A simple blend of panko breadcrumbs and kitchen staples makes a deliciously thick and crisp topping for panko crusted cod! This flaky white fish bakes up so nice and juicy. Done in 30 minutes, it's a meal that will become a weeknight dinner favorite.
Frozen seafood plays a big role in my dinnertime meal planning. Simple to keep on hand, it's a lean protein that often doesn't require much in the way of effort or ingredients in order to yield a flavorful and healthy dinner.
This panko crusted cod recipe is one you'll want to have in your back pocket. As easy as stirring up the topping, pressing it onto the fish, and popping everything in the oven, this cod features a perfectly golden-brown panko crust with a hint of citrus, juicy and flaky fish, and not many dishes to clean - win!
Reasons to Love This Recipe
- Cod is widely available in frozen form, making it a healthy and convenient main dish protein to have on hand.
- Fresh lemon is used where it's most impactful: potent zest is in the panko topping, while its juice is reserved for serving where it won't get lost among the other flavors.
- The blend of pantry-staple spices provides a nice all-purpose flavor to allow this panko crusted cod to mesh well with many cuisines.
- Cod: This flaky white fish is a good choice for oven baking as it stays nice and moist.
- Olive Oil: Brushed on the fish to also keep it moist.
- Panko: Panko breadcrumbs are considerably larger and flakier than regular breadcrumbs, which helps to provide big crunch.
- Butter: Melted butter helps hold the topping together while providing flavor. Salted butter is my preference but unsalted works, too.
- Spices: Garlic powder, dried thyme, paprika, and onion powder keep things simple and all-purpose.
- Parsley: Use Italian parsley for a pop of fresh flavor and color.
- Lemon Zest: Citrus is a great pairing for fish. Reserve the rest of the lemon for slicing into wedges and squeezing juice over top for serving.
Thawing Frozen Cod
This is important! Often frozen cod fillets come in vacuum-sealed packaging. Make sure to remove the cod from its vacuum-sealed packaging before thawing, as this low-oxygen condition can be conducive for botulism to form. I place the frozen fillets in a zip-top bag to thaw as this method allows oxygen to enter, mitigating the risk.
- Prepare Topping - Melt butter and stir together with the rest of the panko topping ingredients.
- Season the Cod - Pat each fillet dry and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Season with salt and pepper.
- Assemble - Evenly distribute the topping among the cod fillets and pat it into an even layer on the top surface. Try to go right to the edges.
- Bake - Panko crusted cod will take around 12-15 minutes in the oven at 425°F.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Cod Fillet Thickness - Choose fillets of similar height so they cook with the same timing. Otherwise just be prepared to pull the thinner ones first and allow the thicker ones to continue cooking.
- Parchment Paper - This is very helpful to prevent the cod from sticking to the pan.
- Cook Time - In my experience frozen cod fillets can come in a pretty wide range of heights. Look for secondary signs of doneness beyond a time range to know when your cod is ready: an opaque color, easily-flaked texture, and golden-brown crust.
- Dried Spices - Switch these up to have this baked crusted cod go in a different cuisine direction. Old Bay seasoning is a classic for seafood (essential on steamed shrimp), but also consider Italian seasoning, blackened Cajun seasoning, etc. Just be mindful of any that include salt if also using salted butter.
Yes. Any type of cod-adjacent white and flaky fish would work well, like haddock, halibut, or tilapia. While it has a stronger flavor, salmon is also a good choice with an all-purpose panko topping.
Place leftover cooked cod in a baking dish and pour a little bit of water into the bottom of it. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a low oven (around 300°F) for around 10-15 minutes, or until the cod is sufficiently warmed throughout. While reheating it on lower power levels in the microwave can work in a pinch, you risk the cod drying out. Not to mention that reheating fish in the microwave is notoriously fragrant.
I would not freeze baked cod. The panko topping's texture will be negatively impacted, and it would be too easy to end up with overcooked, dry cod once it had been reheated again.
Since this panko crusted cod is baked, I like to choose side dishes that won't compete for oven space as the fish cooks.
- A side salad - Seen in these pictures with a light and fresh pesto salad dressing. (we also love hummus salad dressing). Homemade baked croutons add an extra special touch -- as do croutons made in the air fryer.
- Rice - We're big fans of turmeric coconut rice.
- Vegetables - You can't beat garlic sauteed green beans - no blanching!
- Potatoes - Both an air fryer baked potato (made all in the air fryer or with a microwave/air fryer combo) or roasted garlic mashed potatoes won't hog up oven space.
If you’ve enjoyed this recipe, I’d love for you to leave a star rating in the recipe card and/or a comment review below!
Baked Panko Crusted Cod
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 Tablespoons finely-chopped fresh parsley
- ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 3 Tablespoons salted butter melted
- 1 pound cod fillets thawed
- Olive oil for brushing fish
- Kosher salt for seasoning fish
- Ground black pepper for seasoning fish
- Lemon wedges for serving
- Heat oven to 425°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- Add panko, parsley, garlic powder, dried thyme, paprika, onion powder, and lemon zest to a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine. Pour in the melted butter and stir so that everything is evenly combined.
- Pat both sides of each cod fillet dry with a paper towel then place them on the prepared sheet pan. Brush the tops with olive oil, then season each with kosher salt and pepper.
- Evenly distribute the panko topping over the surface of the fillets, pressing it in so that it adheres in a layer of similar thickness.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the crust is a nice golden-brown and the fish is opaque white and flakes easily, with an internal temperature of 145°F in the center of the thickest part. Thinner fillets will be on the shorter end of the range, while extra-thick pieces may require an extra minute or two. Serve immediately with lemon wedges for squeezing over top.
- If using unsalted butter add a sprinkle of salt to the topping.
- Cod fillets come in varying heights. Try and select fillets of similar height so they cook with the same timing. If this isn't possible, be ready to pull thinner fillets from the oven sooner than thicker ones.
- Loosely drape aluminum foil over the pan in the oven if the crust is browning too quickly before the fish is fully cooked.
Nutritional information is provided as an estimate. As it can vary due to many factors (brands used, quantities, etc.), we cannot guarantee its accuracy.Food Safety and Nutrition Disclaimer