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Skillet Tilapia with Creamy Lemon Sauce

This Skillet Tilapia with creamy lemon sauce tastes like summertime. The fresh garlic, herbs, and lemon juice will immediately transport you to a balcony Bistro on the Island of Capri without ever leaving your house. The tender flaky fish is the best tilapia recipe I’ve ever made!

My Favorite Tilapia Recipe

Tilapia is one of my favorite fish to prepare. It pairs really well with fresh flavors like lemon and parsley, and it’s just so versatile.

With this recipe, you will learn how to cook pan-seared Tilapia that is delicious and full of flavor. This simple method of cooking fish fillets is excellent for a quick weeknight meal. Serve with the creamy lemon sauce and a side of fresh veggies to make a complete meal.

Another favorite of mine? Any recipe that’s easy and quick. 🙌 This checks every box for me.

This tilapia is so good! You can serve it at a dinner party and it will definitely impress your friends. But, it’s also sooooo easy, it only dirties one pan and the entire thing is done in under 15 minutes! You can wow your friends with it or serve it on a busy weeknight. 

What is Tilapia?

  • Tilapia is a mild white fish. It’s become a major culinary trend because it is loaded with protein.
    If you haven’t tried it before, good tilapia has a sweet and fresh taste.
  • If it is fresh, there won’t be a fishy or foul smell. When choosing your tilapia, it should be firm, with a somewhat translucent flesh.
  • Make sure it’s not sticky or slimy to touch. Also, make sure your fillets are free of white or color spots.

Recipe Ingredients

While this yummy treat of a meal only uses one pan, it is a two part process. First, you’ll cook the crispy, juicy, flaky tilapia. Then, you’ll make the velvety creamy lemon sauce. You’ll use different ingredients in each step.

Here’s what you’ll need for the fish:

  • olive oil
  • butter
  • tilapia filets
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh parsley

Here’s what you’ll need for the Lemon Cream Sauce:

  • butter
  • garlic
  • low sodium chicken broth
  • heavy cream
  • lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

How to Cook Tilapia

  • Cook the Fish: Set your skillet over medium heat. Heat up your oil and 1 tablespoon butter.
    Season the fish with salt and pepper and add it to the skillet. Cook your fish for 3 minutes on each side. Remove your fish from the skillet and set it aside.
raw fish in a pan
  • Make the Sauce: After you’ve removed the tilapia, to the very same pan, add 1 tablespoon butter. Keep it over medium-high heat and allow the butter to melt. Then, stir in garlic and cook for 20 seconds. Slowly whisk in your chicken broth and cook for another 4 minutes, or until it’s reduced by ⅓.
  • Now, reduce the heat to medium-low and add your remaining butter. Next, you’ll slowly whisk in the heavy cream. Finally, add the lemon juice and continue to whisk until everything is well combined.
  • Season the sauce with salt and pepper. Give it one last taste and adjust accordingly.
  • Combine and Serve: Remove the sauce from the heat. Pour this creamy lemon goodness over your tilapia. Garnish it with fresh cut parsley and serve.
cooking tilapia in a skillet

Tips for the Best Tilapia

For the BEST tilapia, I always follow a few simple tricks:

  • Use lemon juice: Lemon juice gets rid of any “fishy” or “muddy” smell.
  • Use garlic: Garlic is another strong flavor that removes any smell in the fish.
  • Use olive oil: Olive oil will keep the tilapia moist and tender.
  • Use salt and pepper! This will add loads of flavor.
  • Watch for overcooking: Be sure not to overcook your tilapia or it will become chewy.
  • You can bake it, too! Tilapia is also delicious and easy when baked. You can even bake it in foil for easier cleanup. Follow my Fish Tacos recipe for a perfectly baked Tilapia.

What Side Dish Goes With Tilapia?

  • Tilapia is best served with a light and fresh veggie. I recommend oven roasted asparagus, broccoli, or green beans. If weather permits, you could also pair your skillet tilapia with grilled veggies like zucchini, peppers, and eggplant.
  • Additionally, light flavored rice will pair nicely with it. Think cilantro lime rice. Or, consider enhancing the garlic flavor by serving with garlic Parmesan potato wedges.
Spooning out Tilapia from the skillet.

