This oven-baked cod is light, flaky, and juicy! Cod fillets are nestled in tomatoes and pepper and baked to mouthwatering perfection—an easy, healthy, and delicious dinner recipe.
Baked cod is a delicious and versatile dish that can be prepared in various ways. Tender, flaky, and mild in flavor, cod has become a favorite among fish lovers. By baking cod fish, you can create a light and healthy meal that’s easy to prepare, satisfying, and perfect for weeknight dinners and entertaining guests.
Your whole family will enjoy this healthy recipe with simple ingredients and so much flavor. Perfect for nights you are craving a fish dinner!
Why You’ll Love Baked Cod
- Simple and quick to prepare. With just a few minutes of preparation and a short time in the oven, you can have a delicious and impressive meal on the table. This is great for busy weeknights when you need to quickly get a healthy dinner on the table.
- Healthy. Another reason to love baked cod is its nutritional value. Cod is a lean, low-calorie protein source packed with essential vitamins and minerals to keep you feeling your best. With its mild flavor, baked cod is an excellent starting point for those looking to add more seafood to their diets.
- Versatile. Baked cod lends itself well to a variety of seasonings and sauces. You can customize your dish to suit your taste.
- Extra virgin olive oil: This will help you sauté the onion, fennel, and garlic and add a nice, light flavor to your dish.
- Yellow onion: The diced onion adds texture and a sweet, mild flavor that complements the other ingredients in the dish.
- Fennel bulb: Fennel adds a subtle, anise-like flavor and a delightful crunch.
- Garlic cloves: Garlic brings its signature aroma and taste that enhances the overall flavor of the baked cod.
- Cherry peppers: Cherry peppers add a tangy and mildly spicy taste, giving your dish a bit of a kick.
- Cherry tomatoes: These sweet and juicy tomatoes provide a burst of flavor and a vibrant pop of color to your dish.
- Kosher salt: Salt helps amplify all the flavors and season the dish just right.
- Black pepper: Black pepper provides a subtle heat and enhances the other flavors in the dish.
- Cold unsalted butter: Butter adds richness and moisture and helps create a flavorful sauce.
- Chicken broth: This adds depth to the dish and helps create a delightful sauce that combines all the flavors.
- Cod filets: The star of the show! Cod is a versatile, mild-tasting white fish that goes perfectly with the other ingredients.
- Feta cheese: Feta’s salty and tangy flavor adds a lovely contrast to the dish and helps balance the flavors.
- Lemon: Fresh lemon slices add a lovely presentation and a zesty, citrus flavor when squeezed over the baked cod before serving.
- Fresh basil, parsley, and oregano for serving: These fresh herbs add an extra layer of flavor and a beautiful, aromatic finishing touch.
How to Make Baked Cod
- Step One: Preheat the oven to 400℉.
- Step Two: Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil to the skillet. Once it’s hot, place the onions and fennel into the pan, cooking them for 2 to 3 minutes or until tender.
- Step Three: Stir in the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, allowing the flavors to blend.
- Step Four: Add cherry peppers and cherry tomatoes to the skillet. Season with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, as the veggies become more tender and fragrant.
- Step Five: Bring the chicken broth and one tablespoon of unsalted butter. Stir the mixture and bring it to a simmer, letting it cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Step Six: Season the cod filets with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper, giving them a perfect balance of flavors. Afterward, turn off the heat.
- Step Seven: Nestle the seasoned cod filets into the tomato mixture in the skillet, making sure they’re evenly spaced. Top them with the remaining tablespoon of butter for added richness.
- Step Eight: Bake the dish for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the fish flakes with ease when pierced with a fork.
- Step Nine: Remove the skillet from the oven and garnish your beautiful dish with crumbled feta, fresh herbs, and lemon slices to elevate the flavors even more.
- Step Ten: Enjoy your hot and savory baked cod while it’s still warm, and relish the delightful meal you’ve created!
