Bright, flavorful pan fried cod is seasoned fillets of white fish seared to perfection and then topped with homemade corn salsa. You’re going to love how fresh, easy, and delicious this meal is!

pan fried cod topped with corn salsa and fresh cilantro

I’d put “how to pan fry fish” up there among what I consider essential cooking skills like how to make a frittata, or how to turn a box of cake mix into fudgy brownies (cake mix brownies, anyone?)

If you can learn how to make something like this pan fried fish – and trust me, anyone can, you’ll have a tasty and healthy dinner in minutes, any night of the week!

cooking with cod

Aside from salmon, cod fillet is my favorite fish to make and serve. It’s easy to cook, and because it’s a mild-tasting fish, there are countless ways to give it delicious flavor.

This recipe for pan seared cod takes on a bit of a southwest twist. The cod is lightly coated with a spice blend of chili powder, garlic powder, cumin and paprika. It then is quickly seared, on both sides and served with a topping of corn salsa.

A lighter meal option that’s fresh, colorful and totally delicious!

plates of pan fried cod topped with corn salsa

ingredients for pan fried cod 

This seafood recipe is made with simple ingredients you can easily grab at the grocery store without too much hassle! Here’s the line-up:

  • Cod. Lean and packed with protein, cod is a favorite of mine! It has a very mild flavor, so it’s a great variety to try with people who think they don’t like fish. Feel free to sub with another firm, white fish. Grouper, halibut, mahi-mahi, sea bass, haddock, and pollock are all good choices.
  • Lime juice. You’ll need fresh lime juice for the cod and the corn salsa. It brightens the entire dish and tastes wonderful on this Mexican-flavored fish.
  • Olive (or avocado) oil. Using olive or avocado oil in the marinade ensures the outside of the cod will get nice and crispy when pan fried. It also helps all of the spices stick to the fish.
  • Spices. To season the fish fillets, we’re using a blend of chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, paprika and salt & pepper. Such a flavorful blend of spices!
  • Corn salsa. You could totally omit the salsa or serve your cod in an entirely different way. Sometimes we serve the seared cod over salads. However, the corn salsa really is tasty! It’s a little sweet and a little spicy and adds a burst of freshness to every bite of your pan fried fish.

corn salsa recipe

Corn salsa is fresh and bright, and it’s easy to make. Not only does it compliment the pan fried cod perfectly, but it’s amazing served in so many different ways. Try it over grilled chicken, mix it into a fresh green salad or use it as component of my fajita chicken burrito bowls.

Making corn salsa is a breeze. There’s a bit of chopping to do, but then you just simply mix everything together in a bowl. No matter how you serve it, corn salsa is so addictive. It’s a fantastic appetizer, topping or side for almost any occasion. Make it for a picnic, a party, or game day, and it will disappear in no time!

bowl filled with corn salsa

how to make pan fried cod

This seared cod recipe takes very little effort and only about 6 minutes to cook! Here’s a quick summary of the recipe and you’ll find the full printable recipe at the bottom.

  1. Marinate the cod. Combine all of the cod seasoning ingredients and then rub the blend over the cod fillets, ensuring to coat the back and front of each fillet. If you have the time, let the fish marinate for about 15 minutes.
  2. Make the corn salsa. While the fish is marinating, you can whip up the corn salsa. Simply chop up the veggies and combine all of the corn salsa ingredients.
  3. Cook the fish. Heat a pan with a bit of oil and when it’s hot, place the fish in the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of your fish.
  4. Serve. Plate the fish with the corn salsa and any other sides you may be serving. Enjoy!

cod fillets marinating in a white baking dish

how long to pan fry cod

With this pan fried cod, cook time will vary depending on the thickness of your fish fillets. Mine were about 1.5 inches thick. You are basically looking for the fish to have a nice golden crust on the outside. The flesh should also turn fully opaque and should flake easily with a fork.

cooking cod in a cast iron skillet

tips for searing cod

This pan fried fish recipe really is so simple, but here are some tips to make sure your seared fillets are awesome every single time!

  • This recipe works well with both fresh and frozen fish. Be sure to thaw any frozen fish before coating it in spices.
  • I recommend using fillets that are similar in size and shape, so that they cook at the same rate.
  • You can use a cast iron pan or non-stick skillet to make pan fried cod. Personally, I prefer cast iron because the fish gets more golden and crispy.

pan fried cod in a cast iron skillet

customize this dish

This pan fried cod meal is SO good as-is, but feel free to get creative with your ingredients and make this recipe your own!

