How to Cook Cod: The Ultimate Guide

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Cod is a versatile type of seafood that can be paired with fresh or roasted vegetables for a nutritious meal.
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Fish like cod is an excellent source of lean protein that isn't high in saturated fat, per the American Heart Association (AHA).

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The AHA recommends eating two servings of fish per week. But many people report that they don't eat more fish because they don't know how to prepare it, according to Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health.

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Here's how to cook cod in a variety of different ways so you can include the tasty fish in your diet more often.

Types of Cod

The kind of cod you buy will affect the flavor of your final dish. Here are three common types to know about.

Pacific cod:​ This is a lean, mild fish found in the North Pacific Ocean from the Bering Sea to Southern California (though it's less common in Southern California), per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Pacific cod has a more savory flavor and firm texture and can be cooked by pan-frying, deep-frying, grilling, sautéing, baking and roasting.

Alaskan cod:​ This type is found in the North Atlantic. It tastes a bit sweet and is firm and flaky, per Pittman Seafood. Alaskan cod is versatile and can be cooked by roasting, sautéing, poaching, steaming and deep-frying.

Ling cod:​ This type is found exclusively on the west coast of North America, especially near the coast of British Columbia, per the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Ling cod is slightly sweet and mild, and you can prepare it the same ways as other types of cod.

Food Safety

The main downside to fish and other marine products is their mercury content. But cod is low in mercury, which means it's one of the safest types of seafood you can eat, per the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

  • To prevent foodborne illness, keep cod chilled until just before you are about to cook it, according to the FDA.
  • Thaw, store and marinate cod in the refrigerator.
  • To avoid cross-contamination, make sure the fish doesn't touch other food, and wash your knife, cutting board and countertops with soapy hot water after cutting raw proteins, per the USDA.
  • To help prevent bacterial growth, cook cod within 2 days of purchase or freeze it (at 0 degrees Fahrenheit) to make at a later date, according to the FDA.
  • Always cook cod to a safe internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit (until the flesh is opaque and flakes easily with a fork) to avoid food poisoning, per the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. An instant-read food thermometer ($17, Amazon.com) can help you make sure your cod is safe to serve.
  • Eat leftover fish within 3 to 4 days to help prevent food spoilage. Or freeze leftovers in an airtight container at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. They'll keep for up to 3 months.
  • After eating, discard any leftover fish that's been at room temperature for more than 2 hours (or 1 hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit), per Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

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Does Cod Have Bones?

Cod can potentially have pin bones, which aren’t technically bones but rather tiny calcified ligaments, per Wild Alaskan Company. Many seafood brands remove these pin bones before selling the fish.

If you do find pin bones in your cod, carefully remove them with your fingers or fish bone tweezers ($8, Amazon.com) as they can be a choking hazard.

How to Bake Cod

From Frozen

Freezing cod can help kill pathogens, like parasites, that may be in the fish, according to Delaware Sea Grant. And you can definitely cook frozen cod if you don't have enough time to defrost it — the best way to do so is by poaching or cooking it in a marinade.

If you're cooking frozen cod, you have the option to cook the fish from frozen or to thaw it first. The FDA recommends thawing your fish slowly by placing it in your refrigerator the night before you cook it.

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Alternatively, you can thaw your fish faster by placing it in a sealed bag and immersing it in ice water or cold water. It's also possible to defrost your fish in the microwave ⁠— just be careful the fish doesn't start to cook while you're defrosting it.

If you've decided to defrost your frozen fish, cook it as soon as possible. You should not leave cod or any other seafood at room temperature for more than 2 hours — or even as little as an hour if room temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, per the FDA.

Although defrosted cod cooks faster, it's perfectly fine to bake frozen cod, too. Here's how to cook frozen cod fillets, according to ButcherBox.

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Things You'll Need

  • cod

  • favorite seasonings or sauce

  • baking dish

Step 1:​ Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2:​ Season your cod to your preference. (We like a simple combo of garlic powder, salt and pepper.)

Step 3:​ Place cod fillets in a baking dish. If you'd prefer to use sauce instead of seasoning, you can add it here.

Step 4:​ Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until the fish is opaque white and golden brown on top. The cod should reach a safe internal temperature of 145 degrees F.

Cod With Lemon

Cod easily takes on the aromas and flavors of the ingredients you cook it with. Lemon-baked cod is a citrusy and flavorful dish — and it's one of the best cod recipes.

