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Pan Seared Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce

This pan seared tilapia with lemon butter sauce is one of the best tilapia recipes! Serve this pan fried whole tilapia with roasted potatoes for an easy dinner win!

pan seared tilapia with lemon butter sauce

My first fish recipe! Hoorah! It’s not that I don’t LIKE fish. I actually love it! I just find I don’t cook it a lot….mainly I don’t really know what to do with it. Fresh fish at a restaurant though? Especially if you’re at a restaurant by the sea (helllloooooo Portugal). Adore it!

Anyway, one recipe I’ve been making for a few years now is this pan seared tilapia with lemon butter sauce. LEMON BUTTER SAUCE! It’s so good! I mean, it’s butter. Drizzle butter over anything and I’ll gobble it up.

Tilapia is a pretty simple, bland fish on it’s own, but what I do like about it is that it cooks super fast and is so versatile thanks to the mild flavor. If you cook it correctly, it’s nice and moist and flaky! Trust me, once you try this crazy easy fish dish (couldn’t help myself) you’ll be buying up alllll the tilapia!

How long does it take to cook tilapia in a pan?

Some tilapia is thicker than others, but cooking tilapia in a pan should take no more than 5-6 minutes per side. 

You’ll only need a few simple ingredients for this dish. Flour, lemon, and tilapia. A bit of parsley for extra flavor, and some salt and pepper. I roasted some baby potatoes in the oven while searing the tilapia and they were just the ticket. Drizzle a little lemon butter over those potatoes too and you’ve got yourself a super satisfying meal!

How do you make the lemon butter sauce?

Guys, this sauce is so easy it’s almost laughable! It’s butter…and lemon. That’s it. If you make this fish in a cast iron skillet (which I highly recommend), there will be lovely little brown bits in the bottom of the skillet that add some extra flavor to the sauce.

Once the fish is cooked through, remove it to a paper-towel lined plate and add some butter to the skillet. Once the butter melts, add in the lemon and let it all simmer together, scraping up those aforementioned lovely brown bits!

The sauce only has to simmer for a few minutes before you can drizzle it over the fish and potatoes. Told ya – quick and easy!

pan seared tilapia with lemon butter sauce

I sure hope you guys give this tilapia a try some time. Even if you’re not usually a fish lover, you might be pleasantly surprised! 

Flaky, buttery, and slightly crispy. It’s so good!! 

Now, tell me. How do we feel about fish? 😉

While I don’t have any other fish dishes to share with you at the moment, I do have a few other favorite QUICK dinners that I think you’ll love! 

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Pan Seared Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce

  • Author: Katherine | Love In My Oven
  • Total Time: 30 minutes


This pan seared tilapia with lemon butter sauce is one of the best tilapia recipes! Serve this pan fried whole tilapia with roasted potatoes for an easy dinner win!


  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 34 large tilapia fillets
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (~1 large lemon)
  • optional: parsley, roasted potatoes to serve


  1. In a shallow dish, combine the flour, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. One side at a time, coat the tilapia fillets in the flour. Set aside.
  2. In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1/4 cup of the butter. Once the butter is melted and beginning to sizzle, add the tilapia fillets side by side in the skillet. Cook the fish for about 5-6 minutes before flipping and cooking for another 5-6 minutes on the other side, or until it flakes easily with a fork*.
  3. When the fish is cooked, remove it to a plate and keep warm in the oven. Add the remaining butter to the skillet, and once the butter starts sizzling use a spatula to scrape up any brown bits, and squeeze the lemon juice into the pan. Let the sauce simmer for a couple of minutes, then remove from heat. Plate the fish (and any potatoes or rice you may have cooked) and drizzle the lemon butter sauce all over the dish. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately!

Leftovers may be kept in an airtight container in the fridge, for 1-2 days.


*If you can’t fish all of the fillets in the skillet at once, cook the fish in batches. You may need to add a bit more butter to the skillet before the second batch.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes

Keywords: best tilapia recipes // lemon butter tilapia // pan fried whole tilapia

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Pan Seared Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce


  1. Kelsie | the itsy-bitsy kitchen

    This looks delicious, Katherine! I rarely make fish at home either; it just seems like too much work. IDK why though because this recipe is so easy! I’ll have to try it for sure!

  2. Ben|Havocinthekitchen

    You know what? I have a similar situation with fish. I do love it a lot, but I don’t cook it that often (or recipes are very simple and not that interesting for the blog). Also, we don’t go out too often, but I often end up ordering…fish! You’ve got a simple yet delicious recipe here. Needless to say it looks delicious!

  3. This looks like the perfect meal! I love fish but also don’t end up cooking it enough. But my husband and I will absolutely be making your recipe, looks and sounds just wonderful–and I’m so excited about that lemon butter sauce too, yum! 😀

  4. So in love with easy and quick diner recipes; leftovers are great for office lunch next day ! Thank you so much and enjoy your day 🙂

  5. Such an easy , healthy meal Katherine! And we really enjoy tilapia. I’ll be adding this to our menu soon!

  6. We regularly have tilapia in our freezer and this looks like a delicious weekday dinner! Love that lemony sauce – no going wrong there, my friend! Nice n hearty with those ‘tatos! Happy long weekend!

  7. This looks perfect for busy weeknights! I don’t often cook fish because the hubs is a bit picky and only likes salmon, but I can totally see making this for myself and enjoying leftovers for lunches! Happy long weekend Katherine!

  8. We love fish at my house and eat it several times a week. Mostly we grill it, but also oven bake and occasionally we’ll pan fry it. Love the easy recipe!! Hope you get to enjoy the long weekend with your family Katherine!

  9. Such a beautiful clean light meal. Lemon butter sauce is my fav and goes so perfectly well with fish. This is perfect for busy nights! Enjoy the long weekend 🙂

  10. I want to make this for a date night at home with the hubby! Looks amazing!!

  11. Oh yum! So simple and so delicious! I definitely need to cook fish more often. Especially when it looks this good!

  12. What a fantastic butter sauce! It looks so pretty, soft and delicious. Well done!

  13. Katherine this looks incredible! Tilapia is really common here in the Caribbean but I’ve never eaten it before. This looks like a great recipe for a first timer heh!
    xo Ros

  14. I always love recipes for white fish! We have so much salmon here, so I cook that all the time, but a fish like tilapia is a great change of pace for us! Thanks for the recipe!

  15. I always love recipes for white fish! We have so much salmon here, so I cook that all the time, but a fish like tilapia is a great change of pace for us! I love an easy recipe, because this type of fish always seems more difficult to make. Thanks for the recipe!

  16. Can’t wait to make this! We’ve been eating tons of seafood and this looks amazing and fresh for dinner or on top of a salad. Pinning! xo

  17. This pan seared tilapia sounds sooo good! I would totally make this and sounds perfect for dinner time!

  18. This tilapia looks so delicious!

  19. Delish! Even my kids gobbled it up. Took your advice with the roasted potatoes. Yum! Tossed some of my garden cherry tomatoes into the skillet while the fish were cooking – they soaked up all the yummy flavors and were the perfect compliment to the fish!

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