Tender and flaky, lemon pepper baked cod takes 25 minutes from start to finish! Topped with a zesty compound butter with lemon and garlic, baked cod is a quick and easy weeknight dinner.
Why you’ll love this recipe:
If fish recipes intimidate you, baked cod is the recipe for you! It’s forgiving, cooks quickly. and soaks up any flavors you throw at it. A simple compound butter boasts fresh parsley, bright lemon, and earthy garlic, and melts directly onto the cod. Not only is cod succulent, but it’s packed with feel-good nutrients like lean protein, B vitamins, and minerals.
- Lemon pepper cod in only 25 minutes
- Nutrient-dense with high-quality protein
- Easy and forgiving recipe
Oven baked cod tastes amazing alongside any side dish! Try it with oven roasted vegetables, cucumber radish salad, grilled mixed vegetables, or a quick couscous salad. Healthy roasted cod is easy enough for a busy weeknight, but fancy enough for a Saturday!
Key Ingredient Notes:
My baked cod fish recipe consists of two easy elements – the fish itself and a bright and savory compound butter!
For the compound butter:
- Unsalted butter – Unsalted butter allows you to control the quality and amount of salt. Let it sit out on the counter so it’s soft and easy to spread.
- Parsley – Parsley has a clean and earthy taste perfect for fish! If you can’t find parsley, parsley paste is a great option. It comes in a squeezable tube near the herbs.
- Garlic – Grate the garlic so it disperses evenly throughout the butter.
- Lemon zest – Lemon zest adds an intense and bright lemony flavor. Be sure to zest the yellow part of the peel, the white part tastes bitter. Don’t throw the lemon out! Use it to make these rustic grilled potatoes and mushrooms.
- Salt & pepper – Don’t forget to season! Salt equals flavor, especially in rich spreads and compound butter.
For the lemon pepper fish:
- Cod – For best results, use high-quality wild-caught cod fillets. Fresh or frozen are both great, but frozen cod should be thawed before cooking. Thaw the cod fillets in the refrigerator overnight.
- Olive oil – Olive oil prevents the cod from sticking to the sheet pan. There’s nothing worse than scraping glued-on fish from a baking sheet.
- Seasoning – Lemon pepper and salt season the fish. The compound butter will melt directly onto the fish for even more flavor.
How to make this recipe:
Make the compound butter:
- In a medium bowl, combine the softened butter, parsley, garlic, lemon zest, lemon pepper, and salt. Use a spoon to mix well. Don’t use cold butter or you won’t be able to stir it. If you only have cold butter, zap it in the microwave in 5-second increments until soft but not melty.
Bake the cod:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wait until the oven is up to temperature before baking the cod, otherwise it will dry out.
- Drizzle some olive oil on a baking sheet and arrange the cod fillets so they’re not touching.
- Evenly distribute the seasoning between the tops of the filets. Scoop a tablespoon of compound butter onto each filet. The butter will melt in the oven and flavor the fish.
- Bake the cod for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cod flakes easily. I like to check it at 10 minutes and add more time if necessary. Thicker filets will take longer than thin ones. Spread more butter on each filet and enjoy!
How to thaw cod:
- The best and safest way to thaw cod is in the refrigerator overnight. Don’t remove it from the packaging. Just place it directly into the fridge to thaw.
- Never thaw cod on the counter!
- If you forget to thaw it overnight, place the frozen fish in a bowl under cold running water. Do not use hot water to thaw frozen fish! It will partially cook the fish which gives it a rubbery texture once cooked.
- For safety reasons, never refreeze fish that’s been thawed.
What to serve with cod:
Oven baked cod is a versatile dish that tastes delicious with lighter fare as well as heavier sides! Try one of these satisfying sides to complete your meal:
- Make compound butter ahead – Compound butter lasts for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Make it the day before for a quick and easy prep.
- Thaw the fish ahead of time – Thaw the fish in the refrigerator overnight so it’s ready to cook. If you forget to do this, thaw the fish in a bowl of cold water instead.
- Refrigerate any leftover cod within two hours of cooking it.
- Place the leftover fillets into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- Enjoy the leftover cod cold in fresh salads, or reheat in the oven at 275 degrees Fahrenheit in a baking dish covered with aluminum foil.
The USDA recommends an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s best to remove the fish from the oven at 140 degrees since the temperature will continue to rise even when it’s out of the oven. This will give you a flaky and tender fillet that’s firm but not dry.
While you can pan-fry cod in a hot skillet, oven baked cod is much more forgiving! There’s no need to flip the cod or watch it carefully. Both ways are delicious though, so it’s ultimately a matter of preference.
Cod is ready to eat when it flakes easily with a fork and the inside looks opaque. You can test it with a fork or gently press on it with your finger. If it feels soft, it needs a minute or two longer. If it feels firm, then it’s ready!
Lemon Pepper Baked Cod
For compound butter:
- ¼ cup (60g) unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon grated garlic (about 1 clove)
- ½ teaspoon fresh lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon lemon pepper
For baked cod:
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cod filets Note 1
- 2 teaspoons lemon pepper
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
To make the compound butter:
- In a medium bowl, combine softened butter, chopped parsley, grated garlic, lemon zest, lemon pepper and salt. Using a spoon, mix until well combined.
To bake the cod:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Drizzle some olive oil on a baking sheet and arrange the cod filets.
- Evenly sprinkle the seasoning and salt all over the fish and place a tablespoon of compound butter on each filet.
- Bake the cod for 10-15 minutes, or until the fish is opaque and flakes easily. The exact cooking time varies depending on the thickness of filet. Spread the butter all over and enjoy!
* Disclaimer: All nutrition information are estimates only. Read full nutrition disclosure.
Sharing of this recipe is encouraged and appreciated. Copying of full recipe to any social media is prohibited.