Try this lemon-baked cod recipe from Betty Crocker.

Things You'll Need

  • cod

  • baking dish

  • lemon juice

  • oil

  • garlic

  • thyme

  • salt

  • pepper

  • paprika

Step 1:​ Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2:​ Arrange cod fillets in a baking dish.

Step 3:​ Drizzle with lemon juice and oil. Sprinkle with garlic, thyme, salt, pepper and paprika. Lightly rub the spices and herbs into the fish.

Step 4:​ Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until flesh is completely opaque and reaches an internal temp of 145 degrees F. Spoon the pan juices over the cod to serve.

Old Bay Cod

This white fish bakes quickly in the oven without a lot of prep work. In fact, baking is perhaps the easiest way to cook cod. Baked, non-oily fish such as cod does benefit from a topping to moisten it because oven-cooking is a more drying process than poaching or frying.

Try this baked cod recipe from the Mayo Clinic.

Things You'll Need

  • cod

  • aluminum foil

  • cooking spray

  • lemon

  • Old Bay seasoning

Step 1:​ Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2:​ Coat 4 squares of foil with cooking spray.

Step 3:​ Place a cod fillet on each piece of aluminum foil. Add a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of Old Bay seasoning to each. Wrap the fish in the foil.

Step 4:​ Bake until the fish is opaque throughout, about 20 minutes, or until it reaches a safe internal temperature of 145 degrees F.

How Long to Bake Cod

Degrees Fahrenheit

Time

375 F

15 to 17 mins.

400 F

12 to 15 mins.

425 F

10 to 15 mins.

Cod in Foil

With its mild flavor and straightforward cooking technique, delicious baked cod in foil may help you get more protein in your diet.

Baked cod in foil is a nutritious and no-mess method of cooking tender fish. Try this recipe with lemon and thyme from The Butcher Shoppe.

Things You'll Need

  • cod

  • aluminum foil

  • olive oil or cooking spray

  • salt

  • pepper

  • garlic

  • shallots

  • fresh thyme sprigs

  • lemon slices

Step 1:​ Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2:​ Lightly coat a piece of aluminum foil with olive oil or cooking spray. Place the fish on the foil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. If desired, add garlic and shallots, fresh thyme sprigs and lemon slices.

Step 3:​ Fold the foil to create a packet and seal the edges tightly.

Step 4:​ Bake for 15 minutes, or until the fish reaches a safe internal temperature of 145 degrees F.

Step 5:​ Serve by placing the foil packet directly on a plate or remove fish from foil and garnish with the thyme sprigs and lemon slices.

Tip

You don't have to limit yourself to salt and pepper to add flavor to your cod. This mild-flavored fish pairs well with many herbs and spices, such as bay leaves, garlic or paprika. You can even add vegetables to your baked cod in foil, such as grape tomatoes, onions, sliced olives, mushrooms or zucchini.

Slice your vegetables thinly to ensure even cooking.

Cod Florentine

When you cook something with spinach as a primary ingredient, you are creating a Florentine dish. In other words, when baking cod with spinach, the result is cod Florentine. Cod is a delicate fish, so spinach complements its flavor.

The only two main ingredients you need for cod Florentine are cod fillets and spinach. Beyond that, you can create a distinctive sauce that will further enhance the taste of both of the key ingredients.

Follow this cod and spinach recipe from WW (formerly Weight Watchers) to make baked cod Florentine.

Things You'll Need

  • 4 5-ounce fillets of cod

  • cooking spray

  • shallow baking pan

  • 1/8 tsp. salt

  • 1/8 tsp. pepper

  • food processor

  • paper towels

  • 10 oz. frozen, thawed spinach

  • 1/4 cup sour cream

  • 1/4 cup chopped onion

  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

  • foil

Step 1:​ Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Use cooking spray to coat a shallow baking pan.

Step 2:​ Season cod with salt and pepper on both sides. Place the fish in the baking pan.

Step 3:​ Squeeze extra water from the spinach using paper towels.

Step 4:​ Use a food processor to combine spinach, sour cream, onion and garlic powder until smooth.

Step 5:​ Spoon the spinach mixture evenly over cod in the baking pan. Cover the pan with foil.

Step 6:​ Bake for 15 minutes or until it reaches a safe internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Uncover the fish, then bake until fish is fork-tender, about 5 minutes more.

