Lemon Butter Tilapia | Precious Core


This Lemon Butter Tilapia recipe takes tilapia to the next level. First, the fish is pan-seared to golden perfection then drenched in a garlicky lemony buttery insanely good lemon butter sauce. The perfect meal to enjoy with a wide array of side dishes!

Lemon butter tilapia fillets on a plate

One of my most popular recipes here on the blog is my Pan-Seared Tilapia. And for good reason. The fish is ridiculously tasty and so easy to make. No weird ingredients. Also, it can be paired with so many side dishes.

I have decided to take my already great Pan Seared Tilapia to the next level with this Lemon Butter Tilapia. Listen, this is next-level good.

The fish is not only perfectly pan-seared but it is then drenched in a buttery garlicky lemony sauce that is to die for!

In fact, this is one sauce you’ll want to put on anything from potatoes to seafood, to steak to chicken.

Flaky Lemon Butter Tilapia fish

This Lemon Butter Tilapia is one to add to your dinner rotation. You’ll love this recipe because it is:

  • Ready in under 30 minutes.
  • Insanely good, so flavorful!
  • Healthy and low carb.
  • Versatile and can be paired with so many sides
  • Affordable

Ingredients For Lemon Butter Tilapia

You need the following ingredients for Lemon Butter Tilapia:

Ingredients for tilapia with lemon butter on table
  • Tilapia Fillets: Fresh or frozen tilapia fillets would work. If the fillets are frozen be sure to thaw them before use. A quick and easy way to thaw tilapia fillets is to completely immerse them in cool water for about 30 minutes. Then remove them from the water and pat dry.
  • Garlic Powder: For flavor and a nice crust on the fish.
  • Smoked Paprika: Regular paprika would work too. Paprika lends a pop of color, some smokiness, and a nice crust to the fish.
  • Olive Oil: For pan searing.
  • Butter
  • Lemon Juice
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Fresh parsley: For garnish.

See the recipe card for quantities.

How To Make Lemon Butter Tilapia

First season tilapia fillets with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and smoked paprika.

Tilapia fillets cooked in a cast iron pan

Pour olive oil into a skillet and heat up then pan-sear the fish for 3-4 minutes on each side.

Next, melt some butter in a another skillet then add grated or minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add salt and pepper and stir. Take the skillet off the heat and stir in lemon juice.

Landscape photo of lemon butter tilapia

Pour the lemon butter sauce over the fish, garnish with freshly chopped parsley and serve.

Tips For The Best Lemon Butter Fish

  • Pat the fish dry with paper towels before pan-searing to ensure a nice crust.
  • Taste the lemon butter sauce and adjust as needed. Is it too lemony? Melt a little more butter and stir in. Does it need more salt? Add a pinch.
  • Use a cast-iron skillet to sear the fish for a nice crust and great distribution of heat. But any other skillet you have would work as well.


I used tilapia here but any other fish fillet would work here as well. Try making this recipe with salmon, cod, whiting fish, or any other fish you have on hand. First cook the fish to your desired doneness then make the sauce and drizzle over the fish.

Note that if your fish fillets are thicker, they might require more time to cook on each side.

What To Serve With Lemon Butter Tilapia

Cooked tilapia fillets in lemon butter sauce

My Favorite Tools For Making This Recipe

Lemon butter tilapia fillets on a plate

Lemon Butter Tilapia

This Lemon Butter Tilapia recipe takes tilapia to the next level. First the fish is pan seared to golden perfection then drenched in a garlicky lemony buttery insanely good lemon butter sauce. The perfect meal to enjoy with a wide array of side dishes.






Lemon Butter Tilapia

Servings: 4 servings

Calories: 262 kcal


  • 1
    tilapia fillets (3-4 fillets)
  • ½
  • ¼
    ground black pepper
  • ½
    garlic powder
  • ½
    smoked paprika
    regular paprika is fine too
  • 2
    olive oil

Lemon Butter Sauce

  • ¼
    unsalted butter
  • 2
    garlic cloves, grated
  • ¼
  • 2
    lemon juice, freshly squeezed
    from about half a lemon

  • teaspoon
    ground black pepper
  • 1
    chopped fresh parsley


  1. Pat tilapia fillets dry with paper towels.

  2. In a small bowl mix together the half teaspoon of salt, quarter teaspoon of ground black pepper, garlic powder and paprika.

  3. Rub the seasonings evenly on both sides of the fish.

  4. Heat the olive oil in a 12 inch cast iron skillet or other skillet on medium heat. If you don’t have a 12 inch skillet, use a smaller skillet and only add 1 tablespoon of the oil to cook 2 fillets at once.

    Add the seasoned fish fillets to the skillet. Let them cook on one side for 3-4 minutes until golden brown then flip them to the other side and let them cook for another 3-4 minutes.

  5. Transfer the fish to a serving platter.

Make the Lemon Butter Sauce

  1. Add the butter to a light colored skillet (I used a stainless steel skillet) placed on medium heat. Let the butter melt then cook until it reaches a light brown color.

  2. Turn the heat down to low. Add the grated garlic and stir for about 30 seconds.

  3. Remove the skillet from heat then add the lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon of salt and ground black pepper. Stir to combine.


  1. Pour the lemon butter sauce over the cooked fish fillets, garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve warm.

Recipe Notes

Spicy: Add some red pepper flakes to the lemon butter sauce and a little cayenne pepper to the seasoning for the fish.


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