Tilapia Flavor Profile

Tilapia Flavor Scale

Tilapia fish has a sweet, mild taste with lean flesh and a medium-firm, flaky texture. Raw flesh is white or pinkish-white sometimes with a darker muscle layer on the skin side of the fillets. The flesh cooks up to a white color. Aqua-cultured Tilapia tend to have a better flavor than wild Tilapia because Tilapia taste like their environment and wild fish feed on algae.

Typical Cooking Methods

  • Bake
  • Broil
  • Deep-Fry
  • Grill
  • Poach
  • Saute
  • Smoke
  • Steam
  • Sushi

Alternate Names

St. Peter’s Fish (because it’s believed that Tilapia was the fish which Jesus multiplied to feed the masses), Sunfish

Tilapia Culinary Notes

Tilapia is very much a product of its environment. If it is raised in poor quality water then its flavor will be muddy, grassy, or worse. You, therefore, want to buy premium Tilapia from a quality source. Tilapia fish has been in the top 10 most popular kinds of seafood in the US since 2002, and according to SuperMarketGuru, in 2015 it was the 4th most popular fish in the US to eat with shrimp, canned tuna, and salmon taking the first 3 spots.

Description (Black Tilapia Oreochromis niloticus, Blue Tilapia O- aureus, Red Tilapia O- mossambicus)

Tilapia fishpicture by Ueberschär, B.

Depending upon the species, the skin color can range from black & white striped, to green, to red. Average whole Tilapia are 1 – 2 lbs but can grow larger. Most US fresh Tilapia is from southwestern states as well as from Costa Rica and Colombia. Tilapia is the second most cultivated fish in the world, beat only by carp (go figure! I’ve never seen carp on a menu.)

Tilapia is probably the most ancient fish that is used as a farm-raised fish in the world. Biblical scholars suggest that it may have been the fish that Jesus used to feed the crowds at the Sea of Galilee. Today, more than 80 nations raise farmed Tilapia including the US, with China leading the way with over 50% of the world’s production.

Fresh Tilapia Availability

Fresh seafood availability chart: green areas show peak availability, light green show limited availability, gray indicates not available fresh. Most fresh Tilapia is from Costa Rica & Colombia. Frozen is available all year long.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec


Tilapia Butchering Yield % to Fillets

Item To Skin/On Fillets To Skin/Off Fillets Notes
Whole Round ungutted 34% variance +/- 3
Yield % varies according to a number of factors including: size of fish, season, sex, and the skill of your fishmonger.


Range & Habitat

Tilapia are originally from the Nile River, but today they are raised in warm waters throughout the world. Some countries consider them to be an invasive species.

Typical Wholesale Products

Whole, H&G, Skin/On Fillets, Skin/Off Fillets

Mercury Levels

Tilapia is considered to be low in mercury and therefore is safe for pregnant women to eat, so long as it is fully cooked to a temperature of 145° (because under 145° is considered to be raw and raw fish is not considered to be safe for pregnant women or the immune compromised).

Tilapia Sustainability Info

Name Alternate Names Catch Method Catch
Tilapia, Oreochromis spp. St. Peter’s Fish, Sunfish Farmed – Closed Recirculating Systems US Green-icon_20.png Green-icon_20.png Green-icon_20.png Low
Farmed – Ponds Ecuador Green-icon_20.png Green-icon_20.png Green-icon_20.png
China, Taiwan Yellow-icon_20.png Red-Dot_20.png Yellow-icon_20.png
Nile Tilapia, Black Tilapia Oreochromis niloticus Farmed – Closed Recirculating Systems Alberta, Canada Green-icon_20.png Green-icon_20.png Green-icon_20.png
Disclaimer: The sustainability info above is accurate to the best of our knowledge. However, each program randomly updates their information without our knowledge. We therefore recommend that you verify the current accuracy of this information.
Green-icon_20.png = Best Choice/Recommended      Yellow-icon_20.png = Good Alternative      Red-Dot_20.png = Avoid/Not Recommended Updated
August 2013


Nutritional Information

based upon a 6 oz (171 grams) raw edible serving.

* Calories/Calories from fat 165
* Protein grams 34.5
* Fat grams 2.9
* Saturated fat grams 1.4
* Sodium milligrams 89
* Cholesterol milligrams 86
* Omega-3 grams .3
more Tilapia nutrition info


Comments from before Site Migration

ELA []    [ Sep 24, 2010  ]

Tilapia is a common fish here in Pila, Laguna.

Thanks so much for the info, now i appreciate it more…

MAGICOFSPICE    [ Aug 31, 2010 ]

As always, excellent information…I do enjoy this as a fish selection as I find it to be quite versatile in dishes 🙂

DAVID BUCHANAN    [ Aug 30, 2010 ]

Very glad that the info is helpful to others! Thank-you for your comments.

THE MOM CHEF []    [ Aug 30, 2010  ]

I love tilapia so it’s nice to see that it’s one of those foods that doesn’t have a domino effect of damage. Thanks for the post.


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