How to Grill Cod

From Frozen

If you're in a pinch, you can throw frozen cod right on the grill. Try this grilled cod recipe from chef Jessica Randhawa, the recipe creator behind the blog The Forked Spoon.

Things You'll Need

  • frozen cod

  • paper towels

  • dry seasonings

  • favorite sauce

  • grill

  • tongs

  • food thermometer

Step 1:​ Preheat the grill to about 400 degrees Fahrenheit, which is about medium-high.

Step 2:​ Rinse the cod under cold water to remove any ice crystals or freezer burn. Pat the fillets dry with paper towels.

Step 3:​ Flavor the cod with dry seasonings such as lemon pepper, salt and pepper or cajun seasoning as desired.

Step 4:​ Place the cod on the grill for about 7 minutes before flipping using the tongs.

Step 5:​ Once flipped, wait another 7 minutes before checking the temperature of the thickest part of each piece of cod with a digital food thermometer.

Step 6:​ Once the temperature of any piece of cod hits 145 degrees Fahrenheit, remove that piece from the grill. Continue to grill the remaining pieces of cod until all have an internal temperature at the thickest part of 145 degrees F. Serve with a sauce of your choice.

In Foil

Grilled cod in foil is one of the best ways to cook it without drying it out. Plus, it makes for quick clean-up.

Follow this recipe for cooking fresh fish in foil on the grill from Lake Geneva Country Meats.

Things You'll Need

  • cod

  • butter

  • saucepan

  • lemon juice

  • salt

  • pepper

  • aluminum foil

  • sliced peppers

  • sliced tomatoes

Step 1:​ Melt butter in a saucepan and add lemon juice, stirring to combine.

Step 2:​ Season cod pieces with salt and pepper to taste.

Step 3:​ Place each cod fillet in the middle of a piece of aluminum foil and fold the edges of the foil upward to create a basket.

Step 4:​ Add sliced peppers and tomatoes to the foil packets. Add the lemon and butter mixture. Close each pack and place on a grill preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit over indirect heat.

Step 5:​ Cook over indirect heat for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the cod is opaque and flakes easily and reaches a safe internal temperature of 145 degrees F.

Warning

Open foil packets carefully to avoid burns from the escaping steam.

Pineapple Cod

Grilling is a quick way to prepare cod — and it brings out the delicate flavor. Try this grilled cod recipe with pineapple and avocado relish from the American Heart Association.

Things You'll Need

  • cod

  • oil

  • lime zest

  • medium glass bowl

  • 1 avocado, diced

  • 1 cup pineapple tidbits

  • 3 tbsp. red onion, diced

  • 3 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

  • juice from 1 lime

  • mixing bowl

  • tongs

Step 1:​ Whisk together oil and lime zest in a medium glass bowl. Add the fish and turn to coat.

Step 2:​ Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour but no more than 12 hours. If marinating for more than 1 hour, turn occasionally.

Step 3:​ When you're almost ready to grill the fish, mix together diced avocado, pineapple tidbits, red onion, fresh cilantro and lime juice in a mixing bowl to create a relish.

Step 4:​ Preheat the grill to medium-high. Drain the fish and place it on the grill. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then rotate the fish and grill for 1 to 2 minutes.

Step 5:​ Use tongs to flip the fish. Turn off the heat directly under the fish but keep all the other burners running on medium-high for indirect cooking. Close the grill lid and cook the fish until it flakes easily with a fork, or until it reaches a safe internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Serve with relish.

How to Fry Cod

Pan-Fried Cod

Fried cod is the star of fish and chips. This mild, sweet fish makes a nutritious addition to your diet unless it's covered in fish fry batter and deep-fried in a vat of oil. There are better ways to "fry" cod fillets so you get the flavor ​and​ the health benefits.

You can create pan-fried cod recipes that are full of flavor without all the fat and added calories of beer-batter fish. Plus, it takes about 10 minutes to cook cod in a pan.

Try this pan-fried cod recipe from the supermarket Publix.

Things You'll Need

  • cod fillets

  • large sauté pan

  • 3 small bowls

  • flour

  • egg

  • panko breadcrumbs

  • canola oil

  • salt

  • pepper

  • lemon

  • paper towels

Step 1:​ Preheat sauté pan on medium heat.

Step 2:​ Add flour to a small bowl, egg to a different small bowl and panko to the third.

Step 3:​ Dip cod in flour to coat both sides, then dip into egg and coat with panko.

