Homemade Fried Tilapia with lemon and cole slaw

Crispy Crunchy Homemade Fried Tilapia Kudos Kitchen Style

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Hungry for a Friday night fish fry but don’t want to pay restaurant prices? Kudos Kitchen style Homemade Fried Tilapia is crispy, crunchy, and utterly delicious. This recipe is sure to become a staple in your Friday night menu rotation.

Homemade Fried Tilapia - Kudos Kitchen by Renee

This post is actually a recipe re-do from one I did back in October of 2010 called Friday Night Fish Fry. Wow! That’s a long time ago!

Since I’m learning to become a skilled blogger when it comes to Google rankings (more on that later), but I am a good cook, I wanted to bring this recipe for Homemade Fried Tilapia back with a slight update in the recipe itself and, of course, some updated photos.

**Please Note – The printable recipe card with detailed instructions and complete ingredient measurements for making Kudos Kitchen’s Crispy Crunchy Homemade Fried Tilapia is available near the end of this post. 

Hungry for a Friday night fish fry but don't want to pay restaurant prices? Kudos Kitchen style Homemade Fried Tilapia is crispy, crunchy, and utterly delicious. This recipe is sure to become a staple in your Friday night menu rotation. - kudoskitchenbyrenee.com

Homemade pan-fried tilapia ingredients;

  • light colored oil (I used peanut)
  • fresh tilapia fillets
  • buttermilk
  • panko crumbs
  • seasoned bread crumbs
  • cornflake crumbs
  • fresh lemon zest
  • cayenne pepper
  • old bay seafood seasoning
  • garlic powder
  • salt and pepper

Pretty simple, right?

Why is it important to use a light colored oil when pan frying?

  • The reason for using a light colored oil for trying is because it has a lower smoke point than a darker oil. Since you’ll be frying your fish fillets at a temperature of 375 degrees, a light colored oil is the better, safer, and healthier choice.
  • You can also use a grapeseed, avocado, coconut, canola or vegetable oil.

Homemade Fried Tilapia - kudoskitchenbyrenee.com

When I say that I’m not a very good blogger, I mean I don’t quite understand all the proper ins-and-outs of blogging. SEO (search engine optimization) is, and always has been, a mystery to me.

Since I’m not sure if it’s best to update the old post, Friday Night Fish Fry itself, OR if it’s smarter to write a new post and link to the old one? I decided on the latter.

Even if that’s not the best decision I’ve ever made (as far as SEO goes), my decision to (slightly) update the original recipe for this homemade fried tilapia, including the photos, definitely was!

Crispy Crunchy Homemade Fried Tilapia Recipe Kudos Kitchen Style - kudoskitchenbyrenee.com

Every time I make my Homemade Fried Tilapia recipe, it gets rave reviews from family and friends. I’ve made this recipe several times for one friend in particular who says my homemade fried tilapia is one of the best-fried fish recipes she’s ever eaten, restaurants included!

While I’m not 100% sure she’s telling me the truth, I’m also not 100% sure she’s not! LOL! I guess I’ll have to take her word on it, and bask in the compliment. 😉

Crispy Crunchy Homemade Fried Tilapia - kudoskitchenbyrenee.com

Tips and tricks for making the most flavorful fried tilapia;

  • The key to making this flavorful Homemade Fried Tilapia tender and flaky is by marinating the fish fillets in buttermilk for at least 1 hour before breading. After that, the key to keep the breading ON the fish while it’s frying is to refrigerate the breaded fillets at least 30 minutes before frying.
  • My final secret (not so secret) for keeping the breading extra crispy and crunchy is to mix panko, breadcrumbs, and cornflake crumbs. This combination of ingredients, along with the simple preparation steps ensures your Homemade Fried Tilapia will win YOU rave reviews from your family and friends, just as it does for me!
  • Another thing that makes my Homemade Fried Tilapia Recipe a complete stand-out is the homemade tartar sauce I make as an accompaniment. After all, you can’t have fried fish without tartar sauce. And, if I do say so myself, my recipe is one of the best.

For a printable version of my Kudos Kitchen tartar sauce, you can find it in my original post. So don’t forget to check it out!!!

