Are Tilefish Good To Eat? They’re Delicious! But, Beware…

With their bright yellow and gold spots, iridescent blue-green color, and rosy heads these multicolored fish have earned themselves the nickname ‘the clown of the sea.’

So, do these colorful fish taste as good as they look? Are Tilefish good to eat?

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Are Tilefish Good To Eat?

Tilefish are considered a delicacy. They are some of the most delicious, but least familiar fish to eat. They have a mild, sweet flavor and a firm, flaky texture similar to crab or lobster.

Besides providing quality protein, tilefish is low in fat, contains omega-3 fatty acids, and is a good source of vitamins A and D.

The one drawback of tilefish is that they do unfortunately contain higher levels of mercury than most fish do. More on this topic later…

Are Tilefish Good To Eat?

What Do Tilefish Taste Like?

Tilefile are versatile fish and can be cooked in a variety of ways. They are often described as having a delicate, buttery taste with a texture comparable to lobster and a flavor similar to Queen Snapper.

Its flavor pairs well with a variety of herbs and spices, as well as citrus flavors like lemon or lime.

It can be enjoyed on its own or used in a variety of dishes, such as fish chowder or fish tacos.

Nutrition Facts

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the nutrition facts for a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of baked or broiled tilefish are roughly equal to:

  • Calories: 178
  • Protein: 29.6 grams
  • Fat: 5.9 grams
  • Vitamin B12: 2.4 micrograms 
  • Selenium: 74 micrograms
  • Phosphorus: 224 milligrams
  • Niacin: 5.5 milligrams 
  • Vitamin D: 2.4 micrograms

How Do You Cook Tilefish?

Tilefish can be cooked in a variety of ways, depending on your preference. No matter which method you choose, it is important to be careful not to overcook tilefish, as it can become dry and tough when overdone.

The dimensions of the tilefish, including its size and thickness, can also impact the cooking time.

To ensure that the internal temperature of the fish reaches a safe level and gets rid of any harmful bacteria, it is important to use a meat thermometer while cooking and get an internal temp to 145 degrees. This helps to prevent the risk of foodborne illness.

Grilled Tilefish

Grilling tilefish can be tricky, but worth it if you are able to master it. Season the fish with a marinade or dry rub and grill over medium-high heat for about four to six minutes per side, or until it flakes easily with a fork. Splash lemon or lime while it’s on the grill to help bring out the flavor profile.


For those that want to avoid deep frying fish, pan-searing is a great alternative. Coat the fish in a light layer of flour and sear in a hot, oiled pan for two to three minutes per side, or until it is golden brown and cooked through.


Baking might be one of the simplest methods for cooking tilefish. Simply place the fish in a greased baking dish and bake at 400°F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until it flakes easily with a fork.


For poaching, place the tilefish in a large pot of simmering water or broth and poach for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until it is cooked through. Having a meat thermometer here would be beneficial.


When steaming, place the fish in a steamer basket over simmering water and steam for about 10 to 15 minutes. With your meat thermometer, check if it is cooked through. 

Are Tilefish High In Mercury?

Some caution should be used when eating tilefish, as they are a predatory fish with levels of mercury higher than others.

Golden tilefish are known to inhabit the bottom of the ocean near the edge of the continental shelf, and they tend to have relatively high levels of mercury, averaging around 1 ppm.

Due to this, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers this species to be one of the four types of fish that pose the greatest risk for mercury contamination.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should you eat tilefish?

Tilefish caught in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean are not going to have the same mercury levels. The ones in the gulf have slightly higher levels than the ones in the Atlantic.

With that being said, you could potentially eat two servings a week depending on where your tilefish is caught.

Are tilefish similar to grouper?

Tilefish, also known as the “poor man’s grouper,” is a mild and sweet white fish with a firm texture. Its flavor and easy preparation make it a great choice for novice chefs looking to try cooking with new types of seafood.

What do you do with tilefish?

As you can see, tilefish can be cooked in a variety of ways. The most common pairings with tilefish include pasta, salads, and even sauces. It is a versatile fish that can be mixed with almost anything.


So are tilefish good to eat? For those that want to have a savory dinner in style, this fish will not disappoint!

With its full flavor profile similar to crab or lobster, it makes sense that anglers seek out this prized fish species…just limit your consumption based on USDA recommendations.

See Also: What Is The BEST Tasting Fish? See Our Full Ranking Chart!

Growing up in Florida, I’ve been surrounded by saltwater my entire life…and I love sharing my passion with others.

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