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Pan Seared Cod with Lemon Butter

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This Pan Seared Cod is cooked in a hot skillet, and seasoned with herbs and spices, and drizzled in a homemade lemon butter sauce. The fish is tender with a golden crust. Serve this with any of your favorite side dishes.

pan seared cod on a plate with mashed potatoes and green beans

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What Type of Fish to Use

You can use any white fish such as cod, tilapia, catfish, etc for this recipe with no adjustment to cook time. Cod is healthy because it’s super Iean, low in fat and calories, and a good source of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

raw cod fillets on a white plate

How Does Cod Taste

It’s a mild-flavored white fish with a delicate texture. It’s one of the best to use if you aren’t a fan of fish with a “fishy” taste. It’s slightly sweet, moist, and flaky. The flavor is delicate, so it can be paired with a variety of seasonings and sauces.

How to Season the Fish

I like to use a combination of smoked paprika, salt, and Lemon Pepper Seasoning. You can use whatever you like.

  • Your favorite fish rub
  • Your favorite BBQ rub
  • Homemade BBQ Rub
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Dill
  • Oregano
seasoned cod fillets in a glass dish

What Type of Pan to Use

  • Cast iron skillet: This is my favorite go-to option! Cast iron can withstand high temperatures and distribute heat evenly. Cast iron also has the added benefit of being able to be used on the stovetop and in the oven.
  • Stainless steel pan: Stainless steel pans are also a good option for searing as they can withstand high heat.

I don’t recommend non-stick pans for searing. The surface can’t withstand high heat and the coating can release harmful fumes if overheated. You can use one if you prefer.

How to Make Pan-Seared Cod

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  1. Pat the fish dry.
  2. Season the fish with lemon pepper, smoked paprika, and salt.
  3. Preheat a skillet on medium heat on the stove with butter.
  4. Cook the fish for 2-3 minutes on each side until the fish is cooked through.
seasoned cod fillets in a cast iron skillet with butter

How to Tell When the Fish Has Finished Cooking

Cod should be cooked to an internal temperature of 135-145 degrees. Use a meat thermometer and/or check for flakiness. Gently press the thickest part of the fish using a fork. If it flakes easily, it is done. The flesh of the fish should be opaque.

Dry Overcooked Fish

If the fish is dry and tastes rubbery it was overcooked. Follow the tips above to avoid overcooking the fish.

Lemon Butter Sauce

Drizzling the fish in the sauce will elevate the flavor of the dish. I like to make homemade sauce using butter, fresh lemon juice, and lemon zest.

How to Zest a Lemon

I use this lemon zester from Amazon. You can also use a box/cheese grater. If using the zester hold it one hand and the lemon in the other. Graze the lemon over it, away from you and back and forth. You can read more about How to Zest a Lemon here.

How to Store Leftovers

Leftovers can be stored in the fridge tightly sealed for 3-4 days.

How to Reheat

I don’t recommend the microwave for cooked fish. You risk tough texture when using the microwave. I recommend the air fryer or oven at 250 degrees until warm.

pan seared cod on a plate with mashed potatoes and green beans

Pair With These Recipes

Air Fryer Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
Steakhouse Creamed Spinach
Smoked Sweet Potatoes

Slow Cooker Crockpot Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic

More Fish Recipes

Baked Cod in Foil
Nobu Miso Black Cod
Smoked Swordfish with Lemon Butter
Poke Bowls with Spicy Mayo Sauce
Smoked Ahi Tuna Steak
Homemade Fish Fingers Sticks

Top the fish with my Pineapple Mango Salsa recipe.

pan seared cod on a plate with mashed potatoes and green beans

Pan Seared Cod with Lemon Butter

This Pan Seared Cod is cooked in a hot skillet, and seasoned with herbs and spices, and drizzled in a homemade lemon butter sauce. The fish is tender with a golden crust. Serve this with any of your favorite side dishes.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 7 mins
Total Time 12 mins
Course dinner, lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings
Calories 155 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 4 white fish fillets I used cod approximately 1 pound total
  • 2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika Regular paprika is fine.
  • salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cooking oil or butter

Lemon Butter Glaze

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice For me, this was the juice from 1 small lemon.
  • 1 1/2-2 teaspoons lemon zest Use 2 teaspoons for bold lemon flavor. This was 1 small lemon.

Instructions
 

  • Ensure the fish is completely dry.
  • Sprinkle both sides of the fish with lemon pepper, paprika, and salt to taste. Rub the spices into the fish.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of cooking oil or butter to a skillet on medium-high heat.
  • When hot, add the seasoned fish. Do not overcrowd the pan. The fish shouldn’t touch. Cook the fish in batches if needed.
  • Cook the fish for 2-3 minutes on each side until the fish is cooked through. It will turn opaque at the center. The fish will easily flake with a fork when it has finished cooking.

Lemon Butter Glaze

  • Add the butter, lemon juice, and lemon zest to a saucepan on medium-high heat. Stir and cook until the lemon zest has dissolved.
  • Top the fish with the lemon butter glaze.

Notes

You can melt the butter for the glaze in the microwave and combine it with the lemon. I find it harder to get the lemon zest to smooth out doing it this way. 
 
Feel free to season the fish with any of your favorite seasoning and spices.
 
Cod should be cooked to an internal temperature of 135-145 degrees. Use a meat thermometer and/or check for flakiness. Gently press the thickest part of the fish using a fork. If it flakes easily, it is done. The flesh of the fish should be opaque.
 
If the fish is dry and tastes rubbery it was overcooked. Follow the tips above to avoid overcooking the fish.

Nutrition

Serving: 5ozCalories: 155kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 20gFat: 7g
Keyword cast iron cod, lemon butter cod, pan seared cod
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