How to Smoke Tilapia (No Smoker Required)

This smoked tilapia is perfect if you’re tired of pan-frying, steaming, or grilling your Tilapia.

It perfect for adults and kids as this type of fish doesn’t have a strong flavor, so it’s excellent for absorbing the smoke. It will also do a great job of taking on the flavor of any marinade you use.

But what if you want to try smoked fish but don’t have a smoker? Don’t worry, I have you covered!

smoked tilapia recipe

Why we love this Smoked Tilapia Recipe

Tilapia is a white, flaky fish with a mild flavor. It is perfect for absorbing all the delicious smoke.

While tilapia is not considered a fatty fish, it contains more omega-3 fats than chicken, pork, beef, or turkey. This can also help keep the fish moist during the smoke. You can also try smoking others, like salmon, carp, and trout.

traeger smoked fish tilipia

What You Need


Orange Juice


Lime Juice

How to make these tilapia fillets on the smoker

Season The Fish

 Preheat your smoker to 225 degrees F

I use lemon juice, honey, kosher salt, and black pepper as the basic marinade. Mix the marinade ingredients. Add the fish to a bowl with the marinade, ensuring the fillets are covered—place in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

We suggest you try out this teriyaki marinade (it’s for salmon but works well for tilapia, too), a cayenne pepper spice rub, or even replace the lemon juice with ponzu juice.


Place the fish in a pan, transfer the entire pan to the smoker, and place it on the grill grates. Close the lid, and smoke for 70 minutes or until the fish reaches 145°F.

Picking The Right Wood

Alder wood is my favorite wood chip to use for smoking tilapia. This is because it will not overpower the flavor of your fish. Tilapia is a mild fish, so you don’t want to use wood with a bold flavor. Apart from alder wood, yowe also like using cherrywood and applewood

Times and Temperatures for Smoked Tilapia

Smoke the fish for about 1 hour at 225°F. You must smoke the tilapia until it has reached an internal temperature of 145°F

Like any other fish, it’s important to keep an eye on the temperature when you’re cooking tilapia. You don’t want to overcook it, and you don’t want to undercook it. Since tilapia is already known to be flaky, overcooking it could ruin its texture.

But What If You Don’t Have a Smoker?

You don’t need a fancy smoker to smoke fish or meat. You can even use a gas grill, cedar planks, charcoal grill, or make your own DIY smoker. Below I’ll show you how to use a gas grill or charcoal grill to smoke.

Smoking on a Gas Grill

If you’re using a gas grill, you must first set it up for indirect cooking. Then, fill your smokebox or homemade smoke pouches with woodchips.

Then place that on the heat source. Once it starts smoking, you’re good to go! Just place your fish on the opposite side of the grills. (You don’t need special smoker racks!). See our tips on turning a gas grill into a smoker.

my smoke pouch filled with wood chips for gas grill
This is one of my smoke pouches, which I use for smoking on my gas grill

Smoking on a Charcoal Grill

If you’re using a charcoal grill, you must set it up for indirect cooking. (If you have a round grill, you can use the charcoal snake method). Get your coals hot and move them to one side of the grill.

Then, place your smoking box or pouch over them. Once smoking, place your fish on the opposite side.

Cooking a piece of tilapia this way is different from grilling it. When you use a smoker, you’re using an indirect heat source. 

smoking tilapia on the grill
smoking tilapia on the grill
smoked tilapia recipe

Smoked Tilapia

This smoked tiplia recipe is perfect for a cookout or for a dinner party. It has a delicious citurs marinade which is simple to whip up.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 8 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 18 minutes
Course Appetizer, Dinner, lunch, main, Main Course
Cuisine American, Barbecue, bbq, seafood
Servings 4 serves
Calories 250 kcal


  • Grill
  • Smoker


  • 3-4 filets Tilapia
  • .5 cup orange juice
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp lime juice


  • Mix the ingredients for the marinade
  • Add the fish to a bowl with the marinade, make sure the fillets are covered. Place in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
  • Set your smoker to 260, and add the wood chips of your choice. If your using a grill to smoke, see the notes below
  • Remove the fish fillets from the marinade, then place then on a foil covered tray, then place the tray in the smoker. Smoke the fish until they reach an internal temperature of 165F, about 2 hours.
Keyword Fish, Smoked Fish

We love seafood at our house! When we have time to smoke it! Let me know if you have good marinades for tilapia, I am always looking for new ones.

Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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