Buttery seasoned panko crumbs are the perfect crispy crunchy topping for cod fillets! This recipe for panko crusted cod is delightfully seasoned with a quick spice blend and a hint of lemon. It's also super easy to make, with only 9 ingredients, and in less than 30 minutes!
Cod is a really approachable fish: delightfully mild and sweet, with a tender, yet firm, flaky texture. Add to that a topping of crispy, buttery seasoned panko crumbs, and your fish dinner night just got a lot more exciting!
Not only does this panko crusted cod recipe feature buttery panko breadcrumbs, but, those breadcrumbs are seasoned with lemon zest and a blend of spices.
In addition, the panko are adhered to the cod with a thin coating of mayo blended with fresh lemon juice. This adds a ton of flavor and moisture to the cod, and, really helps the panko stick in a nice, thick coating!
As you can see, this baked cod with panko really brings big flavor along with its deliciously crunchy texture! Even better - you can make this panko crusted cod with only 9 basic ingredients, and in under 30 minutes!
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- Cod: you will need approximately four 4-ounce portions of boneless, skinless cod fillets.
- Butter: the recipe calls for unsalted butter, but, you can also use salted butter. Just reduce the salt called for in the recipe by a tiny bit.
- Panko: you need plain, unseasoned panko breadcrumbs.
- Lemon: you will need both the zest from the lemon, plus 2 teaspoons juice.
This panko crusted cod recipe is easy to make, but a couple pieces of extra equipment can make it even easier.
That being said, you don't really need anything special to make this baked cod with panko - these are all extras, and I will include suggested alternatives in case you don't have one or more of these readily available:
- Parchment paper: this makes it virtually impossible for the cod to stick to the baking sheet. But, if you don't have parchment paper, you can use a silicone baking mat, or, just generously coat your baking sheet in non-stick cooking spray!
- Microplane: this is helpful when you need to make very fine zest. If you don't have a Microplane (affiliate link), just use the fine holes on a regular box grater.
- Mini whisk: I used my favorite mini whisk (affiliate link) to easily mix up the lemon-mayo mixture that helps the panko bind to the cod. This is a nice extra to have (also perfect for mixing mug cakes - try this amazing Biscoff mug cake!). But, you can also just use a fork and it will work fine!
- Pastry brush: this is used to brush the lemon-mayo mixture onto the cod before it's coated in the panko. If you don't have a pastry brush, it's ok. You can spread on the mixture with the back of a spoon. Just be sure to make only a thin coating.
Step by step photos
Here is a step by step breakdown on how to make this recipe for panko crusted cod. If you would like to see a brief slideshow of these steps, be sure to check out my web story for this recipe!
1. After first preheating the oven, go ahead and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set it aside.
Then you can make your spice blend, by mixing together the salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder.
2. Next, finely zest the lemon. A Microplane (affiliate link) is the easiest way I know how to do this - it creates really nice and fine zest.
After you have your finely grated lemon zest, you can make the buttery panko breadcrumb mixture. Add the panko, melted butter, lemon zest, and half the seasoning blend (you can just eyeball it!) to a medium bowl. Mix everything together until it's evenly combined.
3. Now we will make the lemon-mayo mixture that will act as the "glue" to hold our panko in place. This is a very similar technique to the one I used in my recipe for panko baked chicken (which is also super delicious, you should check that one out too!).
All you need to do is mix together the mayo and 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice from the lemon you zested earlier. I like to use my trusty mini whisk (affiliate link), but you can also do this with a fork.
4. Now we can work on our cod fillets. First, pat them dry with a clean paper towel. Then, use the remaining seasoning blend to season the fish all around (front, back, and sides!).
5. The next step is to get those panko crumbs onto our cod fillets! First, brush the seasoned cod fillets with the lemon-mayo mixture we already prepped. Make sure the tops and sides are fully covered.
