How to pan-fry cod

8 December 2014

How to pan-fry cod

Pan-frying is a great option for cod fillet or loin as there is time to produce a lovely crispy skin without overcooking the delicate, flaky flesh. This is the way cod and similar white fish are often cooked in restaurant kitchens and is very simple to do at home.

  • 200g of cod fillet, skin on
  • olive oil
  • 1 knob of butter
  • salt
  • pepper


Lightly coat the base of a non-stick frying pan with olive oil then place the pan over a medium-high heat
Once the pan is hot, season the cod with salt and place it in the pan skin-side down (if the skin has been left on)
Cook for 2–3 minutes until the skin is nicely golden and crisp. If you are cooking skinless cod, cook until the fish has turned a nice golden colour
Carefully turn the cod over and cook for a further 2–3 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet or loin. The fish is cooked when the flesh becomes opaque


To ensure crispy skin, dry the fillets with kitchen roll before seasoning them with salt.

To ensure crispy skin on your pan fried cod, dry the fillets with kitchen roll before seasoning them with salt. Don't put too much oil into the frying pan and make sure it has a chance to get hot before adding the fillets.

If you are cooking a very thick loin or fillet, cook skin-side down in the pan until the skin is golden, then turn over and finish cooking in an oven preheated to 180°C/gas mark 4 for 6 minutes.

If desired, add a squeeze of lemon juice to the pan before serving to ‘brighten’ the final flavour of the cod.

Once you have turned the fish over, James Sommerin suggests adding a knob of butter to the pan and basting the fish for the final 2–3 minutes to add extra flavour and keep the fish moist.

Serving Suggestions

As cod is quite a mild flavoured fish, it relies on sauces and accompaniments for extra interest. For example, Anna Hansen pairs pan-fried cod fillets with clams and chorizo while Stephen Crane serves cod fillets with squid and fennel in a rich bouillabaisse sauce. It is equally delicious served very simply with wilted spinach, crushed new potatoes and a poached egg as in Mark Jordan’s recipe.

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