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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 45 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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