How to Make Tilapia on a Stove With Olive Oil may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.
Tilapia slices with lime in a pan.
Image Credit: karam miri/iStock/Getty Images

Tilapia is often called the "poor man's halibut" because of its white flesh and flaky texture, and the fact that it's less expensive than the larger fish. Cooking tilapia on a stove top with olive oil is a quick and easy recipe -- you can feed yourself and your family a nutritious meal in less time than it would take to go to a fast-food restaurant. You can cook tilapia either bare or with a light coating of breading,

Fresh Tilapia

Step 1

Set your tilapia steaks on a clean counter or cutting board. Sprinkle with your spices. Simple salt and pepper works well with this dish, but you can use any variety of spices to your taste. Turn over and spice the opposite side.

Step 2

Put your skillet on the burner and set for medium heat. This will be lower than many other skillet recipes because of the low smoke point of olive oil. Wait 10 minutes for the skillet to reach a uniform heat.

Step 3

Pour on 1 tbsp. of olive oil. Tilt the pan to spread it around.

Step 4

Place the tilapia on your skillet. Jiggle slightly with the tongs until the bottom sears and won't stick to the pan. Cook for three minutes.

Step 5

Flip the tilapia steaks and cook for three minutes on that side. During the last 30 seconds, set a paper towel on top of your serving dish.

Step 6

Remove the tilapia to the serving dish. Cover with a second paper towel. The towels will wick away excess oil before serving.

Breaded Tilapia

Step 1

Lay out and spice the tilapia cuts as above.

Step 2

Pour flour into a shallow, flat container such as a Tupperware lid. Place a tilapia steak in the flour, then flip to coat both sides. "Spank" the fish gently to knock off excess flour.

Step 3

Preheat your skillet as with the fresh tilapia recipe. Fill to a depth of about 1/4 inch with olive oil. You might want to use a splatter guard as the oil heats up.

Step 4

Place the breaded tilapia steaks in the oil. Be careful of oil splatters as you do so.

Step 5

Cook and turn as with the fresh tilapia recipe. Remove to paper towels, which will be more important with the oil-saturated breaded tilapia.

Things You'll Need

  • Olive oil

  • Cast iron skillet

  • Tilapia steak

  • Spices

  • Flour (optional)

  • Cooking tongs

  • Paper towel

  • Serving plate


A squeeze of lemon, lime or orange on the finished product can add a zesty kick to the finished tilapia.

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