Step outside of your oven (literally and figuratively), and let’s make easy Grilled Cod!
A mild, firm-bodied fish, cod is ideal for cooking on the barbie.
It can hold together on the grill grates (just use a gentle touch and a flexible spatula like this one).
Not ready to take the plunge and cook the cod directly on the grates? No biggie. I have directions for you to grill it in a foil packet instead, a trick I use whenever I’m making Grilled Salmon in Foil.
While fish can certainly overcook, cod is one of the most forgiving. It resists drying out more than other flaky fish.
Also, we’re adding a lemon butter sauce that’s going to buy you some wiggle room.
What I am saying is—even if you’ve never grilled cod or any other fish in your life—you are going to nail this recipe.
To go along with our awesome-sauce grilled cod, I whipped up (wait for it) an awesome sauce.
I recently added this new cookbook to my collection, and one of the biggest tips I’ve picked up from it so far is the power of adding simple sauces to fish, especially fish cooked on the grill. That’s why in addition to this easy method for grilling cod, you’ll find a recipe for a quick cilantro yogurt sauce to serve alongside it. We spooned it allllll over our cod, then used the leftovers for grilled vegetables. YUM.
The sauce takes fewer than five minutes to make and completely elevates the meal. I felt so chef-y and accomplished.
In addition to being a delish sauce to serve with fish, the cilantro yogurt sauce is also ultra yummy with shrimp, grilled chicken, and on burgers (try it with this Portobello Mushroom Burger).
Why Cook Grilled Cod
Cod is an excellent starter fish to those who are new to eating fish in general. It’s mild and does not taste overly “fishy,” the way more oily fish do.
Its mildness, however, means that it’s up to you, the cook, to amp up its flavor. It doesn’t need much. Lemon and butter will do it, perhaps with some herbs if you are feeling fancy.
- This simple Baked Cod with vegetables calls on Italian ingredients like capers and a touch of white wine to make it special.
- Pan Fried Cod is a quick and delicious way to enjoy a restaurant-quality meal.
- Baked Fish and Chips has a crunchy outside coating that is nothing short of irresistible.
- Fish En Papillote (cod baked in parchment paper) tucks the flavors inside the packet to ensure the fish cooks perfectly.
While I enjoy each of the baked cod recipes above, grilling cod has an “it” factor that can’t be imitated by any other cooking method. Grilled fish is subtly smoky, lightly crisp on the outside, and meltingly tender on the inside.
Cod is good for you too! Cod is a great source of lean protein and Vitamin-B (find out more about cod health benefits here).
How to Grill Cod
You can grill cod in foil or place it directly on the grill grates.
- Cod In Foil, The Pros. It’s easier because you don’t need to worry about the fish sticking to the grill or falling through the grates.
- Cod In Foil, The Cons. If you use foil, you won’t have grill marks. You will have a great flavor though!
Ultimately, I’m a sucker for a good grill mark. I opted to grill the cod directly on the grates without a packet. Be sure to see Tips for Grilling Cod below if you’d like to do the same.
- Cod. A light, flaky, and tender fish that everyone will enjoy.
- Butter. Seafood and butter are an optimal match. Butter adds delicious flavor and helps keep the fish moist.
- Lemon. Adds wonderful brightness, and it tastes delicious paired with the butter.
- Herbs. A fresh, lively way to finish your grilled fish. I think dill, parsley, cilantro, or a mix would be ideal.
- Cilantro Yogurt Sauce. It’s light, bright, and totally scrumptious with the fish!
- Pat dry and season the cod fillets.
- Melt the butter together with the lemon juice
- Prepare foil packets (if using), and brush both sides of the fish with the butter mixture.
- Make the sauce: Pulse the cilantro and garlic in a food processor.
- Add the juice, oil, and spices, and pulse.
- Add the yogurt, blending until smooth.
- Grill the fish for about 6 minutes at 400 degrees F (medium-high heat).
- Flip and grill on the other side for about 6 to 7 minutes more.
- Serve with the sauce and fresh herbs. DIG IN!
Tips for Grilling Cod
- Watch Your Grill Temperature. The best temperature for grilled cod is right around 400 degrees (medium-high heat). This will help the outside lightly sear without the inside overcooking.
- Use a Fish Spatula. Using a fish spatula (like this one) will help you turn and remove the fish without tearing it.
- Oil the Grill. Oiling the grill grates will help keep the fish from sticking. Wait to oil the grates until right before you add the fish.
