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One of my favorite things ever is showing you super simple staples for busy weeknight dinners… like this baked cod recipe. Let me show you how to bake cod fish that’s tender, flaky and super easy. Not only does the simple lemon butter sauce impart major flavor, but this recipe for oven baked cod is ready in only 20 minutes (just as quick as Cajun grilled cod!).
Lemon and butter work so well with fish, and if you love the flavors of this baked cod recipe with lemon butter, try the same combo in pan fried tilapia, pan seared halibut (or baked halibut), or baked salmon. You can also make a separate lemon butter sauce for fish — or for just about anything.
Why You’ll Love This Oven Baked Cod Recipe
- Lemony, bright flavor
- Tender, flaky cod texture
- Just a few minutes prep
- Bakes in under 15 minutes
- Healthy seafood dinner that’s rich in protein
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for baked cod with lemon butter sauce, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
- Cod – I prefer wild-caught cod fish (this is my favorite place to get it), but you can use any variety of cod. Look for fillets that are about 4 ounces each and similar in thickness, so that they cook at the same rate. I recommend thicker fillets for most cod recipes, which dry out less. You can use regular cod fillets (vertical cuts from the side of the fish) or cod loin (thicker fillet cut from larger fish). Either will work, but cod loin is considered higher quality.
- Butter – Imparts so much flavor! I prefer grass-fed, unsalted butter. But if you need a dairy-free version, you can substitute olive oil here instead.
- Lemon – You’ll need a fresh lemon (not bottled lemon juice), as we’re using the zest as well as the juice.
- Garlic Powder – I use garlic powder for convenience, but you can swap in a couple cloves of fresh minced or crushed garlic if you like.
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper
- Fresh Parsley – I used curly parsley, but flat leaf works great as well. You can also substitute (or add) fresh dill if you like, as I did in my baked salmon recipe. If you want to make this dish in the winter, oregano and thyme is a good combination to use instead. Fresh herbs work best here, but if you need to substitute dried, use 1 teaspoon dried to replace each tablespoon fresh.
VARIATIONS: Try other spices on your cod!
Paprika, lemon pepper seasoning, or chives all pair well with fish.
How To Bake Cod In The Oven
This section shows how to make baked cod, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Thaw cod fillets. This isn’t absolutely required, but it’s easier to brush lemon butter onto the cod if it’s thawed first. Since the pieces are not too thick, they thaw pretty quickly in a bowl of water.
- Pat dry. Remove the fillets from the packaging and pat dry with paper towels.
- Make lemon butter. Melt butter in a shallow bowl in the microwave (or a saucepan on the stove), then stir in fresh lemon juice and lemon zest.
- Season. Arrange the cod fillets in a baking dish, then brush lemon butter mixture over both sides. Season with garlic powder, sea salt, and pepper on both sides.
TIP: Make sure your baking dish is large enough.
The fish fillets should not be touching, or touching only minimally, to cook through evenly.
- Bake cod. Cook until the cod filets are opaque and flake easily with a fork. Garnish with lemon slices if desired.
TIP: For the most tender fish, check the internal temperature.
It should be 140 to 145 degrees F, measured in the thickest part with an instant-read thermometer.
- Serve. Drizzle the fish with the lemon butter sauce from the pan, and a sprinkle of fresh parsley on top is nice, too. (See below to get ideas for what to serve it with!)
What Temperature To Bake Cod?
What temperature should cod be cooked at? There are different options for cooking temperatures, but I like 400 degrees F because:
- Cooking at a higher heat means faster cooking and less chance of drying out.
- It’s a standard temperature and makes it easy to estimate cooking time, based on size.
TIP: The general rule of thumb is to cook fish for 10 minutes per inch of thickness.
But, it can still vary, so check a couple minutes sooner than you’d need based on thickness alone.
How Long To Bake Cod At 400 degrees F?
This baked cod with butter sauce will take about 10-15 minutes in a 400 degree F oven. If your cod is frozen, read below!
How Do You Know When Cod Is Done?
Baked cod with lemon will be opaque and flake easily when it’s cooked through. It should reach an internal temperature of 140 to 145 degrees F.
How To Make Baked Cod From Frozen?
I prefer to thaw my cod fillets before putting them in the oven, but if you forgot or don’t have time to let it thaw, you can also easily make this oven baked cod fillet right from frozen.
Follow the same directions as above, but add on 5-10 minutes of baking time. The exact time will vary a bit depending on the size of the fillet, but cook it until it’s cooked through, opaque, and flakes easily.
- Store: Keep this oven baked cod fish in the fridge for 2-3 days.
- Freeze: Let the lemon butter cod cool completely. Then freeze leftovers for 3-4 months in an airtight, freezer-safe container.
- Reheat: Reheat in a hot skillet or 350 degrees F oven for best results. I don’t recommend microwaving fish, but it will work if you must.
What To Serve With Baked Cod Fish
What do you eat with cod? There are so many options! This baked cod recipe with lemon and butter is seasoned simply, so it goes with just about anything.
I like to include a vegetable side dish. Here are a few sides that pair perfectly with baked lemon pepper cod:
- Asparagus – One of the best pairings for fish! You can make roasted asparagus, sauteed asparagus, grilled asparagus, bacon wrapped asparagus, or air fryer asparagus.
- Potatoes – Roast up some white or sweet potatoes, or choose a healthier swap like fried radishes, loaded cauliflower casserole, or rutabaga.
- Rice – White or brown rice makes an easy side, or cauliflower rice for a healthier option.
- Brussels Sprouts – For a heartier veggie, try oven roasted brussels sprouts, kale brussels sprout salad, or parmesan smashed brussels sprouts.
- Broccoli – Like asparagus, there is a variety of methods to choose from: sauteed broccoli, roasted broccoli, grilled broccoli, or air fryer broccoli.
- Cauliflower– There are a variety of ways to make cauliflower, but my favorite recipes are whole roasted cauliflower and roasted caulilfower.
More Healthy Fish Recipes
If you like easy baked cod recipes like this one, you might also like some of these other healthy fish recipes:
Tools For Cooking Cod Fillets
- Lemon Squeezer – This handy tool makes it quick and easy to make this lemon baked cod recipe.
- Citrus Zester – My baked cod lemon butter gets major flavor from the lemon zest, and this is the best tool to ensure you are getting just the zest and not the bitter pith.
- Ceramic Baking Dish – I love this one because it’s beautiful to go straight from oven to table.
Best Baked Cod Recipe
Baked Cod Recipe (20 Minutes!)
This lemon butter baked cod recipe is tender and flaky, with the best lemon butter sauce! Learn how to bake cod fish with just 5 simple ingredients and 20 minutes.
Tap on the image below to watch the video.
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Tap underlined ingredients to see where to get them. Please turn Safari reader mode OFF to view ingredients.
Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C). You can bake the cod fillets from frozen or thaw them first in a bowl of cold water. (I prefer thawing if you have time, as it makes it easier to brush on the butter without solidifying.)
Use paper towels to pat the cod fillets dry. Arrange them in a single layer in a 9×13 baking dish.
In a small bowl in the microwave or saucepan on the stove, melt the butter. Remove from heat. Stir in the lemon juice and lemon zest.
Brush the lemon butter over the cod fillets. Season with garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper. Flip and repeat both lemon butter and seasoning on the other side.
Bake for 12-15 minutes (will vary by thickness), until the baked cod is opaque and flakes easily with a fork. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.
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Serving size: 1 cod fish fillet
*If you have a large lemon, you may get more than the standard 2 tablespoons of juice per lemon. Measure juice and use all of the zest.
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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