Tilapia Parmesan Recipe

This recipe was inspired by a recipe I found on AllRecipes.com for Broiled Tilapia Parmesan, but rather than broil I like to bake it. I’ve done it both ways and it probably doesn’t make much difference in the end, but it’s easier to pop it in the oven, set the timer, and forgetaboutit.

Tilapia Parmesan Recipe

I mixed up the topping ingredients in a small bowl — basically parmesan, butter, mayo and lemon juice along with onion powder, celery salt, basil, salt and pepper. You can play around and add other flavors if you like. I like to add some garlic powder because I’m of the opinion that everything tastes better with garlic. It’s definitely better with juice from fresh lemons, but when I’m in a bind I just use the stuff that comes in the bottle.

Then I rinsed and dried enough tilapia to serve our family — I think I bought 3 or 4 fillets this time — and laid them out on a baking sheet lined with tinfoil and plopped the parmesan mixture on top.

All you do is pop it in a 350-degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until it’s a light golden brown and the fish flakes with a fork.

I served it with mashed potatoes and steamed green beans.

Tried and True: Tilapia Parmesan
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main Dish, Seafood
Serves: 6
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon onion powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon celery salt
  • 2 pounds tilapia fillets
  1. Mix together all ingredients except tilapia.
  2. Place tilapia filets on a baking sheet lined with tinfoil and top with the parmesan mixture.
  3. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until it's a light golden brown and the fish flakes with a fork.

A note about tilapia: It’s probably not the most healthful fish to eat, and you pretty much can only find farmed tilapia. I generally avoid farmed fish due to the fact that they’re usually fed a diet high in corn (which is almost always genetically modified) as well as antibiotics and growth hormones. And then there’s the dioxins, PCBs, fire retardants — um, HUH??? Yeah, you read that right. (Granted, tilapia supposedly contains less PCBs than farmed salmon, so at least there’s that.) Still, there’s plenty of information out there to discourage you from eating farmed tilapia ever again — not the least of which is that it usually comes from China. You couldn’t pay me to eat fish from China.

On the other hand, tilapia is inexpensive compared to other fish, plus it’s tasty and quick to prepare, which makes it a great easy family meal. So when I found this farmed tilapia at Whole Foods last week, and it said on the package that it was fed no antibiotics or growth hormones, I snatched it up and brought it home with me. I’ve been doing some googling, and I found this on the Whole Foods website:

So what’s the difference between our farm-raised seafood and what’s available anywhere else? We know exactly where our farmed seafood comes from. We know where it swam and we know what it was fed…and more importantly, what it wasn’t fed!

Farm-Raised Tilapia
Our tilapia is raised in Ecuador and Costa Rica to our strict standards which prohibit antibiotics and preservatives. Nor do we allow the industry-standard use of hormones for sex reversal. And, our tilapia feed contains fish processing trimmings instead of wild fish caught just for feed.

That’s all somewhat comforting. I don’t know how to reconcile that with the articles about Whole Foods and their “Prison Tilapia” — but either way, it’s not raised in China and they don’t use growth hormones. That counts for something in my book.



  1. says

    Jo-Lynne, thank you for sharing this recipe. I am not a big fish eater (wish I was…and Hubby DEFINTIELY wishes I was, lol)…but Salmon (wild from Alaska) and Tilapia are the only fish I have found that I can eat. A new recipe is always welcome! I quite buying the Tilapia in the frozen section because of it being from China. Unfortunately our closest whole foods is an hour away and we only trek there a couple times a year. The fresh seafood counter at my grocery has farm-raised Tilapia from Costa Rica, but I don’t know about the methods that are used. I wonder if they do? Hmmm, I’ll have to ask, because I really do want to add more fish into our diets and it’s so hard to eat Salmon all the time…just not my thing. :)

    • Jo-Lynne says

      You should ask; they might know. Also, you may be able to buy good quality tilapia online somewhere.

