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Baked Tilapia with Best Ever Lemon Butter Sauce


This easy fish dinner comes together quickly and the lemon butter sauce is the stuff of dreams. Be sure to make extra and serve it over rice, steamed vegetables, roasted asparagus, or any old flip-flop you have laying around the house… 


Units Scale


  • 1.5 pounds tilapia fillets (or any mild white fish), about 3-4 fillets
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish


  • 7 tablespoons very cold butter, cut into 7 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 whole garlic clove, lightly crushed to release flavor



  1. Preheat oven at 425 degrees (F).
  2. Gently blot fish fillets to try the surface. Lightly oil the bottom of a large baking dish and place the fillets in the baking dish in a single layer. 
  3. Combine salt, pepper and paprika and dust the seasoning mixture over the fillets.
  4. Bake fish for 10-15 minutes


  1. Add 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of dry white wine to a small saucepan. Crush the garlic clove lightly on your cutting board and add to the saucepan.
  2. Bring the lemon juice and wine combination to a simmer and the mixture for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of heavy cream to the pan and return to a simmer (this will take about 30 seconds).
  4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and begin adding the pieces of butter, one by one, while whisking continuously to ensure a smooth emulsion.
  5. If sauce temperature gets too low, place saucepan back over the heat for 10-15 seconds to ensure the butter is melting properly. Remove from heat quickly and continue whisking in the butter.
  6. Once butter has fully incorporated, remove the crushed garlic clove from the saucepan.
  7. Taste to determine if the sauce needs a pinch of salt. 


  1. Plate the tilapia and drizzle with lemon butter sauce.
  2. Serve and enjoy immediately.


Lemon butter sauce is famously finicky and easy to break, meaning the milk solids in the butter break away from the emulsion and you are left with a greasy, curdled eyesore. By adding cream in this recipe, we stabilize the emulsion a bit more. But we can’t outsmart science, so if the sauce is heated too much or the whisking is inconsistent, break it shall! If this happens, try adding a teaspoon or two of wine or lemon juice to the mixture and whisking vigorously to re-form the emulsion.

  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Oven and stovetop
  • Cuisine: American, Seafood

Keywords: easy tilapia dinner, fish dinner, lemon butter sauce, best ever lemon butter sauce

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