Quick and Easy 20-Minute Parmesan Tilapia

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It’s never a bad time to jump on the healthy train in terms of home-cooked meals.

Vertical image of a white plate with green beans and a cooked fish fillet next to lemon wedges, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

I know, I know, it’s totally crazy to be doing this on the verge of the holiday season… But I think it’s better to start sooner rather than later, am I right?

Maybe making these moves right now might actually help me to offset all the cookies that you know I will end up eating throughout the remainder of the year.

One of my healthy diet changes? Eating more fish.

Fish is one of my favorite proteins to eat, especially because it is so versatile and can be prepared in so many different ways.

Unfortunately, my husband is not a big fish lover, but I am slowly converting him over to the sea side.

I personally don’t know how anyone could hate fish, honestly.

Vertical image of a white try with a row of cheese-encrusted fish surrounded by lemon wedges.

It is so versatile! It can be served as an elegant dish for a dinner party like tilapia and white asparagus, or served in a more finger-food casual style like a salt and vinegar baked fish.

It can be so flaky and tender, buttery, and delicious. How can you not want that on your dinner plate at the end of the day?

You only need a handful of ingredients, most of which are pantry staples. The dinner is lighter than many other quick options, healthier, and packed with protein.

Plus, when you can buy a giant bag of tilapia fillets at Costco… I mean, it’s a pretty darn good deal.

My love of fish has officially been reignited. It’s fun to be able to switch things up from the normal chicken, beef, and pork routine. Not to mention that it’s oh-so-good for you too.

Vertical top-down image of plates with a cheese-encrusted tilapia next to lemon wedges, green beans, and a metal fork.

If you need to get dinner on the table in just 20 minutes, this recipe is genius. The step that took the longest was waiting for the butter to melt in the skillet before adding the fish.

What could be easier than that?

The short ingredient list is reason enough to try out this tasty recipe, and with minimal time required to get your entree prepped and cooked, that leaves a few extra minutes for you to catch your breath and relax, do a few dishes, or prep some simple sides before it’s time to serve.

Most tilapia recipes are pretty darn quick to cook, whether the fish is prepared in a skillet, poached, fried, or broiled.

Vertical image of a browned tilapia on a white plate next to lemons and green beans on a wooden table, with a piece taken out of the fish to reveal its flaky flesh.

However, it’s the flavor that will keep you making this recipe again and again. The flavor the parmesan brings to the fish fillets is outstanding.

The small amount of cheese actually brings a lot of tastiness and it forms a fantastic crust on the outside that turns nice and golden brown.


A Few Quick Tips

Looking for even more ways to make this dish the best it can be? Read on!

Fresh vs. Frozen

Fresh tilapia will work great for this recipe, but in many grocery stores, frozen is the only option.

If you are using frozen, be sure the fish is thawed completely and that you pat the fish fillets dry before you get started with the recipe.

Parmesan Cheese

Make sure you are using a good quality cheese, because the delicious flavor of the dish really comes from this ingredient.

I like to grate mine fresh, but if you buy it pre-grated, look for a high-quality Parmigiano-Reggiano.

If you are short on time or just too tired to cook, this is the recipe for you. It works for catering to picky eaters who can’t agree on a single dish, or for those of you out there who are currently obsessed with fish.

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Horizontal image of a white rectangular plate with browned fish fillets next to lemon wedges on a blue towel.

Quick and Easy 20-Minute Parmesan Tilapia

  • Author: Meghan Yager
  • Total Time: 16 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


Parmesan-crusted tilapia is a simple recipe that’s ready in just 20 minutes. Once you try it, you’ll see why it’s guaranteed to become a go-to.


  • 1 slice white sandwich bread (or sub gluten free)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (3/4 ounce)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 boneless, skinless tilapia fillets (about 24 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (or olive oil)


  1. Place the bread in a food processor and pulse until finely crumbled. You should have about 1/2 cup total breadcrumbs.
  2. Place breadcrumbs, cheese, salt, and pepper on a plate or dish with raised edges. Stir to combine.
  3. Place eggs in a large bowl and beat lightly but thoroughly.
  4. Working one at a time, dip tilapia fillets into the eggs, then place on the plate with the breadcrumbs. Turn to coat fish on both sides. Set aside on a clean plate.
  5. Repeat step 4 until all fillets are coated with breadcrumb mixture.
  6. Melt butter (or heat oil) in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add tilapia to the pan. 
  7. Cook for about 2-3 minutes per side, until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork. Serve immediately.


Recipe adapted from Cooking Light’s Real Family Food by Amanda Haas, [easyazon_link identifier="0848737008" locale="US" tag="foodal02-20"]available on Amazon[/easyazon_link].

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 6 minutes
  • Category: Fish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Seafood

Keywords: Parmesan, tilapia

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Grate Parmesan and Measure Ingredients

Grate about 3/4 of an ounce of Parmesan cheese until you have 1/4 cup total.

Horizontal image of a black plate with raw tilapia fillets, a slice of bread, and small glass dishes with assorted ingredients.

Measure out remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list.

Step 2 – Make Breadcrumbs

Add the bread to a food processor. Pulse to form fine breadcrumbs. You should have about 1/2 cup total.

Horizontal image of a glass dish with fresh breadcrumbs on a dark wooden surface.

Add the breadcrumbs, cheese, salt, and pepper to a plate or dish with raised edges. Stir to combine.

Crack the eggs into a large bowl and beat lightly with a fork or whisk.

Step 3 – Dredge

Working with one fillet at a time, dredge the fish in the beaten egg and then place it flat on the plate with the breadcrumbs.

Horizontal image of uncooked and breaded fish fillets on a black plate on a dark wooden surface.

Turn to coat the fish well on both sides, then set it aside on a clean plate.

Repeat with the remaining fillets until all of them are coated.

Step 4 – Cook

Melt the butter or heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Horizontal image of cooking fish fillets in a blue pan.

Once it’s hot, add the breadcrumb-coated tilapia fillets to the pan. You may need to work in batches, depending on the size of your skillet.

Horizontal image of browned tilapia pieces draining on paper towels on a wooden towel.

Cook for about two to three minutes per side. The fish should be cooked through, and it will flake easily with a fork when it’s done.

What Can I Serve with Parmesan Tilapia?

One of my favorite things to serve with this dish is some sort of green vegetable, like asparagus, or a green salad tossed with a tasty vinaigrette.

Horizontal image of a white rectangular plate with browned fish fillets next to lemon wedges on a blue towel.

Other vegetables that I like to pair with this entree include squash, potatoes, or sweet potatoes.

You can also serve the dish with pasta, rice, or a few slices of crusty bread.

For more seafood recipes, check out these tasty options next:

What will you serve alongside this tasty fish dish? Tell us in the comments below, and be sure to rate the recipe after you try it!

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on July 7, 2013. Last updated August 4, 2020.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

4 thoughts on “Quick and Easy 20-Minute Parmesan Tilapia”

  1. This is a very easy recipe. I modified it slightly by using Progresso Italian style breadcrumbs (1/2 cup as noted in the recipe) instead of white bread and they were so delicious.

  2. Just made this for dinner tonight. Used panko instead of the bread slice but kept everything else the same. This is a definite keeper. Delicious and can’t wait to make it again!


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