You can make Pan-Seared Cod Loins in less than 20 minutes! You'll love the fish's browned, crusty surface and tender, flaky interior. Delicious seasonings, lemon and melted butter ― that you can brown if you wish ― take this dish over the top!
Just look at that mouthwatering pan-seared cod!! It looks like it came from a fancy restaurant, but I promise, it's quick and easy!
It'll be ready in less than 20 minutes, using a pan on your stove.
It's definitely one of my best cod recipes. I tested it over and over to get it just right. It earned two thumbs up from all five family members who tried it!
You'll notice there's no flour here, so this is a gluten-free, low-carb cod recipe.
Cod Loins: These are the thickest part of cod fillets. You need the fish to be at least one-inch thick to withstand searing and flipping without falling apart. You could substitute halibut or any thick, sturdy white fish.
Cod loins also work great for a grilled cod dinner.
Seasonings: We're using the same combination of seasonings from my wildly popular Pan-Fried Cod recipe ― Old Bay, hot paprika and salt.
Old Bay (affiliate link) contains celery salt, red pepper, black pepper, paprika and more. It's delicious on seafood and chicken wings. If you don't have Old Bay, you'll have to add more salt.
If you don't have hot paprika, you can substitute regular paprika and add a dash of cayenne pepper for a touch of heat.
Oil: Use a cooking oil with a high smoke point so it doesn't burn when it's sizzling hot. I recommend using avocado oil or canola oil instead of olive oil for this recipe.
Butter: I always use salted butter here. If you use unsalted, you may need to add a little extra salt after you taste the cooked cod.
How to pan-sear cod
See the card at the end of this post for the full recipe, but here's an overview.
- Dry the cod loins well and rub the seasoning mixture on both sides.
- Heat canola or avocado oil in a nonstick skillet (affiliate link) over medium-high heat and add the fish when the pan is sizzling.
- Sear the cod for four minutes on the first side, until browned and easy to nudge. Carefully flip the fish over to sear the other side.
- Remove the cod from the pan and add butter to melt it. Push the butter around with a wooden spoon to deglaze the brown bits from the pan.
How to serve it
- Make sure the fish is dried well before starting, so you can get a nice, browned crust on it during searing and to avoid splashing.
- To keep the cod from falling apart, make sure the pan is sizzling hot. Once you've added the fish to the pan, don't try to move it until four minutes have passed. This will enable the cod to brown nicely, and it will be easier to flip over.
- Don't try to flip the cod if it seems stuck to the pan and not budging. Give it another minute or so to brown so it will be easier to flip.
- When flipping the cod, be very gentle, so it doesn't break. It helps to use two spatulas, one on each side of the fish.
Frequently asked questions
Cod is cooked when the fish flakes easily with a fork and does not look shiny inside. It should be opaque, not translucent.
Sear one-inch thick cod loins for four minutes on the first side, and three-to-four minutes on the second side. If the fish is thicker, add another minute.
More cod recipes to love
- Cod with Tomatoes
- Beer-Battered Cod
- Baked Parmesan Cod
- Crispy Oven-Fried Cod
- Cod with Bread Crumbs and Butter
- Fried Salted Cod Fish (Baccalà)
If you try this Pan-Seared Cod Loins recipe, please leave a comment and a rating!
Pan-Seared Cod Loins
- 2 pounds cod loins (at least 1-inch thick) (See notes if you want to make just one pound.)
- 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon hot paprika (or regular paprika + ⅓ teaspoon black pepper or a dash of cayenne)
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil (or canola oil)
- 4 tablespoons salted butter
- lemon wedges for serving
- Pat the fish dry with paper towels and feel for any bones to remove. (If using thawed fish that was frozen, squeeze out any remaining liquid.) Use kitchen scissors to cut the cod into portion sizes if needed.
- Stir the seasonings in a tiny bowl. (Old Bay, salt and hot paprika).
- Rub the seasoning onto both sides of the cod loins. (Wear food-safe gloves or wash your hands well afterward.)
- Add the oil to a 12-inch, nonstick skillet and heat it on medium-high. When the oil is rippling hot, add the cod loins to the pan in a single layer, uncovered. (You may need to do this in two batches if there isn't room in your pan.)
- Sear the first side without moving it for 4 minutes, until browned and it moves easily when you nudge it. Flip over the fish carefully (it helps to use two spatulas) and sear the second side without moving it for another 3-4 minutes. (If the cod is really thick, you might need an extra minute.) To check for doneness, you can place a thick piece of fish on a plate and cut it open. The fish should flake easily and not look shiny inside.
- Remove the cooked cod loins to a platter. Add the butter to the pan over medium-high heat and stir it around to de-glaze the pan. (You can scoop out the browned bits for a neater presentation if you prefer.) When the butter is melted, you can pour it over the fish right away or cook it a bit longer to brown it first for a deep, nutty flavor.
- After spooning the butter on the fish, squeeze on some lemon juice before serving.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat leftovers in the microwave.
- Make sure the cod is at least an inch thick. (You can substitute halibut, if you wish.) If you try to use thin fish fillets, they'll break apart and you won't be able to flip them over nicely.
- (If you do have some thin pieces, save those to cook last. Don't flip them, but just spoon melted butter over them in the pan on medium-high heat until done.)
- For nicely browned, seared cod, the fish must not be wet. Don't rinse it, and use paper towels to absorb any liquid. If using thawed fish that was frozen, you'll need to squeeze out any excess liquid.
- To Make 1 pound of Pan-Seared Cod: Still use two tablespoons of oil, but halve the rest of the ingredients.
- Oil: Use cooking oil with a high smoke point, such as canola, avocado oil or vegetable oil. Don't use olive oil, which has a lower smoke point and will burn.
(Recipe Source: Cooking with Mamma C)