Homemade Fried Tilapia Recipe Kudos Kitchen Style | Kudos Kitchen by Renee

When I made my Homemade Fried Tilapia recently, I made enough to feed a small army. Since we were having our good friends over for dinner (yes, the same one that LOVES this recipe), I wanted to have enough fish for leftovers, and a few fillets for the new pictures so I could update my blog.

I prepared A TON of fish (or, maybe I should say a BOATLOAD! 😉 See what I did there? Almost enough to open a pop-up restaurant for the evening. LOL

I think I had 4 – 5 pounds of tilapia fillets, and used approximately 3 cups of buttermilk for the marinade. Since you probably won’t be frying that much fish at one time, I’ll write the recipe for feeding 4 – 6 people, not 10 – 12. HaHa! But you know what? You can never have too much pan-fried tilapia, especially for an all-you-can-eat Friday night fish fry!

How to fry tilapia, Kudos Kitchen style. Let’s get cooking!

  • Place the fish fillets in a dish.
  • Pour buttermilk over the fillets and place them in the refrigerator for at least 60 minutes, but no longer than 90 minutes.
  • In a large shallow dish, combine panko crumbs, cornflake crumbs, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and Old Bay seafood seasoning.

  • Add fresh lemon zest to the breadcrumbs and stir well to combine.
  • After the fish has marinated at least 60 minutes, remove it from the refrigerator.
  • Allow the excess marinade to drip off each fillet, and press each fillet firmly into the breadcrumb and panko mixture.
  • Flip the fillet and press the crumbs firmly onto the opposite side of each fillet.

  • Place all the crumb coated fish on a baking sheet and return to the refrigerator to chill for an additional 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a large, high sided skillet, heat a light colored oil to 375 degrees (I used a canola/peanut oil blend). *NOTE – For SAFETY sake, NEVER fill a pan with HOT OIL more than half full, as the oil will bubble and expand once a food is added. 
  • Gently and carefully slip 2 – 3 cold, breaded fillets into the hot oil.
  • Fry each fillet for 2-3 minutes each side until golden and crispy.
  • Carefully remove the fillets from the oil with a slotted spatula and place the fried fish on a baking sheet fitted with a rack.
  • Immediately season the fried fillets generously with salt.
  • Continue frying the remainder of the breaded tilapia fillets, keeping the already fried fillets warm in a preheated 300-degree oven, if needed. 

  • Serve hot with lemon and my Kudos Kitchen tartar sauce, if desired.

Below is the printable recipe card for today’s Crispy Crunchy Homemade Fried Tilapia. If you enjoy this recipe and are anxious to give it a try, I’d appreciate if you’d take a moment to give this recipe some feedback by way of stars near the comment section at the end of this post, or in the recipe card feature itself. Thank you so very much! 🙂

5 from 1 vote
Homemade Fried Tilapia with lemon and cole slaw
Homemade Fried Tilapia
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
1 hr 30 mins
Hungry for a Friday night fish fry but don't want to pay restaurant prices? Homemade fried tilapia is crispy, crunchy, and completely delicious. This recipe is sure to become a staple in your menu rotation.
Course: Fish and Seafood, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: homemade fried fish, homemade fried tilapia
Servings: 8
Calories: 279 kcal
Renee - Kudos Kitchen: Renée - Kudos Kitchen
  • 2 pounds fresh tilapia fillets
  • cups buttermilk
  • 3/4 cups panko crumbs
  • 3/4 cups cornflake crumbs
  • 3/4 cups breadcrumbs
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon Old Bay seafood seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus additional for after frying
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 3 - 4 cups light oil for frying, I used a canola/peanut oil blend
  1. Place the fish fillets in a container and pour the buttermilk over top.
  2. Place the container in the refrigerator and marinate for 60 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large shallow dish, mix together the panko crumbs, cornflake crumbs, breadcrumbs, lemon zest, cayenne pepper, Old Bay seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  4. Remove the fillets from the fridge, allowing the excess buttermilk to drip off, and press each fillet into the crumb mixture on both sides.
  5. Place the breaded fillets on a plate or baking sheet and return the breaded fish to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  6. In a wide, high sided pan, add enough oil to fill the pan halfway with oil. 


