Whenever I am asked for cooking advice, be it for someone who’s just learning to cook or someone who’s cooked for years but has hit a recipe rut, one of my biggest tips is to start with something simple and healthy—like Baked Cod—master it, then use it to create different recipe spinoffs so that your meals stay exciting and your recipe repertoire grows.
It’s common sense (as good advice often is), but when you are used to cooking the same thing over and over, it can be hard to see a recipe any other way—including when your full time job is coming up with recipes!
Case-in-point: I have long loved and frequently make baked fish for dinner. It’s easy, it’s healthy, and Ben and I both adore it. When I think of baked fish, my go-to Baked Salmon in Foil comes immediately to mind. It’s a fantastic recipe, and one that you can change up in numerous ways to keep it fresh (Spicy Baked Salmon, Grilled Salmon in Foil, and Lemon Pepper Salmon are just a few suggestions, and I have many more in each of those blog posts).
Given that this is the advice I give to others, and that I’ve applied the idea to salmon, it’s about time I took it for myself with baked cod!
Until making this recipe, I pictured baked cod just one way: as crispy baked cod, probably with butter, and definitely with lemon (maybe even a little Parmesan). It’s how I make my favorite Baked Fish and Chips (a baked cod with panko topping). It’s a dynamite one pan meal that’s cooked with potatoes too for a classic “fish fry” effect.
So…given that I have a good grasp of how to bake cod (what temperature, how to season it, what to serve with it, etc), that baked cod is healthy (a quality I appreciate in my weeknight dinners), and that I like to vary up my baked fish, why am I only just now making cod a different way? I don’t have a good answer, but I’ll be thinking about it hard…while shoveling forkfuls of this deliciously simple baked cod into my mouth.
This recipe is ready in less than 40 minutes, is ultra healthy, and it has a beautiful blend of Italian flavors and ingredients. It will delight and surprise you.
How to Make the Most Delicious Baked Cod with Vegetables
As a nod to my favorite fresh ingredients, I baked the cod with oodles of tomatoes and herbs. The excellent news is that cherry tomatoes taste quite decent year-round, so you can make baked cod with tomatoes in any season.
- Cod. If you haven’t tried it before, cod is a firm, fairly mild fish. Because it doesn’t have a strong taste, it’s great for people who don’t like “fishy” fish. It also can take on the flavors of whatever you put with it (this Fish En Papillote is another easy way to prepare it).
- Lemon. Making baked cod with lemon is classic, and for a good reason! The lemon brightens up the cod and makes it taste its best; I can’t imagine cod without it.
- Tomatoes. I love fresh cherry tomatoes in this recipe, and they taste great year-round. If they’re in season and you have a windfall of garden tomatoes you’re looking to use up (lucky you!), you can swap in a different kind. If your tomatoes are larger, cut them into 1-inch chunks first.
- Yellow Onion. It caramelizes with the tomatoes and becomes jammy, crispy in places, and sweet.
- Fennel. Raw fennel tastes like licorice (and I am not much of a fan). Sautéed and roasted fennel, however, is a completely different tale. I like the depth it gives the baked cod. If you prefer not to use fennel, you can simply leave it out.
- White Wine. Splash in some for the cod; save the rest for dinner! If you prefer to make this baked cod without wine, you can swap in chicken stock.
- Capers. Briny, salty, and a DELISH, instant way to elevate your cooking. Try adding a few tablespoons to some of your favorite Italian recipes.
- Salt, Pepper, and Red Pepper Flakes. Because cod is mild, seasoning is key.
Once you have your ingredients, this simple baked cod recipe comes together in three basic steps.
PART ONE: Prepare the Cod for Baking
- Pat the cod dry. This removes excess water and promotes better baking.
- Season with salt and pepper. It’s important to season the whole time you cook a recipe.
- Squeeze with lemon. Lemon and cod, always and forever.
- Arrange the cod in a baking dish. A 9×13 casserole dish is perfect. Make sure it has high sides, as we will be adding the vegetables to it too.
PART TWO: Saute the Vegetables
- Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet. Use medium heat, and make sure the oil is hot before you proceed.
