Parmesan Crusted Tilapia – Perfectly tender fish enveloped in crispy, cheesy goodness makes a lightning-fast dinner entree. Bursting with delectable flavors, it’s an incredibly family-friendly meal ready in 20 minutes. And for those crazy busy weeknights, you can even make it ahead!
Tilapia is a fish that my family totally devours. When I made this recipe, my son blurted out that this Parmesan Crusted Tilapia recipe was a definite keeper. It was like one of those fancy dishes you order at a fine restaurant minus the hefty price tag.
When I saw how quickly my family demolished this deliciousness, sharing this recipe was a no-brainer. Oh yesss! These baked tilapia fillets are a must-have for your Valentine’s Day or Date Night menu.
Quick and Easy Parmesan Crusted Tilapia
The balanced mix of parmesan and breadcrumbs creates a flawlessly light and crispy coating for tender, flaky fish. Then the herbs and spices deliciously complement the tilapia’s mild taste. And the best part is that you can have this dish on the table in 20 minutes.
Spice up this mild fish fillet with some herbs and spices for a spectacular flavor explosion. Here’s what you’ll need to make parmesan-crusted tilapia:
- Tilapia – This fish is great for kids and picky eaters because of its mild flavor, and it’s super tasty with almost any savory seasoning mix.
- Seasonings – Salt, pepper, and the bold flavor of mustard work for starters. Then Italian seasoning, garlic, pepper flakes, parsley, and paprika spice up the breadcrumbs for a great crust.
- Parmesan Cheese – I prefer freshly grated parmesan cheese because it’s more flavorful than prepackaged. However, if prepackaged is all you have, it will work just fine.
- Breadcrumbs – These guys give the fillets a nice golden crust and an excellent crisp to bite. Yum!
How to Make Parmesan Crusted Tilapia
Prep the Fish
- Season – Bring the tilapia fillets to room temperature. Position them on a wooden cutting board and pat them dry with a paper towel. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Then spread the mustard on top of each side of the fillet. (Photos 1-2)
- Breading – In a medium bowl, combine ingredients for the crumb crust: parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic, pepper flakes, paprika, and chopped parsley. Combine thoroughly. (Photos 3-4)
- Coat the Tilapia – Coat both sides of the fish with the Parmesan breadcrumb mixture by placing the fish on the crumbs mixture and pressing it down firmly to make it stick, then flip and repeat the process. (Photos 5-6)
Bake the Fillets
- Bake – Carefully place the fillets on the parchment-paper-lined baking tray, then spray the top with cooking spray. Bake for about 10 minutes, or a little more, depending on the fillet’s thickness. The crust will be beautifully golden, and the fish will be flaky, with an internal temperature is 140℉/60℃ on the thermometer. (Photos 7-8)
- Serve – Garnish immediately with lemon slices and serve with rice, veggies, or salad.
- Fish Swap – You can substitute tilapia with any white meat fish you prefer, such as grouper, catfish, cod, bass, or halibut.
- Gluten-Free – Substitute breadcrumbs with cornmeal for a quick gluten-free option.
- Low-Carb and Keto-Friendly – Ditch the breadcrumbs, and you’re all set for a healthier tilapia fillet recipe. Don’t worry because you’ll still enjoy the crusty exterior. Thanks to the parmesan cheese and seasonings. 😉
- Southern Favorite – Add a dash of Creole seasoning will add an iconic Cajun flavor.
Tips and Tricks
- Thaw frozen fish fillets before breading. And whether you are using fresh or frozen fish, it should smell very lightly of fish (but not overwhelming) and faintly of the sea.
- A squeeze of lemon juice as it comes out of the oven is a great flavor enhancer.
- No oven? Fry these babies. Dredging the fillets with egg before adding the breadcrumbs usually makes the breading stick better.
This parmesan-crusted tilapia is super easy with little prep. And making it ahead is also a breeze. Season and coat the fillets as instructed, line them up in a baking dish in a single layer, then flash freeze. Once frozen, transfer the prepared fillets to a freezer bag and label accordingly. They will stay fresh for at least four months in the freezer.