How to Store & Reheat Tilapia

  • Tilapia is typically best served immediately. When you store it, it can become mushy or develop a strong fish-smell.
  • If you do have leftovers, store them in your refrigerator in an airtight container for 1 to 2 days. I wouldn’t recommend reheating it in the microwave. Do it, instead, in a lightly greased skillet or pan and reheat over medium-low heat.




Skillet with creamy tilapia

Skillet Tilapia with Creamy Lemon Sauce

Katerina | Diethood
Deliciously pan-seared Tilapia with creamy lemon butter sauce is flaky, tender, and ready in 20 minutes!
5 from 43 votes
Servings : 4
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes


For the Fish
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 fillets tilapia, skinless
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
For the Lemon Cream Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup low sodium chicken broth, (or dry white wine)
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste


  • Set a skillet over medium heat; heat up oil and 1 tablespoon butter.
  • Season fish with salt and pepper and add to skillet; cook for 3 minutes per side.
  • Remove fish from skillet and set aside.
  • Add 1 tablespoon butter to the same skillet and melt over medium-high heat.
  • Stir in garlic and cook for 20 seconds.
  • Slowly whisk in chicken broth and cook for 4 minutes, or until reduced by 1/3. 
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and add remaining butter.
  • Slowly whisk in heavy cream.
  • Add lemon juice and whisk until everything is well combined. Make sure to whisk continually so that the heavy cream doesn't curdle.
  • Season with salt and pepper; taste the sauce and adjust accordingly. 
  • Remove from heat.
  • Pour sauce over fish, or add fish back into the skillet; garnish with parsley, and serve.


  • Use Fat Free Half & Half to reduce points down to 5.


Calories: 330 kcal | Carbohydrates: 2 g | Protein: 35 g | Fat: 20 g | Saturated Fat: 10 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7 g | Trans Fat: 0.3 g | Cholesterol: 124 mg | Sodium: 169 mg | Potassium: 572 mg | Fiber: 0.1 g | Sugar: 1 g | Vitamin A: 482 IU | Vitamin C: 4 mg | Calcium: 35 mg | Iron: 1 mg | Net Carbs: 2 g

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean
Keyword: low carb seafood recipes, quick dinner recipe, seafood, tilapia fish recipe
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107 comments on “Skillet Tilapia with Creamy Lemon Sauce”

    1. Sure. When reheating it, use a skillet and reheat the sauce over low heat while constantly whisking it to prevent curdling. You may need to add a pat of butter (while reheating) to make it creamier.

  1. Avatar photo
    Elena McCreery

    This was delicious! I followed the directions exactly but used coconut cream instead of whipping cream for to dairy issues. And I was cooking for only two, so made 2 fish filets but all the sauce. I spinner the extra on some asparagus I roasted in the oven and the whole plate was lemony, creamy and delicious.

  2. Loved this!! So did husband and teen daughter. Made it with chicken instead of fish because I had chicken on hand, and added capers. Thanks for the recipe, this is a keeper!

  3. I just made this lovely fish dish! What a treat. Just so simple but perfect. Thank you for the recipe.

  4. Very good fish recipe — comes together easily too!

    Two things my husband and I agreed we’d like to do next time: We’d add capers (always such an excellent touch) and we’d double the sauce. My daughter disagreed, saying she only liked a bit of sauce on hers.

  5. Avatar photo
    Rosemary Stevens

    This was absolutely delicious! I used light cream instead of heavy but other then that didn’t change the recipe. I put the sauce in a gravy boat because my husband is not a fan of too much gravy on anything, so that worked well for us. It was easy to make and I will be adding this to my favorites. I Think the sauce would also be good with boneless chicken tenders.

  6. Wife and I both loved this! Next time, though, I’ll add a corn starch slurry to thicken the sauce. Oh, yeah, I also used Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning instead of salt and pepper.

  7. Avatar photo

    This looks amazing and I am always looking for new fish recipes. The nutritional info shows protein at 1 gram…obviously not correct. What is the correct amount.