  7. Heat the oil over medium/high heat to 375 degrees. 

    *Note - if you don't have a thermometer, you can tell when the oil temperature is ready by sticking the handle of a wooden spoon into the hot oil. If lots of small bubbles emerge from the spoon, the oil is ready.

  8. Carefully slide a few breaded fillets into the hot oil, making sure not to overcrowd the pan.
  9. Fry each fillet until golden brown on both sides (approximately 2 minutes per side).
  10. Carefully remove the fried fish from the oil using a slotted spatula and place on a baking sheet that has been fitted with a rack.
  11. Immediately season the hot fried fish with additional salt.
  12. Continue the same process until all the fillets have been fried.
  13. Keep the fried fillets warm and crunchy in a low 300-degree oven while frying the remaining fish, if needed.
  14. Serve hot with lemon wedges and tartar sauce if desired.
Recipe Notes

Tools and equipment:

baking sheets, baking rack to fit the sheet (optional), parchment paper (optional), slotted spatula, large high sided skillet, 2 large shallow dishes for marinating and breading, lemon zester, measuring spoons and cups, funnel (for funneling the cooled oil back into the oil bottle for reuse or disposal)

Nutrition Facts
Homemade Fried Tilapia
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 279 Calories from Fat 36
% Daily Value*
Fat 4g6%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 61mg20%
Sodium 964mg42%
Potassium 475mg14%
Carbohydrates 32g11%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 28g56%
Vitamin A 485IU10%
Vitamin C 4.6mg6%
Calcium 93mg9%
Iron 7.8mg43%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

**Note – After the fish has been eaten, and the oil has completely cooled down, you can then use a funnel to pour the used oil back into its original container for another one or two fryings. OR, if the oil has already been resued a few times, funneling it back into the original container will make its disposal easy peasy.

Hungry for a Friday night fish fry but don't want to pay restaurant prices? Kudos Kitchen style Homemade Fried Tilapia is crispy, crunchy, and utterly delicious. This recipe is sure to become a staple in your Friday night menu rotation. - kudoskitchenbyrenee.com

**Note – As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Below I’m including an Amazon affiliate link for THE most used, and THE most loved kitchen utensil I have in my Kudos Kitchen. I use it practically every day, and every single time I use it I am thankful I have it!

It’s a slotted spatula (or fish turner). I use it as I would use any other spatula, only more so. I  can’t recommend it highly enough, especially for recipes such as this one for Homemade Fried Tilapia.

By clicking on the photo of the slotted spatula below, you’ll be taken directly to Amazon.com so you can make your purchase (if desired). As always, you are under no obligation to do so. I just wanted to share with you a product that changed my life in the kitchen 😉

I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed my Kudos Kitchen recipe for Homemade Fried Tilapia as much as I’ve enjoyed bringing it to you!

Should you have any questions regarding this recipe, or anything else you’ve seen on my site, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly, or leave me a comment in the comment section below. It is always my distinct pleasure to get back to you with a reply just as soon as I possibly can!

For additional information regarding my Kudos Kitchen recipes, and/or my hand painted glassware or fabric items, please follow me on;


Kudos Kitchen by Renée ~ Cooking up artistically delicious family-friendly dishes from my Kudos Kitchen to yours!

Until we eat again, I hope you have a delicious day!

Kudos Kitchen Brand Signature


**Note – The post above includes affiliate links. When I find a great product or service, I like to share it with my readers. Sometimes I use affiliate links so I can earn a commission for my recommendations.  As always, I thank you for your support!


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  3. This fish looks so amazing! I will be using your tip of mixing the three types of crumb! Genius!

  4. Meagen Brosius

    This is such a tasty dinner option. The whole family loves it!

  5. DELICIOUS My family loved it!! I had not had tilapia fried this is definitely a recipe I will do again
    Thank you for sharing

  6. margaret Nemec

    This is absolutely the best recipe ever for Tilapia. I made it two nights in a row. It is now my go to recipe for fish fry Friday. Hubby loves it!

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