How To Cook Frozen Tilapia – Versatile Recipe And Extra Info

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While it may look difficult or seem unsafe, it’s actually easy (and very much possible!) to figure out how to cook frozen tilapia. In this article, I’ve covered everything you need to know about cooking this fish. I’ve also added in my own personal recipe at the end, so be sure to check it out for some tips on cooking frozen tilapia of any kind!

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Table of Contents

How To Cook Frozen Tilapia

Can I Cook Frozen Tilapia?

Do You Defrost Tilapia Before Cooking?

If you’re wondering ‘can you cook frozen fish without thawing?’, you’ll be glad to hear that it is safe to cook tilapia and a few other kinds of fish from frozen.

However, the cook time will be roughly 50% longer and you will have to be diligent about cooking the middle for long enough. Cooking from frozen works best for oven-baking – you can do this using other cooking methods too, but you’re honestly better off thawing first.

How To Cook Frozen Tilapia – Versatile Recipe And Extra Info

What To Know Before Thawing Frozen Fish

How Long Does Frozen Tilapia Take To Thaw?

This is highly dependent on the method you plan to use for thawing your tilapia. The longest (fridge-thawing) generally takes about twelve hours, whereas the shortest method (thawing in water) will take around half an hour.

Are There Any More Methods For Defrosting Tilapia?

Unfortunately, these are the only two guaranteed safe methods for defrosting frozen fish.

Other methods – like hot water defrosting – may spoil the texture of the fish. Even worse, something like microwave-defrosting can cause your fish to heat up and cook unevenly, making the food potentially unsafe for consumption.

Worst Ways To Defrost Fish

Never defrost fish by leaving it at room temperature. This includes leaving it on the counter for an hour to thaw. This will make your fish unsafe for consumption and will render it unusable.

The same goes for hot-water defrosting and especially for microwave thawing.

Cooking tilapia from frozen is different when as, when done right, as the fish is heated up evenly at a low temperature and is immediately put into the cooking process as soon as it is thawed.

How To Cook Frozen Tilapia – Versatile Recipe And Extra Info

How Do You Defrost Tilapia Quickly

To defrost your tilapia quickly, use the cold water method.

  • Begin by placing your fish in a plastic resealable bag if not already wrapped – this will keep your fish clean and will aid in maintaining the same texture while thawing.
  • Then, place your plastic-wrapped fish in a bowl. Put this bowl under your tap, and start running a stream of cold water over your fish. This will create a convection effect, causing your fish to begin defrosting.
  • While you can leave your fish (FULLY SUBMERGED) in the defrosting bowl for a short amount of time, using running cold water will speed up the process slightly as it increases the convection effect.

Defrosting using this method will generally take around half an hour, but if you’re defrosting a larger amount of fish this may vary. Adding around six to eight hours for every pound of fish is an easy way of predicting defrost time.

Once your fish is defrosted, take it out of the water and open the plastic wrap. Then, double check if it really is defrosted all the way through. If not, just place it back in the plastic and repeat until done. After cutting off the plastic wrap, quickly rinse the fish and dry it off with some paper towels.

How To Cook Frozen Tilapia

What To Know Before Cooking Tilapia From Frozen

How Long To Cook Frozen Tilapia

When cooking tilapia from frozen, you want to leave the first third of the cooking time lower so that the fish can defrost evenly without cooking. The cook time will usually be increased by half of the original, non-defrost time, which will vary depending on the recipe you plan to use. If you’re cooking tilapia from frozen on the stove, keep the temperature very low at first and keep the lid on the pan. Looking for a recipe on cooking tilapia from frozen? In that case, be sure to check out the recipe at the end of this article.

How Long To Bake Frozen Tilapia

Baking tilapia from frozen is generally the same as cooking from frozen, but is better as your fish is less likely to heat unevenly. The same rule goes for cooking frozen tilapia in the oven – it will take around about half of your original cook time longer than usual. To make sure your fish heats all the way round, add tin foil (or a baking tray lid) to your fish.

