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 Thai style 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.
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.
Table of Contents
Grilled Tilapia Ingredients
To make this recipe, you will need tilapia fillets, olive oil, brown sugar, soy sauce, lemon zest, parsley, thyme, salt, black pepper and garlic.
How Do You Make Grilled Tilapia?
Start by whisking together the olive oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, lemon zest and fresh herbs 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 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.
Tips For The Perfect Dish
- This variety of fish cooks very quickly, so keep a close eye on it!
- Leftover grilled tilapia will stay fresh in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
- 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 offer vegetables such as grilled asparagus, green beans almondine or grilled broccoli.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once you try this grilled tilapia, you’ll find yourself making it on a regular basis. It’s just that delicious!
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- 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.
- Be very careful not to overcook your fish or it might not come off the grill in one piece!
- You can use frozen tilapia in this recipe, just be sure to thaw it completely before adding it to the marinade.