Salt, pepper and butter can be all you need for tilapia.

How to Season Tilapia for Baking

by Rogue Parrish

Just as it does for the grownups in the family, fish provides perfect brain food for little minds in the house as well. And the typical 22 grams or more of lean protein per 3-ounce tilapia fillet keeps your kids’ stomachs satisfied and not yearning for sugary snacks and drinks. You can enjoy this Out-of-Africa fish whole as well, if your children are adventurous eaters -- who knows, they may be fascinated to see a fins-and-all entree on their plates -- and this juicy, cichlid, farm raised in U.S. ponds, can provide a side lesson in sustainability for the older ones around the dinner table.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit if you are using a baking sheet or 400 F for a glass baking dish. Rub butter or oil with a paper towel on the surface of your bakeware.

Lay one fillet per family member on the bakeware. Dot the fillets with butter optionally if your family prefers a richer taste.

Tailor the seasoning to your family’s taste buds and what the kids already like. Start with basic sea salt and freshly ground pepper. If the kids go for spicier fare, sprinkle on Cajun or steak seasoning; for a milder taste, stick to onion powder. The children can customize the seasoning for each fish fillet by outlining their initials in green chopped fresh parsley or dried parsley flakes, or a mix of fresh or dried thyme. They can add red accents with bright streaks of paprika or yellow by placing lemon slices or lemon zest.

Cover the fish with parchment paper or a glass lid and bake for 10 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, adding five minutes for frozen fillets. Uncover and test for doneness by flaking the fish with a fork. Bake for five minutes, if necessary.

Items you will need

  • Baking sheet or dish
  • Butter or oil
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper
  • Cajun or steak seasoning
  • Onion powder
  • Fresh or dried parsley or thyme
  • Paprika
  • Lemon slices or zest
  • Parchment paper


  • Buy your fresh tilapia from a fish counter that smells like the ocean rather than sour or fishy, so that the fish appeals to young noses.

About the Author

An award-winning writer and editor, Rogue Parrish has worked at the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun and at newspapers from England to Alaska. This world adventurer and travel book author, who graduates summa cum laude in journalism from the University of Maryland, specializes in travel and food -- as well as sports and fitness. She's also a property manager and writes on DIY projects.

Photo Credits

  • Tim Boyle/Getty Images News/Getty Images