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!
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.
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!
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!
Other Healthy Main Dish Recipes
Tools for Making This Recipe
- Ninja Express Chop: Mini food processor…this is one of my most-used kitchen tools!
- Citrus Squeezer: For juicing all of those fresh lemons and limes!
- Herb Keeper: So that your fresh herbs keep a long time in the fridge.
- Herb Scissors: To get perfectly snipped fresh herbs.
- Cast Iron Skillet: We love using our cast iron skillet to make this fish.
Chili Lime Tilapia
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.
- 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.