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 most good advice usually is), but when you are used to making 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 love making baked fish for dinner. It’s easy, it’s healthy, and Ben and I both love it. When I think of baked fish, I think of Baked Salmon in Foil. It’s a fantastic recipe, and one that you can change up in numerous ways to keep fresh (Spicy Baked Salmon and Grilled Salmon in Foil are just two suggestions, and I have many more in both of those blog posts).
Given that this is the advice I give to others, it’s about time I took it for myself with baked fish!
I’d long thought of baked cod just one way: as crispy baked cod, probably with butter, and definitely with lemon. It’s how I make my favorite Baked Fish and Chips, a dynamite one pan meal that’s cooked with potatoes too.
So…given that I had a good grasp of how to bake cod (what temperature, how to season it, what to serve with it), why am I only just now baking it 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 super healthy, and it has a beautiful blend of Italian flavors and ingredients.
How to Make the Most Delicious Baked Cod with Vegetables
As a nod to summer, I baked the cod with lots of tomatoes and herbs. The great news is that cherry tomatoes taste quite decent year-round, so you can make this recipe anytime!
The ingredients in this baked cod recipe are:
- 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.
- 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 it’s the height of summer 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 (not a fan). Sauteed and roasted fennel, however, is a totally different story! 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 DELICIOUS, instant way to elevate your cooking. Try adding a few tablespoons to some of your favorite Italian recipes. Capers also taste great with cod.
- 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. You want this on the fish’s surface right away.
- 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 and become more jammy and sweet.
- 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.
What to Serve with Baked Cod
- Crusty Bread. Serve your Baked Cod with crusty bread. It’s the perfect vessel to sop up all those yummy, jammy tomatoes!
- Rice. A bed of either brown rice or cauliflower rice would be a wonderful base to your Baked Cod dish. It will soak up all the delicious flavors from the vegetables and fish. Try this Lemon Rice.
- Potatoes. A savory side of potatoes will complement your Baked Cod dish perfectly! Try these Baked Potatoes and Carrots, Homemade Scalloped Potatoes, Slow Cooker Scalloped Potatoes, or Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes.
- Salad. For a lighter side dish, serve your Baked Cod with a green salad. This Shaved Brussels Sprouts Caesar would pair nicely.
More Simple and Healthy Baked Fish Recipes
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 version of the recipe, which hasn’t happened yet!
- 4 6-ounce cod fillets
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 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.
- TO REHEAT: To avoid drying out the fish, reheat very gently in the microwave until warm.
Nutrition InformationAmount per serving (1 (of 4)) — Calories: 263, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 73mg, Potassium: 1264mg, Carbohydrates: 13g, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4g, Protein: 33g, Vitamin A: 762%, Vitamin C: 38%, Calcium: 78%, Iron: 2%
Did you try this recipe? I want to see! Follow Well Plated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!
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