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Lemon Caper Cod

If you need a light, tasty dinner that comes together quick, you’ll love this easy lemon caper cod. Baked in the oven and ready in 20 minutes, it features flaky fish and a rich butter sauce with garlic, lemon juice, and capers that just hits the spot.

Love seafood? Try my pesto-crusted salmon and one-pot salmon pasta, too!

close-up shot of cod with capers and lemon and butter sauce in a skillet.

Baked cod with lemon and capers

There are many great cod recipes out there, but I really love this one because it’s super fast, seriously flavorful, and so darn easy to make.

Many think cod is a bland fish. But that’s why I love cod – it’s a blank canvas, begging to be drenched in flavor.

All you need is a lemon, a spoonful of capers, some butter, garlic cloves, and parsley. Even picky eaters will enjoy this tasty oven-baked fish fillet recipe.

Since the recipe comes together in less than 20 minutes, it’s the perfect meal for a busy weeknight.

lemon caper cod ingredients.

Ingredients

Lemon, capers, and garlic are always a dynamic trio when it comes to flavoring fish. Here is everything you need to whip up this recipe:

  • 6 cod fillets – Purchase fresh cod fillets with the skin removed.
  • 1/4 cup butter – is the base of the sauce. Feel free to substitute a mild Italian olive oil.
  • 3 garlic cloves – Freshly minced garlic adds lots of great flavor.
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest – adds a fresh, bright citrus aroma without making the sauce too sour.
  • 1/3 cup veggie stock – Chicken or seafood stock/broth is fine as well.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp capers – Drain and rinse the capers to ensure the sauce doesn’t become too salty.
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice – rounds out the lemon flavor.
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley – Fresh, roughly chopped parsley elevates the flavor profile. Dried parsley will work, too, but it won’t taste as good.

How to make lemon caper cod

Oven baking is a foolproof way to achieve perfectly cooked cod. Let me show you how to make it:

step 1 brown butter.

1.  Brown butter

 In a large, non-stick skillet or oven-safe pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Continue cooking, swirling the pan frequently, until the butter becomes a light golden-brown color.

step 2 saute garlic.

2. Sauté garlic

Add the garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon zest and cook for 1 minute, until the garlic is fragrant.

step 4 add lemon juice and parsley.

3. Simmer sauce

Reduce the heat to medium. Pour in the vegetable broth and simmer for 5 minutes. Next, toss in the capers and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.

step 3 simmer sauce.

4. Add lemon juice and parsley

Remove the skillet from heat. Then, stir in the lemon juice and parsley. Taste and season with more salt or pepper, to taste.

step 5 prepare cod.

5. Prepare fish

Sprinkle both sides of the cod fillets with salt and pepper.

step 6 bake cod.

6. Bake & serve

Place the fillets in the skillet and spoon some of the sauce over each fillet. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake, uncovered, until the flesh of the fish turns opaque white and begins to flake, about 10 to 12 minutes.

Take the cod out of the oven. Garnish with extra parsley and lemon slices, if desired, and top with sauce. Serve warm at once. Enjoy!

Tips

  • Thick fillets: Ideally, buy thicker fillets of cod. Thicker fillets will hold up better and don’t break apart as easily as the thin, very delicate tails.
  • Rinse the capers: Capers from the grocery store are pickled in a salty brine. Drain and rinse them before using to remove some of the saltiness.
  • Adjust the acidity: The lemon butter sauce has a balanced mild lemon flavor that isn’t sour. Still, if you prefer a tangier sauce, add 4 to 5 tablespoons of lemon juice.
  • Non-stick pan: I highly recommend using an oven-safe non-stick pan or skillet like an enamel cast-inro skillet. Cod is very delicate and will fall apart if it sticks to the pan. It will still taste good, but try to avoid it if possible.
  • Watch the bake time: Cod cooks fast, so be careful not to overcook it. It really needs only 10 to 12 minutes in the oven – even less if your oven runs hot.
two caper cod fillets on a plate.

Variations

Give this caper cod recipe a flavor twist and tweak the seasoning. Here are a few ideas to try:

  • Herbs: Use fresh or dried basil, cilantro, thyme, oregano, rosemary, tarragon, or Italian seasoning in place of parsley.
  • Spices: Season the sauce with paprika, Cajun seasoning, or a pinch of cayenne pepper.
  • Olives: 1 cup chopped green olives is the perfect addition to this baked cod with lemon and capers.
  • White wine: Feel free to substitute the broth with a dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.
  • Fish: If cod isn’t available, try another white flakey fish like halibut or mahi mahi.

