Looking for a cozy and delicious dinner that the whole family will love? Panko Crusted Cod is an easy recipe made with simple ingredients that will win over even the pickiest of eaters.
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As a Maine native, I’m here to tell you that seafood is a way of life up here. And when I’m looking for simple, quick, and comforting fish recipes on a busy weeknight, I’m either baking up this delicious panko cod recipe or my creamy New England fish chowder (or make both!)
I’ve been working on this baked cod recipe for years now and I’ve finally perfected the combination of the mild and flaky fish and the crunchy texture coming from the buttery parmesan panko topping. The fish bakes up delightfully moist and succulent, while the panko adds loads of flavor and crunch. Paired with a fresh green salad or a side of roasted cauliflower, you can have a satisfying and healthy meal on the table in under an hour.
- Panko Bread Crumbs – Panko adds a light and crisp topping to the flaky white fish. I use the plain, unseasoned variety of panko and season it myself.
- Parmesan Cheese – The parmesan adds flavor and extra browning to the topping.
- Kosher Salt and Black Pepper– For seasoning the fish and the topping.
- Italian Seasoning– Added for extra flavor. I use a homemade Italian seasoning that is unsalted, but if you’re using a seasoning with salt added, omit the kosher salt when preparing the topping.
- Melted Unsalted Butter – Melted butter is used to grease the baking dish as well as add flavor and moisture to the panko topping.
- Fresh Cod Fillets – I prefer fresh fish for this recipe. I love cod because it’s a lean protein that is thick and hearty but doesn’t feel heavy. Cod has a mild flavor, making it a versatile crowd-pleaser.
- Fresh Lemon – Fresh lemon juice is optional, but it’s lovely squeezed over the cod after it finishes baking.
For full ingredient amounts, see the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Step By Step Instructions
Step 1: If using fresh, whole fish fillets, you’ll need to cut the cod into smaller pieces. Cut cod into 4 or 6-ounce portions.
Tip: Cut the thicker parts of the fish smaller and leave the thin part of the filet long. You’ll fold the thin filets in half so that they are the same thickness as the thicker portions. This will ensure all the fish fillets are done cooking simultaneously.
Step 2: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and brush an 8″ x 8″ baking dish with 1 tablespoon of melted butter.
Step 3: Place the cod pieces into the baking dish, skin side up, and sprinkle the top of the cod evenly with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a few cracks of black pepper.
Step 4: In a small bowl, combine the Panko crumbs, parmesan, Italian seasoning, and remaining salt. Mix until combined.
Step 5: Pour two tablespoons of melted butter over the Panko mixture and toss until the crumbs are evenly moistened.
Step 6: Generously sprinkle the top of the fish with the Panko bread crumbs.
Step 7: Bake the fish in the preheated oven for 18-25 minutes until the panko crumbs are golden brown, the fish flakes easily, and the internal temperature of the fish reaches 145 degrees F on a meat thermometer.
Tip: If you’re new to cooking fish, a baked fish recipe like this is a great way to get started. It’s foolproof and delicious.
I recommend investing in an instant read meat thermometer to avoid overcooking and to ensure the fish is cooked all the way through.
Substitutions and Variations
- Cod – If you can’t find cod, use a mild white fish like haddock or pollock. If your fish fillets are thin, shorten the cooking time. Frozen cod can be subbed for fresh fish, thaw before baking.
- Panko Bread Crumbs – use gluten free panko crumbs to make this baked cod recipe gluten free
- Italian seasoning – If you don’t have Italian seasoning on hand, swap the plain panko bread crumbs for seasoned or simply use 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder and minced fresh parsley and dill after baking
- Butter – Olive oil or avocado oil can be used in place of the melted butter.
- Add A Little Spice– Add lemon zest and red pepper flakes to the crunchy panko topping for a little kick.
- Add Some Greens – Serve baked cod with a green vegetable like Brussels sprouts, green beans, pan fried asparagus, or a fresh strawberry feta salad.
- Get saucy – Serve a tangy sauce like tartar sauce, cranberry mustard, or a zesty lemon butter sauce alongside your baked fish for extra flavor.
If you’re making this recipe in the cold weather months, I have a list of the Best Fall Salads that will pair perfectly with this panko crusted cod.
- A square 8″ x 8″ baking dish – you can also use a small rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper if you don’t have a baking dish.
- Sharp Knife and Cutting Board – I love this dishwasher safe cutting board when I’m prepping fish.
- Instant Read Meat thermometer – optional, but this is the best way to test for doneness.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2-3 days.
Reheat leftovers by transferring the fish to a heat-proof baking dish and heating in a preheated 350 degree F oven or air fryer for 10 minutes.
I do not recommend reheating fish in the microwave.
If cutting up your own fish, keep the fish pieces around the same thickness to ensure even baking. Cut thin pieces of fish longer than the thick pieces. Fold thin fillets in half to match the thickness of the thicker cod pieces.
Place the thickest pieces of fish near the edges of the baking dish and the thin pieces in the middle.
Panko is a Japanese style of bread crumb that is lighter and flakier than regular bread crumbs. Traditional bread crumbs are finer and more dense. Panko crumbs are a little bigger than regular bread crumbs, so they have more surface area for crisping.
Bake cod to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. The best way to measure the temperature is with an instant-read meat thermometer, inserted into the center of the thickest part of the fish.
Tip: Don’t let the probe touch the pan, that won’t give you an accurate reading.
Bake at a high heat and don’t overcook.
The fish will cook pretty quickly, so baking at a high temperature will ensure the fish is cooked all the way through and the bread crumbs are nice and golden brown. Use a meat thermometer to know exactly when the fish is cooked through to prevent overcooking.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
These are my favorite dishes to serve with baked Panko Crusted Cod:
- 1.5 lbs of fresh cod fillets
- 3/4 cup of plain panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, divided
- 3 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter, divided
- Cut the cod into 4 or 6 ounce portions. Tip: Cut the thick parts short and leave the thin part of the filet long. Fold the thin fillets in half so that they are the same thickness as the thicker portions. This will ensure all the fish filets are done cooking at the same time.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and brush an 8" x 8" baking dish with 1 tablespoon of melted butter.
- Place the fish into the baking dish, skin side up, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
- In a small bowl, combine the panko crumbs, parmesan, Italian seasoning, and remaining salt. Mix until combined.
- Pour 2 tablespoons of melted butter over the panko mixture and toss until the crumbs are evenly moistened.
- Generously sprinkle the top of the fish with the panko bread crumbs.
- Bake the cod for 18-25 minutes until the crumbs are golden brown, the fish flakes easily, and the internal temperature of the fish reaches 145 degrees F on a meat thermometer.
- Serve the baked cod with fresh herbs, lemon zest, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 231Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 79mgSodium: 476mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 28g
Here are some safety tips when cooking fish:
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 145 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw fish
- Wash hands after touching raw fish