Tilapia is one of the most popular types of fish in the United States, and you can find ready-to-cook filets in nearly every fish market and grocery store in the country in fresh or frozen form. In fact, Americans ate about 500 million pounds of tilapia in 2010 alone, according to "The New York Times." Tilapia is also an economically priced fish with a mild flavor, making it an ideal choice for many moms with picky kids. One of the simplest ways to prepare tilapia filets is to bake them in the oven. While they’re baking, you can work on prepping your side dishes.
1 Remove the tilapia filets from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before you want to cook them so they can warm up to room temperature. Keep the fish covered with plastic wrap or in an airtight container.
2 Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, line a large baking dish with oven-safe aluminum foil and lightly grease it with extra virgin olive oil.
3 Rinse the tilapia filets with cold water. Pat the filets gently with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
4 Season one side of each tilapia filet with salt, pepper and any fresh or dried herbs you're using. Place the seasoned side down on the oiled parchment paper inside the baking dish.
5 Lightly drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil over the exposed side of the tilapia filets. Season the exposed side with salt, pepper and herbs to taste.
6 Place the baking dish on the center rack in the oven and cook the fish for 15 to 18 minutes. When the fish is cooked, it should flake apart easily when prodded with the tines of a fork.
7 Remove the baking dish from the oven and allow the fish to rest for about five minutes before plating and serving it. Allowing the tilapia filets to rest helps them retain their moisture content.
Items you will need
- Tilapia filets, fresh or frozen and fully defrosted
- Plastic wrap or airtight container
- Large baking dish
- Oven-safe aluminum foil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Paper towels
- Fresh or dried herbs, optional
- Instant-read thermometer, optional
- Fresh lemon or lime wedges, optional
- Herbs such as parsley, thyme, chives and rosemary pair well with tilapia. Prepared herb mixtures like Italian seasoning or ones designed to complement fish also work.
- Serve baked tilapia with fresh lemon or lime wedges for extra flavor without added fat.
- Tilapia filets are usually fairly thin and rarely require more than 20 minutes of cooking time. However, if you have thick filets they make take up to 25 minutes to fully cook.
- If you aren’t sure the fish is fully cooked, you can check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer. Foodsafety.gov recommends cooking fin fish such as tilapia to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The New York Times: Another Side of Tilapia, the Perfect Factory Fish
- Joy of Cooking; Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker
- Foodsafety.gov: Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures
- Jason Florio/Digital Vision/Getty Images