This recipe is sponsored by Sea Cuisine, all opinions are my own.
Pan fried tilapia bathed in pesto cream sauce on your table in less than 30 minutes!
This pan fried tilapia recipe tastes straight out of a gourmet restaurant but is an easy, one skillet recipe ANYONE can make! This speedy recipe is made with herbaceous, garlicky, Sea Cuisine tilapia cooked to tender, flaky perfection then bathed in a lux basil pesto cream sauce lifted with bright pops of lemon. This tilapia recipe is elegant, comforting and the epitome of minimal prep, big flavor. Serve this garlic herb tilapia with mashed potatoes, pasta, or rice with a big green salad and garlic bread and you have a stunning dinner a fraction of the price of dining out!
If you’re looking for more tasty fish recipes to add to your repertoire, you’ll love mahi mahi in lemon cream sauce, lemon pepper salmon, blackened salmon in creamy Cajun sauce, lemon Parmesan salmon, Asian BBQ salmon and mahi mahi fish tacos!
HOW TO MAKE tilapia recipe VIDEo
Ingredients for Pesto Cream Sauce for Tilapia
The sauce for the pan fried tilapia is wonderfully simple yet exquisite from simmering just a few ingredients. Let’s take a closer look at what you’ll need to create this hypnotic blend (full recipe with measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post):
How to Pan Fry Tilapia
This tilapia recipe is a spectacular saucy, repeat favorite simple enough for every day, exquisite enough for company or special occasion! Let’s look at just how easy it is to make in 3 steps! (See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for measurements.)
Step 1: Pan Fry the tilapia
Heat a drizzle of oil in a skillet over medium high heat, medium if your skillet runs hot. Add the frozen Sea Cuisine Smart Indulgence Roasted Garlic and Herb Tilapia fillets in a single layer and cook until a deeply golden crust forms, flipping halfway though, about 10 minutes.
Step 2: Make the sauce
Reduce heat to low and add heavy cream to the now empty skillet. Mix chicken broth with cornstarch and add to the skillet, followed by the pesto. Bring sauce to a simmer while scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan; simmer until the sauce thickens to desired consistency, stirring often. Stir in a splash of lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Step 3: Combine
Add the tilapia fillets back to the skillet and spoon the sauce over top. Serve over pasta, mashed potatoes or rice and dig in!
How long to cook Tilapia on the stove
For frozen tilapia, cook for 10 -11 minutes, turning over halfway through cooking. For fresh or thawed tilapia, cook fillets for about 2-3 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the fillets. They should turn opaque and easily flake with a fork when done. The internal temperature should reach a minimum internal temperature of 145 ̊F.
- Use a heavy cream substitute: Swap the heavy cream for evaporated milk mixed with 1 teaspoon cornstarch. Just remember that fat equals flavor so the cream sauce won’t taste quite as decadent.
- Make it lemony: As written, the sauce isn’t super lemony, just brightened by the lemon juice. If you would like more of lemon sauce, add an additional tablespoon lemon juice.
- Add vegetables: Add any chopped vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, zucchini, green beans, bell peppers, corn, cherry tomatoes etc. and sauté them after you’ve cooked the salmon, then stir in the sauce ingredients.
- Add sun-dried tomatoes: Pesto and sun-dried tomatoes are heavenly together! Purchase sun-dried tomatoes in a jar packed in oil, not water. They are usually located near the olives or pickles at your grocery store. Chop about ½ cup and sauté for a minute before adding the sauce ingredients.
- Add capers: Add 2-3 tablespoons capers for a tangy, briny, lemony explosion. They add both acid and salt which intensify the flavor of the sauce. They should be easy to find by the olives at your grocery store.
- Add artichokes: These are tender, slightly sweet and nutty and divine in creamy sauces. Purchase artichoke hearts in water NOT marinated. The marinated ones often have an acrid taste. Chop and sauté for a minute or so before adding the sauce.
- Add Parmesan: Depending on which pesto you use, or if you simply want a more Parmesan punctuated sauce, whisk 3-4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan into the sauce to melt at the end of cooking. Use freshly grated Parmesan cheese grated on the finest holes of your grater for superior melting ability and flavor.
- Spice it up: Add red pepper flakes to enliven the sauce or add to individual servings.
Pan Fried Tilapia Recipe FAQs
To cook tilapia without it falling apart, handle it gently and use a nonstick pan. Don’t flip the fillets before the first side is lightly browed. When ready to flip, use a long spatula that fits the length of the fillet and carefully turn over.
To prevent tilapia from drying out, don’t overcook! Use a moderate heat level and watch for the fish to turn opaque and flake easily. Remove the fillets from the pan as soon as they reach an internal temperature of internal temperature of 145 ̊F so they don’t continue to cook. Let the tilapia fillets rest briefly before serving to reabsorb the juices throughout the entire fish.
Tools Used in This Recipe
Pan Seared Tilapia with Pesto Cream Sauce
Save This Recipe To Your Recipe Box
You can now create an account on our site and save your favorite recipes all in one place!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 package Sea Cuisine Smart Indulgence Roasted Garlic and Herb Tilapia (frozen)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (or evaporated milk + 1 teaspoon cornstarch)
- 1/3 cup pesto
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat (medium if your stove runs hot) in a nonstick skillet.
- Reduce heat to low and add heavy cream and pesto to the now empty skillet. Whisk chicken broth with cornstarch and add to the skillet.
- Bring the sauce to a simmer until thickened to desired consistency, stirring often. Stir in lemon juice. Season to taste with salt, pepper (I add about ⅛ teaspoon of each).
- Add tilapia back to the skillet and spoon the sauce over top. Serve over pasta, mashed potatoes or rice.
How to Store and Reheat
- Storage: Tilapia should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for three to four days.
- To reheat: Microwave for 1 minute followed by 20 second intervals until heated through, taking care not to overcook or warm in a skillet over medium-low heat.
Did You Make This Recipe?
Tag @CarlsbadCravings and Use #CarlsbadCravngs
Leave a Review, I Always Love Hearing From You!