Baked Tilapia in Foil features tilapia steamed with zucchini, corn, white wine, lemon, butter, and basil. Under 30 minutes and works for ovens, grills, and campfires.
Why Make This Recipe
- Foil packet meals are a simple and healthy way to perfectly steam fish and vegetables
- Minimum of mess: just crumble up the tin foil, and you're done!
- Easily change up your foil packet dinners with different ingredients depending on what’s in season or what you have on hand (read on for suggestions)
- Great for camping trips, as you can also throw these foil packets right on a grill rather than baking in the oven
- Tilapia Fillets: Any mild white fish fillets will work for this recipe.
- Lemons: Essential to the flavor of this recipe. Try using limes instead for a different flavor profile.
- Butter: Either salted or unsalted is fine.
- White Wine: This can be left out if you prefer not to cook with wine. Try adding a splash of lemon juice instead.
- Zucchini: Yellow summer squash could be used as a substitute.
- Corn: We prefer fresh corn for this recipe, but you could definitely use thawed frozen corn kernels instead.
🥣 Step-by-Step Instructions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Thinly slice 1 ½ lemons, and cut the remaining half lemon into 4 wedges.
Rinse 4 tilapia fillets and pat dry.
Use a vegetable peeler to make ribbons out of the zucchini.
Husk 1 ear of corn, and cut the kernels off. (You should have about 1 cup total.)
Cut 4 pieces of aluminum foil double the size of your fillets.
Arrange the first piece of foil horizontally, and put ¼ of the zucchini ribbons in the middle. Put ¼ cup of the corn kernels on top of that.
Top that with 1 tilapia fillet, 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 tablespoon of white wine, and 2-3 lemon slices. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and a bit of chopped basil.
Now you're ready to fold up your foil pack. Bring the bottom and top sides up to meet above the middle of the fish and fold over a couple of times. Then fold up each side.
Repeat for the 3 additional tilapia foil packets.
To bake tilapia in foil, place the foil packs onto a sheet pan. Put into the oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes. When you take the foil pack out of the oven, be very careful to avoid the hot steam when you unwrap it.
The fish should be tender and flaky—if it needs more time, just rewrap it and put it back in the oven for a few minutes. Serve with lemon wedges on the side.
🧐 Recipe FAQs for Foil Packet Tilapia
A foil packet is a way to cook seafood, meats, and vegetables by wrapping them in tin foil or parchment paper, which is tightly folded around the contents. The food then steams under high heat, either in an oven or on a grill or campfire. This is a healthy technique to have in your repertoire since it doesn't require large amounts of butter or oil.
Yes! This is one of the reasons why foil packs are so perfect for camping trips. You can assemble them in advance, put them in a cooler, and take them to wherever you are going. If you’re cooking them at home, foil packs can be kept in the refrigerator for several hours. If you are traveling with your foil packs, double up on the foil or use heavy-duty foil, just to make sure there are no leaks in your cooler.
You can try that, though we wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. One layer of foil is easily ripped in the freezer and also does not prevent freezer burn. Also, starting with fresh vegetables and protein, then freezing, then baking, may release more liquid than you’d like as it cooks. If you do want to try freezing them, use a double layer of foil or heavy duty foil.
We usually choose a simple pasta side to go with this tilapia meal like this Angel Hair Pasta, but you can also serve with jasmine rice or brown rice. The rice or the pasta soaks up some of the delicious cooking liquid left in the foil pack and gives it great flavor. Pair with some additional vegetables too, like these Roasted Mini Peppers.
👩🍳 Expert Tips
Note that tilapia fillets can vary greatly in size and thickness. Thicker fillets will need more time, so adjust accordingly. Very thin fillets may cook even more quickly than 12 minutes.
This technique is called "en papillote” in French. Traditional French recipes use parchment paper rather than foil but the concept is the same. You can use either, though foil is easier for a first-time foil pack maker, since parchment can be tricky to keep its folds.
Now that you have this steamed tilapia recipe down, there are lots of different foil packet meals you may want to try. You can use seafood or meat (or just vegetables). Note that most seafood cooks quickly and so can be left whole, but meats should be cut in thin slices or small pieces so they will cook at the same rate as the vegetables.
Similarly, some vegetables cook faster than others, so you combine items that require similar cooking times. Chopping vegetables in similar sizes is a good start. We often julienne or shave our vegetables, such as the zucchini in this recipe, since they cook very quickly that way.
Here are just a few favorite combinations for foil packet recipes. Feel free to mix and match, or make up your own. The possibilities are endless.
- salmon + asparagus + olive oil + white wine + herbes de provence
- chicken slices + bell peppers + onions + canola oil + chili powder
- shrimp + andouille sausage + small red potatoes + butter + Old Bay Seasoning + lemon
- chicken slices + corn cut off the cob or canned corn + salsa + black beans
- shrimp + sliced cherry tomatoes + black olives + olive oil + lemon juice + basil
- tilapia + sliced green beans + sliced mushrooms + minced ginger + minced garlic + olive oil + lime juice
Other Delicious Zucchini Recipes
Can't get enough zucchini in the summer? Check out some of these tasty recipes.
If you try this foil baked tilapia recipe, we would love to hear from you! Please rate this recipe and leave a comment below—your feedback is invaluable to us.
- 2 lemons
- 1 large zucchini (about 9 ounces)
- 1 ear corn (or 1 cup corn kernels)
- 4 tilapia fillets
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup white wine
- 2 tablespoons chopped basil
- kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degress Fahrenheit.
- Thinly slice 1 ½ lemons, and cut the remaining half lemon into 4 wedges.
- Use a vegetable peeler to make ribbons out of the zucchini (this will ensure the zucchini cooks in the same amount of time as the fish).
- Husk corn, and cut kernels off the cob.
- Cut 4 pieces of aluminum foil double the size of your fillets.
- Rinse tilapia fillets and pat dry.
- Divide the zucchini ribbons and corn between the 4 pieces of foil.
- Top each with 1 tilapia fillet, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon white wine, and 2-3 slices of lemon.
- Sprinkle each fillet with salt and pepper, and divide chopped basil between pouches.
- With foil in front of you horizontally, bring up the two long sides and fold together tightly, leaving a little bit of space between foil and fish. Then fold up the two remaining sides to make a tight seal.
- Place foil pouches on a sheet pan with the foil seam-side up, and bake until fish is tender and flaky, about 12-15 minutes.
- Being careful of steam, open the pouch gently and serve with lemon wedges.
- Fish cook time will vary based on size of fillets.
- Foil packets can be made in advance. This is one of the reasons why foil packs are so perfect for camping trips. You can put them in a cooler, and take them to wherever you are going. If you’re cooking them at home, foil packs can be kept in the refrigerator for several hours. If you are traveling with your foil packs, double up on the foil or use heavy-duty foil, just to make sure there are no leaks in your cooler.
- There are tons of options for other foil pack meals. Here are a few favorites:
salmon + asparagus + olive oil + white wine + herbes de provence
chicken slices + bell peppers + onions + olive oil + chili powder
shrimp + pre-cooked sausage + small red potatoes + butter + Old Bay Seasoning + lemon
chicken slices + corn cut off the cob or canned corn + salsa + black beans
andouille sausage + sliced potatoes + olive oil + green beans + creole seasoning
shrimp + sliced tomatoes + black olives + olive oil + lemon juice + basil
tilapia + sliced green beans + sliced mushrooms + minced ginger + minced garlic + olive oil + lime juice
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 362Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 127mgSodium: 337mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 46g
Nutrition information is provided as a general reference for users courtesy of the online nutrition calculator Nutritionix.