Parmesan Crusted Tilapia with Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce

Parmesan crusted tilapia with tomato-basil cream sauce is a quick and easy dinner recipe that the whole family will love. Pan fried tilapia with Parmesan and panko breading, is topped with a delectable creamy tomato-basil sauce. 

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia with Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce

During high school and collage, I worked at a seafood restaurant. During my 6 years there, I was introduced to a wide variety of fish including tilapia. Tilapia has since become one of may favorite pieces of fish to cook. Not only is it mild but it is also very inexpensive and easy make at home.

For this easy fish recipe, tilapia is coated with shredded Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs, pan fried to golden brown, then topped with creamy tomato sauce. It is fast, delicious and the perfect summer meal.

It took me a few tries to get the coating just right for this Parmesan Crusted Tilapia. The first time I tried there was virtually no Parmesan breading left on the fish. Not one to give up, I did a little more testing. What I found was that it was best to lightly dust the fish in seasoned flour first, then dip it in egg before finally dredging it in the Parmesan and frying it. By using this method, the fish was coated in a perfectly crunchy Parmesan crust.

Parmesan crusted tilapia with tomato-basil cream sauce is a quick and easy dinner recipe that the whole family will love. Pan fried tilapia with Parmesan and panko breading, is topped with a delectable creamy tomato-basil sauce.

I could’ve just left it like that. Parmesan Crusted Tilapia is pretty great on it’s own. But with it being summer, I figured why not add in some quintessential summer flavors. That is where the basil and tomato come in.  And believe me, friends, the tomato basil cream sauce really sends this dish over the top. It’s not too heavy. It’s is just creamy enough and the tomatoes and basil add a slightly sweet flavor that contrasts nicely with the salty parmesan.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you wanted to lick the plate clean. However, if you’ve got company try soaking up any leftover sauce with some crusty herb garlic bread. You’ll love it.

Note: This recipe for Parmesan Crusted Tilapia was originally published in 2009 and republished with updated photos in 2016.

This parmesan crusted tilapia is coated in Parmesan and panko then pan fried until golden brown. Topped with tomato basil cream sauce.

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia with Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce Recipe

Serves 2 Prep Time: Cook Time:


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • small handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 4 tilapia fillets
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • oil for frying



Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes. Add cherry tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low and add cream. Let simmer for 15 minutes. Sauce will turn slightly pink and coat the back of the spoon. (Note: It is okay if the sauce boils slightly.) Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Meanwhile, pour enough oil just to coat the bottom of a skillet and heat over medium heat.


Rinse and pat dry the tilapia fillets. Season both sides with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.


Combine Parmesan, panko and granulated garlic.


Dredge the seasoned tilapia fillets in the flour. Shake off excess. Dip in egg. Press into Parmesan/panko mixture.


Place fish in heated skillet, in batches if necessary and cook 3-4 minutes per side. Fish will be golden brown and will flake easily when done.


When you remove the fish, chiffonnade the basil (Note: To do this, simply roll up a few basil leaves and gently chop). Stir the basil into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper if needed.


Lay fish on a serving platter and spoon sauce over the top. Serve.



  • What a great spring meal. Love the sauce.

  • Oh that looks so delicious. I recently tried tilapia for the first time and love it!

  • fish and basil is such a classy combination, and one that gets used rarely! I like the fusion you did here, incorporating the panko, which must add such a great crunch, I have yet to try using panko, but I’ve loved it every time I’ve tried it in rastaurants. Glorious photos too :)

  • Thanks Cassie! Light meals like this are perfect for spring :)
    Thanks Debbie!
    Thanks Marta! I buy a huge box of panko when I go to the Asian market because I use it for so many different things. You’re right it does add really great crunch.

  • I love Tilapia cuz you can basically do anything with it since it’s so mild. It’s also usually on sale at our local Safeway so that makes it even better! I tried Panko breadcrumbs for the first time just a month ago and now I’m totally hooked! This looks like the perfect recipe and I can’t wait to try it!

  • I recently had a girlfriend as me for tilapia recipes so I’ll send this off to her.

  • Now that is a tasty way to enjoy some fish!

  • Maya

    Honesty, this is the best meal I have made in a really long time. I don’t know if I can thank you enough. It was ridiculously delicious.

  • I hope you enjoy it Cookie!
    Thanks Mrs. L!
    Thanks Kevin!
    Maya: Thank you for the feedback! I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed the dish so much :)

  • Adam

    Just made it and absolutely LOVED the flavors. I have a small kitchen, too, which now smells like fresh herbs and golden fried parmesan. This is definitely one of my new go-to meals for a weeknight–thanks!

