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Blackened Tilapia – Once Upon a Chef

Blackened Tilapia – Once Upon a Chef

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Blackened tilapia makes a super quick and flavorful weeknight meal.

Tilapia is a flaky, mild-tasting, inexpensive, and readily available white fish that’s super easy to cook and prepare. It is especially good blackened, which doesn’t mean burnt but rather coated in a Cajun-style spice blend that takes on a dark reddish-brown, almost black color when cooked. In this quick and simple recipe, the fish fillets are dusted with a rub made from spices, brown sugar, and salt and then sautéed in olive oil until blackened and flaky. Serve the blackened tilapia with cornbread, rice, or hush puppies along with a vegetable.

What you’ll need to make blackened tilapia

blackened tilapia ingredients

Step-by-Step Instructions

Begin by making the Cajun spice rub. In a small bowl, combine paprika, brown sugar, oregano, salt, cumin, garlic powder, and cayenne. Don’t worry about the amount of cayenne — the spice rub has a little kick but the dish won’t be too spicy, even for kids.

blackening rub ingredients in bowl

Mix to combine.

blackening rub

Evenly dust the spice rub evenly all over the tilapia fillets.

tilapia fillets coated with rub

Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick pan, then add the tilapia, presentation side down.

tilapia in panCook a few minutes per side, until crisp and reddish-brown (“blackened”) on the outside and flaky on the inside.

blackened tilapia in pan


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Blackened Tilapia

Blackened tilapia makes a super quick and flavorful weeknight meal.


  • 1½ teaspoons paprika
  • 1½ teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 six-ounce tilapia fillets
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges (optional, for serving)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, for cooking


  1. Combine the paprika, brown sugar, oregano, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt in a small bowl; mix until well combined (use your fingers to break up the lumps of brown sugar). Sprinkle the spice rub evenly over both sides of the tilapia fillets.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large non-stick pan. Cook the fillets for 2-3 minutes on each side until reddish-brown on the outside and flaky on the inside. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

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  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 236
  • Fat: 10g
  • Saturated fat: 2g
  • Carbohydrates: 3g
  • Sugar: 2g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 34g
  • Sodium: 672mg
  • Cholesterol: 85mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you’re following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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