As we slowly enter the darker season, it's nice to have something a little lighter...before the onslaught of heavy, comfort foods. This Baked Cod with Panko is the ticket! Not only is it light and healthy (baked, not fried), my kids love it! Yes, I just said that.
We Seriously Love This Fish
There are so many reasons I love this baked cod! But the biggest, overarching reason for me: it's perfect for families. It was a winner with our family for sure. Adults 👍👍, but kids weren't sure at first, until they squirted lemon on top of the fish, and then they were in love. The fish is so mild and light, and the panko gives it an awesome, complimentary crunch. And because cod can take on flavor so easily, you can adjust the seasonings and flavors to suit your family's tastes. This deliciousness takes less than 28 mins to whip up. It's the most simple, quick dinner ever.
From a health perspective, fish is a pretty excellent choice. It's a healthier source of protein than other meats, and better for your heart. Moreover, when you bake fish instead of fry it in oil, the dish is lower in fat and less greasy.
I chose cod because I wanted this recipe to be very accessible, and it's pretty easy to find cod at most seafood counters. Cod is also really healthy and a great source of protein. It's high in omega-3 fatty acids, has loads of vitamins, and is good for your heart. But, really, you can use any Whitefish. I do like to keep in mind which fish are sustainably sourced by practices that protect our oceans. The Monterery Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch is the best source of info for this. There are so many different ways of catching cod because it's found in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. So, you may want to make sure you're buying cod that that wasn't overfished, caused other species to be caught in nets, or negatively impacted local ecosystems.
So, What is Panko Anyway?
Panko is a Japanese-originated type of breadcrumb that's extra crunchy. It's so mild that you can season it with any herbs and spices you'd like and it'll take on the flavor very nicely. It's also lighter and lower in calories than standard breadcrumbs. Panko is a great breading because it gives a nice crunchy topping to the fish.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH BAKED COD AND PANKO
We ate our fish with a hefty side of green beans, tossed in oil with salt and pepper, and then oven-roasted. Delish! But the possibilities are endless...
- Steamed or roasted veggies (i.e. green beans, broccoli, asparagus)
- Roasted potatoes, with garlic
- Raw veggies, like sliced cucumber, carrot sticks, peeled celery sticks, sugar snap peas, etc.
- Chicken noodle soup
- Sweet potato fries
- Salad or coleslaw
Notes on ingredients:
Flour - You can totally use an all-purpose / wheat flour instead of almond flour. But I will say that almond flour gives the fish a lighter touch and excellent flavor. Big fan of Bob's Red Mill flours.
Seasoning - Feel free to use whichever herbs/spices you like. Some options: Mrs. Dash, lemon pepper, garlic powder, garlic salt, cayenne (just a sprinkle), Cajun seasoning, Old Bay, and mustard powder.
Parsley garnish - Totally optional.
Lemon juice- A perfect finishing touch on top of the baked cod with panko. Check out how to juice a lemon without a juicer for this recipe.
HOW TO MAKE OUR BAKED COD FILLETS
STEP 1: HEAT OVEN. DRY, CUT AND SEASON COD
🥄 Kids Step: Help cut the fish.* We're big fans of these kid-friendly knives.
STEP 2: PREP YOUR THREE BOWLS - FLOUR, EGGS & PANKO
🥄 Kids Step: This is a good time to teach about measuring units. Grab your measuring cups and spoons and show your kids how to use them.
STEP 3: DREDGE THE COD IN EACH BOWL AND PLACE ON BAKING SHEET
🥄 Kids Step: If you have more than one kiddo, you can set up an assembly line. Each person can be in charge of dredging the fish in one bowl and passing it on. Have a towel nearby so you guys can wipe the egg off your hands in between cod pieces. This can get messy. Also, because of the raw egg, make sure nobody's hands go in their mouths!*
STEP 4: BAKE FOR 12 MINUTES!
🥄 Kids Step: The final kids step can be squirting the lemon and sprinkling the parsley on the baked fish.
