Chili Lime Tilapia

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Our favorite way to serve tilapia! Chili Lime Tilapia has an easy, but flavorful spice rub before you pan sear the fish. Top with a squeeze of lime juice and our mango salsa recipe for a healthy dinner recipe. You may also love our paleo battered fish!

fresh tilapia with mango salsa

Chili Lime Tilapia Recipe

Tilapia often gets a bad name. Before I start into this post, I will say that I am not a doctor a food safety expert. I know there are a lot of rumors going around about whether tilapia is safe to eat or not. I recommend you do as I do…read the articles with an open mind, take in both sides, then make a decision for yourself. And most importantly? Allow others to make their own decisions. This Chili Lime Tilapia is a wonderful, low-fat dinner idea and is our favorite way to cook and serve tilapia. If you don’t want to eat tilapia, simply use this spice mix on your favorite type of fish.

*If you are concerned about the safety of eating tilapia, be sure to look for tilapia that is sourced from the United States. This means it will fall under food safety standards.*

How to Make Tilapia

Tilapia is an easy, quick dinner because the fillets tend to be small which means they cook quickly. Some things to remember:

  • It’s important to make sure that if the fish is frozen, you’ve completely defrosted it overnight (or in a bowl of water for 20-30 minutes) so that the fish cooks evenly.
  • Pat the fish fillets dry before you add the spices. That way they’ll stick better.
  • Mix up this easy chili lime spice. You can even make up a big batch in advance and have it ready to go for when you need a quick dinner. Store the mix in an airtight container in the fridge if you decide to do this.

Pan Fried Tilapia

To pan fry tilapia, you’ll want to get olive oil heated over medium heat in a stainless steel or cast iron skillet. If your skillet is not non-stick, be sure the oil is hot so that the fish does not stick to the pan. If you put the fish in too soon, it will stick. Trust me!

Depending on the size of fish fillets that you have, your fish shouldn’t take long at all. My fish fillets were small, so I set the timer for 3 minutes per side. This was enough time to get the fish white and flaky. You’ll know the fish is ready when a fork allows the fish to flake apart easily.

Once the fish is done, you can transfer it to a plate with paper towels lining it so it absorbs some of the oil.

how to make chili lime tilapia collage

Fish with Mango Salsa

I’ll say that this fish is amazing just by itself, but what makes it over the top is the mango salsa. The sweet salsa pairs so beautifully with the seasoned fish. And the cool salsa on the hot fish….mmmm. Amazing!

A plate of food on a table, with Tilapia and Lime

Dinner for 2

This recipe makes just a small amount perfect for 2 people, but if you have more in your family as we do, simply double the recipe. Easy peasy!

chili lime tilapia recipe with salsa
chili lime tilapia recipe with salsa

Chili Lime Tilapia

4.82 from 11 votes
Our favorite way to serve tilapia! Chili Lime Tilapia has an easy, but flavorful spice rub before you pan sear the fish. Top with a squeeze of lime juice and our mango salsa recipe for a healthy dinner recipe. You may also love our paleo battered fish!
Servings 2
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

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For the Mango Salsa

  • 1 small mango (peeled, seeded and finely diced)
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped jalapenos (seeded and membrane removed)
  • 2 tablespoons fined minced cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fined minced mint
  • juice of half a lime (reserve the other half for the fish)
  • salt to taste

For the Chili Lime Tilapia:

  • 2 Tilapia fillets, fresh or frozen (thawed if frozen) (5-6 ounces for each filet)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar (or coconut sugar for paleo)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • zest + juice of half a Lime


For the Mango Salsa:

  • In a medium sized bowl, combine the diced mango, red bell pepper, red onion and the jalapeños.
  • Add the finely chopped cilantro and mint and mix.
  • Add the lime juice and the salt and mix well. Taste and adjust the salt accordingly.
  • Cover and refrigerate to develop the flavors for at least 2 hours.

For the Chili Lime Tilapia:

  • If using frozen fish, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. Or place it in a bowl of water for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, garlic powder, salt, brown sugar and the lime zest. Mix well.
  • Pat dry the tilapia fillets with a paper towel.
  • Sprinkle the prepared seasoning mix liberally on both sides of the fish.
  • Heat the oil a nonstick or a cast iron pan over medium heat.
  • Gently add the fish fillets. Depending on the thickness of the fillets, pan fry for 3 to 4 minutes on one side.
  • Carefully flip and fry the other side for 2 to 3 minutes. You know the fish is done, when you poke on the thickest part and it flakes easily.
  • Transfer to the serving plate and squeeze lime juice over both the fillets.

To Serve:

  • Place the tilapia fillet on the dinner place. Top with the prepared Mango Salsa. Serve with rice and steamed or roasted vegetables for a complete meal.



The calories shown are based on the recipe serving 2, with one serving being one piece of fish and half of the salsa. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword dinner, fish, healthy, light, paleo

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About JulieJulie Clark

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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Elizabeth Walshe
2 years ago

5 stars
delicious!! I used minced garlic from a jar and a little powdered garlic b/c that’s what we had available, and fresh premade mango salsa from the local grocery- but this recipe was AMAZING, so DELICIOUS, MOUTHWATERING! I will make it again in a couple of weeks, so yymmy with fresh tilapia! better I think than most restaurants!!! Made it for New Year’s Day with fresh roasted butternut squash and stuffed mushrooms, and a tossed salad.

3 years ago

5 stars
Absolutely delicious – I’m not a huge fish fan but this recipe is a winner. So easy to make and just needed to grab a couple of tilapia fillets a mango and jalapeño, everything else I had on hand.
I made sure I cooked my fish at a high heat and ended up with a crispy flavourful coating.

Candi Ferguson
3 years ago

5 stars
I made the Chili Lime Tilapia with Mango Salsa recipe and I was truly blown away! Absolutely amazing recipe and so easy to make! I felt like a pro! Thank you for sharing your genius!

3 years ago

Can you grill this fish? And if so would you do it in a foil packet?

4 years ago

5 stars
Wow only my second time making tilapia and this was so easy and flavorful! Definitely will make it again!

4 years ago

5 stars
Made this for me and my lady. Fantastic. I made the salsa from scratch following this recipe. I did add more jalapeño as we both enjoy spicier foods. Absolutely terrific. I paired with fresh avocado slices and home made red rice. HIGHLY recommended.

4 years ago

5 stars
This was great! I served it with a store bought mango pico, zucchini, and Zatarain’s adobo brown rice and black beans! I would use a little less salt in the rub next time. Can’t wait to make this again!

5 years ago

I made this with a few shortcuts. I used a mango salsa with is made locally and sold premade in the store. I made garlic lime green beans (microwave bag). Added minced garlic to the same pan I cooked the fish in. Added the green beans and the rest of the zest and juice of the lime from the fish recipe. A little kosher salt to taste. Tossed it all together. Such a good addition that was very quick to make. Add some toasted sliced almonds for texture. I also added a bag of organic thai coconut milk leek, lime… Read more »