Foil Packet Tilapia CrockPot Recipe

People are sometimes quite surprised that I cook fish in the slow cooker, but I do, quite regularly. This is my favorite recipe for Parmesan Tilapia. I probably cook it twice a month, if not more.

Parmesan Tilapia Recipe -- how to slow cook (really!) fish perfectly in foil packs in the crockpot. The sauce on this fish is TO DIE FOR. My kids all lick their plate clean!

Day 33.

Even people who aren't crazy about fish will like this recipe. It calls for cheese, mayonaise and lemon juice---a trifecta that can't be beat.

Tilapia is a mild, flaky white fish that is a wonderful starting point for beginning fish eaters. Cooking fish in foil packets is a great way to seal in the natural moisture of the fish and get the flavors infused into every bite.

Ha! I sound like I know what I'm talking about.

Anyhow, foil = good fish. And foil + fish + crockpot = a real, live American family eating fish.

without being bribed.

and that makes a very happy mom.

Parmesan Tilapia
The Ingredients:
serves 4

how to make Parmesan Tilapia in the Slow Cooker --- this is truly our family's favorite fish recipe of all time. The sauce is amazing and totally company worthy. Even my dad who doesn't eat fish loved it!

3 or 4 filets of Tilapia (or other favorite white fish)
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup shredded cheese (shredded Parmesan cheese is the best cheese to use, but I have used Cheddar, Swiss, and Mozarella before. (I even have used string cheese! ;-)  )).
juice of 2 lemons
4 chopped garlic cloves
pinch each of salt and black pepper

The Directions:

mix all ingredients (except for the fish. definitely not the fish.) in a bowl

--lay out a piece of foil
--rub sauce mixture on both sides of fish
--fold foil over and make a little packet for the fish

--put all the packets into the crockpot


cook on high for 2 hours. Unwrap carefully and test with a fork. If the fish flakes easily, it's done (2 hours on high has always been enough time in all my cookers), if it doesn't flake super easily, rewrap then cook on high for an additional 30  minutes.

PLEASE take care when taking the packet out of the crockpot and when opening it. It will be hot.


After I learned how to cook fish like this, I won't do it any other way! You get moist, flaky fish with NO fish smell in the house!

Do you love this article?

Please share it with your friends!

Posted by: Stephanie O'Dea | A Year of Slow Cooking at February 02, 2017

Sign up for the A Year of Slow Cooking newsletter and get the Top Ten Reader Favorite Recipes sent directly to your inbox!

What they say about this article

  1. Wow, looks like I might actually be willing to eat fish! Thanks!

  2. This is one fish I definitely want to try this year!! Sounds like a great recipe.

  3. oh I'm SO going to try this! my husband loves fish but I'm not so sure about it - this sounds like something I might like - thanks!
    **by the way, if you know of any crock pot pork chop recipes I would LOVE to try them :-)

  4. I am suggesting this to the rest of my family-it looks yummy!

  5. Anonymous2/24/2008

    Wow, this really sounds good! I was looking for a recipe like this one!

  6. Anonymous2/28/2008

    I've cooked fish in foil packets, known as en papiollots, for years but in the oven. (Set the oven for 425 degrees and bake for 20 minutes.) I'd rather save the electricity bill.

    Other than that I think you have a good thing goin' with this blog.

    Why am I hungry all of a sudden?

  7. I made this for dinner tonight and it was so good. My mom and I each ate 2 pieces. I have alwasy cooked fish in foil packets on the grill, but never in the crock pot. I am so excited to know that I can do in the crock pot. Another good foil packet fis recipe to try is this:

    Put a slice of tomoatoe and a slice of onion on the foil. Add a little garlic or garlic salt. Put this fish on top. Slice some stick butter and put some slices on top. Sprinkle with Sason. Wrap up and grill the foil packets. I am sure would also be good in the crock pot.

  8. I just found your site via a google search for crock pot foil packet. I can't wait to sift through ever page. I live in a hot climate and I hope to start making meals via the crock pot.

  9. Anonymous7/20/2008

    I made these Friday night and made one addition; after coating with mayo/cheese mixture I dredged the filets gently through some dry bread crumbs and parmesan. It was delicious and we enjoyed it. Taco soup was last night and made up some find breakfast burritos this morning. Tonight I will add the two leftover filets of tilapia in to the crock pot seafood alfredo toward the end of the cooking time. I love getting your recipes each day Stephanie; keep up the good work.

