Honey Lime Tilapia

Admittedly, I’m a big time tilapia lover. However I’m telling you, even if I didn’t love the fish, this flavor pairing and cooking method would convince me otherwise.

This honey lime tilapia is unbelievably delicious. I’m no stranger to the honey lime flavor combo. It’s trending presence in recipes is justified because honey and lime basically belong to each other forever and ever.

Even though this delectable, tender fish looks as if it’s been battered and fried, it’s actually a fairly healthful dish. The fish, which has been marinated and infused with honey lime deliciousness, gets a quick dredge in seasoned flour – whole wheat in my case – before cooking {quickly} to golden perfection.

The flavor, oh the flavor!, is so fresh and light and fantastic that I had a really hard time not stealing my kid’s portions. Too bad they loved it as much as I did. There wasn’t any excuse to vie for dinner clean-up because there weren’t any leftovers to “put away,” if you know what I mean.

What To ServeIncidentally, I served this with steamed broccoli and brown rice with a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Simple, fast, healthy and tasty. Can’t ask for much more than that.

Honey Lime Tilapia

One Year Ago: Garlic and Herb Butter Spread
Two Years Ago: Classic Chicken Noodle Soup
Three Years Ago: Tomato Bisque Soup

Honey Lime Tilapia

Yield: Serves 4

Honey Lime Tilapia


    Fish and Marinade:
  • 4 tilapia fillets (about 4-5 ounces each)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (from 1 large lime)
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • Coating and Cooking:
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose or whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, lime zest, olive oil, honey, salt, pepper and garlic. Place the tilapia in a gallon-sized ziploc bag and pour the marinade on top of the fish. Press the air out of the bag and seal. Refrigerate the fish for at least an hour and up to 4 hours. It helps to lay the bag in a flat dish and turn it over once or twice during the marinading time since the marinade won't completely cover the fish.
  2. Before cooking, whisk together the flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish like a pie plate. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until rippling and hot. Dredge each tilapia fillet in the flour, coating both sides lightly. Cook the fillets for 3-5 minutes per side without moving the fish while it cooks on each side; this will ensure a more even browning. Adjust the cooking time as needed depending on the thickness of the tilapia and the heat of the skillet and work in batches if necessary so the skillet isn't overcrowded.
  3. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

Recipe Source: adapted slightly from One Lovely Life, found via Pinterest

99 Responses to Honey Lime Tilapia

  1. Tara says:

    Mel, HELP! I love your website and have made many of your recipes!! I made this last night and while it was delicious, I could not get the nice breading you have in your picture. I was going to try to attach a picture of my fish, but I can’t figure out how to do it! It’s a little browned, but mostly white. Suggestions???
    Thank you,

  2. patricia brayton says:

    I only lightly coated fish with flour and very important to make sure skillet is HOT. I used a cast iron skillet. Fish came out crispy.

  3. patricia brayton says:

    Just made this tonight for my mother that loves Tilapia. She said the fish tastes really good. Easy to prep and tastes good. Will make this again. Thanks.

  4. Kim H says:

    I followed the recipe exactly, including using all fresh ingredients and I marinated it most of the day. I loved that it was nice and crispy on the outside. However, I cannot figure out why there was absolutely no flavor to this. My husband said the same.
    I think next time I will skip the flour all together and either pan fry in the marinade or put in the oven with the marinade.
    I really wanted to like this and I’m not a ‘foodie’ by any stretch. I’m happy with very simple tastes and ingredients but it just wasn’t there for me. Sorry.
    I’ll come back with an update, tho.

  5. chrissy says:

    I LOVED THIS RECIPE! I eat a lot of seafood and am always looking for new recipes! This was delicious!

  6. Matt says:

    You can also cook this on the grill just make sure to put aluminum foil down to keep the cooking surface even and burning the flour coating

  7. Robyn says:

    I made tonight and it was delicious! I marinaded for an hour in our food saver marinade container and the lime with the sweetness do the honey really got in the fish. Ate with brown rice and broccoli as suggested and looking forward to enjoying leftovers for lunch! We love fish and eat it at least 3x a week and this will be a great addition to the rotation πŸ™‚

  8. Suzie Honeycutt says:

    I made this recipe tonight with a Mexican Kale salad and the whole meal was delicious. The lime and honey gave the tilapia great flavor and went perfect with our salad. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  9. We just love this recipe! It is so good, we make it all the time. Just wanted to let you know!

