Skillet Tilapia with Creamy Lemon Sauce

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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!

tilapia in lemon cream sauce pictured in a skillet

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.

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 fishy.
  • 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.

MORE TILAPIA RECIPES

ENJOY!

TOOLS USED IN THIS RECIPE

5 from 12 votes
Skillet with creamy tilapia
Skillet Tilapia with Creamy Lemon Sauce
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8
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Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
25 mins
 

This Skillet Tilapia with creamy lemon sauce tastes like summertime. The fresh garlic, herbs and tender flaky fish makes this the best tilapia recipe ever!

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean
Servings: 4 Serves
Calories: 168 kcal
Author: Katerina | Diethood
Ingredients
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
Instructions
  1. Set a skillet over medium heat; heat up oil and 1 tablespoon butter.

  2. Season fish with salt and pepper and add to skillet; cook for 3 minutes per side.

  3. Remove fish from skillet and set aside.

  4. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the same skillet and melt over medium-high heat.

  5. Stir in garlic and cook for 20 seconds.

  6. Slowly whisk in chicken broth and cook for 4 minutes, or until reduced by 1/3. 

  7. Reduce heat to medium-low and add remaining butter.

  8. Slowly whisk in heavy cream.

  9. Add lemon juice and whisk until everything is well combined. Make sure to whisk continually so that the heavy cream doesn't curdle.

  10. Season with salt and pepper; taste the sauce and adjust accordingly. 

  11. Remove from heat.

  12. Pour sauce over fish, or add fish back into the skillet; garnish with parsley, and serve.

Recipe Notes
WW FREESTYLE POINTS:  7 
  • Use Fat Free Half & Half to reduce points down to 5.
NET CARBS: 2 g
Nutrition Facts
Skillet Tilapia with Creamy Lemon Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 168 Calories from Fat 162
% Daily Value*
Fat 18g28%
Saturated Fat 9g45%
Cholesterol 43mg14%
Sodium 91mg4%
Potassium 46mg1%
Carbohydrates 2g1%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 481IU10%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 14mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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33 Responses
  1. Natalie

    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.

  2. 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. Sherry

      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.

  3. angelica

    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. Ann

      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.

  4. Nadie Gaho

    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.

  5. Susan Styler

    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.

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