Then, sprinkle the panko onto the cod fillets. As you can see in the second picture below, I like to use my other hand as a little guardrail to catch the crumbs as they fall, and then use that same hand to press them back onto the sides.
If you have any bare spots of cod showing through, use your fingers to pat a few extra crumbs on.
6. Now our panko crusted cod is ready for the oven! So go ahead and move the cod fillets onto the prepared baking sheet.
Bake the panko crusted cod in the preheated oven for about 10 - 15 minutes, or until the tops are nice and brown, and the internal temperature of the fish reaches 145 degrees F (at the thickest part).
Tips and tricks
- I used Diamond Crystal kosher salt for this panko baked cod recipe, which has lighter, flakier crystals than regular table salt or Morton kosher salt. So, for fine grain salt, use only ½ teaspoon. For Morton kosher salt, use a little more than ½ teaspoon (about ½ teaspoon + ⅛ teaspoon).
- Or, for any type of salt, you can instead measure by weight. You will need 3 grams salt.
- To quickly and easily melt the butter you need for the panko breadcrumbs, use the microwave! It will only take about 15 - 20 seconds on high. And, to catch any spatter, you can cover the top of the bowl with a paper towel.
- When adding the panko crumbs to the cod fillets, you can use your hands to gently pat on the crumbs. Don't press too hard because this will compact the panko, making the surface smoother so it won't get as crispy in the oven!
- The cook time for panko crusted cod will vary, based on your own oven, and also on how thick the pieces of cod are. You can check the pieces with a food thermometer starting at the lowest cook time (10 minutes), and go from there.
Substitutes and additions
This recipe for baked cod with panko is very easy to customize to suit your own tastes. Here are a few ideas on how to switch it up a bit:
- Feel free to add any spices you like to your seasoning blend. Try cayenne pepper, dried thyme, smoked paprika (instead of regular), and/or onion powder.
- If you would like to add a seasoning blend that already contains salt, such as Old Bay or Cajun seasoning, reduce the salt in the recipe to avoid over-salting the cod.
- Try adding finely grated parmesan cheese to the panko crumbs for an extra pop of savory flavor.
- Also, finely chopped herbs, like parsley or thyme, would be a wonderful addition to the panko coating!
- In addition, you can make this recipe with another type of white fish, like tilapia or haddock. Here is a great list of the 10 best substitutes for cod. Based on the type and size of the fish, you may need to adjust the cook time to reach the safe internal temperature of 145 degrees F.
- Finally, instead of using the lemon-mayo mixture, you can experiment with other types of "glue" for the panko, such as grainy mustard, or even melted butter!
Storage and reheating instructions
- This panko crusted cod will taste the best, flavor and texture-wise, when eaten right after cooking.
- Technically speaking, leftover fish is safe for 3 - 4 days in the fridge. However, the longer the cod sits in the fridge, the more soggy the panko will become.
- So, if you have any leftovers, I recommend storing them in an airtight container in the fridge to enjoy as soon as possible - ideally, later that day or the following day.
- To reheat the panko crusted cod, place it on a greased baking sheet. Bake it in a 350 degree F (177 degrees C) oven, just until heated through. Depending on the size of your cod pieces, this may take about 10 - 12 minutes.
- While it's safe to freeze and reheat cooked fish, I don't recommend freezing this panko cod. The texture of the panko won't be very crispy after thawing, and that's really the best part!
- This panko baked cod looks beautiful garnished with fresh chopped herbs. Try fresh parsley, dill, chives, or basil!
- And of course, an extra squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of flaky sea salt would add that perfect finishing touch.
- You can also serve the cod with a side of tartar sauce. This is a great way to get kids who may not like fish on board with trying it!
- For side dishes, try pairing this panko baked cod with my recipes for cottage fries, air fryer fingerling potatoes, lemon herb roasted asparagus, or oven-roasted potatoes and green beans.
