Tilapia with Smoked Paprika Butter and Broccoli in Foil Packets

October  4, 2022
5 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Looking for some inspiration for manageable dinners this fall, ones that are practically impossible to mess up, and versatile in their ingredients? Yeah, me too (always). This is exactly the kind of recipe that’s good to have in your back pocket for crazy weeknights or relaxed entertaining. Cooking tilapia and other fish in foil packets is one of the gentlest, most forgiving ways to go—and by smearing it with a boldly-flavored butter, and tucking in some thinly sliced broccoli, you’re left with a darn good square meal.

The ingredients in the foil packets can be easily changed up—for example, slip in shaved fennel or strips of roasted red pepper with the broccoli, or swap out the broccoli for thinly sliced Brussels sprouts or spinach. Whichever way you go, the foil packets can be assembled in advance, and then baked or grilled to serve. Feel free to serve the fish and vegetables straight out of the foil packet, or tuck them into a crusty roll for a surprisingly good sandwich. I've included some sandwich ideas below.


What You'll Need
  • For smoked paprika butter:
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon Spanish smoked paprika
  • finely grated zest from 1 small lemon (reserving juice for broccoli)
  • 1 teaspoon whole-grain or Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • For rest of dish:
  • 4 tilapia fillets, 6 ounces each
  • kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 large (or 2 small) heads of broccoli (about 1 pound), cut or thinly sliced into very small florets, about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick (about 4 heaping cups once chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice (from lemon you zested)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • optional sandwiches ideas:
  • 4 large hoagie rolls, toasted or grilled
  • good sandwich toppings include: mayo, roasted bell pepper, arugula, Bibb lettuce, pickled red onions, olive salad
  1. Heat oven to 400° F. Alternatively, heat your grill to medium-high.
  2. To make the smoked paprika butter: mix all the ingredients together in small bowl until well incorporated. Set aside.
  3. Season both sides of tilapia fillets with kosher salt and pepper, to taste. Toss broccoli with lemon juice and olive oil in a medium bowl, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. On a large sheet pan or baking sheet, lay out four 12-inch sheets of foil. Divide broccoli evenly among the four sheets (about 1 cup on each sheet), then top with a tilapia fillet and a tablespoon of butter, smeared evenly over the top of the fillet. Tightly fold or crimp edges of the foil together several times to create an airtight packet.
  5. Place sheet pan with the four packets in the oven and bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until the thickest part of the tilapia is opaque and cooked through. At about 10 minutes, open one of the packets to check for doneness to be on the safe side. If the tilapia isn’t done, reseal and return all the packets to the oven. (Alternatively, the foil packets can be cooked directly on the grates of a covered grill for 12 to 15 minutes.)
  6. Remove from the oven and carefully open the packets. Transfer the contents to plates, or place the foil packets on plates so each person can open them at the table. Alternatively, tuck the contents into toasted rolls; see ingredient list for sandwich ideas.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Keisha Hanks
    Keisha Hanks
  • amanda russell
    amanda russell
  • Kate Alyson
    Kate Alyson
  • deeD33

Recipe by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.

5 Reviews

deeD33 June 19, 2020
I like this recipe, but it did not take 15 minutes in my oven. More like 30.
Kate A. August 16, 2020
Exactly. That had to be a mistake because there is just NO way.
abbi April 1, 2020
i made this last night and it was delicious! Best way to cook tilapia and so easy! I would ease up on my generous slathering of the paprika butter next time ;), but it was so yum!
Keisha H. September 20, 2019
Omg!! The flavor is totally amazing ... Grilled sauteed fresh yuummmy fall in love with kinda taste 😘
amanda R. March 2, 2019
I made this without wrapping everything in foil, just roasting it all on the baking sheet. I left the mustard out of the paprika butter out of laziness, though I'm sure it adds a nice zing. This was pretty good and easy.