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Pan Fried Cod

Pan Fried Cod is a healthy, lean fish that can be easily added to your dinner rotation. This tender, flavorful cod recipe is quick enough for busy weeknights. It’s sure to become a favorite.

cod, fish, cod recipe, pan fried cod
This easy pan fried cod recipe is much way healthier than deep-fried fish, yet incredibly flavorful.

Watch Us Make Pan Fried Cod

Pan Fried Cod Recipe

Atlantic cod is a popular white fish to cook, as it’s mild in flavor, flaky and tender in texture, and easily accessible.

Though Atlantic cod is commonly battered and deep fried for fish and chips, it’s actually an extremely versatile fish that can be baked, steamed, broiled, or pan fried. We’ve done it all, and the results are always tender-delicious, whichever method we’ve chosen. That said, my personal favorite way to enjoy a fresh, thick fillet of cod is simple pan frying. Thus, this lemon butter cod recipe was born.

Why choose Cod? And Is Cod Healthy?

This pan fried cod recipe would be fantastic with any thick white fish fillet: halibut, mahi mahi, or snapper would all work well. We often opt for Atlantic cod, as it’s easily accessible throughout the year. Thick, high quality, flash frozen cod also works beautifully here.

A happy, heathy benefit of cod is its stellar nutrition profile. Cod has earned some bragging rights: not only is it lean and low in calories, but it’s high in protein and packed with essential vitamins and minerals (Hello, B-12 and Selenium.)

Bonus: cod is generally much lower in mercury than many other popular fish, making it a cleaner choice.

cod, fish, cod recipe, pan fried cod
It’s super easy make pan fried cod, for a healthy cod dinner the family will devour.

How to cook Cod Using Pan-Fry Method

I’m into easy pan frying partially because I’m lazy. But more importantly, pan frying yields that deliciously browned exterior on both sides of the fish. Baking or steaming won’t accomplish that same golden “crust.”

Pro Tips for pan frying cod:

  • Let fish sit at room temp in a colander to drain any excess water, particularly if your fish was previously frozen. Do this while you’re preparing the rest of the ingredients; this allows time for the fish to get closer to room temperature.
  • Always thoroughly pat dry fish fillets to further remove as much moisture as you can. Yes, your roll of paper towels will dwindle a bit, but this step is essential to ensuring the fish cooks correctly.
  • Use enough olive oil to coat bottom of pan; get that oil super hot prior to adding fish fillets.
  • Cook 2 fillets at a time (unless your pan is giant and can cook 4 fillets without crowding) and cook with lid ajar to allow steam to escape. Otherwise, the cod will be steamed rather than browned.
  • Use a thin but wide metal spatula to gently flip the fish to brown the other side. No small or flimsy tools – it’s a sad minute when a nice fish fillet breaks apart.

Ingredients for Lemon Butter Mixture

  • We’ll start with the obvious: lemon and butter. Plenty of fresh lemon zest, juice, and slices of bright yellow lemons are on call. This recipe uses salted butter, but feel free to adjust and use unsalted butter if needed.
  • We use shallots, as they offer a milder flavor than onions. If you’d like, feel free to substitute with 1 tablespoon freshly minced onion.
  • Garlic. Oh, how we love all the garlic. The end.
cod, fish, cod recipe, pan fried cod
Serve your pan-fried cod with a side of rice, salad, or potatoes for a delicious meal.

What to Serve with Cod

We adore rice pilaf as a healthy sidekick to fish recipes. If you love mushrooms, here’s our rice pilaf with mushrooms that’ll have you patting yourself on the back

If you’re a spud fan, here are our top 15 best potato recipes to choose from.

For your vegetables, may we suggest a helping of nutritious air fryer broccoli that cooks in mere minutes? Or perhaps a healthy lemon spinach orzo salad is calling your name. Either way, you can’t go wrong.

Pan Fried Cod Recipe
Commonly Asked Questions

What’s the best cooking method for cod?

Cod is popular for battered, deep fried fish. However, cod is perfect for baking and pan frying. Our pan fry method below is both healthier and wonderfully flavorful.

What does cod fish pair well with?

Though it’s common to serve fried cod with cole slaw or french fries, we love serving this lemon-butter cod recipe with rice pilaf and caesar salad.

How long should you pan fry cod for?

There are actually several variables, including the thickness of your cod fillets. For 1-inch thick cod fillets, we recommend cooking on hight for 3-4 minutes per side.

How do I know when cod is done cooking?

The best way to test the doneness of cod is to gently twist open the center of cod fillet with a fork – if it is no longer translucent and flakes easily, it is done. It’s worth repeating that a 1-inch thick cod fillet cooks within 3-4 minutes per side; if your cod fillets are thinner, they will cook faster. The key is not to overcook.

cod, fish, cod recipe, pan fried cod

Pan Fried Cod Recipe

5 from 54 ratings
Cod is a healthy, lean fish that can be easily added to your dinner rotation. This tender, flavorful cod recipe is quick enough for busy weeknights. It’s sure to become a favorite.
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients  

For the Lemon Butter Mixture:

  • 3 TB salted butter, softened to room temp
  • 1 TB chives, or parsley, freshly chopped
  • 2 TB garlic, freshly minced
  • 1 TB shallots, freshly minced
  • tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 TB juice from fresh lemon
  • 1 TB grated lemon peel

For the Fish:

  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 4 cod fillets, 1-inch thickness, 4 oz each
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • additional lemon slices for serving

