This grilled tilapia is fish fillets coated in a zesty marinade, then cooked on the grill to tender perfection. A quick and easy recipe that always gets rave reviews from family and friends, and pairs well with a variety of side dishes.

My family is a seafood loving group, and I’m always serving up their favorites including shrimp curry, seared ahi tuna and this simple but satisfying grilled tilapia fish recipe. Serve your fish with some easy side dishes, or add it to Greek couscous bowls for a fabulous healthy meal.

A platter of grilled tilapia fillets garnished with lemon and parsley.

You can’t go wrong with tilapia – it’s inexpensive, readily available, and is mild enough for even the kids to enjoy. This grilled tilapia recipe infuses bold flavors of olive oil, garlic and herbs into the fish for a fabulous main course offering.

Grilled Tilapia Ingredients

To make this grilled tilapia recipe you will need tilapia fillets, olive oil, brown sugar, soy sauce, lemon zest, fresh parsley, thyme leaves, salt, black pepper and garlic. You may also want some lemon wedges and fresh parsley for garnishes.

Ingredients including fresh fish, olive oil, soy sauce, herbs and seasonings.

How Do You Make Grilled Tilapia?

Start this grilled tilapia recipe by whisking together the olive oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, lemon zest and seasonings to make a marinade. Place the tilapia fillets in the marinade and let them sit for at least one hour. Preheat an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to medium high heat. Place the fish on the grill, and cook for a few minutes on each side. Remove the fish from the grill, then garnish with lemon wedges and fresh parsley, and serve.

Step by step process shots showing how to marinate fish fillets.

Tips For The Perfect Grilled Tilapia

  • Tilapia filets cook very quickly, so keep a close eye on them!
  • Leftover grilled tilapia will stay fresh in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
  • You can make your marinade in a bowl or a resealable plastic bag.
  • Use a metal spatula to turn your fish over while grilling and to pick up the cooked fish from the grill grate.
  • If you’re using frozen fish, thaw it first and pat it dry with a paper towel to remove excess water before it goes into the marinade.
  • You can add extra flavor to the marinade with a little Old Bay seasoning, fresh lemon juice, lemon pepper seasoning or smoked paprika.
  • No tilapia on hand? Try a different type of white fish such as halibut, haddock, snapper or cod.
  • Serve your fish with roasted red potatoes, rice pilaf, black eyed pea salad or orzo salad. I also like vegetables such as grilled asparagus, grilled corn on the cob, green beans almondine or grilled broccoli.

Quick Tip

While the fish should sit in the marinade for at least an hour, I recommend marinating your tilapia for 8 hours if you have the time.

Marinated tilapia fillets on a grill pan.

Recipe FAQs

How do you grill tilapia without it falling apart?

Tilapia is very thin, which means it cooks in just a few minutes. If you let it sit on the grill for too long, it can overcook and get flaky, which makes it more likely to fall apart. Here are some tips to help prepare your grill for the best results. Make sure your grill grates are very clean. If there is any old food left on the grilling surface, the fish will be more likely to stick, which will make it fall apart when you go to flip it.
Brush your grill grates with vegetable oil before you place the fish on the grill.
Make sure to pre-heat your grill before you add the fish.

How do you know when tilapia is done?

Tilapia is done when the flesh turns opaque and can flaked with a fork. Be sure not to overcook your tilapia, it should take just 2-3 minutes per side.

Can I put tilapia directly on the grill?

You can put tilapia filets directly on a grill. However, if you are worried about the fish flaking apart, you can also cook tilapia on aluminum foil on the grill grate.


Grilled tilapia on a plate with bean salad.

Flavor Variations

While this recipe is delicious as-is, you can switch up the flavors to customize the marinade to your tastes.

  • Mexican: Swap out the lemon zest with lime zest. Omit the thyme and parsley and use cilantro instead. Add 1/4 teaspoon of chili powder and 2 teaspoons minced fresh jalapeno.
  • Asian: Use lime zest instead of lemon zest. Omit the thyme and parsley, and use green onions. Add 1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger and 1 teaspoon sriracha.
  • Spicy: Add hot sauce to taste to the marinade, or else add a generous sprinkle of crushed red chili flakes.
  • Herb Lover’s: Add 1/2 teaspoon of dried Italian seasoning to the marinade, as well as 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1/4 teaspoon onion powder and 1 tablespoon fresh sliced green onion.
  • Butter: As the tilapia finishes cooking you can brush it with a little melted butter.

Once you try this grilled tilapia, you’ll find yourself making it on a regular basis. It’s just that delicious!

More Seafood Recipes To Try

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5 from 16 votes

Grilled Tilapia

AuthorSara Welch
A platter of grilled tilapia fillets garnished with lemon and parsley.
This grilled tilapia is fish fillets coated in a zesty marinade, then cooked on the grill to tender perfection. A quick and easy recipe that always gets rave reviews from family and friends, and pairs well with a variety of side dishes.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time6 minutes
Marinating Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 16 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine American
Serves 4


  • 1 1/4 pounds tilapia fillets
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • lemon wedges and parsley for serving


  • Place the olive oil, brown sugar, soy sauce, lemon zest, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper and garlic in a large bowl or resealable bag. Whisk to combine.
  • Transfer the tilapia fillets to the bowl or bag. Spoon the marinade over the top of the fish.
  • Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or up to 8 hours.
  • Remove the fillets from the marinade.
  • Preheat an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan over medium high heat. Add the tilapia and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until fish is opaque.
  • Serve immediately, garnished with lemon wedges and parsley if desired.


  1. Be very careful not to overcook your fish or it might not come off the grill in one piece!
  2. You can use frozen tilapia in this recipe, just be sure to thaw it completely before adding it to the marinade.


Calories: 168kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 62mg | Sodium: 592mg | Potassium: 565mg | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 95IU | Vitamin C: 2.2mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 1.2mg

Hello! I’m Sara!

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5 from 16 votes (6 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Love this grilled tilapia recipe, delicious, easy, and healthy, perfect for a great dinner. Can’t wait to make it soon. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    BEST grilled tilapia recipe I’ve tried in a really, REALLY long time. The fish did not stick to the grill, and the places that the fish touched the grill had an amazing, almost caramelized sear. Even my kiddos loved it!!

  3. 5 stars
    This is such a delicious recipe! I served it with some rice and broccoli, and we all loved it so much!

  4. 5 stars
    Really enjoyed the flavours in the marinade with the tilapia so I’m going to use this idea for some other fish too.

  5. 5 stars
    We love cooking tilapia – it has great texture, cooks quickly and is so much less expensive than most other types of fish. We loved the flavours in this recipe! Simple, but delicious! Can’t go wrong with herbs and garlic!

  6. 5 stars
    So beautifully presented and I shall be wishing these 8 hours to marinate the tilapia (if I can wait that long ) to go really fast as I’m super excited for the end result.