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This pan fried cod is the best white fish you’ll have! Flavored simply with spices and olive oil, it’s healthy, stunning and irresistible all at once.

Pan fried cod

Here’s a deliciously easy dinner idea that’s full of surprises: pan fried cod! This white fish knocked us off of our feet. Really! Cod is a beautifully mild and buttery-flavored fish, and this preparation couldn’t be easier or more stunning. Coat it in paprika and a few other spices, then pan fry it until tender and juicy. It takes under 10 minutes to get restaurant-quality flavor! Serve it with the pan juices drizzled over the top and well…we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this one, too. More with cod? Try 15 Cod Recipes Everyone Will Love.

Ingredients for pan fried cod

There are only a handful of simple ingredients needed for this recipe. I’ll be honest: I wasn’t expecting much when Alex made this recipe for me. But wow, does it deliver on Mediterranean-style flavor. “Fried cod” isn’t the sexiest sounding dinner…until you taste it and realize that cod is totally underrated! This recipe has no flour, breading or batter: just spices! The ingredients for pan fried cod are:

  • Cod fillets (wild caught if possible)
  • Olive oil
  • Butter (or more olive oil, for dairy-free)
  • Spices: smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, celery seed
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt
Pan fried cod

What does cod taste like?

Here’s the thing. Cod has a mild, pure flavor that’s not “fishy” at all. In fact, it’s even more mild than popular fish like salmon. Because of its approachable flavor, cod is a great starter fish for people who don’t think they like fish. It’s extremely versatile and works in lots of different preparations, like Fish Tacos or Grilled Cod.

Tips for how to make pan fried cod

Pan fried cod can seem intimidating if you’ve never pan fried a fish before. But don’t worry: it takes less than 10 minutes and is seriously easy to make. Here are a few tips to know:

  • Use your largest skillet. This gives enough space for 4 fillets. You can use cast-iron, stainless steel or non-stick for this recipe.
  • A combination of olive oil and butter adds flavor. Pan frying with both types of fat adds depth. (For dairy-free you can use all olive oil.)
  • Cover with the magic seasoning blend. More on this below.
  • Pan fry 2 minutes, then flip and fry 2 more. You’ll know when it’s done when it starts to flake when you prick it with a fork.
Cod recipe

The best seasoning for fried cod

There’s no flour or batter in this recipe: just a blend of spices to bring out the beautiful flavor. Here are a few notes on the seasoning blend:

  • Spice blend: The spices are a blend that’s based on our Magic Seafood Seasoning blend, but simplified.
  • Smoked paprika is the key! This Spanish version of paprika brings a bright red color and a hint of smokiness into each bite. When you buy a jar, you can use it up with these Best Smoked Paprika Recipes. If you can’t find it, you can use standard paprika: but smoked is much better.
Pan fried cod

More seasoning variations

Want to mix up the seasonings a bit? Here are a few ideas for other seasoning blends that would work:

  • Cajun Cod: Try it with 1 to 2 tablespoons of this spicy homemade Cajun seasoning (then cut the kosher salt down to ¾ teaspoon).
  • Blackened Cod: Sprinkle on 1 to 2 tablespoons Blackened seasoning, a more mild blend that still preserves the Cajun flavor. Also cut the salt back to ¾ teaspoon.
How to make pan fried cod

Vary the white fish

It might go without saying, but you can vary the cod in this recipe! This preparation works with most types of white fish. Try it with fillets of tilapia, mahi mahi, grouper, catfish, or snapper.

Sides to serve with pan fried cod

Not sure what to serve with this pan fried cod? Turn it into a healthy dinner by adding a few sides. Because it’s a Mediterranean style preparation, it’s goes with lots of different side dish ideas. Here are some we’d recommend:

Pan fried cod

This pan fried cod recipe is…

Pescatarian and gluten-free. For dairy free, use olive oil (see below).

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Pan fried cod

Perfect Pan Fried Cod

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 7 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


This pan fried cod is the best white fish you’ll have! Flavored simply with spices and olive oil, it’s healthy, stunning and irresistible all at once.


  • 1 1/2 pounds cod (4 fillets)
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (also called pimentón)*
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or olive oil, for dairy-free)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Finely chopped Italian parsley, for garnish


  1. In a small bowl, combine the smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, celery seed, and kosher salt. Pat the cod dry and sprinkle all sides with the seasoning.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add the butter and olive oil. When butter is melted, add the cod and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Flip the cod and pour the lemon juice over the fish. Cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes until the cod is tender and starts to flake when you prick it with a fork (adjust based on the thickness of the fillets). Remove from the heat and sprinkle with the parsley. Serve immediately, drizzled with the juices from the pan.


*If you can’t find it, you can use sweet paprika. But smoked paprika brings the best flavor with a hint of smokiness.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Keywords: Pan fried cod

More Mediterranean diet recipes

This pan fried cod is a great example of a Mediterranean diet recipe. This healthy diet focuses on lots of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats like olive oil, and fish and seafood. Here are some more great recipes with a Mediterranean diet theme:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. What are your thoughts on using frozen fish and would I thaw it completely first? By the way I love all your recipes!

    1. It really depends on the bag. Some frozen fish is perfectly fine, and sometimes it can be super “fishy” tasting. Definitely thaw according to the package, usually in a refrigerator overnight.

  2. This was absolutely amazing and beautifully presented with Italian green beans and crap cakes.

  3. I made the pan fried cod last night, it was so good, I’m making it again tonight. I had a few variations, though. I added more onion, garlic and smoked paprika, I substituted crushed fennel seed for the celery seed (didn’t have any) and lime juice for the lemon juice. It took longer than 2 minutes too, Even though it was slightly frozen, the thick part took about 5 minutes per side. Great recipe though, it’s a keeper.

  4. I tried this tonight and we really liked it. Simple, very tasty and different from my usual tomato/caper/vinegar preparation. My only caution is that if you half the recipe like I did, and use 2 individual filets, adjust the amount of seasoning you use, because the recipe is for 1.5 lb of fish, and my filets were only 4 oz. each. It actually still tasted good, but it was too much salt for that smaller amount of fish. Looking forward to trying other recipes!

    1. Elsie,
      Thanks for the “heads up” on making half recipe! (Just what I’m intending to try!!)
      Appreciate it so much!

  5. Made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! The spices were splendid and it all came together nicely.

  6. I tried this tonight. To be honest it wasn’t my taste. We gAve it a C grade. It was edible but to our bold for our individual taste. I just found your website today & love it. I look forward to trying another recipe. I’m sure the next one will be an A. Tough to have a slow start but much looks good here and easily doable.

    1. Hi! All first time comments are reviewed before posting. Thanks for making this recipe! We like the extra punch of flavor as cod can be a little neutral tasting sometime. Let us know what else you try :)

  7. I used roasted garlic and a little bit of Hungarian half sharp paprika. it was great. very good recipe to use a little imagination.

  8. The texture on this recipe is to die for. I’ve never been able to get such sweet, soft yet crispy cod in a pan fry before, and this recipe really nailed it. Excited to try more next time!

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