How to Cook Cod with Lemon in the Oven

Cod is a popular white fish with a very mild flavor. Although lemon-baked cod is a very simple cod recipe, this type of fish easily takes on the aromas and flavors of the ingredients you cook it with. As one of the best cod recipes, it results in a citrusy and flavorful dish.

Although lemon-baked cod is a very simple cod recipe, this type of fish easily takes on the aromas and flavors of the ingredients you cook it with.
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Preparing Simple Cod Recipes

Cod has a very mild, sweet flavor, so it's easy to over-season this fish. Simple cod recipes focus on making cod the star of the dish.

The best cod recipes call for ingredients that can help prevent your cod from drying out. Cod is not particularly rich in fat, unlike fatty fish like salmon.

Cod is consequently often cooked en papillote in order to preserve its moisture. However, this isn't the only way you can prepare cod with lemon. To make baked cod with lemon, you'll need:

  • One fillet of skinless cod, cut in two (this should yield two servings that are around 3 ounces each)
  • 2 lemons
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons of roughly chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons of roughly chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Although baked cod with lemon is a fairly simple cod recipe, you'll need to put the ingredients together in a way you may not be used to. If you prefer crispy baked cod, this recipe will require one additional step and two additional ingredients.

Step 1: Preheat Your Oven

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204.5 degrees Celsius).

Step 2: Prepare Your Lemons

Slice one of the lemons finely, discarding the two ends. Remove the seeds from the lemon slices and set them aside. Squeeze the other lemon's juice into a bowl.

Step 3: Create a Marinade

Mix the lemon juice, chopped garlic, parsley, cilantro, salt and olive oil together.

Step 4: Prepare Your Baking Tray

Put your cod into a flat baking tray that's been lined with aluminum foil. Make sure there's extra aluminum foil, so you can lift up the sides around the fish. You're essentially creating a second tray so that your cod cooks directly in your marinade.

Step 5: Season Your Fish

Coat each fillet of cod with the mixture of lemon, herbs and oil. Place the slices of lemon evenly over the top of the cod so that the entire top is covered in a sheet of finely sliced lemons.

Step 6: Don't Overcook Your Cod

Make sure the aluminum foil is raised up around your fish so that the fish cooks in the marinade. This will keep your fish from drying out as it cooks. Don't completely cover the fish, though. Leave the top of the fish, which is covered with lemon slices, uncovered.

Step 7: Bake Your Cod With Lemon

Cook your fish at 400 F (204.5 C) for between eight and 10 minutes. After this, the lemons should have started to caramelize a bit and appear slightly brown.

If your lemons have not browned in the oven, you can always turn the oven to broil for a minute or two. This step is not necessary, though; it simply enhances the caramelization of your lemons.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that fish is fully cooked when it's reached an internal temperature of 145 F (63 C). If you don't have a thermometer, your cod should appear white (not translucent) and flake apart easily.


If you prefer crispy baked cod, you'll need to do one extra step here. A minute or two before taking your cod out of the oven, remove the lemon and add two extra ingredients: Coat your fish with a mixture of 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs to produce crispy baked cod.

Step 8: Remove Caramelized Lemons and Serve

Remove your fish from the oven. Remove the lemon slices from the top of your fish. If you've made crispy baked cod, you don't need to remove your Parmesan-breadcrumb coating.

Although you can eat the caramelized lemons, they're primarily there to prevent your fish from drying out. Their presence protects your cod from being exposed to direct heat, releasing lemon juice onto the fish as they caramelize.

Serve your lemony cod with healthy sides like steamed asparagus, a colorful rice pilaf and a simple mixed-greens side salad.

Read more: The 9 Safest Seafood Options

Incorporating Fish Into Your Diet

Fish can definitely be part of a healthy diet. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, fish is known as a good source of protein and an important source of omega-3 fatty acids; it also contains various vitamins and minerals.

According to the USDA, 3 ounces of cooked Atlantic cod has 89 calories, 0.7 grams of fat and 19.4 grams of protein. Cod contains most of the essential nutrients the FDA recommends you consume on a daily basis. It's particularly rich in selenium and B-complex vitamins.

The main downside to fish and other marine products is their mercury content. However, the FDA considers cod low in mercury, which means it's one of the safest types of seafood you can consume.

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