This Smoked Tilapia with a Lemon Caper Butter Sauce is a mouthwatering and tender fish dish that is sure to please your seafood cravings. These blackened tilapia filets are simple to prepare, loaded with a smoky flavor, and cooked to perfection on your pellet grill or smoker.
Why we love this Blackened Smoked Tilapia Recipe
Affordable- Tilapia fillets are generally pretty inexpensive since the fish are raised all over the world and are easily available at most stores.
Short Smoke Time- This smoked fish dish is prepared in under two hours making it a great weeknight dinner done on the smoker if you are looking for a quicker cook.
Flavorful- The spice mix for this smoked tilapia recipe packs a punch in flavor. Including paprika, ancho chili powder, and thyme for a quick homemade BBQ rub perfect for fish.
Vegetarian Option- Smoking fish is a nice change up to the usual smoked meat recipes and makes a great dish for "Meatless Monday" or for your vegetarian guests.
What is Smoked Tilapia?
Smoked tilapia is a type of freshwater fish that offers a mild and slightly sweet flavor. A little tender but still firm tilapia is very versatile in cooking and pairs well with many different types of seasonings. Smoking tilapia adds a little depth to this very mild fish and is a great smoker recipe for anyone looking for a non-meat or vegetarian option.
What You need to make this Smoked Tilapia Recipe
Tilapia Fillets- Fresh or frozen tilapia fillets are easy to find and make a great fish to smoke for something a little different than the normal. Cooking fish on the pellet smoker enhances the mild flavor of the tilapia fillets as well.
Olive Oil- I used just a little bit of olive oil to help with the moisture of the fish during the smoking process along with helping the seasonings stick to the tilapia fillets.
Seasonings- I chose to whip up my own version of a blackened seasoning using salt, pepper, thyme, paprika, Ancho chili powder, garlic powder, and onion powder. You could easily use a pre-made blackened seasoning or your favorite fish rub as well.
Butter- Since fish and butter usually pair together pretty well, I knew I had to whip up a simple butter sauce to drizzle over the smoked fish. The butter adds a creamy, rich, and flavorful addition to the tilapia.
Capers- These little flower buds make a wonderful addition to seafood dishes. Capers are cured or brined and have a very distinctive tangy and salty taste that adds some depth and complexity to the smoked tilapia.
Lemon- This refreshing citrus always tends to compliment fish and many other seafood dishes. The lemon juice often helps cut out any "fishy" flavors or smells associated with the water or ocean.
Garlic- Fresh garlic gives a nice flavor to the lemon butter sauce and also compliments the flavors of the blackened seasoning mixture on the tilapia.
Pro Tips for this Smoked Tilapia recipe
- Remember you are smoking to temperature NOT time. So, depending on the size/ thickness of your tilapia filets, the smoke time could be less or more.
- Only smoke tilapia until the internal temp reaches 145 degrees F to make sure you don’t dry out the tilapia.
- For the sauce, this is just an easy preparation of melted butter sauce, you will need to whisk it before serving. If you want a thicker sauce that is not “broken” you can prepare the sauce on the stove top by cooking the butter first slightly until browned and then adding in the rest of the ingredients.
How to make these tilapia fillets on the smoker
First preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F. Then grab a small bowl and combine the paprika, thyme, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and ancho chili powder. Use a whisk or fork to combine the seasonings and set aside.
Next rinse off the tilapia filets under cool water and pat dry. Add them to a baking sheet or some aluminum foil and brush the fish with some olive oil and sprinkle with the blackening seasoning mixture.
Rub each side of the filet with the seasonings and transfer the entire pan out to the smoker and place on the grill grates.
Close the lid and let smoke for about 30 minutes before adding the dish of lemon caper butter sauce.
For the Lemon Butter Caper Sauce
In a small pan/dish combine the butter, capers, lemon juice, and garlic. Add the dish to the smoker with the fish.
Continue to smoke until the internal temperature of the fish reaches 145 degrees F (about 1 hour 15 minutes total).
Once the fish is cooked and the butter is melted, whisk the sauce to combine the ingredients. Serve warm with the sauce and enjoy.
Smoked Blackened Tilapia with Lemon Butter Caper Sauce
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp thyme
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp ancho chili powder
- 3-4 Tilapia filets
- 2 tbsp olive oil
For the Lemon Butter Caper Sauce
- 1 Stick of butter
- 2 tbsp capers
- 1 lemon juiced
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees F.
- In a medium bowl combine the paprika, thyme, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and ancho chili powder.
- Whisk until well combined and set aside.
- Rinse and pat dry the tilapia filets and add to a baking sheet or aluminum foil.
- Brush each tilapia filet with olive oil and sprinkle with the blackening seasoning.
- Rub in the seasonings and repeat on each side of the filet.
- Transfer the pan out to the smoker and place on the grate. Close the lid and let smoke for about 30 minutes.
- In a small pan combine the butter, capers, lemon juice, and garlic.
- Add the dish to the smoker with the fish.
- Continue to smoke until the internal temperature of the fish reaches 145 degrees F (about 1 hour and 15 minutes total).
- Once the fish is cooked and the butter is melted, whisk the sauce to combine the ingredients.
- Serve warm with the sauce and enjoy.