Tools you’ll need
Selecting the Perfect Cod
When it comes to cooking the perfect baked cod, the quality of the fish plays a crucial role.
Fresh vs. Frozen
Fresh Cod: Opt for fresh cod whenever possible to ensure optimal flavor and texture. When selecting fresh fish, look for the following indicators of quality:
- Bright, clear eyes
- Firm, shiny flesh that springs back when pressed
- A mild, oceanic scent (not overwhelming or fishy)
Frozen Cod: If fresh cod isn’t available or convenient, frozen cod can be a good alternative. Just make sure to follow these tips:
- Choose vacuum-sealed packages to prevent freezer burn
- Check for an even color with no brown or yellow spots
- Thaw the fish properly, preferably in the refrigerator overnight
It’s important to consider the environmental impact of your seafood choices. When selecting cod, consider these key sustainability factors:
- Fishery management: Look for cod from well-managed fisheries, such as those certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
- Fishing method: Avoid cod caught using destructive fishing methods like bottom trawling. Instead, opt for line-caught or gillnet-caught cod.
- Species and origin: Choose Atlantic cod over Pacific cod, as the latter has been overfished in certain regions. Additionally, try to source your cod from nearby waters to reduce the environmental impact of transportation.
How to Thaw Frozen Fish
Thawing frozen fish properly is essential before cooking it, especially when you plan to bake cod. There are several methods to thaw your fish safely and quickly, ensuring the best taste and texture for your dish.
One common method for thawing frozen fish is using your refrigerator. Place the frozen fish on a plate or tray, and let it defrost in the fridge for 24 hours. This slow thawing process helps preserve the fish’s texture while keeping it safe from bacterial growth.
However, if you’re short on time, there’s an alternative method.
In a hurry? You can also use the cold water method for quicker thawing. First, remove the frozen fish from its packaging and place it inside a resealable plastic bag, ensuring it’s closed tightly to prevent water from getting in. Next, fill a large bowl with cold water and submerge the sealed fish bag. You must change the water every 30 minutes to maintain a cold temperature and prevent bacteria growth. The fish should thaw within 1 to 3 hours, depending on the thickness of the fillet.
It’s important to note that hot water or microwaves are not recommended for thawing frozen fish. Both methods can cause uneven thawing or alter the texture of your fish, affecting the outcome of your baked cod. Stick to the refrigerator or cold water methods for the tastiest results.
Remember always to practice proper food safety when handling raw fish and keep it away from other foods during thawing.
What to Serve with Baked Cod
- Roasted Garlic Dill Potatoes
- Lemon Roasted Potatoes
- Chipotle Coleslaw
- Pesto Smashed Potatoes
- White wine
- White rice, brown rice, or cauliflower rice
- Side salad
Variations and Substitutions
When preparing a delicious baked cod dish, there is room for creativity and personalizing the recipe to cater to different tastes and dietary preferences. Don’t be afraid to experiment with various ingredients and methods to find the perfect dish.
- Vegetables: Add other kinds of veggies if you prefer. Look for quick-cooking vegetables like zucchini, green beans, red onion, mushrooms, bell peppers, or asparagus.
- Fish alternatives: If you don’t have cod available or want to try a different type of fish, you can go for black cod (sablefish). It’s not part of the cod family but has a similar white flesh and high oil content, making it the best substitute for cod in most recipes. You could also try mahi mahi or another mild white fish.
- Seasonings and flavors: Feel free to explore different flavors by adding herbs, spices, or zesty ingredients. For instance, you can top your fish fillets with crispy panko breadcrumbs, mix in some garlic powder, onion powder, cajun seasoning, lemon pepper, parmesan cheese, dried dill, garlic butter, lemon wedges, fresh lemon juice or lime juice, and capers to elevate the taste of the dish.
- Cooking methods: Try other cooking techniques like pan frying, air frying, or even grilling to alter the texture and flavor of your dish.