    -- Donna

  10. I didn't have all of it on hand, so I made it over using lime instead of lemon and cilantro added with the onion and garlic. Then I topped it with a slice of tomato and used salsa on the side.

    It went over great with the family!

  11. I made this using catfish. So flavorful! To make it a complete meal I cut up potatoes, carrots & onions, tossed them in dried lipton onion soup and put them in bottom of crock pot with 1 cup water. Top these veges with the foil wrap fish and there you have it. No muss, no fuss - just good eatin'.

  12. Our family doesn't like mayo, but I followed the cooking instructions to make tilapia "hobo meals". It worked great. Put fish in foil with lemon, olive oil and fresh veggies. I used asparagus, red pepper, carrots and onion.


    (Finding Nemo)

    Here's hoping it's guest-worthy.
    yes, this is how much I trust you.

  14. Anonymous2/03/2009

    I made this today and the family loved it (except the one-year old). My husband kept saying "that was gooooooood!"

  15. I made this last night and it was wonderful! Everyone loved it. I did not thaw out the fillets first and it worked fine to start them frozen.

    I posted this on my blog and linked back to yours. I hope that's okay!

  16. Does anyone have a suggestion for a replacement for the Mayo? My boys are allergic to egg, and soy.

  17. Hi Dee,
    I think you could use a plain yogurt or sour cream instead. The mayo provides a bit of moisture and some tang.

  18. I've just made this twice in two weeks, it's that amazing.

    However, I only used one lemon (maybe mine are real juicy, but one was almost too much, and I LIKE sour), and basically just grated Parmesan until I felt satisfied. And added basil. And pre-minced garlic (sad, as I am a fresh garlic fiend, but I figured it wouldn't mix as well). Annd a little spicy Spike. Frozen Tilapia was used the first time, but I used frozen Sole (as it was on sale) the second. YUM.

    Also, I cut up fresh veggies (carrots, cauliflower, broccoliflowerwhatevertheheck, bell peppers), and tossed in frozen (broccoli, corn, green beans, and edamame beans) into the bottom of the pot with a pat of butter, garlic, basil, and a little ickle water. Likely I could have skipped the water entirely because of the frozen veggies, as there was a good half inch of liquid at the end.

    Awesome. And so easy.

  19. This was awesome!!! Not fishy at all. Might go easy on the lemon juice though, but that's just me.

  20. Do you know many layers of fish packets this would work for? I'm a college pastor and I tend to cook for 20 kids at a time!!!

  21. It is in the crockpot now. Used Alaskan Pollock because that is what I had on hand. I pray everyone will like this. They hate fish! But I am trying to get them away from red meat!

    Thanks for this site!


  22. This did not go over very well at all. It is my fault. The Pollock was too fishy tasting. They loved the sauce though! I am going to get fresh (well as fresh as I can get in the desert) and try it again.


  23. Dnice22228/15/2009

    Had a recipe for Foil Tilapia in the oven that I wanted to covert to slow cooker; did a search and you were the first link! Just what I needed, and I'm putting it together now!

  24. Made this today and loved it, loved it, loved it!!
    So did my whole family!!! NO leftovers! :)

  25. I am obsessed with my slow cooker and my husband and I LOVE eating fish ... however, we were getting super sick of just broiling or grilling it. I cannot wait to try this recipe tonight. Thank you so much for posting this! I love your blog and am totally going to read the rest of it to get more ideas fro my slow cooker! Thank you!

  26. I just googled "crock pot tilapia" and you were the first link!
    I'm a newlywed and this will be my first go-round with my crock-pot. I can't wait to try this recipe on my hubby (who only eats fish/seafood).
    I'm so excited about this blog so I'm sure I'll be back! Thanks in advance!

  27. Can you use frozen filets? Or should you let them thaw?

  28. Can the fish be frozen or does it need to be thawed??

  29. hi Jamiffer,
    my fish comes frozen, and I run it under hot water enough to loosen it from the package, so it's partially frozen when I put it into the slow cooker.

    If you are using frozen, you will end up with more fish juice in the foil, but it will cook just fine. Check after 2 hours, but know it might take a bit longer for the fish to flake.

    xoo steph

  30. Anonymous4/08/2010

    Tried this last night with some cut up red peppers (with a bit of balsamic vinagar, soy and spices for liquid) at the bottom! Turned out great, but I used a grated Parmesan that had Romano in it, which didn't smell very good, but tasted great. My family loved it and it was so easy! Thanks!!!

