August 1, 2023

55 Easy + Healthy Side Dishes for Baked Tilapia

The perfect side dish for tilapia does exist! In fact, I've rounded up over 50 of my best side dishes for baked tilapia so you've got options for every occasion and every flavor. No matter what you choose, you've got a delicious meal waiting for you!

Tilapia is an affordable, mild tasting fish packed with vitamins and nutrients. It's also a great option for getting a protein at the dinner table with minimal effort.

Depending on what flavor you want and how much time you have, you can cook tilapia many different ways: in the oven, on the stove, in the air fryer, or on the grill.

But what to serve with tilapia? What goes well with tilapia? In today's blog post, I'm sharing 55 of the the best sides for baked tilapia so no matter how you season or prepare your fish fillets, you're guaranteed to find something delicious.

Short on time? --> If you've got a general idea of what type of dish you're looking for, I've organized all my delicious recipes into the following categories:

  • Vegetables
  • Starches and grains
  • Noodles and pasta
  • Legumes
  • Bread
  • Potatoes
  • Salads
  • Soups
  • Fresh salsas
  • Coleslaws
  • Sauces, dips, and spreads

Shredded baked tilapia

Common questions about tilapia

What is tilapia?

Tilapia is a flaky white fish known for its lean protein content and mild fish flavor (aka it doesn't have a strong taste at all). It's most commonly baked, but it can also be breaded, deep fried, grilled, pan-seared, or made in the air fryer.

You can serve it as whole fish fillets or shred it to serve in things like tacos and salads.

Is tilapia a healthy fish?

Tilapia is a great source of protein, vitamin B12, selenium, choline, and omega-6 fatty acids, all essential nutrients that promote a healthy heart, brain, and hormone balance. Plus, if you're pregnant or breastfeeding, these nutrients are extra important for you and baby!

--> READ MORE: Tilapia vs Salmon Comparison

Is tilapia fishy?

Nope! It has a very mild flavor, both in general and compared to other fishy fish like salmon or sardines.

What makes tilapia so great is because it's so mild, you can season it anyway you want to! There are so many different flavors and variations of baked tilapia, so if you see a side dish you like, just adjust your fish seasoning accordingly!

Can I substitute any type of fish for tilapia?

I only recommend swapping tilapia into a recipe if you're replacing another white fish like cod or mahi mahi or a lean protein like chicken or shrimp. Fish recipes made with salmon, trout, or tuna have flavors catered to their strong and unique fish flavors and the cooking time is much different than tilapia fish.

What are some good seasonings for tilapia?

Because tilapia is such a mild fish, you can really season it any way you want to. Besides the basic sea salt and black pepper, here are some delicious seasoning and flavor combinations that will wow your taste buds:

  • Fresh garlic, fresh lemon juice, and lemon zest
  • Blackening seasoning (a blend of paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic and onion powder, oregano, basil, and thyme)
  • Grated parmesan cheese and crispy breadcrumbs
  • Fresh herbs like parsley, dill, or cilantro
  • A drizzle of olive oil with cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese, and pistachios

Is tilapia good for meal prep?

Yes! No matter the cooking process, you can prepare your tilapia ahead of time and store in an airtight container for 3-5 days in the fridge.

Tilapia fish tacos with mango salsa

My favorite tilapia recipe

While you don't need a side dish for this tilapia recipe, I would be remiss not to share it.

My fish tacos with mango salsa have everything a good taco should have: juicy protein, fresh fruit, crunchy veggies, and spicy sauce. The flavor combos are out of this world and the best part is it only takes 30 minutes to make!

If you're new to tilapia or haven't tried a good tilapia recipe yet, let these tilapia tacos be your introduction!

What to serve with tilapia

Can you believe there's over 50 ideas in this blog post? I guarantee you'll find at least one great side dish to go with your baked tilapia!

Remember that I organized everything into categories, so scroll through and find a category that peaks your interest and start from there!


Every protein needs a veggie, right? Each of these vegetable side dishes are a great way to bring tons of delicious flavor to your dinner table without much extra work.

