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With fresh citrus, herbs, and Parmesan in the topping, this non-fishy-tasting Parmesan Broiled Tilapia recipe is one that kids and adults alike love. Plus, this weeknight meal is budget-friendly and only takes minutes to cook thanks to the broiler.
That Meal Where No One Whined
You know those dinners when you prepare something a little out of the ordinary for the fam? Little kids cling to your leg and are whining all around you as you finish up dinner. One of the kids takes a look at the new dish and proclaims, “Eww, what is that? I don’t want that!”
Your enthusiasm about the new recipe wanes and doubt sets in as you corral everyone to the table. You hold your breath, anticipating the backlash to come, as your kids take their first bite. That was my scenario the first time I made this Broiled Parmesan Tilapia.
I watched out of the corner of my eye as my then 4-year-old reluctantly raised his fork to his mouth. “Mmmm, this is so good, Mommy!” Now that might be the best compliment a mom at my stage can hear. To follow was a delightful–yes I actually said delightful–family meal with three small kids.
Plain and boring on its own, tilapia benefits greatly from the fresh herbs, lemon juice and zest, Parmesan cheese, and seasoning in the amazing topping. Make sure you have all these ingredients:
- Grated Parmesan cheese – I prefer freshly grated Parmesan, but the canister from the store will work.
- Salted butter, softened
- Mayonnaise – I like Avocado Mayo, since it has cleaner ingredients. I’ve also tested this recipe using plain, full-fat Greek yogurt and it works fine, as well.
- Lemon – You’ll use both the zest (the yellow portion on the outside that contains citrusy oils) and the juice. A microplane grater is the best tool for zesting citrus.
- Fresh parsley – Fresh is always best, but dried parsley can work in a pinch. You can also use other fresh herbs in place of the parsley, like chives, dill, or basil.
- Celery salt – This provides that “hmm, what is that?” flavor in the background. I love it in this recipe.
- Tilapia fillets – Ideally, you’ll want to completely thaw these in the fridge ahead of time. If you don’t have time, run under cold water for a few minutes until thawed.
How to Broil Tilapia
This tilapia recipe couldn’t be simpler to make. The full, printable recipe is at the bottom but here’s a quick overview of the recipe.
Start by preheating the broiler and covering a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Then, mix together the Parmesan, butter, mayo, lemon zest and juice, fresh herbs, black pepper, garlic powder, and celery salt until combined in a bowl.
Pat your thawed tilapia fillets dry and lay them on the covered sheet pan. Season both sides lightly with salt and pepper.
Place the fish under the broiler for 2 minutes on the first side. Flip and broil for 2 minutes on the other side.
Add Parmesan Topping
Finally, remove from the oven and generously spread the Parmesan topping over the tilapia pieces. Broil for 2 more minutes, or until golden on top. Fish is done when it easily flakes.
Make It a Freezer Meal Kit
As we say again and again in our cookbooks and on Thriving Home, this recipe is a good one to double and freeze one for later. In fact, I was in a freezer club with friends for 7 years and this was voted as one of our “home run recipes” to make again and again.
So, as long as you’re mixing up the topping, freeze the extra batch (yes it freezes and thaws just fine!) along with some frozen tilapia fillets. Here’s how:
Freeze For Later: Make the topping in Step 2. Place this mixture in a quart-sized freezer bag or small freezer container and seal. Label and freeze alongside the frozen tilapia filets (if not already frozen, then place the fish in a gallon-sized freezer bag).
Prepare From Frozen: Thaw the topping mixture and the tilapia (preferably in the refrigerator overnight). Then, follow the cooking instructions, skipping step 2.
What to Serve with Broiled Tilapia
Add a few fast and simple sides to serve up a tasty weeknight meal. I like to serve this tilapia with fresh fruit like cantaloupe or watermelon and one or two of the side dishes below.
Depending on the thickness of the filets, you only need to broil tilapia for a few minutes on each side. The fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork or reaches 145°F (63°C) internally.
I recommend thawing the tilapia fillets before broiling them. This will allow for more even cooking and helps prevent the exterior from becoming overcooked while the interior remains undercooked.
Here are some tips to ensure even broiling of tilapia:
– Use uniformly-sized fillets.
– Adjust oven rack position, keeping fillets 4-6 inches from the broiler.
– Preheat the broiler before cooking.
– Flip the fillets halfway through.
– Monitor cooking time to prevent overcooking.
– Consider using a meat thermometer to check for doneness. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the fillet, and it should register 145°F (63°C) when fully cooked.
A baking sheet or a broiler pan works for broiling tilapia. If you’re looking for convenience and easy cleanup, a baking sheet can work well. If you are wanting crispier results and better drainage, a broiler pan is the better choice. I’ve always used a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil and it works well.
Like our Baked Chicken Parmesan and Shrimp Scampi, this meal is a quick weeknight favorite in our house. I’m wishing you a whine-free, complain-free, delightful dinner the first time you try this Parmesan Broiled Tilapia, too.
Did you make this? Snap a photo and tag us on Instagram at @thrivinghome so we can see your creations and cheer you on!
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) salted butter, softened
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise (sub: full-fat Greek yogurt)
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup minced parsley (sub: 1 tablespoon dried parsley or other fresh herbs like minced dill, chives, or basil)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon celery salt
- 2 pounds tilapia fillets, completely thawed
- Salt and ground black pepper
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Make It Now:
- Adjust the top oven rack to about 6 inches below the broiler. Preheat the broiler. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil (for easy clean up).
- In a small mixing bowl, stir together the Parmesan, butter, mayo, lemon zest and juice, fresh herbs, black pepper, garlic powder, and celery salt until combined. Set aside.
- Rinse and pat tilapia fillets dry. Lay fillets on the pan. Season both sides lightly with salt and pepper.
- Place the fish under the broiler for 2 minutes on the first side.
- Flip and broil for 2 minutes on the other side.
- Remove from the oven. Generously spread the Parmesan topping over the tilapia pieces.
- Broil for 2 more minutes, or until golden on top. Fish is done when it easily flakes. Do not overcook.
Freeze For Later: Follow step 2. Place this mixture in a quart-sized freezer bag or small freezer container and seal. Freeze alongside the frozen tilapia filets (if not already frozen, then place the fish in a gallon-sized freezer bag).
Prepare From Frozen: Thaw the Parmesan mixture and the tilapia (preferably in the refrigerator overnight). Then, follow the cooking instructions, skipping step 2.