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How To Make Delicious Butter Baked Cod

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Last Modified: December 3, 2023
Published: December 3, 2023

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The Way They Make It In Iceland

butter baked cod

The butter baked cod we ate on our trip to Iceland changed my "I hate fish" husband into a fan of the finny food. You might call this experience a "cod send" because I love fish!

My mom was born and raised in Iceland, so I come from my love for all things seafood naturally! Here is a simple and quick way to bake cod in butter, like made in Iceland, where fish is the main protein served at every meal.

Some people think they don't like fish, but it's often because they never learned how to cook it correctly. Restaurants don't always cook fish properly, especially in land-locked parts of the country.

Much fish served in restaurants is overcooked, making it dry and rubbery. But it is a simple culinary skill that's easy to learn.

Nothing could be quicker or easier than this simple recipe for butter baked cod you do in the oven. Add lemon if you like, but Icelanders like their cod plain and sweet and served over a mound of mashed potatoes to catch every golden drop of butter. This dish is sometimes called "Poor Man's Lobster."

Atlantic Cod is "the fish" in Iceland. It is the most important marine resource in Icelandic waters. It is of huge economic importance in Iceland. Salted cod was featured on the Icelandic coat of arms for several centuries.

Cod is the perfect choice for this recipe for several reasons:

  1. Mild Flavor: Cod has a mild, slightly sweet flavor that pairs well with various seasonings and ingredients, making it versatile for different recipes.
  2. Texture: It has a flaky and tender texture when cooked properly, which makes it appealing for baking. It holds its shape well, making it suitable for various cooking methods.
  3. Readily Available: Cod is widely available in many regions and is often sold fresh, frozen, or as fillets, making it accessible for many home cooks.
  4. Health Benefits: It's a good source of protein, low in fat, and rich in vitamins and minerals like vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health.

Frozen Fish Might Be A Better Choice

package of frozen cod fillets

Today, fish is flash-frozen at its freshest and most nutritious possible moment. Many commercial fishing companies have amazing modern facilities for freezing fish right on the boat minutes after the catch. This method is used for ocean-caught fish and farm-raised fish as well.

Having some frozen fish tucked away in your freezer is super convenient! That way, you don't have to make a special trip to the store to buy "fresh" fish when you are hungry for butter baked cod.

Fish is easy to defrost, and many types can go right from the freezer to the oven. If you have some fish in your freezer, you can quickly get a meal on the table because fish does not require long cooking times.

Frozen fish is often less expensive than fresh fish, especially if you live in the middle of the country, as I do. (In today's economy, we need to consider every possible advantage for saving money on groceries.)

Not all "fresh" fish is actually fresh. Some fish you see in the case at the grocery store has been frozen and later defrosted. A reputable grocer will label it that way. Be sure to ask how long the fish has been on ice.

This list contains only highlights from an excellent article about fresh vs. frozen fish from the always smart and dependable website, The Spruce Eats. I love them! If you want more information, please read their informative post here.

Other Types of Fish You Can Use in Place of Cod

You can substitute several white-fleshed, mild-flavored fish that behave similarly when cooked. Some alternatives include:

  1. Haddock: Similar to cod in taste and texture, haddock is another white fish that can be used interchangeably in recipes.
  2. Pollock: This fish has a milder flavor but works well in baked dishes. It's also commonly used in fish sticks and fish fillets.
  3. Halibut: Although more expensive, halibut has a firmer texture and can be a great substitute for cod in baked recipes due to its mild flavor.
  4. Flounder or Sole: These are delicate, thin fillets that cook quickly and work well in baked dishes. They have a mild taste and a tender texture. (watch the bake time)
  5. Mahi-Mahi: Though firmer in texture, mahi-mahi's mild flavor and ability to hold up well to baking make it a potential substitute.

Your best friend for cooking fish to optimum perfection is an instant-read thermometer. Do not overcook the fish. The number one mistake in preparing fish is overcooking it. It begins to dry out if cooked longer and can get tough.

Stop cooking when the internal temperature is 140 degrees F. Remember, after removing it from the oven, the fish will continue to cook for a little while.

Let it stand until it reaches 145 degrees, the recommended optimum temperature to serve fish. If you do not have a thermometer, test by inserting a fork in the thickest part of the fillet and twisting it slightly. The fish should look opaque and flake easily.

Mashed Potatoes For Your Butter Baked Cod

homemade mashed potatoes

The fish takes a short time to cook, so start the potatoes first. Here is my not-so-secret method recipe and tips for perfect garlic mashed potatoes!

