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Baked Panko Crusted Cod

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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.

Lemon squeezed over a piece of baked fish on a white plate with brussels sprouts.

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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. 

Ingredients

Ingredients for Panko Baked Cod.
  • 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

Cod on a cutting board portioned into pieces.

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. 

Fresh fish on a cutting board, portioned, with a kitchen knife.

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.

A baking dish brushed with melted butter. Panko crumbs in the background.

Step 2: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and brush an 8″ x 8″ baking dish with 1 tablespoon of melted butter.

Fresh fish in a baking dish.

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.

Breadcrumbs and seasoning in a bowl.

Step 4: In a small bowl, combine the Panko crumbs, parmesan, Italian seasoning, and remaining salt. Mix until combined.

Panko crumbs in a bowl with a white spatula.

Step 5: Pour two tablespoons of melted butter over the Panko mixture and toss until the crumbs are evenly moistened.

Fish in a baking dish topped with panko crumbs.

Step 6: Generously sprinkle the top of the fish with the Panko bread crumbs.

Close up of golden browned fish in a baking dish with lemon wedges.

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. 

Baked fish on a plate with brussels sprouts.

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.

Serving Suggestions

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.

Equipment

Storage

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.

Pro Tips

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.

FAQ

Why is panko different from bread crumbs?

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.

What temp should cod be baked to?

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.

How do you cook cod without getting it tough?

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:

Pairing

These are my favorite dishes to serve with baked Panko Crusted Cod:

Food Safety

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

See more guidelines at USDA.gov.

Lemon squeezed over a piece of baked fish on a white plate with brussels sprouts.

Panko Crusted Cod

Yield: 4-6 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Panko Crusted Cod is an easy recipe with simple ingredients that will win over the pickiest of eaters. Made with buttery panko crumbs and fresh cod fish, making a healthy meal that is comforting and satisfying is a snap!

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and brush an 8" x 8" baking dish with 1 tablespoon of melted butter.
  3. Place the fish into the baking dish, skin side up, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the panko crumbs, parmesan, Italian seasoning, and remaining salt. Mix until combined.
  5. Pour 2 tablespoons of melted butter over the panko mixture and toss until the crumbs are evenly moistened.
  6. Generously sprinkle the top of the fish with the panko bread crumbs.
  7. 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.
  8. 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

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