I like to use something like this baking tray below, or a more expensive Le Creuset tray.

Amazon Basics Enameled Cast Iron Covered Casserole Skillet, 3.3-Quart, Red
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How To Cook Frozen Tilapia Recipe

Serves: 1-2 people

Prep Time:Cook Time:
2 mins10-15 mins
Total Time: 20 mins

Whether you’re interested in how to cook frozen tilapia for fish tacos or serving them alongside the dubiously edible starfish or saltwater catfish, this recipe will work for you. I’ve written it out in a way that will allow you to adjust the seasoning to the needs of your dish so either way you’ll be learning how to cook frozen tilapia fillet!

Cooked seasoned tilapia served with dill and vegetables close up to camera

What You Will Need

1-2 tilapia fillets, cut into steaks
Pure olive oil
Seasoning of your choice (dill, lemon, black pepper and salt work well)
Tinfoil (optional)
Frying pan or skillet with a lid
A food thermometer

How To Cook Frozen Tilapia On The Stove

  1. Begin by following my prior instructions (listed under ‘How Do You Defrost Frozen Tilapia Quickly?’) for thawing tilapia. Alternatively, carefully wash your tilapia under slightly warm (NOT HOT) water, then dry off. Then, place your tilapia on a cutting board.
  2. Cut your tilapia into slices or ’steaks’, then oil and season both sides to taste – filtered and unfiltered olive oil, dill, lemon, and black pepper are popular choices for seasoning fish.
  3. Place your seasoned tilapia steaks into the pan and turn the heat up to the minimum. If you want to be extra safe, wrap each steak in tinfoil to ensure even and complete cooking. Either way, place the lid on the pan after adding the fish.
  4. Gradually turn the heat up to medium after the fish defrosts (should take roughly two – five minutes), then continue cooking for another five to ten minutes. If cooking without foil, cook until the inside is completely cooked and the outside is golden brown. You can check whether the inside is fully cooked by using a food thermometer.
  5. After fully cooked, plate your tilapia up and serve with whatever you’d like! Tobiko is a solid choice if you have it, but if not, don’t be afraid to use up leftovers! I find other seafood leftovers to fit the best, so be sure to check how long can that frozen shrimp really stay in the fridge or you might get some of the gnarlier side effects of eating shrimp.

How To Cook Frozen Tilapia In An Instant Pot

If you’d rather bake tilapia in an instant pot than an oven or on a stovetop, follow the instructions in this easy-to-follow recipe video posted by YouTube channel A Great Cooker!

Cooking Tilapia From Frozen – What To Takeaway

And there you have it! Cooking tilapia from frozen is incredibly simple – just follow the steps as you normally would, and be extra cautious around your fish being undercooked inside. Cook it for a little while longer and make sure to rinse off any ice and cut into steaks for easy, even cooking and baking.

Cooking Tilapia From Frozen FAQs – Different Appliances

How to cook frozen tilapia in air fryer?

To make tilapia from frozen in the air fryer, chop your herbs as finely as possible. Afterwards, lightly mist your fryer basket with cooking spray and oil your tilapia, then add a small pat of butter and your chopped herbs. Air fry for at least twelve minutes at 400°F, and check the internal temperature with a food thermometer before removing.

How to cook frozen tilapia in oven?

To cook frozen tilapia in the oven, grease a baking tray and oil your fillets before adding them in. Preheat your oven to 400 °F and add any seasonings you’d like to your fish, as well as your fats of choice – butter or pure olive oil substitute both go well with lemon. Then, add your tilapia to the tray and into the oven and bake for 12 – 15 minutes.

By Anna

Anna Brooks, the voice behind, is a seasoned writer and editor with an insatiable love for food. While not a professional chef, her culinary adventures and unique insights have captivated readers for years. Anna believes in the transformative power of food, stating it "feeds the soul." Dive into her writings for a mix of inspiration, entertainment, and culinary wisdom. Author Pinterest Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Tumblr Reddit Quora

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