Pan Fried Cod

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The most delicious, easy, and simple recipe for cod – pan-fried with fresh lemon, garlic, and herb flavor – for a light fish that flakes perfectly and is low-carb.

A plate with pan fried cod and green beans on it.
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Pan fried cod fillet with lemon and herbs on a white plate.

Lemon Garlic Pan Fried Cod

Craving a light yet flavorful weeknight meal? Look no further than pan-fried cod with garlic and lemon!

This simple dish takes only about 20 minutes to prepare, making it perfect for busy schedules. The cod cooks up beautifully with a crispy exterior and tender, flaky interior, while the vibrant flavors of garlic and lemon add a delightful touch.

So, gather your ingredients, preheat your pan, and get ready to experience a taste of the Mediterranean right in your own kitchen!

A fork is holding a piece of pan-fried cod and green beans in this seafood dish.

How to Make Pan Fried Cod

To make this recipe, we will need the following ingredients:

  • Cod Fillets: The star of the show! The cod provides the protein base for the dish. Its mild flavor and flaky texture make it perfect for pan-frying.
  • Salt and Black Pepper: These basic seasonings enhance the natural flavor of the cod. You can adjust the amount to your preference.
  • All-Purpose Flour: This helps create a crispy crust on the outside of the fish while keeping the inside moist. The flour absorbs excess moisture from the surface of the fish, allowing it to brown more easily.
  • Olive Oil: Provides a healthy cooking medium with a mild flavor. It helps to prevent the fish from sticking to the pan and promotes even browning.
  • Unsalted Butter: Adds richness and depth of flavor to the dish. When melted, it browns beautifully, contributing to the overall taste and presentation.
  • Garlic: Mince garlic adds a pungent and aromatic flavor to the dish. It complements the fish and other ingredients well.
  • Lemon Zest: The zest adds a bright, citrusy note and helps to cut through the richness of the butter and olive oil.
  • Lemon Juice: Adds acidity and brightness, balancing the flavors and giving the dish a fresh zing.
  • Fresh Parsley and Basil: These herbs add freshness and a pop of color to the dish. They complement the other ingredients with their herbaceous notes.
  • Microgreens (optional): These tiny greens add a subtle flavor and a vibrant visual element to the finished dish.

Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, we will use this process:

  • Pat the cod filets with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Place the flour in a shallow dish. Dredge each cod filet  in the flour, shaking off any excess.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Carefully add the cod filets to the hot skillet. Cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and cooked through. The internal temperature should reach 145°F (63°C). Allow a golden crust to form on each side before flipping.
  • While the cod is cooking, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant, being careful not to brown the garlic. 
  • Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, chopped parsley and basil. Cook for another minute to allow the flavors to meld together. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Once the cod is cooked, transfer it to a serving plate. Spoon the lemon herb butter sauce over the cod filets. Garnish the dish with additional chopped herbs and microgreens if desired. Serve the pan-fried cod hot alongside your favorite side dishes such as roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, or a crisp green salad.
Seafood fillets in a skillet with lemon slices.

Tips and Tricks to Pan Fried Cod

Choose Fresh Cod: Start with fresh, high-quality cod fillets for the best flavor and texture.

Pat Dry: Before cooking, pat the cod fillets dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture. This helps ensure a crispy exterior when pan-frying.

Season Well: Season the cod fillets generously with salt and pepper, or your favorite seasonings, to enhance the flavor.

Preheat the Pan: Heat your skillet over medium-high heat before adding the oil. A hot pan ensures even cooking and prevents the fish from sticking.

Use the Right Oil: Use a high smoke point oil like vegetable oil, canola oil, or grapeseed oil for pan-frying. Avoid using olive oil, as it has a lower smoke point and can impart a bitter flavor.

Don’t Overcrowd the Pan: Cook the cod fillets in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan. Overcrowding can cause the fish to steam instead of fry, resulting in a soggy texture.

Cook Skin-Side Down First: If your cod fillets have skin, start by cooking them skin-side down in the hot pan. This helps the skin crisp up nicely.

Cook Until Golden Brown: Cook the cod fillets for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until they are golden brown and cooked through. The fish should easily flake with a fork when done.

Avoid Overcooking: Be careful not to overcook the cod, as it can become dry and tough. Remove it from the heat as soon as it is cooked through.

Serve Immediately: Enjoy your perfectly pan-fried cod immediately while it’s hot and crispy. Serve with your favorite side dishes for a delicious meal.

FAQs

How do I prevent the cod from sticking to the pan?

Ensure the pan is properly preheated before adding the oil and cod. Also, make sure the cod fillets are patted dry before placing them in the pan. Using a non-stick skillet or well-seasoned cast iron pan can also help prevent sticking.

