Healthy Baked Lemon Garlic Cod

Baked cod with rice
Rob MacDougall/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images
  • 19 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins,
  • Cook: 14 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
Ratings (143)

If you're looking for an easy, low-fat, gluten-free dinner idea, you can't go wrong with this baked lemon garlic cod recipe. It's a great weeknight dish but don't count it out for entertaining, because it's definitely got the chops for your most discriminating company. 

Cod is a relatively mild-tasting fish, which means most kids like it, and it pairs well with and actually takes on the flavors of the ingredients you add to it.

Here, a simple approach is used. A drizzle of lemon juice, crushed garlic, and olive oil are combined with a sliver of butter, some fresh chopped parsley, and boneless, skinless cod portions are all that's needed to make this heart-healthy fish dish in about 20 minutes. 

What You'll Need

  • 4 (6-ounce) pieces cod (boneless, skinless)
  • Sea salt and black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley (chopped)

How to Make It

  1. Heat oven to 400 F.
  2. Pat cod pieces with a paper towel and place in a baking dish large enough to hold the fish in one layer. Very lightly coat the bottom of the dish with cooking spray.
  3. Season fish with a little sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Place butter and olive oil in a small nonstick skillet. Heat on medium-low. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add lemon juice and parsley, then remove from heat.
  1. Drizzle garlic mixture over top of fish. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
  2. If desired, serve the accumulated pan juices on the side.

What to Serve With Lemon Cod

A green salad with a vinaigrette or low-fat dressing would be a great accompaniment, as would steamed veggies or a vinegar-and-oil coleslaw.

Carbs are perfectly fine as a side dish as long as they are whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, millet, or barley, and potatoes are baked and served as is or with a smidge of butter.

Why Cod Is a Good Choice for a Low-Fat, Heart-Healthy Diet

Cod is a lean protein rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B-12. On the downside, some cod can contain moderate amounts of mercury, which in small amounts is harmless to most but can be harmful to pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, people in these groups should consume a maximum of 12 ounces of fish per week.

  • Lean Protein: Protein can help stabilize blood sugar, shed weight, and keep you full—as long as it's the right type of protein. Most fish and seafood are an excellent source of lean protein because they're typically low in fat or else are high in heart-healthy fats known as omega-3 fatty acids (like salmon). It's no small wonder the American Heart Association recommends at least two 3.5-ounce servings of lean protein per week. 
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These are the right kinds of fats to consume because our bodies need omega-3 fatty acids but can't produce them on their own. According to the National Institutes of Health, these omega-3 fatty acids are thought to protect against heart disease, inflammation, some cancers, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and macular degeneration.
  • Vitamin B-12: This vitamin is essential for red blood cell formation, cell metabolism, nerve function, and the production of DNA. Fish, poultry, meat, and dairy are good sources of vitamin B-12. Additional B-12 is recommended for vegans and vegetarians who might have a deficiency because plant foods don't contain it. So if you are a pescatarian, you can forego supplements by eating cod or any fish, for that matter.