  2. says

    Like Kathy, I quit buying frozen fish from WalMart b/c it was all from China, and I don’t want their heavy metals in my diet! And the nearest Whole Foods is almost an hour away. Ditto Trader Joe’s. Sigh. But recently I found out a man has opened up a seafood shop in our city, and he sells things caught on the gulf coast – local and fresh. I’m going there today to see what he offers. Many thanks for this delicious-looking recipe! I didn’t grow up eating much fish, and am so uncreative in preparing it. This looks delicious! I’m assuming it would work well with any flaky, white fish?

  3. says

    I’m making this tonight with some Alaskan whitefish I found locally – Alaskan fish is supposed to be the cleanest, and whitefish tastes pretty mild to me, like Tilapia!

    I also love getting my seafood from Vital Choice so I don’t have to wonder what’s in it. :)

    Thanks for the yummy recipe (and the print button, still working on that on my blog, grrrr).


  4. Felicia says

    This was the first recipe for Tilapia I ever used in our marriage and we loved it. Our first year of wedded bliss we ate the mess out of it. I think I burnt him on it for a bit, but its been awhile. So thanks for the reminder, I may just have to cook this again soon.

  5. Christine says

    This is upsetting to me… I dont know much about fish I guess.. I have been feeding my family tilipia from Giant thinking I was giving them a healhty dinner… this upsets me… sigh.. what is healthy anymore.. I guess I cant shop at the grocery store….

    • Jo-Lynne says

      It really is discouraging, but don’t let it get to you. For years, I ignored much of the advice out there b/c it all seemed too overwhelming. Once I started delving into it, we just worked on one thing at a time. It’s not about perfection – it’s about reducing the load. Every little bit we do helps, and Tilapia from Giant is better than a box of hamburger helper or McDonalds, ya know? So keep plugging. :-)

  6. Jennifer says

    I made this tonight, and OMGoodness…it was delicious! When I told my hubby we were having fish, he wasn’t enthused…he just wasn’t in the mood for fish “in the oven.” But much to his surprise, he really enjoyed it. The only problem I had was not making enough! My kids loved it too! A new one for my tried and true file as well! Thanks!

  7. Christine says

    I am trying.. it is hard though.. it seems like every time you turn around something else is bad.. so where should I buy tilipia for any fish for that matter?? thanks!!

    • Jo-Lynne says

      I know, I hear ya. I do. But almost anything from scratch is better than processed food. Keep the faith!! :-)

    • Jo-Lynne says

      If money is no object (ha!) VitalChoice.com is a good option – you can order online if you have no good fish market near you. I have heard great things about Wegmans’ quality control with fish, and I also feel like Whole Foods is fairly trustworthy. I would avoid fish from China at all costs. Beyond that, look for terms like “sustainable” or “wild” or at the very least, “no antibiotics or growth hormones”. It does take some work but when you locate a good source, you can just keep going back to them.

    • says

      I wanna live near you. Can we make that happen?

      I went to a farmer’s market today for the first time. I got up my nerve after finally finding some grass fed meat and eggs. My hope was short lived. I knew there weren’t going to be a lot of produce cuz it’s simply not in season yet. But NO meat (of any kind), NO grass fed chicken eggs, (do not even ask me about the farmer’s WIFE who gave me a look that would knock over the toughest biker dude) when I asked if the eggs came from grass fed chickens. Holy moses of wrong thing to ask.

      But if you want a green macrame picture frame, stop by! Sigh.

  8. Christine says

    I live in Limerick.. where is Whole foods.. and can you tell me where the farms are that you go to? thank you!!! Christine

    • Jo-Lynne says

      Do you read Eat Local Philly?? I have all the farms I visit listed there, under the Chester County tab. Some are in Berks and Lancaster. I’ll email you.

    • says

      I’m not sure, I think it depends on how thick it is. I would say, just go based on if it’s flaking with a fork in the middle, ya know? That’s how I test for doneness with fish.

  9. Shannon says

    Wow, what a great recipe. My girls aren’t big on fish unless its salmon (little NW foodies in the making!) but they LOVED this. It will go in our regular rotation for sure.

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