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Cajun Honey Orange Tilapia

Cajun Honey Orange Tilapia
Yield: 4-5 Tilapia Filets

Cajun Honey Orange Tilapia

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 16 minutes

Punchy and mildly sweet with a crisp coating, these tilapia fillets are sure to please even the pickiest palates.


  • 4-5 tilapia loins (thawed if frozen)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • zest and juice from 1 orange
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • sea salt to taste
  • fresh-ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive oil and 1 Tablespoon butter for frying
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat or white flour for dredging


  1. Place thawed tilapia loins in a glass dish or plastic bag large enough to hold the marinade.
  2. Add in the honey, orange zest and juice, cajun seasoning, a few twists of fresh ground pepper, and a pinch of sea salt.
  3. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour, up to 12 hours.
  4. Preheat a skillet with a Tablespoon of olive oil and another Tablespoon of butter until it's sizzling hot.
  5. Put 1/2 cup of flour in a shallow dish with another pinch of salt and a few twists of fresh-ground black pepper.
  6. Dip each tilapia loin in the dredging flour and coat thoroughly with the flour mixture before placing in the hot skillet.
  7. Cook for approximately 3 minutes on each side. The flesh will become white and opaque rather than slightly translucent when fully cooked. Thicker loins will require slightly more cooking time.
  8. Remove from heat and serve immediately.


1. You can fry these in olive oil for a dairy-free option. I prefer to use both oil and butter for the flavor and better browning.

2. The whole wheat flour for dredging gives the fish a nice nutty, crunchy coating. White flour will give a smoother texture.

3. I like to use a steep-sided skillet to reduce splattering hot oil.

4. For a tangier, less sweet rendition of this recipe, use a lime or a lemon instead of an orange.

5. For a stronger kick of spice, increase the cajun seasoning to 1 full teaspoon.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 fillet

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 587Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 129mgSodium: 461mgCarbohydrates: 57gFiber: 5gSugar: 15gProtein: 63g

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Punchy and mildly sweet with a crisp coating, these tilapia fillets are sure to please even the pickiest palates.


The ingredient list for this recipe is very simple, and also very flexible. Adapt and make it your own if you don’t have precisely everything on the list!


Tilapia is a mild-flavored, white-fleshed fish that also happens to be not very expensive. It’s a great way to include all the health benefits of fish in your diet without having to stretch the budget.

The flavors in this recipe would work well with almost any mild-flavored fish, even trout or salmon!

If you buy frozen tilapia loins, make sure to fully thaw the loins in the refrigerator (get them out the day before) or under cold running water before adding the marinade.


Cajun seasoning, honey, and orange are a delightful flavor combination. The little bit of spiciness and hint of smoky flavor from the cajun seasonings meld beautifully with the sweetness of the orange and the honey.

The honey also works wonders in giving a crispy caramelized surface to the fish when frying. I use raw local honey, but since you’re frying it, any of the benefits of raw honey are cooked away.

Add a pinch of sea salt or kosher salt to the marinade, along with a few twists of black pepper. Fresh ground black pepper really can’t be beat for flavor!

Flour for dredging

I like to use whole wheat flour wherever I can instead of white flour. For this recipe, whole wheat flour is an undeniable improvement on white flour where taste and texture are concerned.

White flour can be used to dredge the fish, and it will give an overall satisfactory result. But the whole wheat flour, especially if you can get your hands on fresh-ground whole wheat, provides a crispy, nutty texture and flavor that really brings out the flavors of the marinade.

Oil and Butter

You need something to fry the fish in to prevent it sticking to the pan, but also to give it a nice crispy, caramelized crust. Olive oil adds great flavor and can be used as a stand-alone. But I find that no plant oil browns the fish quite as nicely as butter.

Making the marinade

The flavor will be the best if it has plenty of time to soak in. I suggest getting the frozen tilapia out the night before you plan to make this to defrost in the fridge. Then in the morning, mix up the marinade, and keep the fish in the marinade in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it up for dinner.

Of course, sometimes you don’t have that much time to plan ahead. Who am I kidding?! I hardly ever have my plan that put together! So if you only have time to marinate the fish for an hour or less, it’ll still come out tasting great.

To make the marinade, zest your orange, then juice it. Add the honey and cajun seasoning, salt and pepper to taste, and pour over the fish.

If you want a tangy-er flavor, try this recipe with lime instead of orange. Lemon would also work. Each type of citrus will obviously lend quite a different flavor, but each is superb in its own right.

I like to marinate the fish in a square, covered glass dish. Reducing plastic and all that. But if you’re after minimal cleanup, marinating in a zip-top bag is as easy as it gets. As long as each piece of fish is fully submerged for flavor absorption, what you put it in doesn’t matter all that much.

Searing the fish

Cooking up the fish only takes a matter of minutes, so plan to have all your other sides prepped beforehand. You’ll want to serve the fish as soon as it’s done, with everything else ready to eat.

About 10 minutes before you plan to serve the meal, take the fish out of the fridge.

Preheat your skillet with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and 1 Tablespoon of butter in the bottom.

Get your flour mixture ready in a shallow dish for dredging.

You want the pan hot and sizzling before putting the fish on to get optimal browning and crispy crust. I have my burner set to medium-high, or on the lower end of medium-high if the loins are especially thick so that they cook through more evenly.

While the pan is heating up, take each loin out of the marinade and dredge it in the flour mixture. Make sure it’s evenly coated on all sides. It won’t be an especially thick coating, just a dusting on every surface.

When the butter is sizzling, place each flour-coated loin in the pan. Cook on the first side for 3-4 minutes, or until you see the edges are becoming opaque and white.

Flip the loins carefully with a fork or spatula to cook on the other side. Cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until fully cooked through.

Remove from heat and serve immediately.

Serving suggestions

These tilapia loins pair well with home-baked fries, cole slaw or sauerkraut, quinoa, or cornbread muffins.

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