A platter of roasted carrots with whipped feta

1) Roasted Carrots with Whipped Feta and Pistachios

One of my favorite side dishes of all time by far! The earthiness of the carrots with the creamy cheese and salted nuts is an unbeatable combo. Plus, this side dish comes together with minimal prep! Grab my recipe here.

2) Air Fryer Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

Salty, crispy, and served with a lemon tahini sauce, this bacon wrapped asparagus is an easy recipe with bold flavors. Plus, the creamy sauce is so good you'll want to lick it off the spoon!

3) Air Fryer Zucchini and Squash

Ready in less than 30 minutes, these roasted veggies are a great, low calorie, healthy side dish that goes perfectly with baked tilapia. Better yet, you could even add the squash and zucchini to the sheet pan with the fish and cook everything all at once!

4) Roasted veggies

This is a bit more broad, but the combinations are endless and the best thing is that you can throw your tilapia fillets right on a baking sheet with the roasted vegetables and cook everything all at once.

Some of my favorite sheet pan veggie combos are broccoli and potatoes or potatoes and brussels sprouts, but you could also use carrots, bell peppers, or asparagus.

5) Steamed green beans

An easy side dish that makes a healthy meal in a matter of minutes. Feel free to season according to taste or add things like shallots, garlic, butter, or bacon to the mix.

Roasted brussels sprouts on a sheet pan

6) Cinnamon Maple Brussels Sprouts

A good choice if you're making baked tilapia in the fall. These Brussels sprouts are seasoned with warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, then tossed in a bit of maple syrup and roasted until caramelized. Serve with a brown rice pilaf and your fish and you've got the coziest dinner!

7) Homemade ratatouille

It sounds (and is spelled) way harder than it actually is to make it. Ratatouille is one of those flavorful sides that comes with its own sauce, so it's perfect for baked tilapia. Sprinkle fresh parmesan cheese on top of everything and you're good to go! I love the ratatouille recipe from Spend with Pennies.

Starches and grains

8) Quinoa

I think quinoa is even easier to cook than rice, and it's much more nutrient dense too. It pairs well with other root vegetables and adds a nice complex carb to your plate of lean fish.

9) Rice

Rice is incredible because there are so many different types of rices and so many different ways to prepare each type of rice! Here are some of my favorite rice dishes:

  • Cilantro lime rice: great for Mexican-inspired meals. Just cook up some white rice or jasmine rice and add lime juice, lime zest, and fresh cilantro.
  • Fried rice: for at-home takeout copycat recipes. Just cook up some white rice or brown rice or and toss with soy sauce, mixed veggies, and scrambled eggs.
  • Coconut rice: great for Indian or Thai-inspired dishes. Grab my coconut rice recipe here!

10) Cauliflower rice

A low carb, high fiber veggie substitute for traditional rice. I love just buying the frozen bags of it and steaming it in the microwave right before serving. Just like regular rice, it's quite plain, so that means it's a great base for added flavor and keeping your tilapia the star of the show.

A pan of lasagna

Noodles and pasta

11) Lasagna Roll-ups

Okay technically lasagna is a main course, but my vegetarian lasagna roll-ups are a great choice to serve with baked tilapia, especially if you decide to dredge your fish in bread crumbs!

12) Cacio e Pepe

A simple recipe that can be either a main dish or a side dish. In this case, the noodles serve as a buttery, cheesy base for your well seasoned fish, so basically it's a match made in heaven. Grab my cacio e pepe recipe here (just omit the shrimp).

13) Oven Baked Mac and Cheese

​A classic comfort food that even the kids will like. My oven baked mac and cheese is creamy, cheesy, and topped with herby breadcrumbs that just take this dish to the next level. Bonus points if you use chickpea pasta for a boost of vegetables!

A plate of butternut squash pasta carbonara with bacon and brussels sprouts

14) Butternut Squash Pasta Carbonara

I love this carbonara for its unique flavor and added veggies from the squash. It's a great recipe for busy weeknights in the fall when school is back in session and schedules are packed to the minute, and it would pair beautifully with some tilapia seasoned with warm spices.

