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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 with a delectable creamy tomato-basil sauce. 

During high school and collage, I worked at a seafood restaurant. Working in a seafood restaurant introduced me to a lot of different kinds of fish. One being 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.

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia with tomato basil sauce on white plate with mashed potatoes

To make this easy fish recipe, simply coat tilapia in parmesan and panko, pan fry to golden brown and topped with creamy tomato sauce. It is fast, delicious and the perfect summer meal.

How do you make Parmesan Crusted Tilapia?

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 with further testing, 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 panko mixture and frying it. This method, coats the fish perfectly.

Step by Step Photos for cooking. Photo one: Tilapia filet with flour on white plate. Photo 2: Flour coated tilapia in egg wash on white plate. Photo 3: Tilapia on white plate with bread crumbs and parmesan. Photo 4: Crusted tilapia in a white frying pan.

Why panko bread crumbs instead of traditional bread crumbs? Panko bread crumbs are my go-to bread crumbs in the kitchen. I prefer to use panko bread crumbs because they give an extra crisp to everything.

DES’  TIP: You don’t need a lot of oil to cook this Parmesan Crusted Tilapia. Just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan, about 3 tablespoons, is fine.

Now let’s talk about that sauce!

Spooning Tomato Basil Cream Sauce onto tilapia.

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.

Tomato Basil Cream Sauce in a silver pan.

It might be hard to resist licking the plate but if you’ve got company try soaking up any leftover sauce with some crusty herb garlic bread. You could also serve this alongside some roasted red potatoes and salad with Pesto Vinaigrette.

Overhead photo of parmesan crusted tilapia on a white plate with wooden cutting board.

Should I use frozen or fresh fish?

There is always much debate about this. Some will say “ONLY USE FRESH!” But in our house we use both. I use fresh when I can get it but frozen works well too. Either would work for this recipe. If you’re interested in learning a bit more about the pros and cons of frozen versus fresh here is a good article from Epicurious. 

DES’ TIP: If you use frozen fish make sure to rinse and pat dry the fish before seasoning with salt and pepper. 

Can you substitute another kind of fish for tilapia?

You betcha! If you don’t have any tilapia on hand, or can’t find it at your grocery store, this recipe would work for any kind of white fish. Two of our favorites are cod and sole. Both are mild white fish that are relatively easy to find in the grocery store.

Note: This recipe for Parmesan Crusted Tilapia was originally published in 2009 and republished with update photos, nutrition facts and a video in 2020.

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 with a delectable creamy tomato-basil sauce. 

Love seafood? Check out some of my favorite seafood recipes!

Fried Calamari Recipe

Fried Cod Recipe

Salmon with Capers

Shrimp Tacos Recipe

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia with Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce Recipe

Serves 4 Prep Time: Cook Time:
5 based on 27 reviews

Tomato Basil Cream Sauce Ingredients:

  • 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

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia Ingredients:

  • 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.


Note: Nutrition facts not guaranteed to be correct.

Nutrition information

Amount per serving: 4 servings
Calories: 946 , Total Fat: 47g , Saturated Fat: 19.8g , Cholesterol: 383mg , Sodium: 752mg , Carbohydrates: 25.6g , Fiber: 1.9g , Sugar: 2.4g , Protein: 109g

Leave a Comment

  • Reply
    Amy F
    September 29, 2021 at 6:54 pm

    Great recipe! Not a big fish person but know I need to incorporate in diet. Was very good and so easy.

  • Reply
    September 29, 2021 at 6:53 pm

    Great recipe! Not a big fish person but know I need to incorporate in diet. Was very good and so easy.

  • Reply
    August 20, 2021 at 5:22 am

    Delicious recipe , am so happy to read this .
    Its very nice to read this .
    You made my6 day .
    Thank you so much for this .

  • Reply
    August 18, 2021 at 4:04 pm

    I loved this recipe, and it was a thumbs up from my boyfriend. I air-fried the fish at 400 for 5 to 8 minutes. I doubled the sauce for the recipe added some cooking white wine. I made cheese tortellini as a side and used the extra sauce to toss the pasta. I will definitely be making this again.

