tilapia is already mild enough and doesn’t need this.

Some people prefer to do this with their fish because it results in a more delicate smell and taste because the milk neutralizes it. However, you have to be careful because if you don’t correctly dry the fish after soaking it, it can become mushy when cooked.

Why Does My Tilapia Always Stick To The Pan?

There are a few possible reasons for this. First, you might not be working with the correct temperature or equipment. It is best to use a cast iron skillet that has nonstick abilities!
And if the heat is too high, the fish will burn on the underside and stick.

On the other hand, you might not be waiting long enough to flip it. Once the tilapia forms a crust, it easily releases. So, if you try to flip it too soon, it just isn’t ready.

Should You Rinse Tilapia Before Cooking?

Tilapia is already rinsed during the filleting process, so it isn’t necessary. In fact, rinsing the fish might even cause cross-contamination in your kitchen. The bacteria from the raw fish can splash onto your countertops, utensils, and other surfaces, so be careful if you do rinse it.

Serving Lemon Pepper Tilapia

Serve Lemon Pepper Tilapia with the following side dishes:

More Tilapia Recipes

Also check out these tilapia recipes:

If you make this recipe please leave a star rating below. Your rating helps others find the recipe plus I love hearing from you! Thank you!

Lemon pepper tilapia on a plate with sautéed zucchini.

Lemon Pepper Tilapia

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Lemony tasty tilapia, with just a few ingredients! This Lemon Pepper Tilapia is ready in 15 minutes!
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


  • 1 pound tilapia fillets 3-4 fillets
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt free lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  • Pat dry both sides of the tilapia fillets and season evenly with salt, pepper, lemon pepper seasoning and garlic powder.
  • Heat a cast iron skillet on medium heat. Add the oil and heat up for 2 minutes. Add the seasoned fillets to the pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side. If using a smaller skillet, cook in 2 batches adding more oil during the second batch.
  • Serve warm with your favorite sides.


If you use lemon pepper seasoning that contains salt, reduce the amount of salt added to the recipe.


Calories: 107kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 313mg | Potassium: 145mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 0.02g | Vitamin A: 3IU | Vitamin C: 0.01mg | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 0.4mg

Additional Info

Calories: 107
Tried this recipe?Mention @preciouscore or tag #PreciousCore!

About Precious

Welcome to my core! I am Precious Nkeih, the recipe developer and writer right here on my blog, Precious Core. My goal is to show you insanely delicious recipes you can replicate in your kitchen. And I love to tell stories too. Hope you find recipes here that will make cooking easier for you! Check me out on YouTube at YouTube.com/PreciousKitchen.

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