15) Street Corn Pasta Salad

If you've never had street corn, it's a Mexican recipe known as "elote" and it's heavenly. Imagine corn on the cob smothered in a thick crema (think sour cream or mayo) and topped with lime juice, lime zest, chili powder, and a whole bunch of salty cheese. Amazing right?

Well Monique from Ambitious Kitchen put a fun spin on it and made a recipe for street corn pasta salad that has even more flavor than just the elote and I think it would be perfect with baked (or grilled) tilapia. You can find the recipe on her blog.


16) The BEST Healthy Baked Beans

My homemade baked beans recipe is one of the most popular side dishes from the blog and they're perfect for any time of year. Whether you're making grilled fish in the summer or baked tilapia in the winter, baked beans are a great option for a side dish!

A plate of red lentil curry

17) Vegan Red Lentil Curry

This is an exclusive recipe from my cookbook and it's one of my favorite sides to serve with tilapia. In fact, whenever I make my curry, I always add fish to it! It's creamy, hearty, and packed with plant based iron, protein, and folate. Grab a copy of my cookbook here and try it for yourself!

18) Cucumber and Black Bean Salad

This super simple recipe from Budget Bytes is a light and refreshing cold salad you could serve with your baked tilapia. It's made with cucumber, black beans, cilantro, feta cheese, and a homemade vinaigrette. Grab the recipe on their blog linked above!

19) Cowboy Caviar Dip

This is one of my favorite appetizers to serve at any party and it would make a great healthy side dish for tilapia! It's a delicious bowl of beans, corn, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and avocado with a homemade dressing. I recommend making the recipe from Little Spice Jar!

20) Cheese Enchiladas with Black Beans

Yes, this is another main dish, but if tilapia is the star, then these black bean and cheese enchiladas (from Two Peas and Their Pod) would be a great hearty side dish.

Slices of garlic bread


21) Garlic bread

A crowd pleaser for sure. But what makes a good garlic bread is the garlic butter, of course, so be sure to check out my recipe for the best garlic butter!

22) Bruschetta

Usually this is more of a summery appetizer, but I think delicious food is always in season. Bruschetta is an Italian dish of toasted garlic bread topped with tomatoes, cheese, or cured meat, and olive oil and salt. This classic bruschetta from Small Town Woman is so good!

23)  Sourdough rolls

Nothing beats homemade rolls, especially sourdough rolls. The slight tang from the bread will compliment any flavor of the fish and complete your meal.

This sourdough dinner roll recipe from Little Spoon Farm has over 50,000 shares, so it's gotta be a good one!

A tray of pumpkin butter crostini

24) Crostini

Another toasted bread, but with more variety. I always opt for my pumpkin butter crostini (made with my sugar free pumpkin butter) but I also love this whipped ricotta crostini from Hello Frozen Bananas.


Okay, yes, potatoes are technically vegetables (and starches), but we never cook them like vegetables, so they deserve their own category!

Whether you like yours covered in a cheesy sauce or fried to perfection, all of these potato dishes make a flavorful side dish to your baked tilapia.

25) Mashed potatoes

Easy, delicious, and everybody loves them. Make the mashed potatoes from my shepherd's pie recipe and you won't be disappointed!

26) French fries

Whether you like traditional french fries or sweet potato fries, both are an easy and delicious option to pair with your main dish. You could buy pre-cut fries from the grocery store or make your own homemade fries.

27) Crispy roasted potatoes

My favorite potatoes to roast are yellow or red potatoes because they're more waxy instead of starchy. Just toss in a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast until crispy!

A pan of cheesy scalloped potatoes

28) Au gratin potatoes

Also known as cheesy scalloped potatoes, these potatoes are mouth-wateringly delicious. Imagine a big pan of soft, thinly sliced potatoes swimming in a thick and bubbly cheesy sauce baked until golden brown. Literally heaven. My recipe for white cheddar scalloped potatoes takes things up a notch from the traditional cheddar and there's even fresh thyme sprinkled in there too. You have to make them!

29) Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Super easy and totally customizable. I have three recipes for stuffed sweet potatoes on the blog, so there's lots of options to choose from!

30) Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole

One of the most delicious side dishes I've ever created. And no, there's no marshmallows here. This sweet potato casserole has a pecan crumble topping and the entire dish is gluten free, refined sugar free, and vegan, so it's actually good for you too.


I love adding salads to my dinner plate because they're an easy way to add tons of nutrients and flavor to the meal with minimal effort. And here at The Well Nourished Mama, I don't believe in salads that are mostly greens with few toppings.

Each of these salad recommendations are jam packed with all the goodies and they'll perfectly compliment your baked tilapia.

Pomegranate quinoa and arugula salad with steak

31) Pomegranate Quinoa Arugula Salad

A hearty winter salad with fresh pomegranate seeds, crunchy pistachios, and creamy feta cheese. When serving this with your fish, just omit the steak! Grab the recipe here.

32) Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad

If you've never had a warm salad, let this brussels sprouts caesar salad be your introduction! Every ingredient pairs beautifully with baked fish and because it's warm, it is an even better side dish option for your main meal!

33) Roasted Broccoli Salad

My all time favorite salad. All you need is broccoli, bacon, shallots, garlic, feta cheese, and a simple lemon vinaigrette. Throw everything on a sheet pan and you'll want seconds and thirds of my roasted broccoli salad!

34) Southwestern Cobb Salad

This healthy southwestern cobb salad is a Mexican twist on the classic California cobb salad with quinoa, black beans, charred corn, Mexican cheese, cilantro, and an avocado ranch dressing. Serve with some ranch marinated tilapia and you're golden!

A bowl of cucumber tomato and avocado salad

35) Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad

Just as simple as it sounds: chopped cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and avocados with some feta cheese and lemon juice. If you're baking or grilling tilapia in the summer, this is a light and refreshing salad that will go great with your fish.

36) Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

A light vegetarian salad with plant based protein from chickpeas and quinoa and tons of fresh vegetables. Season your tilapia with dill and lemon and you've got a winning meal.


Whether they're hearty or light, soups are always a good option for side dishes. Here are some delicious soups everyone will love!

A bowl of roasted tomato basil soup

37) Tomato Basil Soup

One of my favorite soups ever. It's cozy, packed with roasted vegetables, and since it's naturally vegetarian, it's a great pair with baked fish. Grab my recipe for tomato basil soup here!

38) Mexican Street Corn Soup

A fun twist on the classic street food. It's really easy to make and packed with flavor. Just season your fish with a blackening seasoning or a dry rub and you've got an amazing dinner! Grab the recipe for the soup from Platings and Pairings.

39) Roasted Poblano Corn Chowder

This delicious soup is made with potatoes, corn, poblano peppers, and lots of cheese. It's creamy, it's a little spicy, and it's just screaming for some fish to go with it. Grab the recipe from Isabel Eats!

Fresh salsas

Here on the blog, one of my favorite things to share is a good salsa recipe. And this isn't like your standard red tomato salsa you'd dip your chips in, I'm talking the fresh, fruit salsas that pair perfectly with a main protein.

Here are some of the best salsa recipes:

A plate of jalapeno pineapple salsa

41) Jalapeño Pineapple Salsa

The perfect blend of citrus and spice. This salsa comes from my BBQ chicken recipe, so it's perfect for your flaky white fish!

42) Peach Mango Salsa

This salsa is a sweet fruit salsa that I paired with my sweet and spicy pulled pork tacos. Season your fish with some chili powder, brown sugar, and garlic and you've got an amazing dinner in less than 30 minutes!

43) Mango Avocado

My all time favorite salsa. And it just so happens to already come with a tilapia recipe! Make the recipe as is and you can thank me later.