- Flip the Fish Only ONCE. Only flip your cod one time during the grilling process. Flipping it back over may result in it sticking or breaking apart.
- Use a Thermometer. To ensure that your cod is cooked through, use an instant read thermometer. Fish is done when it reaches 145 degrees F. To avoid overcooking, I typically remove the fish from the grill at 140 degrees F, then cover it on a plate for a few minutes. The carryover cooking fishes the job.
Cooking Cod from Frozen
Yes, you can cook cod from frozen, including on the grill! Personally, I prefer to thaw the cod first for maximum control, but in a pinch, you can use frozen cod fillets.
- Rinse the frozen fish under cool water, removing any ice crystals.
- Pat the cod dry.
- Grill as directed, adding several minutes to the cook time.
Ways to Use Grilled Cod
Enjoy this grilled cod on its own as a healthy main, or try it in one of the below spins. The cilantro yogurt sauce would be yummy with any of these too!
- Grilled Cod Tacos. Flake the grilled cod in big pieces, and serve it in warm tortillas with your favorite taco ingredients (pico de gallo, mango salsa, avocado, slaw, or red onion would be tasty). Top with the cilantro yogurt sauce.
- Grilled Cod Sandwich. Add each grilled cod fillet to a bun, and spread a layer of the yogurt sauce on the inside of the top bun. Add lettuce, tomato, or grilled onions as desired.
- Grilled Cod Cakes. Flake the grilled cod, and use it in place of salmon in this Salmon Patty Recipe.
What to Serve with Grilled Cod
- Pasta. Add to the delicious lemon flavors by pairing this fish with a side of Pasta al Limone.
- Salad. Keep things light and fresh by serving a side of Mediterranean Chickpea Salad.
- Vegetables. A side of Cheesy Potato Fritters with Zucchini or Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic would be scrumptious.
Storage and Reheating Tips
- To Store. Leftover cod can be stored in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- To Reheat. Reheat the cod very gently in a skillet with oil over medium-low heat.
- To Freeze. Grilled cod can be frozen in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Once thawed, the cod texture may change, but it should still have good flavor.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Fish Spatula. Perfect for flipping fish and so much more.
- Instant Read Thermometer. A foolproof way to know when your fish is done.
- Citrus Juicer. Juicing a lemon or lime is easy with this tool.
FOR THE COD:
- 4 6-to 8-ounce cod fillets
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Chopped fresh herbs: dill - parsley, cilantro, or a mix
FOR THE SAUCE:
- 2 cups cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano - or 2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt - plus additional to taste
- 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. The target temp is about 400 degrees F.
- Pat the cod dry and place on a plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- In a small, microwave-safe bowl in the microwave or a small saucepan on the stove, melt the butter. Stir in the lemon juice.
- If cooking the fish in foil packets: Place each piece of cod in the center of a large, double-stacked piece of aluminum foil (the pieces should each be about 18 inches square). Brush both sides of the cod liberally with the butter/lemon juice mixture. Bring two opposite edges of the foil up and towards the center so that they meet, then fold them down over each other to make a seam in the center. Fold in the edges to seal so that you create a packet. Leave some space inside of each packet for air to circulate. If not using a foil packet, brush the fish on the plate.
- Prepare the sauce: in a small food processor, place the cilantro and garlic. Pulse several times, until the garlic is minced.
- Add the lemon juice, olive oil, chili, oregano, and salt and pulse again to combine.
- Add the yogurt, then blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve the fish.
- When ready to grill: if you are not using the foil packet, immediately before grilling the fish, oil the grill VERY well so that the fish doesn’t stick (if using a packet, no need to oil). Cook the fish on the first side without disturbing it for 6 minutes, then carefully flip (the fish should release easily; if it doesn’t, cook it a little longer).
- Cook for an additional 6 to 7 minutes on the second side, or until the cod is opaque, flakes easily with a fork, and reaches an internal temperature of 145 F. DO NOT flip the fish back over. If you are using a foil packet, no need to flip the fish; cook it for 8 to 10 minutes total, until the fish is completely cooked through.
- Remove cod from the grill. Serve with the green sauce and an additional sprinkle of fresh herbs.
- TO STORE: Leftover cod can be stored in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- TO REHEAT: Reheat the cod very gently in a skillet with oil over medium-low heat.
- TO FREEZE: Grilled cod can be frozen in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Once thawed and reheated, the cod texture may change, but it should still have good flavor.
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