  • Reply
    Deborah Golleher
    March 15, 2021 at 11:21 am

    Looks great, I’m trying this tonight.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2021 at 5:42 pm

    I have been making this recipe from you for YEARS. It is hands down one of my favorite pasta dishes. In a pinch I have used diced canned tomatoes without issue. The fresh basil and sauce combo is so good. I couldn’t begin to count how many times I have made it. I always pair it with fresh, homemade penne pasta. SO GOOD! Thank you for sharing.

    • Reply
      March 8, 2021 at 8:58 pm

      Omg! I LOVE the idea of serving this with pasta! Why have I never tried it?? I am so happy to hear that you enjoy this recipe so much and glad to hear that you can used canned tomatoes too. That tip will come in handy in the winter months!

  • Reply
    February 4, 2021 at 10:31 am

    This looks so good! Did you use heavy whipping cream? Or another type?

    • Reply
      February 4, 2021 at 3:57 pm

      Hi Zoe! Heavy whipping cream :)

  • Reply
    Sharon D
    January 27, 2021 at 5:41 pm

    Awesome quick and simple dish. I was out of cream so I used a can evaporated milk (which I always keep a can of in my pantry)! I added A tablespoon of cornstarch/milk mixture to thicken it a bit. I also didn’t have any eggs so I used almond milk and almond flour as I happen to have these things on hand. Came out awesome. thank you!

    • Reply
      January 29, 2021 at 5:19 pm

      You are so welcome Sharon! I am happy to know that you can use evaporated milk as a substitute too!

  • Reply
    Irma Saldivar
    January 24, 2021 at 6:46 pm

    Amazing crispy fish! I didn’t think I could make fish look and taste this good. Wow. Thank you!

    • Reply
      January 25, 2021 at 4:34 pm

      You are so welcome! Happy to hear that!!

  • Reply
    October 24, 2020 at 2:19 pm

    Amazing, amazing!!!

  • Reply
    June 16, 2020 at 4:39 pm

    Delicious! That creamy sauce is the perfect accompaniment!

  • Reply
    June 16, 2020 at 9:24 am

    Love how easy this is! I cannot wait to make it again!

    • Reply
      June 17, 2020 at 11:33 am

      It is so easy and so good!

  • Reply
    Jacque Hastert
    June 16, 2020 at 5:32 am

    This tilapia is one dinner that I could eat every day! Loaded with flavor and that sauce has me dreaming.

    • Reply
      June 17, 2020 at 11:33 am

      It is totally dream worthy!

  • Reply
    June 16, 2020 at 4:26 am

    I love everything about this meal! Love the crusted tilapia and that sauce is seriously amazing!!

  • Reply
    June 16, 2020 at 2:49 am

    This looks too good not to make it. Love this flavor combo!

  • Reply
    Erin | Dinners,Dishes and Dessert
    June 15, 2020 at 10:43 pm

    I love this Parmesan crusted tilapia with tomato! I know what I want for dinner tonight!

  • Reply
    June 15, 2020 at 3:38 pm

    That crust though. Looks amazing!

  • Reply
    June 15, 2020 at 12:42 pm

    Oh my goodness does this look so delicious! I’m bookmarking this for later to make. Thank you!

  • Reply
    May 10, 2020 at 4:49 pm

    OH….MY….GOD!!! This was AMAZING! I totally forgot to add the basil in the end, but it was so good, we didn’t even miss it. We did add spinach to the sauce, as we had some kicking around, but me oh my….I could eat buckets of this! Thank you! A wonderful Mother’s day dinner, in this quarantine!

    • Reply
      May 10, 2020 at 6:11 pm

      Oh you are SO welcome!! I am so happy to hear that! :)

  • Reply
    October 22, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    This was SO good! My 6y.o and 4 y.o LOVED it as well!

    • Reply
      October 22, 2019 at 7:49 pm

      I am so happy to hear that!! It’s always great when the kiddos love it too!

  • Reply
    Sandy Carra
    October 4, 2019 at 12:07 pm

    This looks absolutely delicious, my mouth is watering. Making it tonight. You have a new fan! Thank you

    • Reply
      October 4, 2019 at 1:56 pm

      So happy to hear that Sandy! I hope you enjoy it!