44) Pico de Gallo

The classic chunky salsa. Just toss together diced tomatoes, red onion, jalapeño, and cilantro and you're set!


Another great option is coleslaw. I wasn't sure if you consider coleslaw a salad or a veggie dish, so it just gets its own spot! Here are some delicious coleslaw recipes:

A buffalo chicken taco with slaw on top

45) Cilantro Lime Slaw

Perfect for Mexican-inspired recipes, especially if your fish is seasoned with blackening seasoning or anything spicy. This slaw is cool and refreshing and comes together in minutes!

46) Warm Brussels Slaw

This slaw comes from my sloppy joes recipe and it's literally just sauteéd Brussels sprouts with salt and pepper. But it's SO good. Like sometimes I'll make it and just eat it on it's own!

47) Mayo-free Coleslaw

This is one of my favorite recipes from Ambitious Kitchen and I make it multiple times every summer. If you're not a fan of mayo or creamy coleslaws, this vinaigrette-based slaw is so fresh and delicious and packed with lots of raw veggies. Grab this coleslaw recipe on Monique's blog!

A bowl of garlic butter spread

Sauces, dips, and spreads

​Flavor doesn't just come from marinades and seasonings; it also comes from sauces, dips, and spreads.

Each of these recipes is packed with flavor and made with simple ingredients to bring out all the flavor of the fish and compliment your meal.

48) The BEST Vegan Garlic Butter

When I tell you that you would never know that this garlic butter is vegan, I mean it. So don't let that stop you from making it! Spread this savory, herby butter on your fish prior to baking and you will have the juiciest, most delicious tilapia ever.

49) Piccata

While this refers to the style of cooking, the sauce itself is incredible. Piccata sauce is made with lemon, butter, and parsley and usually comes with capers, too.

My original recipe is in my first cookbook Nutritious and Delicious and you will love it! It's a lightened up piccata sauce and you don't even need bread crumbs for the delicate tilapia. Just pan sear it in the sauce!

A chip being dipped into 7 layer dip

50) Mexican 7 Layer Dip

This dip is thick and loaded with flavor, so while you might not be able to serve it on top of your fish, it's phenomenal by the spoonful. My 7 layer dip recipe uses black beans, homemade guacamole, seasoned plain greek yogurt, tomatoes, olives, cotija cheese, and cilantro.

51) Hummus

You can use store-bought hummus or homemade hummus, but either way, hummus makes a great spread for fish. You can baste it on your fish prior to baking or serve with the fish after cooking.

Hummus is also a great option because it's nutrient dense from the chickpeas and tahini and you can make so many different flavors, too!

52) Hollandaise sauce

This sauce is made of egg yolks, butter, and lemon juice, and is usually served over eggs Benedict or steamed veggies, but I think if you're looking for a fancier, more refined meal, this would be a great option with your tilapia, especially because tilapia naturally has such a mild flavor.

Pair with roasted asparagus or steamed green beans and you've got a restaurant-worthy meal right at home! I like this hollandaise sauce from Healthy Seasonal Recipes.

53) Tzatziki sauce

One of my favorite sauces ever. Tzatziki sauce comes from the Mediterranean cuisine and is made with strained yogurt, shredded cucumber, lemon juice, garlic, and fresh herbs like dill and parsley.

Serve your tilapia with kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, wild rice, and some tzatziki on top and you've got a winning Greek-inspired meal.

A jar of lemon basil pesto

54) Pesto

An Italian sauce made from olive oil, nuts, and tons of fresh basil. Pesto is a great sauce to bake with, so spread it on top of the fish before roasting and taste the magic when it's done!

55) Peanut sauce

Whether you make this into a dipping sauce, a marinade, or a finishing drizzle, peanut sauce is always a fantastic choice. Pair with fresh cilantro and you've got a delicious Thai-inspired meal!

The perfect side dish for tilapia does exist! In fact, I've rounded up over 50 of my best side dishes for baked tilapia so you've got options for every occasion and every flavor. No matter what you choose, you've got a delicious meal waiting for you!


Brooke Harmer








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