Serving suggestions

Cod with capers and lemon tastes delicious with pasta, mashed potatoes, rice, roasted zucchini and mushrooms, asparagus, or a simple side salad and good crusty bread.

Pasta is my family’s favorite option. I usually cook spaghetti, linguine, or angel hair, put a pasta nest on each plate, add a baked cod filet, and then pour the sauce on top. So good!

baked cod with lemon and capers in a skillet.

Storing & reheating

Store: Place cooled leftover cod in an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Freeze: Arrange the fillets in a single layer on a lined baking sheet or platter. Flash freeze until frozen solid (about 1 to 2 hours). Then, place the frozen fillets into a freezer bag. Before sealing, push out as much air as you can and freeze for up to 3 weeks.

Reheat: If frozen, thaw the fish first. Rewarm the fillets in a baking dish in a 350°F / 180°C / gas mark 4 oven for 8 to 10 minutes. The texture may be drier after storing and reheating.

lemon caper cod.

Lemon Caper Cod Recipe

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

If you need a light, tasty dinner that comes together quick, you’ll love this easy lemon caper cod. Baked in the oven and ready in 20 minutes, it features flaky fish and a rich butter sauce with garlic, lemon juice, and capers that just hits the spot.

Ingredients

Lemon Caper Butter Sauce

  • 1/4 cup / 60 g / 2 oz unsalted butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup / 80 ml / 2.7 fl oz veggie stock
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Cod

  • 6 cod fillets, skin removed and patted dry
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven. Preheat your oven to 350°F / 180°C / gas mark 4.
    Brown butter. In a large, non-stick skillet or oven-safe pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Continue cooking, swirling the pan frequently, until the butter becomes a light golden-brown color.
  2. Sauté garlic. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon zest and cook for 1 minute, until the garlic is fragrant.
  3. Simmer sauce. Reduce the heat to medium. Pour in the vegetable broth and simmer for 5 minutes. Next, toss in the capers and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Add lemon juice and parsley. Remove the skillet from heat. Then, stir in the lemon juice and parsley. Taste and season with more salt or pepper, to taste.
  5. Prepare fish. Sprinkle both sides of the cod fillets with salt and pepper.
  6. Bake cod. Place the fillets in the skillet and spoon some of the sauce over each fillet. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake, uncovered, until the flesh of the fish turns opaque white and begins to flake, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  7. Serve. Take the cod out of the oven. Garnish with extra parsley and lemon slices, if desired, and top with sauce. Serve warm at once. Enjoy!

Notes

Tips

  • Thick fillets: Ideally, buy thicker fillets of cod. Thicker fillets will hold up better and don’t break apart as easily as the thin, very delicate tails.
  • Rinse the capers: Capers from the grocery store are pickled in a salty brine. Drain and rinse them before using to remove some of the saltiness.
  • Adjust the acidity: The lemon butter sauce has a balanced mild lemon flavor that isn’t sour. Still, if you prefer a tangier sauce, add 4 to 5 tablespoons of lemon juice.
  • Non-stick pan: I highly recommend using an oven-safe non-stick pan or skillet like an enamel cast-inro skillet. Cod is very delicate and will fall apart if it sticks to the pan. It will still taste good, but try to avoid it if possible.
  • Watch the bake time: Cod cooks fast, so be careful not to overcook it. It really needs only 10 to 12 minutes in the oven – even less if your oven runs hot.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 282Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 121mgSodium: 545mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 43g

FAQ

Is fresh or frozen cod best?

You can prepare this cod caper recipe with both fresh or frozen cod fish filets.
 
My top choice is cod fish that has been freshly caught, cleaned, and sold within 48 hours because that is the best quality you can get.
 
However, frozen fish is processed and frozen quickly after catching, and frozen fish is usually just as good as fish from the counter. Just note that frozen fish tends to be a bit flakier than fresh.
 
So grab whatever you have access to and feel confident that this recipe will turn out delicious.

How long do you bake cod?

If you haven’t baked cod before, you might be wondering how to do it properly. Check out my tips for the best baked cod.
 
Watch the bake time: Like most fish, cod cooks pretty fast. Start checking on it once it’s been in the oven for 10 minutes (even sooner if your oven runs hot).
 
Flaky texture: The cod filets are done when they flake easily with a fork (without being overcooked or dry).
 
Internal temperature: If you have a meat thermometer, insert it sideways into the thickest part of the cod. The internal temperature should be 145°F / 63°C.

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