There’s a lot to love about baked cod. It’s a great source of lean protein and it pairs well with many different flavors, making it a versatile and exciting canvas for recipes. Baked cod is also a healthy option since it is low in calories and fat. But, if you’re not careful to bake it properly, you could end up with a rubbery and dry piece of fish.
The key to a perfectly cooked piece of cod is to not overbake it. Cod is quite delicate and it can quickly dry out if it’s left in the oven for too long. The best way to avoid this is to use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the fish. Once it reaches 145° Fahrenheit, the fish is ready. This should only take around 15 minutes.
Many people complain that fish is too fickle to bake well, but by treating the technique like a science, you can master this simple cooking method. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know and give you the confidence you need to bake cod like a pro.
Always Preheat Your Oven Before Baking
A fillet of cod isn’t like a chicken breast or a tenderloin. It will cook quite quickly and if you don’t preheat your oven, it will start to bake before the oven is up to temperature. This will cause the fish to stick to the pan and it will cook unevenly. So, to prevent this from happening, be sure to preheat your oven to 400° Fahrenheit before you start cooking.
Bake the Fish Depending on Its Size and Thickness
Once you’ve preheated the oven, it’s time to start cooking the fish. But, before you do, you should take its size and thickness into consideration. A thicker fillet will take longer to cook than a thin one. For example, a fillet that is 1-inch thick will take about 15 minutes to cook, whereas a thinner ½-inch fillet will only take 10-12 minutes.
If you’re unsure of whether the fish is done, you can always use an instant-read thermometer. As long as the internal temperature is 145° Fahrenheit, it is safe to eat. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you can also check to see if the fish is cooked by using a fork. Gently insert it into the thickest part of the fish and if it flakes easily, it’s done.
Cover the Baking Dish in Foil
Since cod can easily dry out in the oven, it's a good idea to cover the baking dish with foil. By doing this, you’ll trap a small pocket of air around the fish, which will help to steam it and keep it moist. You won't have to worry about the fish sticking to the pan either since the baking environment will naturally be damper.
After you take the cod out of the oven, it’s important to then let it rest for a few minutes before serving. This will give the fish time to re-absorb all of the juices that have been released during cooking. Let it sit for about 5 minutes and then serve.
You Can Also Cook Cod from Frozen
If you don’t have time to thaw the cod, don’t worry. You can cook it straight from frozen. Just increase the cooking time by about 50%. So, if you would normally bake the cod for 15 minutes, you would bake it for 22.5 minutes. Again, use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the fish.
As long as it reaches 145° Fahrenheit, it is safe to eat. This is especially important if you're baking cod from frozen as it can be trickier to tell when it's cooked all the way through. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, cut the fillet in half, and if it’s firm rather than mushy, the meat is safe to eat.
Adjust Your Baking Technique If Using Breadcrumbs
If you’re planning on topping the cod with breadcrumbs, you may need to adjust your baking technique. This is because the breadcrumbs will absorb moisture from the fish, causing them to dry out. To prevent this, you can cook the cod for a shorter amount of time and then place the breadcrumbs on top of the fish after it’s been cooked.
If you decide to place the breadcrumbs on top of the fish after it’s been cooked, be sure to use a light hand. You don’t want to weigh the fish down with too many breadcrumbs. Instead, just sprinkle a small amount on top of the cod and then place it under the broiler for a minute or two.
Additionally, do not cover a breaded piece of fish with aluminum foil while it’s baking. The foil will cause steam to build up in the baking dish and the breadcrumbs will go soggy before the fish cooks.
Use an Air Fryer to Make a Quick and Easy Breaded Baked Cod
If you want to make a quick and easy breaded baked cod, you can use an air fryer. This appliance is ideal for cooking cod since it circulates hot air around the fish, cooking it evenly on all sides. To make breaded cod in an air fryer, start by coating the fish with a light layer of flour.
Then, dip it in some beaten eggs and then coat it in a mixture of breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Be sure to press the breadcrumbs onto the fish so that they stick. Once the fish is coated, place it in the air fryer and cook it at 400° Fahrenheit for 8 minutes. If you’re using a thinner fillet, you may need to reduce the cooking time to 6 minutes.