  • You’re welcome Adam! Thank you for letting me know how it turned out! Fresh herbs and golden friend parmesan is a wonderful smell to have in your kitchen :)

  • sandy

    The recipe calls for a half cup of cream. Is that half and half or whipping cream or what?

  • Sandy: Sorry for being a bit confusing! I used heavy cream.

  • Gary

    I’ve made this dish a couple of times since you posted and it is now a permanent member of our repertoire. The panko and parmesan make a crunchy flavorful crust, and the creamy sauce really brings it all together. We served it over cous cous. Well done!

  • Thank you Gary! It is nice to know that you enjoyed it so much! I think the crunchy panko and parmesan crust is my favorite part of the dish :)

  • belle

    i’m not really a fish person, but my dad eats a lot of fish. i’m kinda apprehensive to do sauces for him because most of the time he doesn’t appreciate it. i’m reading all these comments and it’s giving me a lil encouragement to try it. what i wanted to find out was….i saw u used panko breadcrumbs, i don’t know what that is, but i’m hoping that normal breadcrumbs could work? also….fresh cracked pepper means what? is it like black pepper?…or…red pepper flakes?

  • hey belle, panko bread crumbs are Japanese breadcrumbs that are lighter and give you a crunchier texture than regular breadcrumbs. If you have a large supermarket near you, you can usually find them in the Asian food aisle. I have never tried this with regular breadcrumbs so I can’t say whether or not it would be good. Fresh cracked pepper is black pepper, I use a pepper grinder to crack the peppercorns when I need them, but you could certainly use ground pepper if you don’t have a grinder or peppercorns. Hope this helps!

  • belle

    thanks deseree, i hope my dad likes your recipe!

  • Hi Deseree! I tried this recipe last night for the first time ever, also my first time cooking tilapia, and i was out of parmesan so i used asiago and it still turned out amazing. thanks for sharing this recipe, it didn’t last five minutes on the dinner table before it was all gobbled up =)

  • HI! I just stumbled upon your blog the other day and love it! I cooked this tilapia dish and my husband said it was one of his top three favorite meals I’ve ever made for him. I paired this dish wish roasted zucchini and a baked sweet potato. Keep up the great work!

  • Thank you Debra! I am glad that you and your husband liked this tilapia so much. Its one of my favorites too. :)

  • Tai

    Another awesome recipe, thanks! We loved it!

  • Megan

    Wow and again I say WOW!!! Just made this for dinner tonight and it was so good! I couldn’t believe it. Me and my husband both just kept going “mmmmm”. I will DEFINITELY be making this again. So easy but so light and fresh and just fantastic!

  • Thanks Megan! Nothing like making dinner and hearing “mmmmm” throughout the meal :)

  • tammy

    Hey I’m actually new to your blog i’ve probably been a member for a good week or two and I’ve been drueling all over the pictures because I’m doing Lent so can’t make any of it yet. But today I needed to whip up something fast and I had Tilapia Fillet. I couldn’t ea it but my family loved it will make it again for sure and of course i will do it right after easter is over because it smelled soooo good that i just wanted to munch it down. Thank you for making this blog it is a wonderul thing and you are very talented to be doing this. Thanks again.

  • Ryhan

    Again, another WOW for this recipe!. I searched tilapia with cream sauce and this came up. I planned on feeding some guests last night, but got home too late and everyone started getting antsy for food. I quickly threw this dish together (not hard to do with a large skilet and an extra helping hand). I served artichoke before main course as an appetizer, and threw my fish in the oven to stay warm, and the wait was totally worth it! The fish was a winner! Thanks for this awesome recipe. I am totally adding this to one of my favorites!

  • Kathy

    This is delicious! I made it tonight and everyone loved it. Took me a little while longer than “quick and easy” because I made my own breadcrumbs and had to go to the garden to pick tomatoes and basil. But a big hit. I will make this again.

  • sub sesame seeds for breadcrumbs to rock this!

  • angela

    Very good! I was looking for an easy way to make my tilapia patties that i’ve had in the freezer. This will be my go to tilapia recipe.

  • Dee

    I made this tonight and my husband yapped it up like a puppy! It was delicious. It came out perfect.

  • Sara

    Wow, is all I can say. Made it for my fiancé and thought he was going to propose all over again! Thanks

  • Trish

    My ABSOLUTE FAVORITE thing that I have found on Pinterest!
    The flavors are wonderful! I have to triple the recipe for my family because we all love it! Especially my 5 year old granddaughter! We serve it with brown rice and a vegetalble or salad, and it is perfect!

  • Wow thank you Trish! I am so happy to hear that you and your family love it so much! :)

  • Jessica Fullwood Dodge

    i dont cook much but would like to try this recipe! when u say cream…what kind of cream is it?

  • Good question! I use heavy cream :)

  • Cheese

    Hi, what is seasoned flour?

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