Vary the amount of blackening spices you use to suit your family's tastes.

How to Cook Tilapia Like Blackened Catfish

by Catherine Misener

Quick, easy, tasty and good for you? Not many dishes can meet this criteria. Enter blackened fish -- an entrée special enough for a celebratory meal but easy enough for dinner any day. While you can blacken many types of fish, tilapia will yield a delicate yet bold fillet.

Heat the butter or oil in the skillet over medium-high heat until it almost reaches the smoking stage. You will see the first wisps of smoke emanating from the pan.

Prepare the tilapia fillets while the pan is heating. Moisten the fish with additional melted butter or a light amount of oil, then rub them with the blackening spices. Create your own blend by combining cumin, garlic power, onion powder, salt, and ground black and red peppers. Or purchase a blackening spice blend at your grocery store.

Slowly place the seasoned fillet in the smoking pan so that the hot oil does not splatter. Cook the fillet, turning once during cooking -- approximately three minutes per side or until the fish is flaky and opaque. Remove the fish from the pan -- a fish spatula or other thin, long spatula works best -- and serve with a garnish of lemon or lime.

Items you will need

  • Cast iron skillet or heavy pan
  • Vegetable oil, canola oil or butter
  • Tilapia fillets
  • Blackening spice blend
  • Spatula
  • Lemon or lime, optional


  • Serve blackened fish with rice.
  • Make fish tacos by serving pieces of the blackened fillet in corn tortillas, and garnish with shredded cabbage, avocado, pico de gallo and a squeeze of lime.
  • Use the blackening spice blend to cook shrimp or chicken.


  • Use an oven mitt if you need to move the pan once it has reached the smoking stage.

About the Author

An educator since 1998, Catherine Misener started her writing career in 2009. Her work has appeared in "NW Kids," "The Oregonian" and "Vancouver Family Magazine." She holds a Bachelor of Arts from St. Mary’s University and a Master of Arts from the University of Michigan. After working in the food industry for years, she opened a small batch bakery.

Photo Credits

  • Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images