Easy Baked Parmesan Tilapia

This TK recipe caught my eye last week, and for good reason. We’d just come off a weekend of meat: we had barbecued beef and pork Friday night at Uncle Sam’s. On Saturday we chowed down on grilled chicken, burgers, hot dogs, bratwursts, bacon, and beef all day long at Aunt Jacquie’s birthday party, courtesy of grillmeisters Martin and Eleanor. And then, to top it all off, we had grilled steaks Saturday night with my in-laws.

By the end of the experience, I felt like my stomach contained 5 pounds of steel, and possibly a few pounds of random autombile parts. A wrench and a hammer might have been in there, too.

So both my husband and I entered the brand new week on the same page: bring on the veggies. I love it when we’re in synch like that: neither of us wanted to look another piece of meat in the face for a nice long while. Hence the fish, which is so much lighter. Let’s make our stomachs a happy place this week.

My default tilapia cookery method is simply flouring it lightly and pan-frying it in butter, adding a little lemon juice (and/or zest) during the last few minutes of cooking. I will always love it that way, but I was intrigued by the thought of topping the fillets with cheese and letting the oven do the work instead. And it’s delicious!


(Serves 2)

2 tilapia fillets
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 TBS butter, softened
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/3 c finely grated Parmesan cheese
1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Pat the tilapia dry with paper towels, and season it generously on both sides with salt and pepper.

I should add that doubling or tripling this recipe would be a cinch, for those of you who have more than just a spouse to feed.

Lay the tilapia on a lightly oiled baking sheet (or in a dish), and bake it for 10-12 minutes. While it’s baking, mince the garlic, grate the Parmesan, and rip the tiny leaves off the sprigs of thyme.

Mix the butter, Parmesan, garlic, and thyme into a paste.

Refrain from eating the paste. My faults don’t have to be your faults.

You could also use this time to chop up the lemon.

Why not, I ask? Why not indeed.

As soon as you remove the fish from the oven, carefully turn the fillets over–they may still look a little raw on the reverse side.

Spread the paste evenly over the top . . .

. . . and it’s ready to go back into the oven!

Put the fish under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, until the cheese is golden and bubbly.

Serve the fish with the lemon wedges. Lemon and fish were meant to go together from the dawns of time. Who are you to question that plan?

It’s so good, guys–perfectly tender, perfectly flavored.

We had it with that creamed corn I shared about on Tuesday, and it was perfection.

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17 Responses to Easy Baked Parmesan Tilapia

  1. This is by FAR our favorite way to eat Talapia. I tell all my fish-hating friends, that its basically like eating a white sauce. Light, buttery and not fishy at all! YUM

  2. Jenna, I expect after this long weekend I won’t be able to look at beef for a while. Easy baked tilapia sounds like a winner.

  3. Jill says:

    Yum! Cheese makes everything taste better and this looks delicious. I think Tilapia is one of the best “light” meals you can have. We keep a steady supply of it in our freezer. Excellent recipe, I’ll have to try it sometime! Ps…I like how “bring on the veggies” turned into lemons on tilapia. :)

    • Jenna says:

      I know, I didn’t even realize the humor in that until now! =)

      • Veronica says:

        LOL, I noticed that too! I was like…hmm, is rice considered a vegetable now? hehehe But you had corn! That counts, even if it was drowned in cream and butter. :)

      • Jenna says:

        In our defense, the first night of that resolution we had cherry tomatoes and zucchini with garlic over rice (a.k.a. ‘Mush’), then we had beans with onions and tomatoes and rice, and finally we had this. So there were more vegetables happening than may be initially evident from this post. =) Heh hehe.

  4. Kelly says:

    Wow this looks fantastic!! I’ve made this using chicken but I bet tilapia would taste amazing and so much healthier! Love your blog! :)

  5. Mmm. I love Tilapia. I hate to mention this in food blog land, but we buy these frozen Tilapia filets from Sam’s. They are lightly breaded in a parmesan coating. They are my go to meal when dinner just might be cereal! I’m sure your fish turns out MUCH better than my “go to” attempt!

    • Jenna says:

      Don’t worry, I’m the last one to judge! My go-to meal involves plopping jarred spaghetti sauce on some rice. I figure that everyone needs something simple to turn to on those crazy weeknights.

  6. This looks so light and delicious, perfect for this time of the year!

  7. This sounds incredible. I bet my kids would love it. Bookmarking it to try soon. And, do I really have to refrain from eating that paste? It sure looks good….

  8. I love this recipe.. I make something very similar to this quite often. Yours looks and sounds great!!

  9. Veronica says:

    We just do NOT eat enough fish. I used to buy 20-lb boxes of tilapia and we’d eat it a couple nights a week, but somehow got out of the habit. This looks like a great way to enjoy it!

  10. This looks fantastic and perfectly easy for a summer night. Thanks!

  11. Tracy says:

    This is such a perfect summer meal! I totally need a break from beef and chicken and can’t wait to try this!

  12. Rivki Locker says:

    Hi Jenna. I had to let you know that I tried this tonight and it was a MAJOR hit with kids and adults alike. So buttery and flavored, especially with that squeeze of lemon. This is definitely a new favorite. Perfect fish dish. Thank you!!!1

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