Step 4:​ Add canola oil to a pan, then add fish. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until crust is golden and fish separates easily. Make sure the cod reaches a safe internal temperature of 145 degrees F.

Step 5:​ Remove fish from pan and drain on paper towels.

Step 6:​ Season with salt and pepper. Serve with lemon.

Tip

To add crunch and nutrition to fried cod, consider swapping breadcrumbs with chia seeds, like in our Chia Seed-Crusted Fish recipe. Or, you can try ground nuts for protein and healthy fat for your crust.

Brush the fillets with egg whites, mayonnaise or mustard to help the breadcrumbs or nuts (or a mixture of both) stick to the cod.

Deep-Fried Cod

If you're making fish and chips at home, you can achieve crispy, delicious cod without a deep fryer with this recipe from Adams Fairacre Farms.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 lbs. cod fillets

  • 1 cup flour

  • 1 tsp. baking powder

  • ⅓ cup mustard powder

  • medium bowl

  • mixer or spoon

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 egg

  • 2 tsp. sugar

  • 2 tsp. salt

  • 2 cups vegetable oil

  • large, deep pot

  • deep fryer thermometer ($20.95, Amazon.com)

Step 1:​ Mix the flour, baking powder and dry mustard powder together in a medium bowl.

Step 2:​ Heat oil to 400 degrees Fahrenheit in large, deep pot. Use a deep fryer thermometer to confirm the temp.

Step 3:​ Blend flour mixture, water, egg, sugar and salt with a mixer or spoon.

Step 4:​ Coat each fillet completely in the batter.

Step 5:​ Quickly drop the cod in the hot oil and fry for 5 minutes, or until it reaches a safe internal temperature of 145 degrees F.

Step 6:​ Drain fish on paper towels before serving.

How to Broil Cod

From Frozen

You ​can​ broil cod even if you only have a frozen fillet on hand, but thawing first results in tastier fish. Chef Amy Riolo, a best-selling author and TV personality, shares this recipe for broiled frozen cod with LIVESTRONG.com.

Things You'll Need

  • cod

  • baking sheet or broiler pan

  • lemon juice

  • herbs

  • seasoning

  • extra virgin olive oil

Step 1:​ Place the frozen cod, out of the package, in cold water for 15 to 20 minutes or until it's thawed.

Step 2:​ Rinse cod well and toss with lemon juice, herbs and your seasoning of choice. Riolo recommends cajun seasoning or a simple mix of salt and pepper.

Step 3:​ Broil cod on baking sheet or broiler pan for 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Make sure it reaches a safe internal temperature of 145 degrees F.

Step 4:​ Remove from oven and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil to serve.

Parmesan Cod

Broiling cod can give it a delightful texture. Try it with this broiled cod recipe from the American Diabetes Association.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 lb. cod fillets

  • baking sheet or broiler pan

  • cooking spray

  • small bowl

  • 3 tbsp. mayonnaise

  • juice from 1/2 lemon

  • 1/2 tsp. paprika

  • 1 tsp. parsley

  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

  • 1 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Step 1:​ Preheat the broiler on medium heat. Spray a baking sheet or broiler pan with cooking spray.

Step 2:​ In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise, lemon juice, paprika, parsley and ground black pepper.

Step 3:​ Place cod on broiler pan and spread mayonnaise mixture evenly among the fillets, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Step 4:​ Broil for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the fillets reach a safe internal temperature of 145 degrees F.

How to Steam Cod

In a Metal Steamer on the Stove

Steaming involves cooking food with the steam produced when the food is enclosed in a heated container. Cod is a firm, white fish that holds up well to steaming.

Try this steamed cod recipe from True North Seafood. You can make it if you're cooking cod from frozen or cod that has been thawed.

Things You'll Need

  • 4 cod fillets

  • paper towel

  • 1/3 cup low-sodium tamari or soy sauce

  • 2 tbsp. rice vinegar

  • 2 tsp. minced red chili

  • 1 tsp. minced garlic

  • 1 tsp. sugar

  • small bowl

  • deep frying pan

  • 12 oz. bok choy

  • 6 oz. mushrooms

  • 1 tbsp. peanut oil

  • 1 tsp. sesame oil

  • water

  • metal steamer basket

  • 3-inch piece ginger

  • 1 bunch green onions

Step 1:​ Thoroughly mix low-sodium tamari or soy sauce, rice vinegar, minced red chili, minced garlic and sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Step 2:​ In a deep frying pan, sauté bok choy and mushrooms in peanut and sesame oils over medium-high heat until crisp-tender. Remove and keep warm.

