Butter Poached Lemon Garlic Tilapia Recipe

Tilapia fillets are poached in a decadent buttery lemon garlic sauce to flaky perfection. This tilapia recipe is fast, fresh and so easy to make!

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This delicious tilapia recipe uses a common chef secret—the trick to amazing restaurant-quality, melt-in-your-mouth flaky fish is the poaching method. Some of the best chefs I know poach their fish for dishes, and when you poach it in a lemon garlic butter sauce, you get the best-tasting tilapia you have ever made at home!

butter poached lemon garlic tilapia in baking dish, garnish with lemon slices

Butter Poached Tilapia

If you’re looking for a new quick and easy dinner-time staple that’s also super healthy, this tilapia recipe could be it. It takes less than half an hour to make this mouthwatering lemon butter tilapia, and if you’re new to cooking fish, it’s an excellent first dish to get started with! This butter-poached lemon garlic tilapia is super juicy, and it’s amazing when served with some rice, Parmesan pasta, or my simple roasted garlic and rosemary potatoes.

What is Tilapia?

Tilapia is a leaner white fish, so it’s high in protein, low in fat, and has fewer calories than other types of fish. It’s also not very “fishy” in taste, so it’s a good option if anyone in your family is on the fence about fish! The lemon and garlic really give it a much-needed punch of flavor, so you get a healthy and delicious end result!

flaking cooked tilapia fillet using a fork

How To Make Butter Poached Lemon Garlic Tilapia

This light fish recipe is super simple to make and won’t take long!

  1. Start by preheating your oven to 400 F.
  2. Grease your pan with butter and melt the remaining butter.
  3. Juice and zest a lemon.
  4. Wash the fillets under some cold water and pat them dry with paper towels.
  5. Once rinsed, place the tilapia fillets in the baking dish.
  6. Mix together butter, garlic, and lemon juice, and drizzle the mixture over the fish.
  7. Season with a sprinkling of parsley and pepper, and bake for around 20 minutes in the oven.
  8. You’ll know the fish is ready when it’s turned a solid white color and flakes easily when pulled apart.
  9. Once you’ve made sure your fish is done, you’re ready to serve!

Tilapia Cooking Tips

  • If you aren’t serving this cooked fish right away, it’s best to keep it warm in a warming drawer or at 200° F in the oven.
  • You can stop the fish from falling apart/flaking by cooking it in small separate au gratin baking dishes.
  • Lemon juice concentrate works just as well as fresh juice if you want to save even more time!
  • If you want to keep the dish for a while you can store it in the fridge for 2-3 days, just bear in mind that the longer you store it the less flavorsome it will be! Most chefs will recommend that you eat it right after prep.
  • If you’re using frozen fillets, refrigerate them well in advance so they have time to thaw.
  • Overcooked fish will not rock your world, so make sure to start checking on the fillets after about 10 minutes.
three baked tilapia fillets with lemon slices on top

More Delicious Fish recipes to try:

Fast and Easy Lemon Garlic Grilled Salmon

Extravagantly Luxurious Garlic & Herb Fish

The Best Deep Fried Haddock

Buffalo Shrimp Kale Salad

For other serving options, try serving with some scalloped corn casserole, my baked sweet potatoes or mashed cauliflower.

Happy cooking!



Butter Poached Lemon Garlic Tilapia Recipe

Tilapia fillets are poached in a decadent buttery lemon garlic sauce to flaky perfection. This tilapia recipe is fast, fresh and so easy to make!
4.89 from 9 votes
Prep Time
5 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
Main Course
Karlynn Johnston


  • 3-4 fresh tilapia fillets
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • pepper to taste
  • Lemon slices for garnish if desired


  • Preheat your oven to 400 °F.
  • Grease the pan with your butter, then melt the remaining butter.
  • Juice and zest the lemon.
  • Rinse the tilapia fillets under cool water and then pat them dry with paper towels.
  • Place the tilapia fillets into the buttered baking dish.
  • Mix the lemon juice, butter and garlic together, then drizzle over the fish fillets.
  • Sprinkle the fillets with pepper and parsley.
  • Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. The fish is done when it turns a solid white and flakes easily when pulled apart with a fork.
  • Serve.

Recipe Notes

  • I had very large and thick tilapia fillets so mine took 25 minutes to bake. Fish is done when it reaches 145°F.
  • The nutrition includes ALL of the butter sauce which you don’t eat, so values will be less

Nutrition Information

Calories: 272kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 26g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Cholesterol: 104mg, Sodium: 203mg, Potassium: 438mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 473IU, Vitamin C: 16mg, Calcium: 32mg, Iron: 1mg

All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

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Site Index Fish Garlic Lemon Low carb Tilapia

Reader Interactions

Comments & Recipe Tips Share a tip or comment!

  1. Marilyn says

    This was delicious, quick and easy! I’ll make this again!5 stars

  2. Marisol Timm says

    I’ve got this in the oven, and realized I had a pile of lemon zest on the counter. Am I missing something in the recipe? What to do with the lemon zest?

    • Marilyn says

      I added it into the sauce and it all tasted great.

  3. Reese says

    I made this for dinner last night and it was absolutely delicious. My kids loved it too! Thank you for sharing this. I will definitely be making this again!5 stars

    • Karlynn Johnston says

      I am jealous your kids liked it! Mine won’t touch seafood, how can they even be my kids LOL??? Glad it was a hit!

    • JW says

      Needed salt. i highly suggest adding at least a little salt or perhaps soy sauce.4 stars

  4. Annie says

    This is SUPER delicious!! There is something about lemon, garlic and fish that is unbeatable. This recipe is foolproof and easy. I used frozen tilapia (I know I’m not supposed to) but other than having to bake it twice as long (around 40 minutes for large filets), it came out great! Thank youuuuu!5 stars

4.89 from 9 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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