Cook/ Easy Weeknight

Crispy Baked Cod with Red Pesto

January 25, 2020

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Crispy baked cod with a homemade red pesto is perfect for a quick and easy weeknight meal. Cod fillets are topped with panko breadcrumbs for a fish dish full of texture and flavor. Serve with veggies for a healthy meal the whole family will love. Ready in 45 minutes and made with just a handful of ingredients for a light and fresh meal made from scratch.

This recipe was first published on January 17th 2016, and has been updated with new photos and tips.

A piece of crispy baked cod being cut into with a fork

I always try to include a fish dish in my weekly meal rotation. It’s so easy and quick to cook this crispy naked cod, and it’s perfect for a dinner after a busy day. This is a tasty and fresh tasting dish that comes together easily, and if you are looking to cut down on time.  Serve with fresh veg for healthy, tummy filling meal, or be a bit naughty and serve with my Baked Herb & Chilli Chips.

This fish dish is super quick, healthy and oh so tasty – get some goodness in to your life! And be sure to check out my other easy weeknight meals for more tasty dinner ideas.

How To Make Crispy Baked Cod

  • First up, make the pesto! Put your cut tomatoes and red pepper onto a baking sheet with a little salt, oil and sugar and bake to soften them (photo1).
  • Remove the seeds from the pepper and add to a blender with the tomatoes, garlic, parmesan and pine nuts (photo 2).
  • Blend until smooth and set to one side (photo 3).

Three shots showing how to make the red pesto

  • Lay your cod fillets on a parchment lined tin (photo 4).
  • Spread the pesto on each fillet (photo 5) and then sprinkle with panko, parmesan and a little black pepper (photo 6).
  • Bake for 15 minutes until cooked through and then place under the broiler for 5 minutes until golden brown (photo 7).

Four shots to show how to prep the cod fillets before cooking

 

Homemade Red Pesto Recipe

The red pesto that tops the cod comes together so quickly and easily. Technically I guess it’s not a a pesto as it doesn’t contain any olive oil, the liquid from the tomatoes and pepper makes the sauce quite wet, so you don’t need to add any more liquid. The red sauce is quite light and it doesn’t overpower the natural flavors from the cod.

The recipe for the red pesto makes more than you need, keep any leftovers and stir into pasta for another easy meal, you could also spread it over 6 or even 8 cod fillets if you are serving more people.

Can you make crispy baked cod ahead of time?

This cod is best served as soon as you have baked it, but you can easily prep the meal several hours ahead of time if you are being super organized! You can make the red pesto two or three days ahead of time and keep it covered in the fridge.

You can also prep the cod fillets with the pesto and panko topping one day ahead of time and keep it covered in the fridge. Then just place it into a pre-heated oven to cook it.

If you do have leftovers, you can keep them covered in the fridge for two to three days and gently reheat them in the oven, take care not to over cook them though.

A piece of crispy baked cod on a spatula

Oven Baked Crispy Cod Fillets

Oven baking fish is a much healthier way to cook it compared to pan frying it. These crispy cod fillets don’t need any added oil, and it’s so quick and hands off to cook them to perfection. The cod is cooked after about 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets, and during this time you can prepare any sides so it’s all ready to serve. 

When is the cod cooked?

The cod is ready to come out of the oven when it is an opaque white. You can use a fork to test the corner of a fillet, it should flake away fairly easily. If you have an instant read thermometer, it should read 130ºf / 54ºc.

Top Tips To Make Crispy Baked Cod

  • You can use frozen cod fillets in this recipe. Defrost them thoroughly and be sure to pat them dry before adding the toppings and baking them.
  • This recipe would also work well with other white fish like tilapia, bass or snapper.
  • The red pesto is dead quick and easy to make,  but if you are seriously short on time you can use a store bought pesto in place of this made from scratch version.
  • Cooking times will vary depending on the thickness of your cod, check it at around 10 minutes if you have a thinner fillet.

Crispy baked cod served on a white plate with green veggies

Be sure to check out these other easy seafood weeknight meals:

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Crispy baked cod served with vegetables

Crispy Baked Cod with Red Pesto

Crispy baked cod with a homemade red pesto is perfect for a quick and easy weeknight meal. Cod fillets are topped with panko breadcrumbs for a fish dish full of texture and flavor.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 405kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 cod fillets skinless and boneless ( about 6-7oz / 175g-200g each)
  • 10.5 ounces tomatoes - I used a mix of cherry and plum tomatoes, you can use whatever you have! (300g)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 ounces parmesan (40g)
  • 2 ounces pine nuts (60g)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 8 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 tablespoons grated parmesan
  • black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Pre heat the oven to 180ºc / 350ºf.
  • Slice the tomatoes in half and and put on a baking tray, cut side up.  Put a bit of oil onto the red pepper and place on the baking tray.  Sprinkle the salt and sugar over the cut tomatoes and pop in the oven for 20mins.  Take them out and leave them to cool slightly.
  • Once cooler, remove the stalk and seeds from the pepper (you can keep the skin on) and put in a blender.  Add in the tomatoes, parmesan, pine nuts and garlic.  Blend until it is a smooth sauce.
  • Pre heat the oven to 180ºc / 350ºf.
  • Lay the fillets of cod on a parchment lined baking tray, and put a couple of tablespoons of the red pesto over the top of each one and spread evenly over the fillets. Sprinkle on the breadcrumbs, parmesan and a little pepper to cover the sauce.
  • Bake in the oven for 15 - 20 mins until cooked through and then place them under the broiler (grill) for 5 minutes to brown the tops.

Notes

  • You can use frozen cod fillets in this recipe. Defrost them thoroughly and be sure to pat them dry before adding the toppings and baking them.
  • This recipe would also work well with other white fish like tilapia, bass or snapper.
  • The red pesto is dead quick and easy to make,  but if you are seriously short on time you can use a store bought pesto in place of this made from scratch version.
  • Cooking times will vary depending on the thickness of your cod, check it at around 10 minutes if you have a thinner fillet.
  • Nutritional values are based on one of four servings and are an estimate only.

Nutrition

Calories: 405kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 85mg | Sodium: 1072mg | Potassium: 1075mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1746IU | Vitamin C: 50mg | Calcium: 253mg | Iron: 3mg
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