Today, we will take a look at how long to bake tilapia at 400 degrees. This in-depth guide will take you through the steps involved and discuss some secret chefs’ tips and tricks too.
At the end of this article, I’ve developed a super easy but exceptionally flavorful baked tilapia recipe that you can try at home. I used tilapia fillets, fresh minced garlic, lemon juice and slices, and a ton of rich butter!
What Is Tilapia?
Tilapia is a popular type of fish commonly found across the globe and used in thousands of different cuisines. It is easy to prepare, versatile in how you cook it, and the flavors you pair it with.
Part of why so many people love it is its flaky yet firm texture. It’s not a fish that will fall apart on your fork, but it’s still juicy and soft.
It also has a very mild flavor in comparison to many other types of fish and seafood. That’s again part of what makes it so easy to pair with different ingredients and flavor profiles.
Some people say that this is a flavorless type of fish. But I definitely don’t agree with that. You can pick up slightly sweet flavors, definitive dishy ocean-like notes, and a slightly salty undertone.
It also turns a beautiful pink-white color once it has been cooked. And overall, it’s just a pretty fish that provides decent single, double, or family portions.
How Long To Bake Tilapia At 400 Degrees
So, moving on to the burning question, how long to bake tilapia at 400 degrees?
At 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celcius), a small tilapia fillet will take about 12-minutes to bake. Larger fillets will take about 15 minutes to finish.
And remember, your fish is ready and safe to eat when it reaches an internal temperature of 145ºF (63ºC). And this temperature has to be taken at the thickest part of the tilapia fillet or whole fish.
How Long To Bake Tilapia At 400 Degrees If It’s A Whole Fish?
Now, if you are baking a whole fish, it’s an entirely different story. In that case, you can follow the 10-minute rule.
Bear in mind that this acts more as a guideline and is by no means an accurate indication of when your baked tilapia will be ready.
So, what is the 10-minute rule? The rule is that for every inch of fish (in thickness), it can be baked for 10 minutes. So, if you have a massive fish that is 5 1/2 inches in thickness, you can bake it for 55 minutes.
However, I’d recommend checking the doneness of the fish during the final 15 minutes of baking.
And it’s also important to keep in mind that if you bake at a lower temperature, the baking times will be longer. And, if you bake at a higher temperature, the times will be shorter.
Tips And Tricks – How Long To Bake Tilapia At 400 Degrees
- If you are using a whole tilapia to get fillets from, you can check out this tutorial. It is a fantastic in-depth guide on the best practices and techniques.
- You can also use a whole tilapia for this recipe. In that case, you will need to use the 10-minute rule (see above). It would also be great to season the inside of the fish if it’s butterflied.
- If you want, you can make this recipe heartier by adding some diced vegetable chunks to the roasting tray as well. It is best to choose veggies that will cook quickly, like onions, asparagus, or broccoli stems. You can also season them with your garlic-butter sauce if you’d like.
- The best accompaniments for this recipe are definitely Peruvian Fried Rice or these simple Steven Universe Fries. And, for something a little more savory, try my Homemade Garlic Bread recipe.
FAQs On How Long To Bake Tilapia At 400 Degrees
How do you know when baked tilapia at 400 is ready?
There are a couple of ways you can test the doneness of tilapia. The first and best way is to check the internal temperature at the thickest part. It should be at 145ºF (63ºC). Then, you can also cut the thick part to see if the flesh is pink or if red-pink juices run out – both of which indicate the fish is still raw.
Do you have to wash a whole tilapia before cooking it?
If you are using a whole tilapia, it should be washed under cold running water and cleaned accordingly. Once prepared, you have to thoroughly dry the fish with paper towel. And, if you have pre-cut tilapia fillets, you shouldn’t wash them. They can simply be pat dry with kitchen towel.
Does tilapia fish have to be fully cooked?
Like any other type of fish, tilapia also has to be completely cooked before it gets eaten. But, the flesh differs and is flakier. This usually results in a shorter cooking time. But tilapia still has the reach the same internal temperature to test the doneness.
Delicious Side Dishes
Lemon-Garlic Baked Tilapia Fillets With Butter Sauce
- 4 medium tilapia fillets or 2 whole tilapias
- 3/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 3/4 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- Sea salt flakes, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to atste
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lemon, sliced
- 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- Fresh parsley, for garnish
- To start, preheat your oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Line a roasted tray with non-stick baking paper, or use a silicone mat.
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the herbs. Mix them well to ensure they are evenly distributed. Set it aside.
- Then, whisk together the melted butter, garlic cloves, and lemon juice. Set it aside as well.
- Next, place the tilapia fillets onto the lined roasting tray. Then, season them well with the spice and herb mix. Ensure they are coated on both sides.
- Place the seasoned tilapia fillets into the tray in a single layer. Brush the butter and garlic sauce over the fillets. They should be covered well. Finally, add some lemon slices in each fillet.
- Place the tray inside the heated oven and bake the fillets for 10-15 minutes. After 10 minutes, test the doneness of the fillets.
- Once finished, remove the baked tilapia from the oven and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Then, serve it immediately with fresh chopped parsley.
Baking Whole Tilapia
- For whole tilapia, simply brush the inside of the fish with the garlic butter dressing. You can also stuff the fish if you'd like, or simply add lemon slices inside.
- Bake the whole tilapias for roughly 10 minutes per inch of thickness. If your tilapia is about 3 inches thick, bake it for about 30 minutes.