Tilapia is one the most healthy fish to eat as it is high in protein and less in fat content. This is also one of the most affordable choices. The reason for that is it’s farmed and easily available. Smoked Tilapia has an amazing texture and the best flavour. Back in the day, smoked fish was just an idea to preserve the fish. But now this has become the most popular way to eat fish with a smoky flavour.
In old times they use to put fish in the smoker for almost 24 hours, which is a lot of time. But for this smoked tilapia recipe, it would take only 2 hours. Cooking food like fish at a lower temperature is considered good because the food gets cooked properly and remains moist when smoked on low heat. If you smoke the fish at a high temperature the moisture and fat will vanish and you will be left with a shrunk and split fish.
Tilapia is a very easy-to-cook fish, and it is like a blank canvas on which you can experiment with different seasonings and flavouring of your choice. Smoked tilapia is a very popular fish that can be served either as a main dish or it can be served as a side dish with some amazing dips and salads.
How To Make Smoked Tilapia
Step 1 – Prepare the smoker
Set up the smoker to 275 degrees F and add wood chips for indirect cooking. The reason why we are smoking it indirectly is that at low temperatures the fish gets dry because tilapia is very lean, and if we cook it at a higher temperature it will not absorb the flavour of smoke and will be cooked way too fast.
Using a pellet smoker would be a great option if you are looking for a great smoky flavour for the fish. When it comes to smoke there is always this question that arises, What wood pellets to use when smoking fish.
The answer to this is pretty simple and that is to use any light flavour wood pellets when you are smoking fish. These wood chips can be any fruit woods like apple, cherry, alder, or any light flavour wood. This will give the fish a mild and amazing flavour without overcoming the original flavour of the fish.
If you are using heavier meats like beef or pork then you go with the strong flavour wood chips like hickory or maple, But for chicken and fish always go for light flavoured wood.
Step 2 – Getting the mixture ready
Take a mixing bowl and add lemon juice, oil, garlic powder, salt, and lemon pepper. You can even use olive oil if you want to. Mix all these ingredients very well. This spice mix is going to give a real taste to the smoking tilapia fish.
Step 3 – Prepare the Tilapia
Take the fish and remove all the bones from it, And then clean it well by rinsing. Keeping the skin is your choice you can remove it if you want to. Now it’s time to brush the tilapia fillets with the liquid mixture that you just made. Make sure it is fully covered in the liquid mixture, Brush it from both sides.
Step 4 – Smoke the tilapia
When everything is done, it is about time to put the fish on the grill. Take an aluminum foil and place it on the pellet grill spray some cooking oil on it, then place the fish fillets on it. The reason for putting the aluminum foil on the grill is the tilapia isn’t that easy on the grill, It gets stuck to the grill, and when it breaks it drops into the grill. So aluminum foil helps in preventing all this from happening.
Put the fish in the smoker and let it cook for about 2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F. Once the temperature hits 145 degrees F this means it is fully cooked. If you don’t know how to figure out if the fish is finished cooking, use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature.
Step 5 – Serve and enjoy
Once it is done, take it out of the pellet smoker and serve hot there is no such need to wait or cool it down. You can pair it up with amazing sauces like teriyaki sauce, sriracha sauce. When combine with these sauces your taste buds will be going to experience some great flavours.
BBQ Hero tips: Tilapia can be a little tricky when it comes to smoking it on grill. It gets stuck to the grill grates because of its flaky texture. So to avoid that, use a heavy duty aluminum foil, spray some vegetable oil on it and place it on the grill. Now put the fish on it skin-side down this help prevent the fish from falling down the grill and sticking to the grill.
More Great Smoked Seafood Options:
Smoked Tilapia FAQs
Should I brine tilapia?
Yes, you can brine seafood and fish. Because seafood and fish are really delicate and when you are cooking fish at a higher temperature like if you are grilling them or something they can dry out easily. So what brine does is keep the moisture in it and also make it more flavourful and delicious.
How long does it take to smoke the whole tilapia?
It would take around 2 to 3 hours depending on the size of the fish, You will have to make sure the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F on the thickest part of the tilapia. Once the temperature is there it means it is safe to eat and cooked well.
Can you overcook tilapia?
No, you can not overcook this fish, as it is going to be boneless and skinless (If you remove it) and it would taste horrible if overcooked.
Why is my tilapia is rubbery?
That is just because it is overcooked, When the fish has been overcooked it losses its moisture and it becomes chewy and dry. Because all the moisture in it is evaporated so it begins to get firm and shrink.
Smoked Tilapia Recipe
- Instant read thermometer
- 6 tilapia fillets
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Prepare the smoker for indirect heating, set the temperature to 275 degrees F.
- Take the fish and wash it well. Then look for bones in there, if there are any remove them and prepare the fish for getting a coat of spices.
- In a small bowl, add lemon juice, oil, garlic powder, salt, and lemon pepper. Mix everything well.
- Place the fish fillets in a pan, brush the mixture that you prepared for the tilapia fish. Make sure the fish is completely coated with the liquid mixture.
- Place the fish on the smoker rack and place it in the smoker for 2 hours.
- Once the tilapia is smoked and cooked. Remove it from the smoker and serve hot.