Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Foil-Wrapped Grilled Tilapia Packets Recipe with Pesto, Tomatoes, and Green Onions (Low-Carb, Gluten-Free)

Foil-Wrapped Grilled Tilapia Packets with Pesto, Tomatoes, and Green Onions features tilapia pieces, seasoned with fish rub, spread with pesto, and grilled in foil with tomatoes and green onions.

Foil-Wrapped Grilled Tilapia Packets with Pesto, Tomatoes, and Green Onions

I love to cook fish on the grill, but for delicate-textured fish like Tilapia, putting it directly on the grill grates is asking for trouble.  For thin pieces or delicate types of fish, cooking the fish in foil on top of the grill is an easy way to get amazing results.  In this recipe for Foil-Wrapped Grilled Tilapia Packets with Pesto, Tomatoes, and Green Onions I seasoned the Tilapia pieces with my favorite Szeged Fish Rub and spread the fish with a thin layer of Basil Pesto with Lemon, then I wrapped it in foil with grape tomato halves and sliced green onions and let the foil packets cook on the grill.  We served it over rice to soak up all the delicious juice, or use Cauliflower Rice for a low-carb dish.  I made this on a day when both Jake and my brother Rand were sampling the recipe experiments, and both gave this an enthusiastic two thumbs up!

Rub the fish on both sides with olive oil and Szeged Fish Rub or your favorite seasoning for fish, and then let it come to room temperature before you cook it.

I started with a cup of tomato halves and 1/3 cup Basil Pesto with Lemon, but I didn't end up using quite that much in the recipe.

When the fish is room temperature, place it on a double piece of foil, spread with pesto, and top with tomatoes and sliced green onions.

Fold the foil around the fish and seal the ends tightly.

Cook fish over medium-high heat about 12-13 minutes (I opened one to see when it was done.)

Serve hot, over rice if desired. (Use Cauliflower Rice for a low-carb dish.) This is a quick dinner that's amazingly flavorful and easy to make.

Foil-Wrapped Grilled Tilapia Packets with Pesto, Tomatoes, and Green Onions
(Makes 2 servings but can easily be increased; recipe created by Kalyn with inspiration from Foil-Baked Salmon with Basil Pesto and Tomatoes.)

2 frozen Tilapia loins, thawed overnight in the fridge
(Other types of flaky mild white fish could also be used, but the fish should not be very thick.) 
about 1 T olive oil, for rubbing the fish pieces
about 2 tsp. Szeged Fish Rub, or use your favorite seasoning mix for fish
1/4 cup Basil Pesto with Lemon (or purchased pesto will work, although homemade pesto is better)
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half (or diced whole tomatoes)
3 T sliced green onion

Remove Tilapia from the refrigerator, rub on both sides with olive oil and season with fish rub, and let the fish come to room temperature.  Preheat the grill to medium-high (you can only hold your hand there for a few seconds at that heat.)

While the grill heats and the fish comes to room temperature, cut grape tomatoes in half and slice green onions.  Tear off four squares of foil, stack them up to make two double pieces, and spray the inside of the foil with non-stick spray or brush with olive oil.

When the fish is room temperature, put a piece of fish on top of each double piece of foil, spread about 2 T pesto over each piece of fish, and scatter half the tomatoes and green onions over each.  Fold the foil around the fish, tightly sealing the ends.  Cook fish on the hot grill without turning until the fish is cooked through and the pesto, tomatoes, and green onions are wilted and have formed a flavorful sauce.  We cooked our fish 13 minutes, but cooking time will depend on the thickness of the fish, temperature of the fish, grill temperature and air temperature so I would open one packet to test when you think it should be done.

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South Beach Suggestions: 
Fish is a lean protein suitable for the South Beach Diet, and although it's not as high in nutrients as more fatty types of fish, I like Tilapia and cook it occasionally.  This recipe would be suitable for phase 2 or 3 if you serve the fish over rice, or without the rice it would be approved for all phases.  

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Tasty Ways to Cook Tilapia:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)

Baked Tilapia with Walnut-Arugula Pesto and Breadcrumbs from Cookin' Canuck

Almond and Parmesan Baked Tilapia from Kalyn's Kitchen

Grilled Lemon Butter Tilapia from 101 Cooking for Two

World's Easiest Roasted Tilapia from Kalyn's Kitchen

Tilapia with Cornmeal Chipotle Crust from Eat This

(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

More to Chew On:


  1. Tilapia always seems pretty plain Jane to me, but covered in all that pesto, it must be bursting with flavor!

  2. Kalyn - love the idea of making these little pouches - it's like steaming the fish so it stays nice and moist. Great flavor combination!

  3. Thanks Joanne and Jeanette. We absolutely loved this!

  4. This fish sounds super easy--and full of flavor! I love the idea of adding pesto. :)

  5. There is a mystique to anything foil-wrapped, as far I am concerned. You unwrap a packet and it's all there!

  6. Eileen, I think I would eat just about anything with pesto on it.

    Mimi, so true!

  7. I love tilapia, but it's not that easy to find here (frozen, of course, but not fresh). I'm going to try this with cod loin, which is something we're lucky enough to get in our fish markets here in New England. Love serving anything in an individual packet -- it feels like a gift!

  8. Foil packets full of goodness are so much fun! And the contents of this one would be especially tasty. Will have to give this one a try when we're camping, Kalyn. Thanks! :-)


  9. Yes! I will be making this recipe over the weekend!

  10. Lydia, I think this would be great with cod!

    Shirley, this would be fun to make when you were camping!

    Elizabeth, so glad you like it!

  11. I'm think about doing this recipe but with the whole Tilapia. I think I will try it this week-end.

  12. This was delicious and so simple. So good with tilapia and salmon. I have made it on the grill and in the oven. The juices are great served over rice or even pasta. Loved this!

  13. Christine, so glad you enjoyed the recipe!


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