  31. I've made this a couple times since you posted it. My kids love it and my husband will eat fish which is a victory! I had a bunch of jarred pimentos that I got for a steal at the grocery store and threw one of those in once when I was feeling daring. It turned out great and gave the dish a little color. Thanks for such a great recipe!

  32. Okay, NO ONE in this house will eat fish. I have tried several different disasters over the years. I can't WAIT to try this!

    And, I LOVED the (doy) at the bottom of your post. Laughed out loud.

  33. I first want to say how much I love your website! With the weather getting hot all of a sudden, your recipes have certainly come in handy!

    I used your foil cooking method with Mahi and mexican seasonings, which turned out perfectly for our fish tacos.

    Thanks for all the fabulous ideas!

  34. I tried this tonight, hoping it would mask the (unusually) strong flavor of some of the 10 pounds of tilapia that I got on sale. It was wonderful! What easy preparation and easy cleanup. Thanks for a great fish recipe. I never would have thought to use a crockpot.

  35. Let me tell you just how much I trust you:

    I made my first-ever attempt at tilapia last night. There were six of us at the table:

    One completed culinary school.
    One is 1st trimester pregnant.
    Two are toddlers (age 1 and 2).
    One is my husband, who eats things days past the expiration date that I have deemed unfit to feed our dogs.
    And, the last one is me – she is who is just learning to put fish on my fork and chew.

    That’s right. I had enough faith in you to make a brand new FISH recipe for dinner guests. I’ve never cooked a tilapia, let alone tasted one.

    So what was the outcome?

    Well, Mr. Culinary School jumped up for a second serving and I stole the leftovers for lunch, leaving my husband with nothing but a boring ham sandwich today.

    It was really, really, REALLY good. I enjoyed every bite. And I can’t believe that I’m excited to make this again. Possibly for another batch of dinner guests. (Because “Parmesan crusted Tilapia” sounds a whole lot more fancy-schmancy than “I’m ordering pizza.”)

  36. I made this today! It was so good! I even blogged about it! Food thoughts,not food for thought
    And linked to your recipe of course. Next I am going to try the orange tilapia recipe. thank you, thank you, thank you!

  37. Made this last week and it was a HIT! LOVE it. Will be a regular for now on. And it's so easy!

  38. Just finished putting this in the crock pot! I'm nervous because I spooned some of the mixture on top of the fillets before I sealed up the foil. Now I'm worried that it might be too much flavor! At any rate, if it turns out being too much flavor but good flavor, I'll be trying this again! Next on our list - a variation of your tortilla soup. I am so excited because these actually seem like dishes that I WANT to cook, unlike most crock pot cookbooks! Thanks. :-)

  39. Stephanie,

    This is in my Crock Pot today... I have stupidly excited to try this!

  40. Anonymous1/19/2011

    So wonderful!! I made this for my husband who does not like fish... and he loved it!! Thank you so much!!

  41. Fish Fabulous! I doubled it for the seven of us and everyone loved it. Thank you. ~ Tricia

  42. I will be making this recipe tomorrow. Can't wait! My only question is I've never used my crock pot without adding any liquid. It is not necessary, right? Thanks!

  43. Tried this the other day with our fresh (frozen) caught walleye from our trip to Canada last summer!!! It was delish and will be talked about on my blog today.

  44. Carrie8/02/2011

    I work. Can I make the packets put them in frozen and have the kids turn on the crock when they get home from school? Will the packets be ok if left out? Thanks!

  45. Sarah in KS8/20/2011

    I am amazed. My 10 year old ate an entire fillet without complaint. This from a kid who refuses eat chicken nuggets because he thinks I'm trying to slip him fish sticks.

    I can't thank you enough!

    Carrie-I would set the crock in the fridge until the kids get home. It doesn't take long for the fillets to defrost and seafood is so easy to spoil that I wouldn't chance it.

  46. This recipe sounds great! Trying it tonight =) Will blog about it too <3

  47. I am so enjoying your recipes, I have a qustion for your Tilapia. When placing these packets into the crock pot do you layer them around the bottom or just stack them on top of each other in the middle. I have a 6.5 qt if i doubled the packets will it still only need to cook for 2-4 hours(frozen). Thanks look forward to hearing your response.