  10. Ruchita says:

    I make this recipe so often, I figured it was about time I left a comment! This is one of my favorite ways to make tilapia. It is delicious and so easy to make and gets put on my dinner menu at least twice a month. I usually make this with fresh tilapia from the fish counter and cook it in my cast iron skillet. Love this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Mia says:

    i made this tonight as the recipe describes and it was sensational.

  12. Lindsay says:

    I made this for Sunday dinner and topped it with your Amazing Shrapnel Dip. It was a fantastic combination! Side of brown rice and homemade bread. Thanks!

  13. Marc Browning says:

    Mel…I cannot top any of the comments that have already been written about this recipe so I won’t even begin to try…so I’ll just say simple thank you!! It was fabulous!!

  14. […] Honey Lime Tilapia from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe My kids have always preferred lime to lemon (no idea why), and this honey lime marinade is a great combination of flavors (you can marinate for as little as an hour for flavor). There’s a thin layer of flour (use gluten-free if needed) for a nice coating on this healthy dish. […]

  15. Christen says:

    This was the most amazing fish I’ve ever had!!!! My kids ate it with no problems and we aren’t seafood people. I struggle myself to eat fish!! Thank you for the excellent recipe. We did exactly what you suggested….served it with brown rice with fresh parmesan cheese and broccoli. Yum!!!!!

  16. Michelle says:

    Mel what’s your favorite side to serve with this? Making it for our dinner swap.

  17. Gen says:

    One if our familys fave. Thank you for a delicious recipe! πŸ™‚

  18. Carrie says:

    This is our absolute favorite fish dishes. My kids beg for it all the time.

  19. Sheila H. says:

    My 8 year old son has requested this dish almost each week since you posted it and I made it. YUM! I double the recipe and there are no leftovers in my house. I usually thaw mine in the marinade for 30 hours and it is sooooo good. Eaten with steamed julianne veggies and a salad makes it super healthy.

  20. Kristen says:

    This was fantastic! I love tilapia. This was such a quick and easy meal to throw together, I will definitely be making this again and again! The only changes I made were to add 2 cloves of garlic instead of 1 and I cooked the fish in coconut oil, it added another very subtle flavor. Delicious!

  21. Hi Mel- I successfully linked back to give you full credit and will always do so! http://mywholedecision.wordpress.com/recipes/ Still learning this blogging thing and I appreciate your permission (I’m the one that emailed you last week about linking when I post modifications) Thank you again!

  22. Holly W says:

    I just made this tonight. I have made A LOT of tilapia recipes and this is my hands-down favorite! The flavors were perfect. What an easy, quick and healthy recipe. I served it with baked wild rice pilaf and steamed fresh green beans. Thanks for a fantastic recipe that I will be using again and again.

  23. Katie says:

    I do not like fish. The only fish I eat is tuna from a can. I made this because my husband loves fish, I never make it for him, and I have enjoyed Tilapia before because it’s so mild. It was so delicious! Incredible flavor, so fast and easy. I am making this all the time now. My husband was thrilled!

  24. Katie says:

    So I typically stay away from fish, and make that my first choice when dining out, because really, restaurants do a much better job. However, most dining out happens at date night which means the kids lack the whole fish goodness nutrient thing. So, I gave it a shot, and THANK YOU! The hubbs says I can make this anytime, it is delicious. The kids liked too, minus the one who has banned honey…what???!! Who does that!

  25. JaimetheJam says:

    Loved this! Simple, easy and delicious. I served with honey glazed carrots and grilled asparagus.

  26. Katrina says:

    I have never commented on Any Site πŸ™‚ but thanks for this ! I found this on Pinterest and have made it 6 times.. my family LOVESS LOVES LOVEESSSS it. xxx

  27. Karen says:

    Made this last week and I am making it again tonight. It is light and tasty and we all love it!

  28. Ashley says:

    Made this tonight for dinner. Whole family loved it and all kids wanted thirds but I didn’t make enough for that! Didn’t change anything about the recipe. Served it with Ina Gartens tartar sauce, salad of mixed greens, and a few roasted red potatoes. A great hit-thank you!

  29. Liz K. says:

    Oh my goodness, this was so good! The combination of flavors was perfect. Everyone lived it!

  30. Clarissa says:

    I did the thing where you thaw the fillets in the marinade. Used them for fish tacos (burritos, really). One of my guests proclaimed it one of his five best meals this month. “Wow.” I said. “This Month?” Seriously though, best fish I ever made.