Step 3:​ Wipe pan clean with a paper towel. Bring 1 inch of water to boil and then turn off the heat. Place metal steamer basket in the pan and open up the sides.

Step 4:​ Place ginger and green onions in the basket. Rinse any ice glaze from frozen cod under cold water and place fillets in the steamer.

Step 5:​ Return water to boil. Cover loosely and steam just until fish is opaque throughout, about 5 to 7 minutes, or until it reaches a safe internal temperature of 145 degrees F. (Reduce cook time by half for fresh or thawed fish.)

Step 6:​ Serve over sautéed vegetables with dipping sauce. Garnish with remaining green onion slices.

In an Electric Steamer

An electric steamer takes the guesswork out of steaming cod, allowing you to prepare a nutritious meal in a short amount of time.

Electric steamers are available at most home supply stores and range in size and price. If you cook large meals, choose a steamer that accommodates more than one cod fillet, which helps you make several servings at one time.

Cooking smaller meals means you can get by with a small product, which typically costs less. Some steamers feature several compartments. Use one to steam cod and vegetables at the same time for a meal that comes together quickly.

Try this recipe from Wild Alaskan Company.

Things You'll Need

  • cod

  • paper towels

  • salt

  • pepper

  • favorite spices

  • broth

  • electric steamer

Step 1:​ Pat cod fillets dry with paper towels.

Step 2:​ Flavor with salt, pepper and your favorite seasonings.

Step 3:​ Add broth to the steamer's reservoir, place cod in the designated container, secure the lid and turn the steamer on.

Step 4:​ Steam cod for 15 minutes, or until it flakes easily with a fork and looks opaque in the center. Fish should reach a safe internal temp of 145 F.

Tip

The mild flavor of steamed cod pairs well with a variety of tastes, allowing you to try the fish in many ways. A sprinkling of salt and pepper with lemon juice is the easiest way to give steamed cod flavor and bring out its natural taste. Dill, basil, tarragon and ginger are good herb choices to add flavor.

Serve steamed cod with sides like fresh green salads, roasted asparagus, acorn squash, potatoes, rice pilaf or quinoa.

How to Poach Cod

The gentle cooking method of poaching allows heat from simmering liquids to cook delicate meats, such as fish, without destroying the integrity of the meat.

Try this poached cod in milk recipe from chef Amy Riolo, a best-selling author and TV personality.

Things You'll Need

  • cod

  • wide-bottomed pan

  • 2 cups milk

  • extra-virgin olive oil

  • your favorite seasonings

Step 1:​ Pour milk into the pan and heat it on low.

Step 2:​ Add extra virgin olive oil and your favorite seasonings to the cod. Riolo recommends salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Step 3:​ Place cod in the pan on low heat.

Step 4:​ Cook cod for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the thickness, until cooked through and at an internal temp of 145 F.

Step 5:​ Remove cod from milk to serve.

Poaching Smoked Cod Fillets

You can also opt to poach smoked cod for added flavor. Rinse the smoked cod to remove some of the salt first, then poach it.

How to Cook Cod Roe

Cod roe, often confused with caviar, has a distinct and delicate flavor. Hard roe is the unfertilized eggs of the female cod and soft roe is the sperm of a male cod, per Britannica. (FYI, caviar is hard roe from the sturgeon fish that's been salt-brined.)

It's considered a delicacy in certain countries such as Norway but is less common in the United States. Though cod roe is sometimes eaten raw, both types are most often boiled and then breaded and fried.

Try this cod roe fritters recipe from The Fish Society.

Things You'll Need

  • cod roe

  • salt

  • water

  • medium pot

  • flour

  • egg

  • oil

  • 2 small bowls

  • frying pan

  • lemon wedge

Step 1:​ Defrost the roe overnight in the refrigerator. Skip this step if your roe is already thawed.

Step 2:​ Add the roe to a medium pot with salted water. Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from pot and allow to cool.

Step 3:​ Add flour to a small bowl and egg to a different small bowl.

Step 4:​ Cut roe into slices about 1/2-inch thick and roll in flour.

Step 5:​ Dip roe slices into egg, then roll them in flour again and set aside.

Step 6:​ Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the cod roe fritters on both sides until golden. Make sure they reach a safe internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Serve with a lemon wedge.

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