  48. Hi @cmgraham, you can stack them on top of eachother, and they'll cook just fine. I've put 6 packets with 2 fillets in each foil packet. Because the steam/heat stays in the foil, 2 hours on high is pretty much right all the time for fish packets, regardless of how full the pot is.
    I hope this helps a bit! happy 2012!

  49. I tried this, it was delicious! Then I did a different version on another day that I wasn't feeling very... mayo-ey. I of course mentioned and linked you since I got the idea from here!

  50. Made this tonight. My two and three year old gobbled it up and used words like yummy and delicious. Further proof that your cookbook's positioning in my home is right on..... It's next to my Bible. Thank you for being brilliant and real and hilarious. I'm putting you on that list of amazing people I'd like to meet one day.

  51. Rochelle2/16/2012

    I'm making this tonight! Can't wait!

  52. Courtney3/18/2012

    I'm going to try this tomorrow! It will be my first time cooking seafood since my hubby has always refused to eat it. But he's finally willing to try fish and this looks like a delicious, easy recipe to start him out on. If anyone reads this wish me luck!

  53. so, high for 2 hours with frozen fish? or low for 4 hours?

  54. Hi Molly,

    I'm so glad you commented. I need to update this post more clearly. I've made this recipe hundreds of times--- 2 hours on high is the right time, even if the fish is slightly frozen. Rinse the package under hot water to release from the plastic, then put the fish in the foil. After 2 hours on high, the fish will flake nicely for you. If you aren't happy with the ease in flaking, tightly wrap again and cook on high for an additional 30 minutes.


  55. Do the packets go in an empty crock pot without any liquid?

  56. I am away from the house during the day and was thinking about getting this ready, running home at lunch and throwing into the crock pot. However, I cannot do so if it is going to be finished in two hours. Can it be cooked on low for four or more hours?

  57. Hi Kim, I love this fish recipe, it's my absolute favorite.
    If you don't have a pot that will automatically click over to a warm setting after 2 hours, I don't think I'd cook this today. I'd hate to steer you wrong, and the difference in the low and high is too close for me to feel comfortable recommending you to try it out unattended.

    I'm sorry.

  58. I have to admit I was a bit leery of this recipe. But I have tried several recipes from this site and had a great experience so I thought to myself go for it, she hasn't steered you wrong yet. AND BOY IS THAT THE TRUTH! This was absolutely fantastic! I was just about to give up on tilapia and then I found this. What a winner. The only additions I did: seasoned with 1/4 tsp of blackened cajun spice in each packet and added a red pepper ring!

  59. Trying the fish in the crock pot for the first time. Although I am making my own recipe because I am gf and df. I added lemon pepper seasoning, lemon juice, oil, and cut up onion on top of the fish. Will be turning it the crock pot on at 3:30 pm so it will be ready when hubby gets home. Can't wait to try it!

  60. only gave high cooking time, do you not recommend cooking this recipe on low?

  61. Hi Barb, yes. I worry about the fish hanging out in the pot too long. If you'd like a longer cooking time you can try putting the fish in the foil packets inside of a pyrex or bread pan to insulate it a bit more and then check after 3 1/4 or so hours.

    It doesn't buy you too much time, though, which I realize kind of defeats the purpose of a slow cooker meal. It is a neat way to cook fish, though, but I do understand the needing extra time issue.

  62. Hi Stephanie,

    I was reading this post and thinking, why would anyone cook fish in the crock pot for 2 hours when you could cook it in the oven in 7 minutes? But then I thought it might be good in the summer months when you don't want to turn the oven on or if your oven just happens to be broken!

    It does still sound delicious though and I am going to try it with the foil packets in the oven and see how it turns out. Happy New Year!

  63. Has anyone tried this with low fat mayo?
    Also, my kids typically like tilapia coated with breadcrumbs or shake and bake. If I add that, will it just come out soggy?

  64. Has anyone tried making the packets out parchment paper instead of foil?

  65. Hi Dawn, I have! You can absolutely use Parchment, just fold the edges over a few times and crease it with your fingernail to get it to stay folded. The cooking time is exactly the same.

  66. I was really hoping for a great dinner, but this one struck out. My daughter said that it was like eating tuna noodle casserole, but there were no noodles. :( Oh well, onto the next recipe! I like the foil packets in the crock pot. Very convenient.