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This Blackened Tilapia is coated in a simple homemade Cajun spice rub and sauteed to give it the perfect crispy crust, and flaky interior.

This blackened tilapia is one of my favorite fish recipes. It’s quick and easy, with the perfect bold Cajun spiced crust, revealing perfectly tender and flaky white tilapia meat inside. It’s a perfect weeknight dinner recipe idea, served up with rice, or roasted veggies. You might also love this baked tilapia recipe if you want to try another way to enjoy tilapia for dinner!

Growing up I never knew what “blackened” meant on food, I just thought it meant practically burnt. But it really just means the chicken, or fish in this case, has a dark colored crust from Cajun spices. The tilapia is cooked in a cast iron skillet over high heat to give it the perfect flavorful and crispy crust.

Ingredients Needed to make Blackened Tilapia:

  • chili powder
  • smoked paprika
  • onion powder
  • garlic salt
  • brown sugar
  • oregano
  • thyme
  • cayenne pepper
  • black pepper
  • tilapia fillets
  • olive oil

How to make Blackened Tilapia?

Mix together all the herbs and spices for your blackened coating in a small bowl.

Press the spices into each side of the tilapia, covering it all over. If it’s not sticking well you can spray the sides of the fish with some cooking spray before sticking it on.

Heat about 1 TBS of olive oil in your cast iron or other skillet over medium high heat. Add the tilapia and cook it for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until the sides of the fish are crispy and the interior of the fish is opaque.

Serve immediately.

Tips for making Blackened Tilapia:

  • You can let the tilapia marinate in the spices in the fridge for about 1 hour to intensify the spices, or cook it right away.
  • Give the tilapia space in your pan to cook, if you need to cook them in rotation for your pan size do that.
  • You can adjust the amount of cayenne pepper in the seasoning if you want the fish more or less spicy.
  • You could also use this blackened cajun seasoning on chicken breasts.

How to reheat leftover tilapia?

Store any leftover tilapia in a covered container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat the fish in the oven at 275 F on a baking pan, covered lightly in foil for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until it reaches 125 to 130 F internally.

The skin may not be as crispy as the first time, but this will help it to taste almost as good as the first time you had it. Just don’t microwave it!

This tilapia is the perfect easy dinner. It’s great served with veggies, rice, or your choice of sides. Packed full of flavor, you’ll want to make it over and over again.

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Blackened Tilapia


For the Blackened Seasoning:

  • 1 1/2 TBSP chili powder
  • 1 TBSP smoked paprika
  • 1/2 TBSP onion powder
  • 1/2 TBSP garlic salt
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp ground thyme
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

For the Tilapia:

  • 4 tilapia fillets (thawed if previously frozen)
  • 1 to 2 TBSP olive oil (or butter)


  • Put all the spices and herbs together in a small bowl and mix them together to combine.
  • Rub the spice mix over the tilapia evenly, covering it completely.
  • (Optional) Cover the tilapia with plastic wrap and put into your fridge 1 hour or longer.
  • Add 1 TBS olive oil to a cast iron pan or other skillet, and heat it over medium high.
  • Place your tilapia in the pan and fry it for about 3 minutes on each side, until the crust is nice and crispy and the inside is cooked through and opaque.

This blackened tilapia was first posted on August 28, 2014. The photos and text were updated for clarity on November 17, 2021.

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