Garlic Butter Baked Cod

$3.56 recipe / $1.78 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.69 from 70 votes
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Do you love garlic bread as much I as do? Like, do you keep it on hand in your freezer at all times? Then you’re going to love this Garlic Butter Baked Cod recipe. In my search for a more filling vehicle for that buttery garlic goodness (something that I wouldn’t be tempted to eat 16 pieces of in one sitting), I found some leftover cod fillets in my freezer that had “garlic butter” written all over them!

garlic butter baked cod on a plate with tomatoes, asparagus, and a fork

The mild, slightly rich flavor of a cod filet is the perfect base for the zesty fresh garlic and sweet, creamy butter. And as if this Garlic Butter Baked Cod wasn’t already perfect, it also happens to be incredibly fast and easy to make. Weeknight dinner perfection!

❓What’s In Garlic Butter Baked Cod

For this recipe, I literally took my basic Garlic Bread recipe and duplicated the topping (butter, olive oil, garlic, parsley, and salt). Then I added a pinch of paprika for color because baked cod is notoriously pale. I also happened to have a couple of lemons, so I sliced one up and added it to the baking dish for a nice bright flavor to balance the rich butter. It’s absolute flavor perfection and my mouth is watering just typing this!

❄️ Should I Use Frozen or Fresh Cod?

You can use fresh or frozen cod, whichever is available to you. If using frozen, make sure the cod fillets are fully thawed before topping with the butter mixture and baking.

♨️ How to Know When Cod is Done Baking

The time needed to bake your cod will depend on the thickness of the filet, but cod should be baked until it reaches an internal temperature of 145ºF. At this temperature, the flesh will be opaque and flakes easily with a fork. If you continue baking too long past this point the cod can get tough or rubbery.

My filets were a little on the thick side, so I baked them for about 20 minutes at 400ºF to reach that internal temperature. If you have thin filets, it may only take 15 minutes of baking. A simple electronic instant-read meat thermometer is really helpful for determining when the fish is finished baking. The one I use is linked in the bottom of the recipe card below.

🍃 Is Fresh Parsley a Must?

I don’t expect you to buy an entire bunch of parsley just for 1 Tbsp of chopped parsley for this recipe. If you don’t already have some on hand, you can either skip the fresh parsley, or use one teaspoon dried parsley in its place.

🍋 Is the Lemon Necessary?

While you can make this recipe without the lemon, the lemon does take the flavor to the next level, so get a lemon if you can! Single lemons can be expensive, so remember, you can freeze your whole lemons if you buy them by the bag!

🍽 What to Serve with Garlic Butter Baked Cod

A fork picking at a piece of garlic butter baked cod on a plate

P.S. I wrote the recipe below for just two servings because that’s all the cod I had left after testing, but you can easily increase it to four by changing the number of servings in the box below. It will automatically adjust the ingredients below to match.

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Garlic Butter Baked Cod

4.69 from 70 votes
This rich and zesty Garlic Butter Baked Cod is a fast and flavorful weeknight dinner that can be made in under 30 minutes, using basic pantry staples.
A fork picking at a piece of garlic butter baked cod on a plate
Servings 2
Prep 10 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 30 mins

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp butter (room temperature) ($0.26)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.16)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced ($0.16)
  • 1/8 tsp paprika ($0.02)
  • 1/8 tsp salt ($0.01)
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley ($0.10)
  • 8 oz. cod (2 4 oz. filets) ($2.48)
  • 1 fresh lemon ($0.37)

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a small bowl, combine the butter, olive oil, garlic, paprika, salt, and chopped parsley. Stir until it forms a fairly smooth paste.
  • Take a small dollop of the garlic butter and spread it over the surface of a small baking dish to keep the fish from sticking. Add the cod filets to the dish and then coat all sides of the fish with the remaining garlic butter.
  • Slice half of the lemon and add the lemon slices to the baking dish with the fish. Cut the remaining 1/2 lemon into wedges for serving.
  • Bake the cod for 20 minutes, or until it flakes easily with a fork and the internal temperature reaches 145ºF. Spoon any juices from the bottom of the pan over the fish. Serve the cod immediately with the remaining fresh lemon wedges for squeezing juice over top.

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Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 265kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 21gFat: 19gSodium: 299mgFiber: 0.2g
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Overhead view of Garlic Butter Baked Cod on a plate with tomatoes and asparagus, a black fork on the side.

