Cooking, Baking & Cocktail Shaking

Hazelnut Crusted Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce

Crispy Hazelnut Crusted Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce is fast enough to dish up on a weeknight.

It’s back to school for me. I’m not excited about it, but I’m an adult, and adults have to do things they don’t always want to do. At least that’s what they tell me. You know, the undefined “they.” Who do they think they are anyway?

This semester happens to be my last semester. Yippee! Soon I’ll be deemed smart by Towson University and rewarded my Bachelor’s degree in English. The picture to the left is the building I’ll be spending my entire Tuesdays and Thursdays until mid December. If you need me, that’s where I’ll be, studying and watching the youngins strut their stuff down the halls with their sunglasses on. Hello! We’re inside, there’s no need for protective eyewear in the building. This is one trend that completely eludes me.

I’m getting off track. Sorry.

I’ll be hitting the books for the next three months, which means I’ll be a busy gal. Finding time to cook can become a bit problematic, so I tend to resort to no-fuss meals during the semester and become very close with my crockpot.

I made a no-fuss hazelnut crusted tilapia over the weekend. The entire meal only took 30 minutes from start to finish, and it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Delicious doesn’t have to mean laboring over a stove for 4 hours.

This dish derives from my husband’s love of Carrabba’s tilapia nocciola. If you’re not familiar with tilapia nocciola, it’s a hazelnut crusted tilapia topped with a lemon butter sauce. My husband orders it every time we eat at Carrabba’s. Once my husband finds a dish that he loves, he doesn’t deviate from it. He’s so predictable.

My husband practically swooned over this Hazelnut Crusted Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce when it was done. He said he couldn’t tell the difference between my version and Carrabba’s. I’m not going to lie. I felt like a total rock star after that comment.

The hazelnuts toast up as you sear the tilapia, giving the outside layer a warm, nutty crunchiness. Then it gets drizzled with the tart, buttery lemon sauce.

First you’re hit with the tart sauce, then your teeth sink into the nutty crust, and finally into the moist, flakey fish. The combination is absolutely divine.

Hazelnut Crusted Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce

Yield: 6 servings

Total Time: 30 minutes

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes


Lemon Butter

  • 2 garlic gloves, minced
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Sherry
  • 1 tablespoon chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and pepper


  • 6 tilapia fillets
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, coarsely ground
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3 eggs
  • Canola oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Grape tomatoes for garnish (optional)


  1. In a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat, add butter and garlic. Sauté until garlic softens. Add lemon juice, sherry, and chicken stock. Reduce by half, about 4-5 minutes. Whisk in cream and lemon zest and reduce to thicken slightly, about 3 minutes. Take the mixture off of the heat and add the basil, whisk to combine.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a large pan and heat over medium-high heat. Place two shallow dishes by the stove, closest to the burner you’re going to sear the tilapia in. Add ground hazelnuts and panko to one of the dishes and the eggs to the other dish. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and a pinch of pepper to each dish and whisk. Dip tilapia fillets into the egg mixture, turning to coat, then directly into the hazelnut mixture, making sure to thoroughly coat each side. Place the first 3 fillets into the hot pan and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, adding a sprinkle of salt to the fillets after you flip them. Repeat with the next three fillets.
  3. Drizzle the tilapia with lemon butter sauce and garnish with fresh grape tomatoes.
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22 Responses to “Hazelnut Crusted Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce”

  1. #
    CCU — September 6, 2012 at 6:29 am

    Your tilapia looks insanely gorgeous my friend, wonderful job!
    And wow you are so close to finishing! I am feeling excited for you have fun with it :D

    Choc Chip Uru


  2. #
    Renee — September 6, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Oh my gosh….hazelnuts on fish – how yummy! Love it


  3. #
    Jenn and Seth — September 6, 2012 at 9:51 am

    hazelnut crusted fish? that sounds incredible!! and yayyy on almost being done with the degree!!!


  4. #
    Lane @ Supper for a Steal — September 6, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Looks delicious! I will be trying this soon. I made a pecan crusted fish with rum butter recently that was a total disaster so I need an easy fish meal to get me back on track.


  5. #
    @bluenotebacker — September 6, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Big fan of both hazelnuts and tilapia, can’t wait to try this, thanks for sharing!


  6. #
    [email protected] — September 6, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Yay for this being your last semester!! I’m with you on the whole “they” people. . .how can some obscure group have so much authority?! :)
    This tilapia sounds wonderful, especially the part about it only taking 30 minutes! Perfect weeknight meal!


  7. #
    Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet — September 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Husband approved fish dish? I HAVE to try this! Your lemon butter sauce sounds divine!


  8. #
    Susan — September 6, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    I love this dish! I think fish topped with nuts is such a fantastic combination. Also good luck with your last semester at school!


  9. #
    Baking Serendipity — September 6, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    I secretly love no-fuss, simple meals even when my life isn’t that hectic. There’s just something satisfying about little prep work and more time to relax :) I love the hazelnuts with this fish! Good luck with your last semester!


  10. #
    Jen @JuanitasCocina — September 6, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    You should change the name of this dish to “Heaven on a Plate”. Just sayin’.


  11. #
    Liz — September 6, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    Isn’t it wonderful when you can make a restaurant quality recipe at home? This sounds like a delectable way to prepare fish….mmmmmm.


  12. #
    Liz — September 6, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    Beautiful, restaurant quality dish!! I would love this for dinner any time :)


  13. #
    Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious — September 9, 2012 at 11:25 am

    What a gorgeous dish! And I definitely need 30-minute dishes – I’m too exhausted to cook when I get home from work!


  14. #
    Kristi Rimkus — September 9, 2012 at 11:27 am

    I can’t believe this delicious looking tilapia took less than 30 minutes!


  15. #
    CJ at Food Stories — September 10, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    You’re already smart in my book :-)


  16. #
    Meghan — September 12, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Only one more semester to go! That’s great Jennie! This fish dish looks pretty great too! Love the hazelnut crust!


  17. #
    Terra — September 15, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Yay!!!! How exciting, you are almost done with school!!!!! I love enjoying quick easy meals, this sounds like a gorgeous mix of flavors:-) Hugs, Terra


  18. #
    Nena Metcalf — January 1, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    This was amazing!! We skipped the hazlenut and my grocery store was out of fresh basil – OUT OF BASIL! So I had to use dried but oh my gosh, this was SO amazing!! Will for sure be making again :)


    • Jennie replied January 1st, 2013 at 6:53 pm

      Hi Nena, thank you so much for taking the time to tell me how you liked the tilapia dish. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Out of fresh basil? That’s a sin.


  19. #
    Robbie — March 25, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Any thoughts on how I could make this wonderful recipe a bit on the lighter side ? I am doing weight watchers and the points are at 19 and that is almost my full days allowance for points. I had it at carabbas and just loved it but need to lighten it up abit

    Do you ave any suggestions


    • Jennie replied April 5th, 2013 at 3:15 pm

      Hi Robbie! The only thing I can think of to make this dish lighter is to replace the canola oil with olive oil or baking the tilapia. As for the lemon butter sauce, I don’t think there’s a way to lighten it up since it’s made with butter. You could replace the heavy cream with fat-free half & half and try using butter made with olive oil. I hope this helps. If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Thanks for visiting!


  20. #
    Paula Dickinson — May 24, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    Your recipe looks amazing, and I was wondering if you’ve ever tried making Carrabbas’ version of speidino de mare. It’s shrimp and scallops grilled with the lemon butter sauce. I’m going to try your tilapia recipe next week, but want to try the speidino recipe someday but don’t know how. Thanks!


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