Jerk Tilapia

Great with a side of greens like Broccoli or Spinach

Jerk is a method of seasoning popular in Jamaica and other Caribbean islands. It imparts a spicy-sweet flavor that’s fantastic. Jerk Chicken and Jerk Pork are probably the most popular.

This recipe from Dave Ruel uses tilapia, a very lean and high protein fish that is sustainably farmed. There is plenty of wild tilapia around too in the tropics, and tilapia is widely available in markets.

High protein, low fat, low carb, and easy to cook – what’s not to like?

This recipe is simple and almost foolproof. It does require a good number of spices, but spices are a great investment as they add flavor with essentially zero calories! If you are missing a spice, don’t worry. Just skip it and the tilapia will still taste fine! Originally this recipe comes from the great Anabolic Cooking.

Ingredients: 4 Tilapia Filets (about 1 pound to 1 ¼ pounds usually), 2 Garlic Cloves, 1 Jalapeno Pepper, 1 Tbsp Lime Juice, 2 Tbsp Olive Oil, salt and pepper to taste

Spices: 1 teaspoon Thyme,  1 teaspoon Chili Powder, 1 teaspoon powdered Ginger,  1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon

Jerk Spices with Garlic and Jalapeno

Mix the thyme, chili powder, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and a little salt and pepper in a bowl. Chop the garlic or use a garlic press and add to the bowl (if using prechopped garlic from the store, 1 teaspoon is about right but you can add more if you love garlic with no problem).

Also slice the jalapeno into thin slices, and add it to the bowl of spices, mixing as best you can. You can deseed it as well if you want as the seeds hold much of the heat. Many people suggest wearing gloves when you slice hot peppers like jalapenos to avoid getting the heat on your fingers (which you might accidentally transfer to your eyes or balls later by rubbing or scratching!). I don’t worry about it, but just minimally touch the jalapenos when slicing. Great video on slicing peppers here.

I sometimes now transfer the spice mix to a flat dish to make coating the tilapia fillets easy.

In another flat dish, combine a tablespoon of fresh lime juice with two tablespoons of olive oil. Hey, yes, you can use lemon juice instead, and any type of oil will work if you don’t have olive oil. Don’t sweat the small stuff man!

Just starting to cook the tilapia

Take each tilapia fillet, cover both sides in the lime juice/olive oil, and then pat both sides in the spice mixture to cover. Don’t worry about covering them perfectly evenly.

Cook at medium to medium high heat (I put my burner at “7” on its 1 to 10 scale) for 2 ½ to 3 minutes a side in a  frying pan, until the fish is opaque and starts to flake. You can add a little non stick spray or oil to the pan, but I’ve found my fish has enough from the previous steps.

Let cool a few minutes and enjoy!

An entire pound has only about 700 calories, 110 grams of protein, 3 grams of fat (from the olive oil) and close to zero grams of carbs!

4 thoughts on “Jerk Tilapia”

  1. I did end up buying all the spices, which was a few bucks, but I’ve made this recipe like 20 times already I’ll bet. I have probably enough spices to make it 100 more times too!

    I also tried taking chicken tenders and using this spice mix to make jerk chicken tenders – absolutely rocked man! Also high protein low fat/carbs like the tilapia

    1. Hi Sam,

      Yup, Spices are an investment, but a pretty cheap one, and they go a loooong way.
      I’ll have to try this spice mix on chicken next!

  2. I’m not really much of a fish guy, but decided to try this since all your other recipes have been winners. Yeah, it’s really good. Not at all fishy and definitely great from the health perspective. It was faster and easier to make than I thought it would be at first too.

  3. Simple to make, I did it, and it brought me back to my honeymoon in Jamaica. I must honestly say it’s the first “recipe” I’ve probably cooked in forever. I generally do not cook, but really should and this is a great start.
    I did have to buy the few spices, but I’m sure I’ll use them again and again. Going to try a few more of the recipes you have on this site too I hope!


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