Blackened Tilapia (Sugar-Free)

The Grove Bend Kitchen
by The Grove Bend Kitchen
4 servings
20 min

Tilapia fillets rubbed with a blackening seasoning blend then fried to create the MOST flaky seasoned fish you'll ever eat. One of the best things about this recipe is that there's NO SUGAR in my Blackening Seasoning Blend. Serve Blackened Tilapia on it's own with your favorite sides or in tacos. The entire family will love this fish!!!

Before I made this dish to the take photos and post it on my website, I googled Blackened Tilapia. Almost all of the posts with a blackening seasoning blend have sugar in them. "Is that really necessary?", I thought, and "What is the purpose of the sugar in a rub?"

The answer to first my question is: It depends on the type of meat or fish you're cooking. Many Chefs agree that when cooking beef steaks, all you need is salt and pepper. But when cooking meats that have less flavor, such as pork or chicken, they can benefit from a seasoning blend spice rub. Fish, in my opinion, naturally has tons of flavor and each fish type has it's own unique taste. Just a little salt, pepper, and citrus can make fish delicious. A Blackening Seasoning Blend can give any fish a upgraded taste and compliment the different side dishes being served. One example is fish tacos. They benefit greatly from the fish coated in a slightly spicy blackened seasoning blend.

To answer my second question: Sugar added to a rub is a flavor enhancer. The sweetness of sugar intensifies the taste. It helps with caramelization, browning, and crust formation. This being said, I believe that the sugar in rubs is necessary for meats, such as pork and chicken but for fish, it's a different story. Fish cooks very quickly and tastes better in savory dishes than sweet. This is definitely subjective. If you want to add sugar to my Blackening Seasoning Blend you can but I don't think it's necessary. I like the "heat" that comes from the cayenne and tasting the other spices. In my opinion, the sugar mutes those flavors. Try my version without added sugar and I don't think you'll miss it at all! You'll love this recipe!!!

Try with my recipe for Coconut-Mango Rice or Green Rice (Arroz Verde). Blackened Tilapia is also delicious served in tacos and topped with coleslaw.

Blackened Tilapia (Sugar-Free)
Recipe details
  • 4  servings
  • Prep time: 5 Minutes Cook time: 15 Minutes Total time: 20 min
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  • 4 (6 oz) tilapia fillets
  • 4 (Tbsp) neutral oil (such as canola), divivded
Blackening Seasoning Blend:
  • 2 tsps paprika
  • 2 tsps salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 2 limes or lemons, cut into wedges for garnish

In a small bowl, add the six Blackening Seasoning Blend ingredients; whisk together. Rub each fish fillet on the front and back with the blend; set aside.
Heat 2 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat in a 12-inch cast iron skillet (enameled is best). Let the oil heat until shimmering. Add two fish fillets (top side down) and let cook for about 2-3 minutes until blackening is starting. Flip over and cook for about 2-3 minutes more. Remove from the skillet and transfer the two cooked fillets to the serving platter. Cover loosely with foil to keep warm.
Using the fish spatula, gently scrape any Blackening Seasoning left on the pan. Add 2 Tbsp oil and lay the remaining two fish fillets (tops side down). Cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Transfer to the serving platter and serve with lime or lemon wedges.
  • Serve with rice or potatoes and cooked vegetables.
  • Try with my recipe for Coconut-Mango Rice or Green Rice (Arroz Verde).
  • Delicious served in tacos with your favorite coleslaw.
The Grove Bend Kitchen
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  • Leticia GuillermoFlores Leticia GuillermoFlores on Sep 24, 2020

    Helo, I made this recipie yesteday, and we love it. I'm looking to make it next time we can get together with my sister adn her family and my brother and his family. I do not have the coconut milk for the coconut-mango rice but I will be sure to make it sonds delicious. Regards. 2020 09 24

    • The Grove Bend Kitchen The Grove Bend Kitchen on Sep 24, 2020

      Hi Leticia, That's wonderful and I'm so glad you loved it!!! The Coconut-Mango Rice pairs perfectly with the Blackened Tilapia. Thank you so much for your comments.

  • User User on Oct 05, 2020