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Skillet Tilapia with Creamy Lemon Sauce

This Skillet Tilapia with creamy lemon sauce tastes like summertime. The combination of fresh garlic, herbs, and a splash of lemon juice offers a dining experience reminiscent of a gourmet restaurant. The fish, tender and flaky, makes this the finest tilapia dish I’ve ever made!

tilapia in lemon cream sauce pictured in a skillet

My Favorite Skillet 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.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Impressive enough to serve at dinner parties to wow your guests with a gourmet taste experience.
  • Quick and convenient, this fish is done in under 15 minutes – a perfect choice for busy weeknights.
  • Easy cleanup thanks to the simplicity of using just one pan for the entire process.

What is Tilapia?

Tilapia, a mild white fish, has gained popularity in culinary circles due to its high protein content and delightful flavor. When fresh, tilapia boasts a sweet and fresh taste without any fishy or foul odors. The key to selecting the best quality is ensuring the fish is firm with somewhat translucent flesh, and it should not be sticky or slimy to the touch. Additionally, prime tilapia fillets are free from white or colored spots, indicating their freshness and quality.

    cooking tilapia in a skillet

    Ingredients For Creamy Skillet Tilapia

    For The Fish

    • Olive Oil for cooking the fish.
    • Butter adds richness and flavor to the fish while searing.
    • Tilapia fillets
    • Salt and pepper to season the tilapia.
    • Fresh parsley for garnish.

    For The Lemon Cream Sauce

    • Butter creates a base for the sauce, adding creaminess and flavor.
    • Garlic to infuse the sauce with a rich aroma and taste.
    • Chicken broth (or dry white wine) to deglaze the pan and add depth to the sauce’s flavor.
    • Heavy cream contributes to the rich, creamy texture of the sauce.
    • Fresh lemon juice adds brightness and acidity to balance the creamy elements.
    • Salt and pepper to adjust the sauce to taste.
    raw fish in a pan

    How to Cook Tilapia In A Skillet

    1. Cook the Fish: Heat oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat. Season the fish with salt and pepper and cook it for 3 minutes per side. Remove it from the pan and set aside.
    2. Make the Sauce: In the same pan, melt more butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic, then whisk in chicken broth and cook until reduced by ⅓. Lower the heat, and incorporate the remaining butter and cream, followed by lemon juice. Season to taste.
    3. Combine and Serve: Remove the sauce from the heat. Drizzle the sauce over the tilapia, garnish with parsley, and serve.

    Tips for the Best Tilapia

    • Use fresh lemon juice because it eliminates unwanted “fishy” or “muddy” smells.
    • Don’t skip the garlic. Its strong flavor neutralizes any remaining smell.
    • Season with salt and pepper to enhance the flavors.
    • Make sure the skillet is well-heated before cooking the fish to get that perfect sear.
    • Avoid overcooking the tilapia, or it will become chewy.

    What To Serve With Fish

    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. Reheat it in a lightly greased skillet over medium-low heat.

    More Tilapia Recipes


    Skillet with creamy tilapia

    Skillet Tilapia with Creamy Lemon Sauce

    Katerina | Diethood
    Pan-seared to perfection, this delicious Skillet Tilapia with creamy lemon butter sauce is flaky, tender, and ready in 20 minutes!
    4.98 from 82 votes
    Servings : 4
    Prep Time 10 minutes
    Cook Time 15 minutes
    Total Time 25 minutes


    For the Fish
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 4 skinless tilapia fillets
    • 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 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter.
    • Season the fish with salt and pepper and transfer it to the skillet; cook for 3 minutes per side. Remove the fish from the skillet and set aside.
    • Add 1 tablespoon butter to the same skillet and melt over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic and cook for 15 seconds.
    • Slowly whisk in the 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 the 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, then taste the sauce and adjust accordingly. 
    • Remove from heat.
    • Pour the sauce over the fish, or return the fish back into the skillet and spoon the sauce over it.
    • Garnish with parsley and serve.


    • Choose fresh tilapia fillets that are firm, have a translucent color, and do not have a fishy odor.
    • Preheat your skillet so it is well-heated before cooking the fish to achieve a perfect sear that locks in flavors.
    • Keep stirring the sauce to ensure the cream and lemon integrate perfectly without curdling.
    • Serve the tilapia with a side of steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, or a fresh salad to complete the meal.


    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

    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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