Yes, you should absolutely dry cod first, before you add any seasonings or put it in the oven. Just gently pat the cod dry all around with a clean paper towel to remove excess moisture from the surface.
Drying the cod first will ensure the seasoning sticks to the surface of the cod, and will help to make sure any other ingredients you apply (such as panko coating!) will crisp up well in the oven.
You are looking for an internal temperature of 145 degrees F, taken at the thickest part of the fish.
If you don't have a food thermometer, check to see if the cod is opaque and flakes easily when you break off a piece with a fork.
The most likely cause of your cod being tough is overcooking. You are aiming for an internal temperature of 145 degrees F, so try not to overshoot that temperature by very much if possible.
The amount of time needed in the oven will vary based on your own individual oven, and how thick your cod pieces are. Thinner pieces will take less time. So, unless your cod pieces are very thick (over 1 inch/2.5 cm), start checking the cod at the lowest end of the cook time listed in the recipe to avoid overcooking.
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Panko Crusted Cod
This easy cod recipe is full of flavor from a quick seasoning blend and a touch of lemon zest. The panko coating is adhered with a thin coating of lemony mayo, which helps add flavor and moisture to the fish.
- Prep Time: 12 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 27 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: main course, entree
- Method: bake
- Cuisine: American
- 1 pound (454 g) boneless, skinless cod fillets (four 4-ounce portions)
- ¾ cup (50 g) plain panko breadcrumbs
- 1 lemon (zest + 2 teaspoons juice)
- 2 tablespoons (28 g) mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon (3 g) kosher salt (Diamond Crystal; for table salt use ½ teaspoon, see note 1)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper, set aside.
- Mix together the salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and paprika. Set aside.
- Finely zest the lemon, set aside.
- In a medium bowl, mix together the the panko, melted butter, lemon zest, and about half the seasoning mixture. Set aside. (See note 2.)
- In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo and 2 teaspoons lemon juice with a fork (or small whisk) until smooth. Set aside.
- Gently pat the cod fillets dry all around with a paper towel. Season them on all sides with the remaining seasoning mix.
- With a pastry brush, brush the tops and sides of the cod fillets with the prepared lemon-mayo mixture. It's ok if there is some of the mayo mixture left over. (See note 3.)
- Coat the tops and sides of the cod fillets with the panko. You can start by sprinkling on the crumbs, then use your hands to gently pat the crumbs on so the tops and sides of the cod fillets are evenly coated. (Don't press too hard, you want to avoid compacting the panko too much.)
- Move the cod to the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 - 15 minutes, or until the panko is golden brown and the thickest part of the cod reaches 145 degrees F. The cooking time will vary based on how thick the cod is and your own oven.
I used Diamond Crystal kosher salt for this recipe, which has lighter and flakier crystals than regular table salt or Morton kosher salt. To substitute fine grain salt, use only ½ teaspoon in the recipe. To substitute Morton kosher salt, use a little more than ½ teaspoon (about ½ teaspoon + ⅛ teaspoon). Or, measure by weight, for any type of salt (3 g).
To quickly and easily melt the butter, you can microwave it in a microwave-safe bowl for 15 - 20 seconds on high. To catch any spatter, cover the top of the bowl with a paper towel.
If you don't have a pastry brush, you can spread the mayo mixture on the cod with the back of a spoon, but be sure to make a thin coating.
The nutrition information below is an estimate only; the nutrition counts of your dish will vary based on the brands and exact amounts of ingredients used. This information was provided by an online nutrition calculator, and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical, health, or nutritional advice. See our full nutrition disclosure policy.
- Serving Size: ¼ recipe
- Calories: 220
- Sugar: 1 g
- Sodium: 455 mg
- Fat: 10 g
- Saturated Fat: 4.7 g
- Carbohydrates: 11.1 g
- Fiber: 0.2 g
- Protein: 22.1 g
- Cholesterol: 73 mg
Keywords: panko crusted cod, baked cod with panko
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