  31. Dyann says:

    I made this for a friend and I last night. Since I am on a bit of a health kick, I decided to use Panko and pop it into the oven instead of frying it. The flavor of the fish was great! I served it with broccoli and brown rice and made an avocado-cilantro-lime sauce to go over the rice. I think the sauce was what pulled all of the various side dishes together and really made it a meal. Next time, though, I will make a variation of your marinade for a sauce to go over the fish to give it just a bit more of that honey-lime flavor!

  32. babs says:

    Made this the other night with thick fillets of fresh sole and dredged in whole spelt flour. It was amazing! May garnish with some fresh cilantro next time.

  33. Sarah says:

    We had this last night. I’m privileged that my kids are fairly good fish eaters, but even so, they LOVED this recipe! It was absolutely delicious and my 5 year old son literally CRIED when it was gone (even though he’d already eaten 1 1/2 filets!). We use the Sam’s Club tilapia, too, and I really love that particular brand…I haven’t been quite as happy with other ones.

  34. […] honey lime tilapia was a hit last […]

  35. Barb says:

    I made this tonight for dinner and it was to die for! We happen to be big fish lovers, but this was such an unusual marinade, I just had to try it. Just a couple of things: I found the recipe as I was starting supper, so did not have time to marinade the fish. Instead I used the marinade by dipping the fish into it (and letting it sit a couple of minutes) and then dredging it in the flour. I am sure it will be better marinaded, but it was still just luscious. And, for people who are afraid of a “fishy” taste – if your tilapia has a dark streak through the center, that is called a blood line. In my family, we cut that out because this is what makes fish taste fishy. If you think your family won’t eat fish – this is the recipe to try!

  36. Cyndi says:

    Soo excited! Gonna make this for dinner tonight. Sounds amazing!! πŸ™‚

  37. bluebaker says:

    Hi Mel-
    I made this today and everyone enjoyed it. so good.
    My favorite way for fish is equal parts panko crumbs and a mix called Fryin Magic, and then to just pan-fry. We have fish fry’s in the summer when hubby brings home the bluegill.

  38. Nikki says:

    Made this last night and it was the best fish I’ve ever had!! I put the frozen fillets in a zip loc bag, put the marinade in it, then let it thaw/ marinade together. I used white whole wheat flour for dredging. It would make the best fish sandwiches, I just know it. So delicious! This would be great to have in the freezer, too. Just take it out a couple hours before dinner and let thaw/marinade! I did this recently with a bunch of chicken in different marinades and it’s so convenient. Thanks for an awesome recipe!!

  39. Annie says:

    This was AMAZING!! Thank you! Even my 1 year old twins snarfed it down… and there were no leftovers for my husbands lunch today!

  40. Pam says:

    Very delicious! We just had this for dinner tonight and all 3 kids gobbled it up. Mel, you have become a “household name” in our home. Tomorrow night I am making your Tuscan Garlic Chicken for a 2nd time…another WONDERFUL recipe. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Your recipes have made cooking fun for me again because no ones complains when I make your recipes. How cool is that!

  41. Kathy says:

    This was delicious!! Very fresh, light and tangy. I used flounder instead of tilapia because that it what I had on hand and marinated it for about 3.5 hrs. I also used gluten-free brown rice flour for the dredging and fried it in coconut oil. It turned out perfect. Everyone loved it so I will definitely be making this again!

    • Grete says:

      So glad you suggested it that way – flounder, GF flour and coconut oil were what I was planning to try, too! Glad to know it works!

  42. Keri says:

    This was delicious! My husband and six-year old loved it, which was a miracle. I was only able to marinade the fish for about 30-40 minutes and it was still flavorful and delicious.

  43. Bailey says:

    This looks so good! Do you know if it would work just as well with coconut or almond flour in place of all purpose?

    • Mel says:

      Bailey – I’ve never used coconut or almond flour in this recipe so you’ll have to experiment if you want to sub out the wheat flour. I think it stands a good chance of substituting well, though. Good luck!

  44. Deb says:

    Made this for dinner tonight and the whole family loved it. Great flavor combo and simple prep. Mine did stick to the pan when I fried it, but I think it’s because I put the fish in before the oil was smoldering hot. Will make again for the flavor alone. Thanks mel!

