Pan Fried Cod with Lemon Butter Sauce


If you’re in search of an elegant yet effortless dinner, look no further than this pan-fried cod with lemon butter sauce. In just a few simple steps, you’ll have flaky, mild-tasting fish fillets adorned with a bright, herby butter sauce that adds incredible richness. It’s a restaurant-quality dish that comes together in a flash!

The Beauty of Cooking Cod

The key is using fresh, high-quality cod fillets. Cod has such a delicate, subtle flavor that makes it the perfect canvas for all sorts of accompanying sauces and ingredients. For this recipe, we’ll let the pure sweet taste of the fish shine by merely seasoning it with salt, pepper, and your choice of fresh herbs like parsley, dill or tarragon.
Once seasoned, you’ll quickly sear the cod in a hot skillet to get that gorgeous golden crust. The fish cooks up rapidly – we’re talking just a couple of minutes per side. That’s one of the beauties of cod. You get such tender, succulent results in almost no time at all.

The Luscious Lemon Butter Sauce

As the fish rests for a moment, you’ll whip up the luscious lemon butter sauce right in that same skillet. Just a few pats of butter melted with a glug of lemon juice, some more fresh herbs, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. That’s truly all it takes to elevate this mild, lean protein into something downright decadent and luxurious tasting.
While the cod is certainly healthy, that lemon butter sauce is what transforms this dish into something so special. The bright citrus cuts through the richness of the butter in the most delightful way. Each forkful is unbelievably vibrant, velvety and lush. Yet it’s such a light, elegant preparation that lets the true cod flavor shine.

Serving Suggestions

When plating, I like to nestle the seared cod fillets in a shallow pool of that glorious lemon-herb butter. The sauce clings to every tender flake and infuses the whole dish with incredible fragrance and dimension. You can even use a spoon to baste the fish while you’re eating for even more luscious flavor.

For an easy, gorgeous meal, serve this pan-fried cod alongside herb-tossed baby potatoes and sauteed garden veggies like zucchini, spinach or asparagus. Add a slice of crusty bread for sopping up any extra butter sauce and you’ve got restaurant-worthy indulgence with minimal effort.

The beauty of this simple recipe is that it looks and tastes like such an elegant, understated luxury. But it all comes together with just a handful of fresh, quality ingredients and no fuss whatsoever. Truly the ideal healthy-ish dinner for any occasion – whether a lazy weeknight, a date night in, or an impromptu dinner party with friends.

I’ve got a feeling once you try this pan-fried cod with its vibrant lemon butter sauce, it’ll become an instant staple in your dinner rotation. It’s such a quick, easy way to elevate mild, delicate cod into something so lively, rich and special. Just be prepared for everyone to be asking for seconds!

Pan Fried Cod with Lemon Butter Sauce

If you’re in search of an elegant yet effortless dinner, look no further than this pan-fried cod with lemon butter sauce.
5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 4 cod fillets 6 oz each, patted dry
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh herbs parsley, dill, tarragon


  • Pat cod fillets completely dry and season both sides with salt, pepper and fresh herbs.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  • Add cod fillets and cook for 4-5 minutes per side until opaque and flaky in the center when tested with a fork. Transfer to a plate.
  • Reduce heat to medium and add butter to the skillet. Once melted, stir in lemon juice and more fresh herbs. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
  • Pour the lemon butter sauce over the cod fillets and serve immediately, garnished with extra herbs if desired.


What sides go well with pan-fried cod?

Fresh veggie sides like roasted potatoes, sauteed zucchini, asparagus or spinach pair beautifully. A slice of crusty bread for sopping up the sauce is also delicious.

How do I know when cod is cooked through?

The fish should be opaque and flake easily with a fork when fully cooked. You can also use an instant-read thermometer – cod is done when it reaches an internal temp of 145°F.

Can I use frozen cod for this recipe?

Yes, just be sure to thaw it completely before patting dry and seasoning. The searing process will be the same for fresh or frozen cod.

What kind of pan is best for searing fish?

A heavy, oven-safe skillet like cast iron or stainless steel works great and gets a nice crusty sear. Non-stick skillets are also an option but can’t go from stovetop to oven.

That’s all there is to this elegant pan-fried cod with a lush lemon butter sauce! Simple enough for any night of the week, yet impressive enough for your fanciest company. Just be sure to get the freshest cod you can find – your tastebuds will be thanking you.

1 Comment

  1. Cindy Rich

    5 stars

5 from 1 vote

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