Should I cook the cod with the skin on or off?

It’s a matter of personal preference. Cooking the cod with the skin on can add extra flavor and help protect the delicate flesh during cooking. However, if you prefer skinless cod or if the fillets are skinless, that works just as well.

How do I know when the cod is cooked through?

The cod is cooked through when it flakes easily with a fork and the flesh is opaque and no longer translucent. You can also use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature reaches 145°F (63°C).

Can I use frozen cod for pan frying?

Yes, you can use frozen cod for pan frying. However, make sure to thaw it completely in the refrigerator before cooking. Pat the thawed cod fillets dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture before seasoning and pan frying.

What’s the best way to season the cod?

Season the cod fillets with salt, pepper, and any other desired seasonings such as garlic powder, paprika, or lemon zest. You can also marinate the cod in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs for extra flavor.

How do I achieve a crispy crust on the cod?

Make sure the pan is hot before adding the cod fillets, and resist the urge to move or flip them too often while cooking. This allows a golden crust to form on the fish. Also, avoid overcrowding the pan, as this can cause the fish to steam instead of fry.

What are some recommended side dishes to serve with pan-fried cod?

Popular side dishes to serve with pan-fried cod include roasted vegetables, steamed rice, mashed potatoes, mixed greens salad, and grilled asparagus.

Can I use the same cooking method for other types of fish?

Yes, you can use similar pan-frying techniques for other types of fish such as halibut, tilapia, or salmon. Adjust the cooking time as needed based on the thickness of the fillets.

Cooking fish fillets with lemon and herbs in a skillet.

What to Serve With Pan Fried Cod

Roasted Vegetables: Try roasted asparagus, Brussels sprouts, or carrots for a flavorful and nutritious accompaniment.

Steamed Green Beans: Lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, steamed green beans provide a fresh and vibrant side to complement the fish.

Lemon Herb Rice: Cook rice with fresh herbs like parsley and dill, and finish it off with a squeeze of lemon juice for a zesty twist.

Mashed Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes are a classic choice, offering a comforting and indulgent element to the meal.

Mixed Greens Salad: A simple salad with a vinaigrette dressing can add a refreshing contrast to the richness of the cod.

Coleslaw: A tangy coleslaw with cabbage, carrots, and a creamy dressing can provide a crunchy texture alongside the flaky fish.

Quinoa Pilaf: Cooked quinoa mixed with sautéed onions, garlic, and chopped vegetables makes for a wholesome and nutritious side dish.

Grilled Corn on the Cob: Seasoned with butter, salt, and a sprinkle of paprika, grilled corn on the cob offers a deliciously sweet and smoky addition to the meal.

Try these recipes nexT:

A plate with pan fried cod and green beans, perfect for seafood lovers.

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Simple pan fried cod recipe with lemon and garlic.

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A plate of food with lemon and green beans served alongside easy pan fried cod.
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Pan Fried Cod

Delicious lightly battered pan-fried cod is crispy and delicious Garnish with fresh veg!
Course Fish
Cuisine American
Keyword cod, fish, fried fish, healthy fish, low calorie, seafood
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 960kcal
Author Courtney O’Dell

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 4 cod filets skinless (about 4-5 ounces each)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon about 1/4 cup
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil chopped
  • Microgreens garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Pat the cod filets with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Place the flour in a shallow dish. Dredge each cod filet  in the flour, shaking off any excess.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Carefully add the cod filets to the hot skillet. Cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and cooked through. The internal temperature should reach 145°F (63°C). Allow a golden crust to form on each side before flipping.
  • While the cod is cooking, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant, being careful not to brown the garlic. 
  • Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, chopped parsley and basil. Cook for another minute to allow the flavors to meld together. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Once the cod is cooked, transfer it to a serving plate. Spoon the lemon herb butter sauce over the cod filets. Garnish the dish with additional chopped herbs and microgreens if desired. Serve the pan-fried cod hot alongside your favorite side dishes such as roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, or a crisp green salad.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 960kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 162g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 417mg | Sodium: 489mg | Potassium: 3757mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.1g | Vitamin A: 931IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 157mg | Iron: 4mg

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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6 Comments

  1. I like cod and think this would be great but I am wondering why it has so many calories per serving? and can you suggest a way to reduce the caloric number?

    1. Because it is pan fried in oil that makes it more calories. If you want to use smaller filets and less oil that will reduce the caloric intake.

  2. Very confusing. You mention to use olive oil, in several places on your post. Then you comment to never use olive oil. It has a lower smoke point. Use vegetable oil or grapeseed oil. Which is right?

    1. Many people dont like to use seed oils for health purposes which is why I default to olive oil. You can use any oil you want, it will smoke more with olive oil than grapeseed, hope that helps!