Serving and Storing Instructions
Let’s keep it simple and healthy by serving this parmesan-crusted tilapia with salad, like avocado corn salad or bacon broccoli salad. And it’s fun to dip these babies in sauces, such as remoulade or tartar sauce. Oh yes!
You can store the leftover tilapia in an airtight container or wrap them tightly with a cling wrap or foil. They will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days and for one month in the freezer.
Crisp them back up by reheating them in a preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or 3-5 minutes in an air fryer—no need to thaw if frozen.
It’s so easy! Preheat your air fryer to 350˚F/177℃. Then pop your frozen, breaded tilapia fillets in the air fryer basket in a single layer without overcrowding. Then air-fry them for about 12 minutes or until cooked through and golden.
The baking time varies according to the fillets’ size and oven temperature. My fillets weighed 4-5 ounces each and took about 10 minutes to bake at 400˚F/205℃. The internal temperature should be 140℉/60℃.
The easiest and surest way is by a thermometer. You’ll know it’s ready when the instant-read thermometer reads 140˚F/60℃. You can also check your fish with a fork. It should flake easily, and the meat should be white and opaque.
What to Serve with Parmesan Crusted Tilapia
Fish and veggies are always a perfect combo. So you can’t go wrong with pairing this Parmesan-crusted tilapia with these healthy and nourishing vegetable side dishes below.
More Savory Fish Recipes to Try
This tilapia with a gorgeous parmesan breadcrumb crust makes a great alternative to fried chicken and pork chops. Do you prefer fish baked, grilled, or fried? If you love baked fish, check out these 10 Healthy Baked Fish Recipes to add to your weekly dinner rotations.
This blog post was initially published in February 2018 and has been updated with additional tips and new photos.
Perfectly tender fish enveloped in crispy, cheesy goodness makes a lightning-fast dinner entree. Bursting with delectable flavors, it’s an incredibly family-friendly meal ready in 20 minutes. And for those crazy busy weeknights, you can even make it ahead!
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 12 mins
Total: 22 mins
Preheat the oven to 400℉/205℃. Line a 9×13-inch baking sheet with parchment paper.
Bring the tilapia fillets to room temperature. Place them on a cutting board and pat them dry with a paper towel. Season both sides with salt and pepper, then spread the mustard on each side of the fillet.
In a medium bowl, combine ingredients for the crumb crust: parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic, pepper flakes, paprika, and chopped parsley. Mix thoroughly.
Coat both sides of the fish with the parmesan-breadcrumbs mixture by placing the fish on the crumb mixture and pressing it down firmly to make it stick, then flip and repeat the process.
Carefully place the fillet on the prepared baking tray, then spray the top with cooking spray. Bake for 10-12 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fillets) until crumbs are golden and the fish is flaky. The internal temperature should be 140℉/60℃ on an instant-read food thermometer.
Serve immediately with some lemon slices, rice, and veggies or salad.
Tips & Notes:
1. The fish’s cooking time depends on the fillet’s thickness.
2. Thaw frozen fish fillets before breading. And whether you are using fresh or frozen fish, it should smell very lightly of fish (but not overwhelming) and faintly of the sea.
3. A squeeze of lemon juice as it comes out of the oven is a great flavor enhancer.
4. No oven? Fry these babies. Dredging the fillets with egg before adding the breadcrumbs usually makes the breading stick better.
5. Please remember that the nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary significantly based on the products used in the recipe.
Serving: 115g| Calories: 985kcal (49%)| Carbohydrates: 98g (33%)| Protein: 80g (160%)| Fat: 30g (46%)| Saturated Fat: 9g (56%)| Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g| Monounsaturated Fat: 9g| Cholesterol: 231mg (77%)| Sodium: 1703mg (74%)| Potassium: 1157mg (33%)| Fiber: 6g (25%)| Sugar: 0.3g| Vitamin A: 751IU (15%)| Vitamin C: 4mg (5%)| Calcium: 310mg (31%)| Iron: 3mg (17%)
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