Grilled Tilapia with Cilantro Marinade: Tender, Succulent Dinner

David Dial | Spiced Blog

Mix up your outdoor grilling routine with this delicious (and quick) method for cooking fish on the grill!

Grilled Tilapia Photo

Whenever anyone mentions grilling, most people automatically think delicious hamburgers, hotdogs, and other similar grill fare.  (Speaking of delicious grill fare, check out these recent posts: Smokey Whiskey BBQ Burgers and Fall Off the Bone Pork Ribs!)  But there are many other less common (but equally delicious) ways to use your grill. 

I hear a lot of people complain about grilling fish, and I completely understand why.  Fish, especially delicate, flaky varieties like flounder, tilapia, or sole, tend to fall apart on the grill.  (I, too, have more than one mishap with grilling fish!) 

One way to overcome these difficulties is to go with the foil-pouch method for grilling fish.  It’s a sure-fire way to cook delicious fish on the grill without a lot of mess.

Grilled Tilapia Picture

Although using a foil pouch technically steams your fish rather than grills it, this method does allow you to be outside and enjoy the weather while cooking.  I often like to throw some mixed veggies like squash, zucchini, and bell peppers on the grill along with the foil-pouch. 

It’s an easy, healthy dinner that easily be made on a weeknight.  An added bonus here is that your house won’t smell like cooked fish for the next 3 days!

I like to use what I affectionately call “Cilantro Bombs” to provide a quick flavor boost for this type of dish.  I keep Cilantro Bombs in my freezer year-round, and I use them to add flavor to a variety of dishes, such as homemade soups, sautéed chicken, and of course this foil-pouch fish. 

Since you will already have all of the necessary ingredients, I recommend making extra of the cilantro-olive oil mix.  Then throw it in an ice cube tray, and you’ll be set for the next time you have a dish that needs a quick flavor boost!

Grilled Tilapia Image

There are a couple of key tips to keep in mind when using the foil-pouch method:

  • Always use a grill spatula to move the foil pouch.  Tongs can rip the aluminum foil.
  • Let the grill preheat for 8-10 minutes before adding the fish.
  • Spray or brush the inside of the aluminum foil with a small amount of olive oil to keep the fish from sticking to the foil itself.
  • Use caution when opening the foil pouch as steam builds up inside!
  • Make sure the pieces of fish are all relatively the same size and thickness.  This ensures that they will cook at about the same speed.
  • Cooking times will vary based on the thickness of the pieces as well as the type of fish.  A good rule of thumb is 4-5 minutes per ½” thickness.  (So if it’s a 1” thick piece, it should take approximately 10 minutes.)  If it’s a flaky fish, just pull a fork across the top.  If the fish is done, it will flake easily.

Grilled Tilapia Recipe

    4 Servings


  • 1/3 cup Fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3-4 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 4 Tilapia Fillets, or any flaky, white fish like flounder, or sole
  • 1 Lime, sliced into quarters
  • Assorted Vegetables, such as yellow squash, zucchini, or bell peppers
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black Pepper, to taste


  1. Tear off a piece of aluminum foil approximately 18-20” long.  Spray or brush a small amount of olive oil on the foil.  Place the fish on the foil, and spread the cilantro-olive oil mixture on the top of the fish.  Squeeze the lime wedges on top of the fish and then leave wedges in the pouch next to the fish.
  2. Cover the fish with a second, similarly sized piece of foil.  Fold the edges together, and then fold them over again in create secure, sealed edges on all sides.
  3. Preheat the grill on medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, slice the vegetables and generously brush with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  5. Place the foil pouch along with the vegetables on the grill.
  6. Grill for approximately 8-10 minutes, or roughly 4-5 minutes per ½” thickness of the fish.  (The vegetables will likely need to be turned after 4-5 minutes.)
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David Dial

About David

David is bringing up the guy quotient here on Food Fanatic, representing all things Grilling in a big way. On his own site, Spiced, David covers every kind of culinary adventure.