- Add the vegetables. You can add all three (tomatoes, onion, and fennel) at once. Don’t forget to season with salt. This will draw moisture out of the vegetables and give you more flavor.
- Saute. The onions and fennel will soften and caramelize, and the tomatoes will burst, then cook in their own juices.
- Splash in the white wine. Let it reduce. Your kitchen is going to smell amazing at this point.
- Stir in the capers. They will be a game changer!
PART THREE: Put it All Together and Bake
- Add the vegetables to the baking dish with the cod. You can spoon them all around and on top of the cod.
- Bake the cod at 375 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes. You know the cod is done when it flakes easily with a fork at the thickest part. You can also use an instant read thermometer like this one to check the temperature of the fish. It’s done when it reaches 145 degrees F.
- Serve it up! For each serving, I like to plate the cod fillet first, then spoon the vegetable mixture and any juices that collect in the pan over and around it. A finishing shower of fresh herbs makes the cod look pretty and fresh, and it adds more flavor.
Baked Cod Storage Tips
- To Store. Place leftovers in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. I like to store the fish and veggies separately for easier reheating.
- To Reheat. To avoid drying out the fish, rewarm it in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F until heated through. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to wake the flavors back up. You can also reheat this dish very gently in the microwave or in a skillet on the stove. The vegetables can be warmed in the oven, on the stove, or in the microwave.
- To Freeze. I have found that fish doesn’t taste as good once it’s been frozen and reheated, but if you find yourself with leftovers, you can try to freeze it. Place leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 1 month. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
What to Serve with Baked Cod
- Crusty Bread. Serve crusty bread with your baked cod with tomatoes. It’s the perfect vessel to sop up all that yummy, jammy flavor and the cooking juices!
- Rice. A bed of either brown rice or cauliflower rice would be a wonderful base for your baked cod dish. It will soak up all the rich flavors from the vegetables and fish. This Lemon Rice is especially good.
- Potatoes. A savory side of potatoes will complement the simple baked cod perfectly! Try these Roasted Potatoes and Carrots or Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes.
- Salad. Healthy baked cod recipes are ideal with a green salad. This Caesar Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Crispy Chickpea Croutons would pair nicely.
More Simple and Healthy Fish Recipes
Recommended Tools to Make Baked Cod
- Baking Dish. This one is the perfect size for this recipe, and it’s beautiful!
- Citrus Juicer. My #1 tip for juicing lemons and limes with ease.
- Instant Read Thermometer. The best way to ensure that your fish is cooked through.
I hope to take my own advice and make many versions of this baked cod in the future…as soon as I get tired of this particular iteration, which hasn’t happened yet. Or, maybe I’ll give grilled and pan fried cod recipes a try. Any you’d love to see?
If you try this Italian baked cod, please leave a comment to let me know how it came out. Your comments and 5-star reviews make my day and help the site too!
- 4 6-ounce cod fillets
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion - sliced
- 1 bulb fennel - quartered, core cut away, thinly sliced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes - halved
- ½ cup dry white wine or unsalted chicken stock
- 3 tablespoons capers - drained
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes - plus additional to taste
- Chopped fresh herbs - such as parsley, dill, or thyme, for serving
- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9x13 or similarly sized baking dish with nonstick spray.
- Pat the cod dry. Arrange in the baking dish, and season with ½ teaspoon salt and black pepper. Squeeze the lemon over the top.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onion, fennel, tomatoes, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Saute for 8 to 10 minutes until the onions and fennel are tender and the tomatoes begin to break down. Add the white wine. Let the wine reduce for 1 minute, then add the capers.
- Spoon the tomato-fennel mixture around the cod. Place in the oven and bake 12 to 15 minutes, until fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork. Sprinkle with fresh herbs. Serve hot.
- TO STORE: Place leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. I prefer to store the cod and vegetables separately for easy reheating.
- TO REHEAT: To avoid drying out the fish, rewarm it in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F until heated through. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to wake the flavors back up. You can also reheat this dish very gently in the microwave or in a skillet on the stove. The vegetables can be warmed in the oven, on the stove, or in the microwave.
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