Chili Lime Pan Seared Tilapia with Apple Salsa: Tilapia is seasoned with a sweet and spicy rub and finished up with a bright and fresh apple salsa for a delicious quick meal.
This post has been sponsored by BJ’s Wholesale Club, but as always, the recipe and opinions stated are my own.
We seem to have a lot in common.
I like quick, healthy meals, you like quick healthy meals. Especially meals that are ready in under 30 minutes.
I recently shared with you my 15 minute Chicken and Asparagus Stir Fry, and you are asking for more!
More 15 minute meals!
And I am here to deliver with a quick fish dinner that has restaurant appeal. Just minus the high price tag.
Chili Lime Pan Seared Tilapia
If you have followed my blog for long, you know for most of my life I really did not like fish. However, recently times have changed.
I tried for years to like fish, but I just couldn’t do it—and believe me, I know how healthy it is for me.
After falling in love with Asian Fish Tacos, I have been experimenting with fish more and more recently, and actually enjoy it. For me, it has to come down with flavor and when I can take a mild fish and make it sing with flavor, I can eat it and enjoy it!
For this easy Chili Lime Tilapia–the flavor reigns king. The tilapia is enveloped in a sweet and spicy glaze that is brightened up with fresh lime juice. If I stopped right there this tilapia recipe would be delicious.
BUT why stop there, when you can add a crisp tart apple salsa? Exactly, you want to include this bright and easy topping on your tilapia. The texture of the tart apples paired the sweet and savory tilapia is just a perfect combination.
And the best part, other than this entire meal being ready in less than 15 minutes? I was able to purchase all these ingredients at BJ’s Wholesale Club for an incredible price.
How to Pan Sear Tilapia
Pan searing tilapia is the easiest, quickest way to cook fish. Not to mention that crispy exterior that pan searing achieves is a great contextual element to your dish.
To easily pan sear your fish, follow these steps:
- Pat dry your defrosted fish fillet (to absorb moisture that may cause your grease to splatter)
- Season both sides of the tilapia with the seasoning blend.
- Heat oil in non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. You want a relatively high heat, so that the fish sears in the oil instead of absorbing the oil.
- Place seasoned fish in skillet gently and leave it alone for 4 minutes.
- Gently flip the fish fillets and finish cooking on remaining side. This will take anywhere from 2-4 minutes depending on thickness of tilapia fillet.
How do you know if tilapia is done?
Tilapia is such a thin fish, that by the time a good sear is achieved on both sides of your fish fillet, your fish should be cooked perfectly.
However to be sure, poke the tines of a fork into the thickest portion of the fish and gently pull up some fish. If you fish is cooked perfectly, it will flake easily and be translucent.
Can you pan fry frozen tilapia?
It is never a good idea to try to pan fry anything frozen. One, you won’t be able to achieve a golden crust on the tilapia (or whatever you are cooking) and the seasoning will not adhere well to frozen meat. Secondly, you can easily burn yourself if you place a piece of frozen meat into hot oil, as immediately frozen crystals will begin to defrost and cause the oil to splatter up at you.
How do you quickly defrost frozen tilapia?
Tilapia is incredibly easy to defrost. Simply, put the frozen fillets in a freezer safe bag (BJ’s Wellsley Farms Tilapia is already individually sealed) and submerge the fillets into a bowl of cold water and leave out on the counter for about 20-25 minutes. Alternatively, you can defrost the frozen tilapia overnight in the fridge.
Notes and Substitutions for this Easy Tilapia Recipe
- I use olive oil to pan fry my tilapia, but any high-smoking oil will work such as coconut, peanut, or vegetable oil.
- Using a granny smith apple is key to this tart and bright salsa. I would not use a sweeter apple. If you don’t have granny smith apples, pineapple would be a great substitution.
- Feel free to omit cilantro if you don’t like it.
- This Chili Lime Tilapia is delicious without the salsa as well.
- Do not overcrowd your skillet, as this will cause your tilapia to steam and not brown. Instead, you can use half the oil and cook in 2 batches if needed (as I did).
More Fish Recipes
- Easy Avocado Tuna Salad
- Mini Shrimp and Grits Appetizer Bites
- Easy Asian Fish Tacos with Ginger Slaw
- Easy Southwestern Baked Tuna Cakes
Pan Seared Tilapia Recipe
Chili Lime Pan Seared Tilapia with Apple Salsa
- 4 Wellseley Farms Frozen Tilapia Fish Fillets defrosted
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 limes juice and zest
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 granny smith apple diced
- 1 tablespoon red onion minced
- 1 tablespoon cilantro minced
- Defrost your fish fillets in a bowl of cold water for 20-30 minutes or overnight in the refrigerator.
- Mix together the sugar, chili powder, salt, garlic powder and zest of 1 lime together in a small bowl.
- Remove tilapia fillets from package and rub both sides of each fillet with the chili mixture.
- Heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium high heat.
- Cook tilapia fillets for 4 minutes per first side and then carefully flip.
- Pour in juice from one lime and let fish continue to cook 2-3 minutes or until done.
- Rest fish for 5 minutes before serving with Apple Salsa.
- Mix together apple, cilantro, and red onion with juice from 2nd lime. Season with a pinch of salt if desired (although I don't find this necessary).