Cedar Paper Tilapia

This is a quick meal that I resort to when I realize the day’s gotten away from me and I need to come up with a fast but good meal.  And it’s incredibly healthy as there’s not much fat to it!

What you’ll need:

  • Cedar Papers (I buy Fire & Flavor brand cause it’s the only one I’ve found so far.  FireandFlavor.com)
  • Butcher String (optional)
  • Tilapia (one large or two small filets per person…the photos you see below are one large and two small-to feed two)
  • 1 lime per 2-3 servings
  • basil
  • salt
  • olive oil (I like to use rosemary infused with this recipe)
  1. Take your Cedar Papers and put them in a deep plate/bowl/tray.  Cover with water and let sit at least 10 minutes.
  2. Cut your tilapia filets into 1/2-1 inch chunks.
  3. Toss the cut tilapia into a bowl and add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil per 1-2 filets (you just want to be able to evenly coat all the pieces
  4. Slice basil into thin strips (this is called a Chiffonade.  It’s easily achieved with basil by rolling it sideways into a little bundle then slicing your way down from the tip.)
  5. Toss in the basil and a dash of salt.  Mix the tilapia till evenly coated with the oil, basil, and salt
  6. Begin heating your pan in the oven at 400° or start your coals on the grill (usually I do this in my grill pan in the oven but it was dirty and I didn’t feel like cleaning it last night.  I’ll post pictures when I get it cleaned up again.  lol)
  7. Slice the limes as thin as you can get them.  You’ll need about three slices per serving.
  8. When your desired temperature is reached (or close), begin layering the fish and limes in the center of a cedar paper.
  9. You can try wrapping the paper around to get the desired thickness.  You want a little overlap (especially if not using any string).  If you need to add or remove fish from the packets for a good fit, do so as needed.
  10. Tie the string around the middle if using it.  Otherwise, leave them face up (they’ll be open) until you’re ready to cook them all.  You’ll roll them as you place them in the pan or on the grill so the seam is down.  The heat will burn them shut most of the time.
  11. Place on the grill or in the oven and cook for 12-14 minutes (check to be sure they’re cooked all the way through).  The fish should be a solid white without anything translucent showing through.  You can open one to check the middle pieces if you like.
  12. Turn once, halfway through cooking
  13. Once cooked, serve still rolled up, or open and slide it off the paper onto rice (I like the grab a strip of the cedar and shove it under the rice to add to the aroma.

This is one of our favorite meals.  The mixture of flavors is bring and fresh.  And the aroma is light and summery.  Plus, everyone will think you’re amazingly talented just cause you used cedar paper!  lol!


  • I’m terrible with timing things.  The next time I make this, I’ll be sure to set a timer and verify the cook time.  the 12-14 mins is a guess.  it may take more or less time.  But Tilapia is a thin, light fish and shouldn’t require much cooking time at all.


  • I first spotted the Cedar Papers at Whole Foods.  They were on sale for 1.99 per pack (6).  I then found out the full price in store was 8.99!  Ouch!  So the next time they went on sale, I stocked up on them.  I’ve also found them at Tuesday Morning for 3.99 a pack.
  • I like to stack the lime slices top/middle/bottom so that I get the most even dispersal of their juices.
  • The limes aren’t considered an edible part of the meal.  So you may want to warn guests they’re just garnish… unless someone REALLY likes limes.  lol
  • I like to add a dash of tilapia over the top right before serving.


  • This could easily be altered to use crab or shrimp, other light fish like orange roughy, perhaps.  Tilapia tends to be our go-to fish because it’s cheap and readily available.  But I’m sure others would lend well to such a simple recipe. 
  • You could even swap the tilapia for salmon and the limes for lemon.  I imagine it would be delicious!