  45. I made this tonight, and it was amazing! My husband and I LOVED it, and my 20 month old ate quite a bit!

    Also, I saw that someone asked about using agave earlier. I did, and while it might have tasted slightly different than honey, it was nevertheless delicious.

  46. Jill says:

    Made this tonight. Delicious. I cooked on grill pan instead of breading and frying.

  47. Nikki @Seeded at the Table says:

    This looks fabulous! Incidentally, there are three things I don’t like and one of those is honey!! πŸ™ But, this looks so good I’m still willing to give it a try. πŸ™‚

  48. Michelle says:

    And by race about it I mean rave, although I should get racing πŸ˜‰

  49. Michelle says:

    Mel I’ll make this shortly and race about it, I’m sure. But really what’s standing out to me is that picture! It belongs in a magazine all perfectly composed and staged. You have mad talent lady.

  50. Jean says:

    Any idea of how many calories?


  51. […] Honey Lime Tilapia with Cheesy Rice and Vegetables […]

  52. This sounds wonderful! I am always looking for new ways to fix tilapia – BINGO!

  53. Samantha S says:

    This was so tasty!

  54. Shannon says:

    Love tilapia, love lime, love honey. This is a match made in heaven! Thanks for another great recipe!

  55. Sound Beacher says:

    We made this for dinner last night and it we enjoyed it. It also didn’t leave a fishy smell in the house. We’ll be making it again along with many of your favs at our house. The daughter asks: is this one of Mel’s, who is that woman? I made the shrapnel mix for her to take to a party last night and people wouldn’t walk away from the food table she said, just kept scooping it it! We love all your cooking ideas and you’ve really expanded our dinning. We appreciate your improving our palate. Keep it coming. THANKS!!

  56. seb says:

    I’m finding lots of great ideas on your blog, thanks.
    Keep cooking, I’ll be back
    seb, from France

  57. Deborah says:

    I keep saying that I need to eat more fish – and I’m thinking I need to start with this recipe. It sounds amazing!

  58. Amanda B says:

    This marinade would also be great on salmon, halibut, cod… Any fish really. The cooking method might not work as well though. Tilapia are small fish and the filets could up quickly.
    I would probably bake other thicker filets, (and leave the flour off for that.)

  59. I’m also wondering about other fish options. I love almost all fish, with the exception of tilapia – it has never worked for me. I love cod, maybe I’ll try this on cod.

    • Mel says:

      Melissa (and others), I think this recipe could easily be used for other types of fish just be sure to adjust cooking time as needed. Tilapia is a thinner fish and cooks very quickly.

  60. Ellen says:

    Hi, I love this website. I have tried some of the recipes and they are always great! I used to love tilapia until I read it’s actually not a very healthy fish. I was wondering if you have tried this recipe with other fish? Thanks!

  61. Crystal says:

    Do you ever make the marinade ahead of time? Wondering how it will keep.

    • Mel says:

      Crystal, I haven’t made the marinade ahead of time but my guess is it would be fine hanging out in the fridge for a day or so.

  62. Gail says:

    I tried this off Pinterest as well and loved it! I haven’t always been a fish fan but I’m sold with this recipe…we’ve made it twice so far and I’m thrilled with how uncomplicated it is to marinate and how quick dinner comes together. It’s easy to eat healthy with recipes like this one!

  63. Andrea says:

    Made this last night and it was delicious!! Even the kids ate it and it was so easy. Thx!!

  64. Yummm!!! I love fish recipes and this one is definitely a keeper!

  65. angela @ anotherbiteplease says:

    honey lime is such a wonderful flavor combo…makes me think of your honey lime enchiladas πŸ™‚

  66. Amanda B says:

    Made this tonight and my husband said, “This is really good!” 3-4 times.
    He also couldn’t believe this meal cost less than $15. πŸ™‚
    Thanks for the great recipe, Mel!

  67. Alisha says:

    I love fish but Tilapia tastes like mud to me. What am I doing wrong?

    • Mel says:

      Alisha – it might just be a taste preference but you might also try switching brands. I bought some from my grocery store and it was terribly fishy tasting but the brand from Sam’s Club is delicious in my opinion.

  68. Emily says:

    I’m SO honored that you made this! I’ve been reading your blog for ages. I made your banoffee pie today to celebrate Pi Day. It’s AMAZING.

  69. Brea says:

    Mel, thanks so much for sharing. I just so happened to have tilapia, fresh limes AND hawaiian mango honey on hand today.. so fabulous. I was a little worried it would be too sweet for me, because cooking with honey in the past hasn’t always worked out for me.. but this was fabulous! thanks for sharing!