Instructions

  • Place cod in colander and let sit to drain and get closer to room temperature, while you prepare rest of ingredients.
  • In a small pan, combine all Lemon Butter Mixture ingredients and stir to fully combine. Set aside.
  • Use paper towels to pat-dry all excess moisture from the fish fillets. This step is important, so be sure to pat off as much moisture as you can (extra moisture from fish will dilute flavors and steam the fish rather than brown it.)
  • Evenly sprinkle both sides of fillets with pinches of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside. In a large pan, heat the olive oil over high heat. Once oil is sizzling hot, add fish fillets to pan (you may want to do 2 at a time to avoid crowding) and cover with lid ajar, allowing steam to escape. Cook until browned on one side, about 3-4 minutes. Do not move fish around.
  • Use a thin but wide metal spatula to gently flip fish fillets over to the other side for another 3-4 minutes just until nicely browned and center is just-cooked. The key to tender fish is to avoid overcooking.If your fillets are less than 1-inch thick, shorten cook time.
  • While your last fish fillets are cooking, heat up small pan of prepared lemon-garlic mixture over medium-high, stirring just until bubbly. Immediately turn heat off and keep warm.
  • Once fish is done, plate fillets and spoon lemon butter mixture over the fish, including any leftover juices from your frying pan. Garnish with lemon slices and enjoy.

Notes

Be sure to use coarse kosher salt, not fine table salt. Kosher salt is much milder and less salty per volume.
The actual cook time varies, depending on thickness, starting temp of fish, and type of pan used. I typically cook about 3-4 minutes per side. I check for doneness by lightly pressing fillet centers for firmness. Once it feels somewhat firm, it’s usually done.
Serve with Perfect Instant Pot Brown Rice or Best Easy Roasted Vegetables Recipe for a healthy meal that happens to be gluten-free.
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give a rating ♡

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 490kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 161g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 410mg | Sodium: 332mg | Potassium: 3746mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 0.3g | Vitamin A: 656IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 155mg | Iron: 4mg
Course: Main
Cuisine: American
Diet: Low Calorie
Method: pan fry, Stovetop

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Recipe Rating




53 comments

    • veenaazmanov
    • 5 stars

    Love your recipe to making some amazing fish. Lemon and Butter combination sounds delicious too. Perfect and healthy meal option.

      • Amy Dong

      Yay! We love it, too 🙂

    • Colleen
    • 5 stars

    I always think of battered fish and chips for cod, but not anymore! This lemony, buttery pan fried cod was amazing and simple. I will be making it again and again. Thank you!

      • Amy Dong

      You’re so welcome, Colleen!

    • Allyssa
    • 5 stars

    Thank you so much for sharing this amazing lemon butter cod recipe! Will surely have this again! It’s really easy to make and it tasted so delicious! Highly recommended!

      • Amy Dong

      Thank you, Allyssa!

    • Luhle
    • 5 stars

    This is amazing how did you do that I love it

    • JoeB

    I eat a lot of cod fillets, which are purchased at my grocers. They previously flash frozen from a brand name seafood company. The problem is that defrosted fillets contain LOTS of water – try squeezing one and you’ll see how much! Once defrosted, leaving them in a collander until they reach room temperature does not result in much of the water draining from the fillets. You state that the “patting dry” prior to frying will use quite a few paper towels. That suggests to me that you’re not just patting dry but adding pressure to squeeze out more moisture.

    So my question is this. How much of the moisture should be removed from the fillets before they become too dry and then aren’t at least somewhat moist and flaky when fried? And how much pressure/effort should be put into removing excess moisture? I haven’t found any answers to that specific question despite many internet searches.

      • chewoutloud

      After draining in a colander, we pat fillets dry with just light pressure. Don’t worry about trying to remove all the moisture; just try to excess surface moisture. Hope that helps! 🙂

    • Alex Braun
    • 5 stars

    This recipe is getting me through winter! Amazing!

      • chewoutloud

      So awesome, Alex! 🙂

    • Lydia
    • 5 stars

    Made this last night for dinner! So delicious – paired it with a nice bottle of Chardonnay. Thank you!

      • chewoutloud

      So glad you loved it, Lydia! The wine pairing sounds perfect, too 🙂

    • Alexis
    • 5 stars

    My family and I love cod, this dish sounds amazing. I’m going to give it a go this week one night for dinner. Thank you.

    • Kimberly Caines

    What a delicious dish recipe to try. It makes me hungry and tempting to this dish.

    • Bindu Thomas

    Nice dish! I’ll surely try this out. Thanks for sharing

    • Erik the Hungry Traveller

    I am not sure if i tried cod but the cook on that fish looks delicious. Thanks for another great recipe.

    • Maartje van Sandwijk

    This looks amazing!

    • tweenselmom

    I always try to cook fish more than before because I want my teens to get into the habit of eating seafood. This is one recipe that I’d try.

    • Stephanie Jeannot

    My mom makes her fish similar to you. She uses a little butter and just lets it cook and it comes out tasting so good. Looks so yummy.

      • chewoutloud

      Yes, delicious fish doesn’t have to be hard at all 🙂 Thanks, Stephanie!

    • Sondra Barker
    • 5 stars

    Wow this looks so yummy! Can’t wait to try it.

    • Rinrainbow
    • 5 stars

    I really love this recipe! Thanks for sharing

      • chewoutloud

      So glad you liked this dish 🙂 🙂

        • Reg

        I don’t know how to cook, but I can try somehow this recipe. Thank you for sharing!

    • WanderlustBeautyDreams

    This looks so good. I’m going to make this recipe this weekend!

    • Jon Maldia

    Looks delicious. Looks easy to make also.

    • cait

    this is perfect for our weekend dish bc i had no idea what to do with our cod dish- cant wait to try this recipe bc it looks delicious

    • Chelsea Sauve – Wandure

    What a fabulous dish – and delicious options within your website! I am totally going to check them out.

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