    1. Hi!
      There may have been a temporary glitch in the recipe card, specifically on the nutritional info. It looks like it’s working now. Protein is 35 grams per serving.

  8. This may be the first meal every single child and adult in my family ate full servings of and enjoyed! This is the night I’ve been waiting for!

  9. My family and I loved this dish. Will make again. The cream even tasted good with the side of steam vegetables.

  10. This was delicious! What makes this recipe stand out from a boring Talapia fish dish is the amount of lemon juice! It really freshens and brightens up this dish and is the main feature. Sooo good. Served with cauliflower rice and fresh sauteed spinach. Yum!

  11. I have made this a few times now and it’s definitely staying on the rotation. I serve with a side of sauteed veggies and roasted potatoes. Thanks for the recipe!!

  12. I was happy to find your recipe and the high ratings. I would certainly like to try it, however, the question that has been asked more then once and not answered is “what is the red seasoning on the fish?” Paprika? I appreciate your response.

  13. Tilapia from China is farm raised and fed chicken poop. It is usually sold frozen unless thawed by the merchant. Always determine the source of the tilapia being sold.

  14. Avatar photo
    Daniel P Falen

    Don’t the pictures show Paprika on the fish? It’s not in the ingredients but what is on the fish in the pre-sauce pictures?

  15. This was a great dish and my family loved it! My sauce didn’t come out as creamy so I added a little cornstarch and water and thickened it to my liking! Delish!!

  16. This was delicious I added mushrooms because I love them. And I used can cream which made it very rich. Also shrimp and scallop yummy. Side dishes was stringbeans and roasted potatoes wedges!!

  17. THIS was amazing! My husband the seafood-hater said this was one of the best things we’ve eaten in the last few months. Easy to do, and fabulous taste! We want to eat more fish, and we’ve been unable to flavor our tilapia nicely before. Granted, there is a lot of butter and cream, but spread out over 4 servings, it’s not too bad. This one will be in our permanent cookbook. 🙂

    1. So delicious! I added some dill to the sauce with the lemon juice because I love the flavor of lemon, garlic, and dill with fish. Served with egg noodles to pour some sauce over, and some roasted broccoli. Delicious springtime meal!

  18. I was looking for a recipe to make and found this!!!! I was a little skeptical in the beginning because I thought it would lack flavor. Boy was I WRONG!!!! This dish is amazing and easy to make. The best part is that it was quick and painless. I would I could give it 10 stars!!

    1. Avatar photo
      Richard D Bailey

      I have searched for this cream sauce recipe for over a decade having been served with it over halibut in a 5 star restaurant. Many trials with almondine variations only lead to disappointment. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It works on any fish. I cooked tried it according to the recipe exactly and then breaded whitefish. I owe you big.

  19. OMG … so good. I didn’t have parsley so I added a little chopped spinach ( I had the frozen kind that comes in little blocks and shaved some off because it was still frozen ) and added it to the broth that was reducing and continued the recipe as is. My husband loved it !!! Raved about it to our daughter and I sent her the recipe…. Thank you :0)

    1. Avatar photo

      So good!! My wife and kids loved it! I was literally licking the plate to get all the sauce off of it at the end, and my wife said the sauce was “better than ice cream.” This was the second time I made this recipe, and I can honestly say it’s my favorite fish recipe. Thank you!!

  20. Excellent! This was so easy and I also added a little paprika for color as well. Delicious and simple. My guests loved it. I served this with wild rice and green beans. A big hit and I will definitely serve this dish again.

  21. Avatar photo
    Ashley Towers

    This was delicious and my kids loved it too. I served with Sautéed kale and mashed potatoes.
    The sauce was so yummy I plan to double it next time. I used a little less lemon juice and added lemon zest. I can’t thank you enough for such a wonderful recipe.

  22. Avatar photo
    Susan DeWalt

    Too easy for such great flavor! I loved how simple and quick this was to prepare, and how delicious it was to eat. Definitely going in the rotation!