We served our baked cod with panko dish with tartar sauce and bang bang sauce, which is basically a combo of mayo, sweet chili sauce and Sriracha. It was perfect.
*Note: For toddlers especially, these tasks require adult supervision and/or assistance, as items may be sharp, hot or otherwise dangerous.
Baked Cod and Panko FAQ
Your fish is fully cooked when it hits an internal temp of 145 degrees F and is opaque instead of clear. We recommend this digital thermometer. However, be careful not to overcook your fish or it will be tough and chewy. In my oven, 12-13 mins was the sweet spot.
Once cooled, put any baked cod with panko leftovers in a sealed tupperware and store in fridge. Personally, I wouldn't keep the leftovers past 2 days.
You can. The first time I made this, I bought frozen cod and left it in the fridge a day to thaw before I cooked it. Another way to thaw frozen fish is to leave it (still in its packaging) in a bowl filled with cold water, a while before you're ready to cook.
Yes! You can use almost any Whitefish. I chose cod for this recipe because it's one of the more common Whitefish at seafood counters. Other options are: halibut, grouper, tilapia, haddock, catfish, flounder, etc. I do like to keep in mind which fish are sustainably sourced by practices that protect our oceans. The Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch is the best source of info for this.
CUSTOMIZE YOUR DISH
- Swap the fish - this cod could easily be substituted with any other Whitefish, i.e. halibut, grouper, tilapia, haddock, catfish, flounder. I picked cod because I see it at most grocery markets' seafood counters, and I wanted this recipe's ingredients to be accessible to everyone.
- Swap the flour - you don't have to use almond flour. I like it because it's super light and gluten free. But if you don't have it and don't wanna buy it, regular flour is great.
- Pick the seasonings - The only spices in this recipe are salt, pepper, and onion powder. But, because whitefish is so mild, you can use whatever you like. Other spices I considered: Mrs. Dash, lemon pepper, garlic powder, garlic salt, cayenne (just a sprinkle), Cajun seasoning, Old Bay, and mustard powder.
- Make it Gluten Free! The only ingredient in this dish that's not gluten-free is the panko breadcrumbs. And never you fear! Kikkoman (and several other companies) make gluten-free panko.
- Make it Dairy Free! If you can't do the cheese, take out the Parmesan and add in some nutritional yeast. The flavor will be a bit different, but honestly, I've never had anything with nutritional yeast that I didn't absolutely love.
Recipe Tips for Picky Eaters
- The oddest thing is that my kids did not like this fish until they squirted some lemon juice on top...and then they loved it. I'll never understand! But if you're going to skip or swap any of the ingredients, don't ditch the lemon!
- Kids pick the sides! Popular picks for our kids (that I think would also go well with the cod) are frozen peas, carrot sticks, steamed broccoli, mashed potatoes, rice, our sweet potato fries and sugar snap peas.
Craft for this Recipe
Looking for a craft that kids can play with? These adorable 3D Paper Fish Puppets are simple, sweet and so much fun!
Check-out our other Seafood Dishes
Easy Baked Cod with Panko and Parmesan Breadcrumbs
- Set your oven to 425. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Take your cod fillet out of packaging and pat dry. Lay out the fish and cut into strips. Sprinkle salt over fish. Let fish rest while you prep the breading.
- Grab 3 bowls. (1) In the first bowl, mix together almond flour, salt, and pepper. (2) In the second bowl, whisk together the eggs. (3) And in the third bowl, pour the panko, parmesan and onion powder.
- Take a piece of cod and dredge it in the bowl of flour mix, coating all sides. Then dip the piece fully in the egg mix. Finally, roll the piece around in the panko mix until fully coated. Transfer cod to baking sheet. Repeat until all the fish is coated.
- Bake for 12-13 mins. Fish should be opaque (not clear) and internal temp should be 145 degrees F.
- Your fish is fully cooked when it hits an internal temp of 145 degrees F and is opaque instead of clear.
- Be careful not to overcook your fish or it will be tough and chewy.
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. While we are not certified nutritionists, we work with a WordPress-integrated nutrition API to calculate our recipes' ingredient values.