Peel and cut up 2 pounds of russet potatoes and put them in a pot with a teaspoon of salt and barely enough water to cover them on medium heat until tender, then drain them thoroughly. This process should take about twenty minutes.

While the potatoes are still hot, put half a stick of butter (or more), about a half cup of milk, and a teaspoon of Better Than Bouillon Roasted Garlic Base (add more to taste if you like) in the pot, put the lid back on, and let it all melt. (I'm shameless about how much butter I use in mashed potatoes.)

Use a hand masher, and don't whip them—season to taste with salt and pepper. This recipe makes about four servings. Just look at all the yummy butter-cradling nooks and crannies! 😍 The texture proves, without a doubt, that they are homemade!

Butter Baked Is The Easiest Way To Bake Cod

I use a lightly sprayed glass baking dish for this recipe. Cut the cod into serving-size pieces and pour one-half cup of melted butter over the fish.

Sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper, and paprika, then bake at 375 degrees for fifteen to twenty minutes. Melt another half cup of butter to drizzle over the fish and potatoes. Garnish with parsley.

I like to use pasta bowls when we have butter baked cod because they're perfect for containing all the goodness of the melted butter. I suggest the very simplest steamed vegetable as a side dish. Fresh asparagus, broccoli, or green beans would all be beautiful, colorful, and nutritious additions to the plate.

Here is a photo of the butter baked cod left over after serving my husband and me. Look how moist and flaky the fish is. (No worries, he always finishes the potatoes!😉) Cod is such a mild fish; the leftovers would be perfect in fish tacos or used to stuff a baked potato.

butter baked cod
Yield: 4 servings

Butter Baked Cod

butter baked cod

Here is a simple and quick way to bake cod in butter like made in Iceland, where fish is the main protein served at every meal.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes


  • One and one-half pounds of cod fillets either fresh or frozen. If you use frozen fish, it should be defrosted.
  • One cup butter, melted and divided.
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika or more to taste
  • Parsley for garnish, optional


  1. Spray or grease a baking pan. I prefer a glass pan.
  2. Arrange cod in a single layer in the pan.
  3. Pour half of the melted butter over the cod.
  4. Season with salt, pepper, and paprika.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the internal temperature is 140 degrees F.
  6. If you do not have a thermometer, test by inserting a fork in the thickest part of the filet and twisting it slightly. The fish should look opaque and flake easily.
  7. Serve over mashed potatoes and divide the other 1/2 cup of melted butter to drizzle over each serving.
  8. Garnish with parsley.


See the post for other types of fish you can use in place of cod.

Here is my recipe for classic, country-style garlic mashed potatoes. These potatoes are not diet food.

Yield: 4 servings

Homemade Mashed Potatoes

homemade mashed potatoes

Here is my recipe for classic, country-style garlic mashed potatoes. These potatoes are not diet food.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes


  • 2 pounds Russet or other floury potatoes, peeled and cut into evenly-sized pieces.
  • Water for cooking
  • 1 tsp kosher salt or to taste.
  • 1 tsp Better Than Bouillon roasted garlic base
  • 1/4 cup or more of butter
  • 1 cup milk, whole milk preferred.
  • 1 tsp pepper or to taste.


  1. Peel and cut the potatoes into evenly sized chunks.
  2. Place in a pot with a lid and add water to barely cover the potatoes. Add salt.
  3. Cook over medium-high heat until you can easily pierce the potatoes with a knife.
  4. Drain thoroughly; leave as little water as possible.
  5. Add butter and garlic base, replace the lid, and let the butter melt.
  6. Roughly mash the potatoes, then gradually add the milk. You may not need all of it.
  7. Continue to mash the potatoes but do not whip. A few little chunks prove they are homemade!
  8. Season to taste with more salt and pepper if you like, and by all means, dot with more butter if you want!

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 584Total Fat: 49gSaturated Fat: 31gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 133mgSodium: 868mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 3gSugar: 8gProtein: 7g

I always say food is my favorite dish! What does that leave out? Not much! Here are some of my personal favorite recipes from GBsKitchen. By the way, there's an actual GB's kitchen tucked away in my humble little house in Nebraska!

I love Split Pea Soup! My Icelandic mama used to make it for us, and we'd have it with a thick slice of her homemade bread. I am crazy for these Cranberry Baked Boneless Pork Chops. I know my dad would have loved them because he was so fond of pork!

How about you? What would you choose for a meal if your fairy godmother could wave her magic wand and make it happen?

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