  23. We have quite a bit of walleye in the freezer from summer fishing. I was looking for some different ways to use it up and tried this recipe this week. Wow! Delicious! I did take the advice of some of the other reviewers and reduced the fresh lemon juice to 1 tablespoon, which was perfect for us. I also thought the amount of cream was perfect- enough to make it a rich tasting dish but still felt light. I served with steamed green beans and a rice pilaf. When we run out of fish, I will have to buy more to keep this dinner in our regular rotation. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  24. This was all that I hoped for! I read the comments and cut back on the lemon juice and it came out perfect!!!!

    1. Everything was perfect! Didn’t change a thing. Husband really enjoyed and we will have again, I’m sure! Thank you for sharing!

        1. Visited my son in Florida recently and we made this together. It was amazing. I’m actually making it right now 🥰

  25. This was very easy and so delicious. My husband was very impressed. I was cautious with the lemon because he is not a fan of lemony sauces. I think you could even leave it out! I will be making this many times and plan on making it for company.

  26. I’m planning on making this tonight for friends. In the directions, it says to season with salt and pepper when you cook the fish, but in the picture It looks as though there is something else on the fish, possible paprika? It has an orange color to it, what is that?

  27. If you haven’t tried this yet, you need to! It’s delicious and so easy to make!! I served it over linguini and the pasta went great with the sauce. As soon as my husband took a bite he asked “why hadn’t you made this yet, it’s amazing”. Definitely making many more times.

      1. Made this for the first time tonight and dinner was a hit!! Husband and guest alike really enjoyed it, so much so that the husband says need to add more fish to our weekly menu. (Still in shock since he’s a red meat guy) Sauce was perfect, and has now been added to a recipe card to have with chicken or shrimp. Perfect blend of flavors and freshness without being to heavy.

  28. Avatar photo
    Cindy McDonald

    This was ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS! It has my favorite things in life, seafood, ☑️, butter and garlic, ☑️, lemon and cream, ☑️☑️☑️!!! Will definitely make it again and again!! This comment is for all you people who think it’s Katrina’s job to keep you within your daily calorie count. I’m pretty you all know what products in this world are fattening and those that are not. She is a genius cook/chef and is kind enough to share with the world the most flavorful and delicious recipes with us. It should be up to you to find out that information. Just saying.

    1. I made this for dinner tonight along with saffron rice and steamed green beans. It was so good !!! My husband couldn’t stop raving about it! Thank you so much for the recipe.

  29. This dish was delicious however I though it was a bit funny this dish was so low in calories when it called for 3 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of oil. Put this recipe into a recipe calorie calculator and it is infact 243 calories per serving. Just some information for those airing on the lighter side of calories

    1. I wouldnt trust the nutritional information shown. For one thing, it shows 1 serving (which would be 1 filet) is 1g protein. A 4oz filet is 19 g protein! Which is a good thing but way off from this recipe. I also 7sed way less butter, oil, and heavy cream than the recipe states, yet my calories per serving (4 servings total) are within 20 calories from what us listed.

  30. Whoa is this lemon forward! I personally loved the sauce, because I’m fond of sour things. I do drink pickle juice after all. But it was a shock to taste the sauce at first. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be so lemon forward, but if you have someone sensitive to sour things you’ll definitely want to dial back some lemon. I just want to add that I followed the directions and used the measured amounts listed.

    1. I agree with this. Thought maybe I did something wrong. I added a bit of sugar (which pairs well with lime and lemon juice sometimes) and was able to get it where we liked it. It was a new taste for me as I don’t eat a lot of variances in sauces. But we liked it. Kid-approved! Just might reduce the lemon juice next time.

    1. I want to try your Tilapia creamy lemon sauce recipe. How much lemon juice do you use in this recipe. Sorry i missed it or wasn’t posted. Thank you!!

      1. Katerina - Diethood
        Katerina Petrovska

        Hi 👋
        If you scroll down to the “recipe card”, or just click on “Jump to Recipe” at the very top of the post, you’ll see that the recipe calls for 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice.

  31. This looks delicious! I have some cod filets in the freezer. Would they work well in this recipe? They are a thicker cut so any adjustments? Thank you. I also plan to make your salmon patties recipe. I made similar ones in the skillet with my mom…family favorite. She used cracker crumbs.

  32. What a mouthwatering dish! You have me dreaming of summer! Looking forward to enjoying this for dinner tonight, indeed!

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