Pictured with Roasted Asparagus and Tomatoes.

How to Make Garlic Butter Baked Cod – Step by Step Photos:

Garlic butter ingredients in a small bowl, unmixed.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a small bowl, combine 2 Tbsp room temperature butter, 1 Tbsp olive oil, 2 cloves garlic (minced), 1/8 tsp paprika, 1/8 tsp salt, and about 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley.

Mixed garlic butter in a small bowl

Mix the ingredients together until they form a fairly smooth paste.

Cod in the baking dish with lemon, ready to bake.

Take a small dollop of the garlic butter and smear it over the surface of a small baking dish (to prevent the fish from sticking). Place the cod fillets in the dish, then coat them on all sides with the remaining garlic butter mixture. Slice half a lemon and add the lemon slices to the baking dish. Cut the rest of the lemon into wedges to serve with the finished fish.

Finished Baked Cod in the baking dish

Bake the Garlic Butter Cod for 20 minutes, or until it flakes easily with a fork and reaches an internal temperature of 145ºF.

Close up view of the baked Cod in the baking dish.

Spoon any of the juices in the pan over the fish (that will spread the lemony flavor).

Close up front view of a piece of Garlic Butter Baked Cod on a plate with tomatoes and asparagus.

Serve immediately with some of the baked lemon slices, and a couple of the fresh lemon wedges to squeeze over top.

Overhead view of the plate full of tomatoes, asparagus, and Garlic Butter Baked Cod.

I paired my Garlic Butter Baked Cod with Roasted Asparagus and Tomatoes. It’s a great easy no-brainer side dish that you can serve with anything from fish to steak!

Love Cod? Try these cod recipes:

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  1. Outstanding! No changes. Moist. Delicious. Easy. Served with rice and big spring salad. This recipe is a keeper!

  2. This is a great easy recipe that will work for cooks without lots of time or experience. Will also impress guests because of the simplicity.

    I did use cod (great way to cook it, doesen’t need to be flipped, no breaking apart). I can see doing other fish, perhaps salmon and tuna instead.

    I used 6 cloves of garlic that I roasted, plus more butter and parsley.

    I baked mine in a steel skillet, next time I’ll do a light broil before serving just to give it some extra texture.

    Allowing the fish to warm a bit before cooking helps.

    I served mine with salad topped with toasted almonds along with a simple lemon vinigrette dressing that I made.

  3. Wondering if I should not have placed the sliced lemon on the fish as they seemed to have a bitter note – maybe from the skin. Love fish but this was a miss for us but the cook time was spot on.

  4. I appreciate the scaling feature on your recipes. But note that on the garlic butter baked cod recipe, it always says (two 4 oz. filets) for any number of servings. Small quibble but some folks are “just not good at math (whimper)”.

    1. I am one of those people, so I totally get it. We check out the back end and it was an issue with using a word vs a number to quantify the amount of filets. Should be fixed now! Thanks so much for pointing it out! XOXO -Monti

  5. Am planning to cook this tonight however I noticed that there is 301.85 mg of sodium. Why is the sodium level so high?

    1. 301 mg of sodium per day equals about 13% DV (% daily value) based on a diet of less than 2,400 mg of sodium per day. To give you some perspective, as a general guideline, 10% DV (230 mg) or less of sodium per serving is considered low, and 40% DV (920 mg) or more of sodium per serving is considered high. XOXO -Monti

  6. So it am not big on cooking and cooking fish on the smoker is just not that great, so I tried this recipe followed the directions (you know us guys never follow the directions). The cod came out perfect. Thank you

  7. This was excellent!  I used parchment paper on my baking pan but still spread a little of the garlic butter before placing the cod on it.  We both loved it!!

  8. Beth, I have been reading your site DAILY for years but have never commented before. This recipe was sublime. I used less butter because old eating disorders die hard, and I did add a splash of white wine. I served with your couscous and roasted vegetables. Yum.

  9. Made this tonight with steamed broccoli. We loved it. Easy to prepare and tasted great. This is now one of my favorite ways to prepare cod.Put some of the sauce over the broccoli.

  10. So so so good!!!! I made baked yams and green beans & corn with the cod. Dribbled the garlic butter, from the baking dish, over the yams and veggies.

    Delicious 😋

  11. Prepared the baked cod last night. Wasn’t sure my son would like fish that wasn’t fried but he went back for seconds!. I followed the recipe exactly and it was perfect. My favorite fish recipe now. Thanks