  70. bluebaker says:

    This looks great! We’re going to have this Sunday nite, with your toasted orzo with peas and parmesan, and something like the lemon cookies for dessert. Thanks for an entire menu!

  71. Heather says:

    I just thawed some orange roughy yesterday do you think this would work with any fish? I am really not a fish fan, but my husband is and I thought this actually sounded good.
    Also, we have been using agave for everything here do you think that would work instead of the honey?
    Thanks for all you do!!!! Love your website!!!!!

    • Mel says:

      I’ve never used orange roughy Heather but its worth a try. I’d encourage you to make it with honey before trying the agave since their flavors are quite different and honey plays a big role in this dish.

  72. carol says:

    It’s good to see your are eating more healthy. Great choice here. Good for you!!

  73. Michelle says:

    Allyson- I am TOTALLY not a fish fan, but I have to admit, I like tilapia. πŸ™‚ I forced myself to cook it recently for my family, and I expected to hate it… but I was wrong. It tastes nothing like what I thought fish was like. I bought frozen filets from Costco. I will definitely try this recipe, thanks Mel!

  74. Allyson says:

    This sounds so yummy, and I’m not a fish fan! Is tilapia one of the non-fishy-tasting fish?? I am trying harder to like fish, and I’m finding that as long as it’s not “fishy” I can like it! Anyone have an opinion??

    • Mel says:

      Hi Allyson – tilapia is definitely a good fish to start with if you don’t love the fishy taste because it is very mild tasting. Give it a try!

  75. Whitney says:

    Hi Mel! Do you usually buy fresh tilapia, or frozen? Just curious about your preference πŸ™‚

    • Mel says:

      Hi Whitney – I can’t find fresh tilapia within 1,000 miles so I buy frozen (I buy it at Sam’s Club when I’m in the “big city” and I have really liked their frozen tilapia fillets).

  76. Kathy says:

    I love almost anything with honey and lime! And I know whenever I make tilapia the kids will eat it. I will be trying this one soon!

  77. Shannon says:

    This looks super yummy – we love tilapia over here and I love finding new ways to make it. One of the things I love about fish is it thaws, marinates and cooks quickly.

  78. tina says:

    Well, now.. for LAST Friday’s dinner, I forgot to take my tilapia out of the freezer on time, so I’m going to thank you for reminding me THIS time around to take it out on time, to thaw, for THIS Friday!… I’ve been trying to eat more healthy foods than I got away with ignoring when I was younger, and they say to eat fish at least 2 to 3 times a week, so-oooo… I’m looking forward to trying this recipe, and my thanks again for sharing it!

  79. Rebecca B says:

    We make this almost once a week! The fish is great the next day, and even better eaten cold. I’ve marinated for as low as an hour, up to over 24 hrs and each time has been delicious.

  80. Jen T says:

    Yum! I would love it, but my husband and kids would die. Not fish fans πŸ™‚ darn. . .will have to make it for a girls night. Thanks!

  81. Jeannette says:

    Can this be refrigerated and warmed up the next day?

    • Mel says:

      Jeannette – I’m sure it could…my husband enjoyed the leftovers of this (because he was working late when the rest of the family ate it for dinner) and my personal opinion is that it is very best hot out of the skillet but because the overall recipe is so tasty, the leftovers are pretty good, too. The crispy flour “breading” gets a bit soggy upon reheating.

  82. StephenC says:

    Only occasionally do I encounter a recipe that screams, “Make me!” to moi. This one does. I’m going to make it with swai filets, which is what I have in my freezer.

  83. BarbaraO says:

    Thank you for another fish recipe! Question about thawing fish. As I read these instructions, I figure I could pour the marinade over frozen fish fillets and will thaw and marinade at the same time (provided I allow a longer marinade time). Do you thaw your fish in the fridge overnight, or ever use a quicker method?

    • Mel says:

      BarbaraO – Yes! I think that would work great to thaw the fish in the marinade. I’m a thaw-overnight-in-the-fridge kind of girl.

  84. Sally says:

    That sounds delicious! Honey-lime is a favorite flavor combination of mine, too.

    I make a salad dressing of 3 parts oil, 2 parts lime juice, and 1 part honey with salt and pepper to taste and lime zest as desired that is a family favorite. I could drink the stuff! It’s also good with lemon.

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