- Lemon zest
- Greek olives
- Goat cheese
- Sliced jalapenos
- Fresh parsley and other herbs
- Melted butter
Allow your baked cod to cool down to room temperature. It’s important to let it cool before storing it to prevent the growth of bacteria. Once cooled, transfer your baked cod into an airtight container. Seal the container properly to keep out any unwanted air or moisture.
If you plan to eat your leftover baked cod within 2-3 days of its initial preparation, you can safely store it in the fridge. Place the airtight container on a shelf rather than your fridge door, as the temperature remains stable there.
Can I Freeze Baked Cod?
Yes, you can freeze baked cod. Freezing your cooked cod is a great way to preserve and enjoy its freshness later.
Allow your baked cod to cool down to room temperature. This helps avoid the formation of ice crystals that may damage the texture of the fish. Once cooled, place the cod in a shallow container or wrap it in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. You may want to divide the fish into portions, making it easier to thaw and reheat later.
When freezing, using an airtight container or wrap is essential to protect your baked cod from air exposure. Label your container or wrap it with the current date, making it easy to track how long the cod has been in the freezer. If possible, use a vacuum sealer to remove excess air and further extend the freshness of your cod.
Remember that your frozen baked cod will retain its quality for 2-3 months. It’s important to thaw your fish properly before reheating, which can be done by placing it in the refrigerator for a few hours or using the defrost setting on your microwave.
Cooking Mistakes to Avoid
A few common mistakes can easily be avoided when preparing baked cod to ensure your dish turns out both delicious and visually appealing.
- Always make sure to use fresh fish. If your fish is stinky or old, no amount of marinade or sauce will cover that up, and it may result in an unpleasant dish. If necessary, consider buying frozen fish.
- Another mistake to avoid is overcooking the fish. This can lead to dry and unpleasant cod. To prevent this, keep a close eye on your fish as it bakes, and be aware of the recommended cooking time for its thickness.
- Remember to season your fish properly before baking. Just be cautious not to over-season or use overpowering spices, as it may mask the natural flavor of the cod.
How to Know When Cod Is Done Cooking
Keep an eye on the cooking time. Baked cod typically takes about 15 to 18 minutes to cook in an oven preheated to 400°F, depending on the thickness of the fillet. Thicker fillets might take a few minutes longer, so adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Pay attention to the fish’s appearance. As the cod cooks, it will change from a translucent, raw look to an opaque, cooked appearance. The color should become a solid white rather than semi-transparent. This is a clear indication that your cod is nearing completion.
Another method to check if your cod is done is to test its flakiness using a fork. Gently pry open the thickest part of the fish; if the flesh easily flakes apart, it’s done cooking. The flakes should be tender and moist. If the cod still appears raw or is difficult to separate, give it more time in the oven.
Using a kitchen thermometer is the most accurate way to check the doneness of your cod. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the fish, avoiding any bones. When fully cooked, the internal temperature should reach a minimum of 145°F (63°C).
Fish & Seafood Recipes
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- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- ½ fennel bulb sliced
- 3 garlic cloves minced or thinly sliced
- ¼ cup cherry peppers sliced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- ½ tsp Kosher salt divided
- ½ tsp black pepper divided
- 2 tbsp cold unsalted butter diced into cubes, divided
- ¼ cup chicken broth
- 4 cod filets
- ½ cup feta cheese crumbled
- 1 lemon sliced for garnish
- ¼ cup fresh basil, parsley and oregano for serving
- Preheat the oven to 400℉.
- Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the olive oil. Add the onions and fennel to the skillet and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until tender. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
- Add cherry peppers and cherry tomatoes. Season with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in chicken broth and 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter. Bring to a simmer and continue to cook for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Season the cod filets with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Turn off the heat.
- Nestle the cod filets into the tomato mixture in the skillet. Top with the remaining tablespoon of butter.
- Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the fish flakes through.
- Remove from the oven and garnish with crumbled feta, fresh herbs and lemon slices. Enjoy hot.