  • You can customize the corn salsa recipe with any of your favorite add-ins such as avocados, black beans, mangos, tomatoes, more jalapeños, etc.
  • Corn salsa is not only fabulous served over pan fried fish, but we love it as a taco topping, paired with grilled chicken or salmon, or even just as a dip with tortilla chips.
  • Once the fish is plated with the corn salsa, add a sprinkling of cheese. Crumbled cotija cheese or queso fresco adds a creamy saltiness to this dish. Yum!
  • Make this pan fried cod meal into fish tacos by shredding the fish with two forks and then serving it along with the corn salsa, wrapped in tortillas.
  • Feel free to make this recipe with any favorite white fish you might have available. You could even use salmon! It will just need to cook a little longer. In this salmon taco recipe, I give instructions for searing salmon in a pan.

serving suggestions

Pan fried fish paired with zesty corn salsa is really enough of a meal on its own, but to add a little more oomph, serve it with a fresh green salad. You can make a really quick and simple salad with fresh greens, chopped tomato, diced avocado and this chipotle ranch. Keep the Tex-Mex theme going by adding a side of cilantro lime rice or cilantro lime cauliflower rice. And don’t forget the homemade salsa and skinny margarita!

prep & make ahead tips

This pan fried fish is quick and is meant to be prepared fresh and enjoyed immediately. You can certainly prepare the corn salsa the night before. If you make the salsa in advance, store it in a tight-lid container in the fridge.

You can also save a couple of minutes by going ahead and mixing the seasoning blend. It is not recommended that cod be marinated overnight in the refrigerator, though. Marinating white fish for too long can cause it to become mushy and fall apart. Cod should marinate for no longer than about an hour in the refrigerator.

white fish served with corn salsa and fresh cilantro

If you’re looking to amp up dinnertime at your house, you should definitely give this easy pan fried cod recipe a try. This one is sure to get rave reviews! It’s SO delicious!

more favorite seafood recipes

Parmesan Baked Cod

Cod Fish Tacos

Seafood Chowder

Shrimp Fajitas

If you try this easy pan fried cod recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves it as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. It’s so fun to see what you’re cooking! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.

pan fried cod topped with corn salsa and fresh cilantro
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Pan Fried Cod

Bright, flavorful pan fried cod is seasoned fillets of white fish seared to perfection and then topped with homemade corn salsa. You’re going to love how fresh, easy, and delicious this meal is!


For fish

  • 4 (6-ounce) fillets (about 1 1/2 pounds) cod or other white flaky fish
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika or cajun seasoning for more heat
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

For corn salsa

  • 1 (15.25 ounce) can sweet corn, drained
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 large red onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • salt and black pepper, to taste


  • In a shallow dish, whisk together lime juice, oil, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. Add cod, tossing until evenly coated and gently rub all of the seasoning into the fish on all sides. Let marinate 15 minutes, if you have the time.
  • Meanwhile, make the corn salsa by stirring all of the salsa ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. Chill until ready to serve.
  • To cook fish, heat a bit of oil, butter or spray with non-stick cooking spray in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Alternatively, you can use a cast iron skillet. When the pan is hot, add fish. Lay in a flat layer and don’t overcrowd the pan or the fish will steam, not sear.
  • Cook the fish for 3 minutes without moving it — this helps get a good browned crust. Flip the fish after 3 minutes and cook for another 2-3 minutes, until just cooked through. Remove from heat. (Cook time will depend on the thickness of your fish. It may only be necessary to cook about 2 minutes on each side and up to about 4 minutes or so.)
  • Plate fish with corn salsa and a squeeze of fresh lime. Enjoy!


prep & make ahead tips: This pan fried fish is quick and is meant to be prepared fresh and enjoyed immediately. Corn salsa can be prepared about 24 hours in advance. Store salsa in a tight-lid container in the fridge.
Photos by Sasha at Eat Love Eats.
Serving: 1serving, Calories: 333kcal, Carbohydrates: 29g, Protein: 35g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 73mg, Sodium: 258mg, Potassium: 1069mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 1621IU, Vitamin C: 53mg, Calcium: 44mg, Iron: 2mg

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