Skip to Content

Grilled Tilapia Recipe: Perfect for a Summer BBQ

I’ve included some videos below for those who prefer to watch rather than read.

Scrumptious homemade Grilled Tilapia

Looking for a quick and tasty grilled tilapia recipe? You’re in the right place! Grilling tilapia is not only simple but also a great way to enjoy a healthy and flavorful meal. With just a few ingredients like olive oil, garlic, and lemon, you can have a delicious dish ready in no time.

Tilapia is a lean, white fish that cooks quickly, making it perfect for a weeknight dinner. Whether you enjoy it spicy, zesty, or with a herb-infused twist, grilling brings out the best flavors. Plus, it’s a versatile fish that pairs well with various sides, from salads to roasted veggies.

Ready to dive into a tasty and effortless dinner? Keep reading to discover how you can master the art of grilling tilapia at home.

Exact Ingredients (+ Possible Substitutes)

Main Ingredients

  • Tilapia Fillets: Fresh or frozen. Fresh is best for flavor, but frozen works if thawed properly.
  • Olive Oil: Adds richness and prevents sticking.
  • Kosher Salt and Black Pepper: Basic seasoning to enhance the fish’s natural taste.

Seasonings and Spices

  • Lemon Juice: Adds a tangy zest. Substitute: Lime juice or white wine vinegar.
  • Garlic Powder: Provides a deep, savory flavor. Substitute: Fresh minced garlic.
  • Onion Powder: Balances the garlic flavor. Substitute: Finely minced onion.
  • Smoked Paprika: Brings a smoky depth. Substitute: Regular paprika or a mix of chili powder and chipotle powder.
  • Celery Seed: Adds a slight bitterness and texture. Substitute: Omit if unavailable; it’s not essential.

Optional Additions

  • Lemon Zest: Intensifies the lemon flavor. Substitute: Orange zest for a different citrus note.
  • Sea Salt: For an extra crunch. Substitute: Table salt or pink Himalayan salt.

Optional Vegetables

  • Bell Peppers and Onions: For grilling alongside the fish. They add sweetness and texture.
  • Zucchini and Squash: Easy to grill and pair well with tilapia.

Foil Packets

  • Aluminum Foil: If you prefer to grill the fish in foil packets, use heavy-duty foil to prevent tearing.


  1. Preheat the Grill: Set your grill to medium-high heat, around 375°F to 450°F.

  2. Prepare the Fish: Pat the tilapia fillets dry with a clean towel.

  3. Seasoning: Drizzle both sides of the fillets with olive oil, then sprinkle with kosher salt.

  4. Mix Spices: In a small bowl, mix together:

    • 2 tsp smoked paprika
    • ½ tsp garlic powder
    • ½ tsp onion powder
    • ⅛ tsp celery seed

  5. Coat the Tilapia: Pat the spice mixture onto both sides of the fish.

  6. Grill the Fillets: Place the seasoned tilapia on the grill. Close the lid and cook for about 4-6 minutes per side. The fish should be opaque and flake easily with a fork.

  7. Check for Sticking: If the fillets stick to the grill, let them cook another 1-2 minutes before gently lifting them with a spatula.

  8. Serve: Once fully cooked, remove the tilapia from the grill and enjoy! You can squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the top for added flavor.

Tips, Tricks & Storing

Preheat the Grill: Always preheat your grill to medium-high heat. It helps the tilapia cook evenly and gives it a nice char.

Oil the Fish: Rub your tilapia with olive oil. It prevents sticking and adds flavor.

Season Well: Use salt, pepper, garlic, and paprika. These basic seasonings bring out the fish’s natural taste.

Use a Spatula: To flip the tilapia without breaking it, use a thin metal spatula. Be gentle.

Don’t Overcook: Grill the tilapia until it turns opaque. This takes about 4 minutes per side. Overcooking makes it dry.

Marinate for Flavor: Let the tilapia sit in a marinade for 15-30 minutes before grilling. Lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic work well.

Freshness: Use fresh fish for the best taste. If it smells fishy, it’s not fresh.

Leftovers: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. They’ll keep for up to 3 days.

Reheating: Reheat tilapia gently in the oven or a pan. Avoid the microwave; it can make the fish rubbery.

Freezing: You can freeze cooked tilapia. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place it in a freezer bag. It will keep for up to 2 months.

Serve With: Pair your grilled tilapia with fresh salads, grilled veggies, or a tangy salsa. The tomato-avocado salsa is a great choice.

Experiment: Feel free to try different seasonings and marinades. Tilapia is versatile and takes on flavors well.

Benjamin Happy Muncher

Hi, I'm Benjamin. I love cooking, long walks, and my girlfriend! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less.