Bake the Cod Skin-Side Down
If you want to achieve crispy and flaky cod, you need to bake it skin-side down. By doing this, the fat in the skin will render out and help to keep the fish moist. It will also create a nice barrier between the fish and the pan, preventing the cod from sticking.
If you are worried about the skin sticking to the pan, you can always place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the skin. This will help to prevent it from sticking and it will also make cleanup a breeze.
A Few Essential Tips to Help You Bake Perfect Cod
As much as baking times and temperatures matter, they’re only half of the equation. If you want to bake cod perfectly every time, we recommend reading and utilizing the following tips. They’ll help you maximize flavor, lock in moisture, and avoid overcooking the meat.
Pat the Fish Dry Before Baking
If you want the cod to have a nice crispy skin, it’s important to pat it dry before baking. This will help to remove any excess moisture from the surface of the fish. To do this, simply place the cod fillets on a paper towel and then pat them dry.
Season the Fish Generously
Another important tip is to season the fish generously. This will help to add flavor and prevent the cod from drying out. We recommend using a simple seasoning blend of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. You can also add other herbs and spices to the mix, such as dried thyme or basil.
Always Use a Clean Baking Tray
When you’re ready to bake the cod, be sure to use a clean baking tray. If there’s any dirt or debris on the tray, it can transfer to the fish and affect its flavor. We also recommend lining the baking tray with parchment paper. This will help to prevent the fish from sticking and make cleanup a breeze.
Bake the Cod in a Single Layer
Another crucial tip is to bake the cod in a single layer. If you overcrowd the baking tray, the heat will have a difficult time circulating and the fish will steam rather than bake. This will cause it to become rubbery and dry. So, be sure to give the cod fillets plenty of space on the baking tray.
Use Butter or Flavored Olive Oil
To help keep the cod moist, we recommend using butter or flavored olive oil. This will also help to add flavor and prevent the fish from sticking to the baking tray. If you’re using butter, simply melt it and then brush it over the top of the cod fillets.
If you’re using olive oil, we recommend heating it first. Then, add your favorite herbs and spices to the oil. This could include garlic, lemon juice, and dried thyme. Once the oil is flavored, brush it over the top of the cod.
Frequently Asked Questions
The best way to reheat cod is in the oven. Preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit and then place the cod on a baking tray that has been lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Bake for 5 minutes or until the fish is heated through. You can also reheat cod in the microwave but be careful not to overcook it.
Cod is more expensive than tilapia because it is a more premium fish. Cod generally come from colder waters and they have a higher fat content, which makes them more flavorful. Additionally, cod is a more sustainable fish since it is not overfished like tilapia. All of these factors contribute to the higher price tag.
Cod can fall apart when it bakes if it’s not cooked properly. This is usually the result of overcooking or not using enough moisture. If the cod is overcooked, it will become dry and rubbery. If there’s not enough moisture, the cod can stick to the baking dish and fall apart. To prevent this from happening, be sure to use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the fish. Once it reaches 145° Fahrenheit, it’s done.
There are many flavors that work well with cod. Some of our favorites include lemon, garlic, dill, and thyme. You can also experiment with different herbs and spices, such as curry powder or paprika. The key is to find a balance of flavors that complement the fish without overwhelming it.
An Easy Weekday Recipe for Breaded and Baked Cod Fillets
- ½ pound of cod fillets (roughly 4 fillets)
- ½ cup of all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup of breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup of Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons of butter, melted
- Lemon wedges (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit.
- Wash the cod fillets and then pat them dry with a paper towel.
- Season the cod fillets generously with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
- Place the flour in a shallow dish.
- In another shallow dish, whisk together the eggs.
- In a third shallow dish, mix together the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Dip each cod fillet in the flour, then the eggs, and then the breadcrumb mixture. Be sure to press the breadcrumbs onto the fish so that they stick.
- Place the cod fillets on a baking tray that has been lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until the cod is cooked through.
- Remove the cod from the oven and brush the fillets with melted butter.
- Serve with lemon wedges (optional).
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 690Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 290mgSodium: 1022mgCarbohydrates: 70gFiber: 5gSugar: 5gProtein: 47g