Tilapia en Papillote {Tilapia Baked in Parchment}

I learned how to make this romantic recipe for baked tilapia en papillote in culinary school a few years ago. The fancy shmancy name threw me into fits of hysteria (yes, I can be a teensy bit overly dramatic at times), because I thought fancy shmancy meant “difficult to make”.  Turns out, I was incredibly wrong!

Tilapia en Papillote (Tilapia baked in parchment) - This healthy fish recipe makes a perfect romantic dinner for 2 because the parchment paper is shaped just like a heart! Get the recipe from @itsyummi

En papillote is a simple French term that means “in parchment”.  Tilapia for two (fresh or thawed from frozen will work), seasoned with herbs, butter and lemon, then baked to perfection inside of a heart-shaped piece of parchment paper.  Healthy, beautiful, delicious, and romantic… grab your apron and I’ll show you how easy this is to make!

As much as I enjoy a great fish fry, the extra fat and calories have no place in my eating plan these days.  But I’m a discriminating eater… I need FLAVOR in my food, especially where white fish like Tilapia is concerned.  It can be disgustingly bland without the addition of some fresh herbs and spices.

Typically, herbs like thyme. lemongrass, or dill are used to flavor fish, but I really love the flavor of rosemary, and besides that, it makes a gorgeous garnish. By wrapping the fish up inside of parchment paper, you’re effectively steaming it in its own juices. Add a little melted butter and fresh herbs, and you’ve got a party goin’ on! Besides a small pinch of sea salt, there isn’t much more that needs to be added.  Of course, it shouldn’t stop you from creating a great veggie ensemble inside that packet of love.  Toss in some asparagus spears, zucchini, sliced cherry tomatoes, onions, or anything else that your stomach is hungry for.  You’ll end up with a heart shaped packet of love!

To make the parchment packet, we need to whirl back in time to elementary school. Remember those Valentine’s Day cards you made in art class? Same technique applies here. Fold a piece of parchment paper in half, but rather than cutting a nice curved edge, cut it slightly angled. That way the edges will seal up more easily for you.

parchment paper for baking tilapia en papillote

Next, lay slices of lemon on one side of the parchment paper. Be sure to leave room around the edges so that you can fold everything up into a nice tight package.  Rub both sides of the fish with softened herb butter, set it on top of the lemon slices, and add fresh herbs of your choice on top. If you want to add raw veggies to your packet, now would be the time.  Then, fold the parchment paper together again and starting at the pointed bottom, start making small folds all the way up and around the edges of the packet.

Place the packet on a baking sheet and cook at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  The easiest (and prettiest) way to serve them is to place the entire sealed packet on a dinner plate and let each person use a knife to slice the top of their packet open.  What they’ll find inside is delicious, romantic food love!

Tilapia en Papillote (Tilapia baked in parchment) - This healthy fish recipe makes a perfect romantic dinner for 2 because the parchment paper is shaped just like a heart! Get the recipe from @itsyummi

If  you’d like to make a romantic dessert to go with your tilapia dinner, I suggest my chocolate cherry cheesecake bites. Smaller portion sizes for the big win (and no double chin!)

Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Cups - Get this bite sized dessert recipe from ItsYummi.com

I hope you love this healthy tilapia recipe!

Tilapia en Papillote (Tilapia baked in parchment) - This healthy fish recipe makes a perfect romantic dinner for 2 because the parchment paper is shaped just like a heart! Get the recipe from @itsyummi

Baked Tilapia en Papillote (in parchment)

Tilapia en Papillote is a simple, healthy, and romantic dinner recipe. Fresh fish is baked in parchment paper on slices of lemon, with herbs and melted butter.
4.25 from 8 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 17 minutes
Course Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine American, French
Servings 2
Calories 175 kcal


  • 1 lemon cut into thin slices
  • 2 fillets tilapia (4 oz. each) look for brands of tilapia that are ASC-approved, such as Regal Springs
  • 1 tablespoon herb butter
  • 2 sprigs rosemary


  • Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Fold 2 sheets of parchment paper (each approximately 12 inches long) in half. Use scissors to cut each piece into the shape of a heart. Lay the open heart shaped parchment on a clean work surface. Using the crease as the center of your paper, place sliced lemons on the left side of each heart.
  • Use your hands to rub herbed butter on both sides of fish fillets, then place fillets on top of lemon slices. Sprinkle fillets with salt and pepper, then place one rosemary sprig on top of each fish fillet. Fold right side of heart over the left side.
  • Starting at the pointed end of the parchment, make small folds up and around the edges of the paper to completely seal the contents inside.
  • Place packets on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees F. for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer sealed packets onto plates. To open, use a steak knife to make a slice down the center of each packet. OPEN CAREFULLY, as steam will escape once it’s been opened!
  • Serve and enjoy!


Serving: 1filletCalories: 175kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 23gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 71mgSodium: 110mgPotassium: 416mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 175IUVitamin C: 28.6mgCalcium: 25mgIron: 1mg
Tried this recipe? Mention @itsyummi or tag #itsyummirecipe!
Tilapia en Papillote (Tilapia baked in parchment) - This healthy fish recipe makes a perfect romantic dinner for 2 because the parchment paper is shaped just like a heart! Get the recipe from @itsyummi


  1. I’ve always wanted to bake fish this way! can’t wait to try this Baked Tilapia!! looks so delicious!!

  2. I am not crafty enough to cut a heart out of parchment, it’s probably because you are looking at a lefty who basically was forced into learning how to use scissors with her right hand. Doomed to cut crooked for the rest of my life. Anyway, it still looks delicious!

    1. Your comment made me giggle out loud, Susan! If you only knew how many feet of parchment paper I had to waste before I had a useable heart! πŸ˜‰

  3. Fish in parchment paper is the way to go! It looks elegant and always tastes good! I LOVE the rosemary — just beautiful!

  4. This is one of my go-to Summer dishes, but it makes a great Valentine’s meal – especially with the heart-shaped parchment!! Rosemary and lemon sounds like such a fragrant, delicious combination. Thank you for a great recipe!

  5. This looks incredible. I don’t cook fish nearly enough which makes no sense because it’s so simple. I’ll definitely be adding this to my dinner menu soon.

  6. 5 stars
    I’ve had fish prepared this way back home many times and just love the simplicity of just playing to the fresh flavors. Now I think I may have to try to make it myself.

  7. You know, I’ve cooked fish using this technique in the past and I’m surprised it hasn’t caught on here in the United States because it’s easy and very tasty, but I have a question: Whenever I’ve included them in the parchment, I haven’t been able to cook vegetables fully through without overcooking the fish. Any suggestions?

    1. I know what you mean about the veggies requiring extra cooking time, which dries out the fish. I’ve done a couple of things to avert the problem. I cut hard veggies like carrots very thinly (actually, if you cut them into julienne strips, they turn out fabulously!) or I par cook thick and/or hard veggies like asparagus. Soft veggies like zucchini and cherry tomatoes never seem to be a problem.
      I hope that helps!

  8. Becca, this sounds wonderful. I love fish and am always looking for new (and easy) ways to cook it. I will definitely try this one.

  9. Wow Becca, this is seriously the most beautiful fish I have ever seen. LOVE it! So romantic and definitely a wow dish! Pinned. πŸ™‚

  10. I remember the first time I made a papillote dish, I was in love. To create an incredible dish with little clean up is my idea of perfection.

  11. 5 stars
    I love cooking fish in parchment paper. It always comes out so moist. This dish looks and sounds fabulous!

    1. OMG, I just realized I commented on this post a couple months ago, too. I guess that means it’s a double winner. LOL

      1. Haha! Thank you, Stephanie. It’s nice to know that this recipe stands the test of time. πŸ˜‰ I appreciate your review and rating of it.

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