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Crispy Breaded Tilapia with Classic Tartar Sauce

Scott Phillips

Servings: 4

Pan-frying sets the coating and gives this usually mild-tasting fish a browned, crunchy crust and rich flavor. Fresh breadcrumbs make all the difference in the coating; learn how to make them in less than 30 seconds with bread you already have on hand. The classic tangy tartar sauce and a squeeze of lemon adds a final flavor boost.


  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbs. minced red onion
  • 2 Tbs. sweet pickle relish or dill pickle relish
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbs. capers, drained, rinsed, and chopped
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups fresh white breadcrumbs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 skinless tilapia fillets (about 4 oz. each)
  • Vegetable oil for the pan
  • 1 large lemon, cut into wedges

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Sample Size based on four servings
  • Calories (kcal) : 410
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 260
  • Fat (g): 29
  • Saturated Fat (g): 5
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 1.5
  • Cholesterol (mg): 150
  • Sodium (mg): 660
  • Carbohydrates (g): 10
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Protein (g): 28


  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 200°F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set aside.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, red onion, relish, parsley, capers, and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate.
  • Line up three wide shallow dishes. Put the flour in the first; beat the eggs lightly in the second; put the breadcrumbs in the third. Season the tilapia with salt and pepper. Working with one fillet at a time, coat it with flour and shake off the excess. Then dip the fillet in the egg and dredge it in the breadcrumbs, patting them on to help them adhere. Set each breaded fillet on a plate or tray as you finish it.
  • Pour the oil 1/4 inch deep into a 10- to 12-inch skillet. Heat over medium heat until it is hot but not smoking, or until a breadcrumb sizzles and browns quickly when dropped in the oil. Cook two of the tilapia fillets until they are crisp and browned, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to the baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, and keep warm in the oven while you cook the remaining two fillets.
  • Serve immediately with lemon wedges and the tartar sauce.


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Reviews (13 reviews)

  • TishTish | 03/17/2020

    Tilapia can be a bland fish but this recipe made perfect use of its pale flavor and firm flesh. I substituted panko for the bread crumbs and it was excellent. Tender fish and crispy and tasty surface. I've been looking for a simple but flavorful way to cook tilapia for a long time -- thank you!!

  • coolwhip34 | 01/26/2017

    I did not have any breadcrumbs so I crushed up a sleeve and a half of Ritz crackers. This recipe was simple and taste great!

  • user-134800 | 03/08/2016

    I used Trader Joes spicy tartar sauce, so I can't vouch for that part of the recipe. But the fish I can say came out great. I don't really ever fry anything, though could see myself repeating this recipe easily

  • lpicc | 01/28/2016

    Easy to make and very tasty! I typically don't like tartar sauce but I made it anyway. So glad I did - so much better than store bought. Definitely will make this again.

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