  • Reply
    January 21, 2019 at 4:34 pm

    I love this recipe!
    I’ve tried to print it, but for some reason, when I click on the print button on the recipe it jumps back to the top of the page. Would you please advise me of what to do?

    • Reply
      January 21, 2019 at 4:58 pm

      So happy you love it, Linda! I am not sure why that is happening! Let me look into it? Can you tell me which browser you’re using? And do you happen to have pop-ups disabled?

  • Reply
    October 26, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    What can I used instead of basil?

    • Reply
      October 26, 2018 at 1:04 pm

      Hi Fio- The basil has a flavor all it’s own so there isn’t really anything that you can substitute. That being said, if you leave it out the tomato cream sauce will be equally as lovely!

  • Reply
    July 21, 2018 at 9:23 am

    Used pollock instead as in the UK it is a more readily available white fish that’s inexpensive. Tasted wonderful and recipe now saved to make it again and again. Thank you!

    • Reply
      July 31, 2018 at 1:04 pm

      You are so welcome! I think this is pretty perfect for any white fish that you have access to!

  • Reply
    July 9, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    This was SO delicious!! Definitely a keeper. It was a hit with everyone.

  • Reply
    July 9, 2018 at 6:53 pm

    This was SO delicious!! Definitely a keeper.

  • Reply
    Alina K
    June 28, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    Thanks for the recipe! Delicious

  • Reply
    May 29, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    Was very good… We loved it.!! So easy to make. Thanks

  • Reply
    April 4, 2018 at 7:52 pm

    Made it and it was fantastic! I love the subtle but delicious flavor. It complemented white fish very well! I grated a block of parmesan, subbed in barramundi and organic half and half (that’s what I had in hand), and everything melded together perfectly. Thank you!

  • Reply
    September 22, 2014 at 4:34 am

    Hi, what is seasoned flour?

  • Reply
    Jessica Fullwood Dodge
    April 6, 2014 at 10:29 am

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

    • Reply
      April 6, 2014 at 5:39 pm

      Good question! I use heavy cream :)

  • Reply
    September 30, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      September 30, 2013 at 1:20 pm

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

  • Reply
    August 5, 2013 at 6:09 pm

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

  • Reply
    January 16, 2013 at 6:03 pm

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

  • Reply
    March 25, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Andy Rose
    February 14, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    sub sesame seeds for breadcrumbs to rock this!

  • Reply
    September 8, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    May 1, 2011 at 9:13 am

    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!

  • Reply
    April 13, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    August 9, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      August 10, 2010 at 6:23 am

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

  • Reply
    March 9, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Another awesome recipe, thanks! We loved it!

  • Reply
    January 29, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      February 2, 2010 at 7:32 am

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

  • Reply
    September 5, 2009 at 11:24 am

    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 =)

  • Reply
    July 16, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    thanks deseree, i hope my dad likes your recipe!

  • Reply
    July 3, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    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?

    • Reply
      July 3, 2009 at 4:34 pm

      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!

  • Reply
    June 4, 2009 at 11:30 am

    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!

    • Reply
      June 5, 2009 at 12:47 pm

      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 :)

  • Reply
    June 2, 2009 at 12:45 pm

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

    • Reply
      June 2, 2009 at 2:36 pm

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

  • Reply
    May 6, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    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!

    • Reply
      May 7, 2009 at 2:34 pm

      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 :)

  • Reply
    April 27, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    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 :)

  • Reply
    April 26, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    April 24, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Now that is a tasty way to enjoy some fish!

  • Reply
    Mrs. L
    April 24, 2009 at 3:21 pm

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

  • Reply
    April 24, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    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!

  • Reply
    April 23, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    April 23, 2009 at 8:00 am

    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 :)

  • Reply
    April 23, 2009 at 6:50 am

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

  • Reply
    April 22, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    What a great spring meal. Love the sauce.

  • Des

    Hey! I'm Des!

    Welcome to Life’s Ambrosia where Dinner is served and memories are made. Here you will find over 1000 tried and true recipes for every possible occasion. In the last 10 years, this blog has helped millions of families put dinner on the table and create food memories. Let me help you too.

    Read more »

    Have new recipes emailed to you.