Pan Fried Cod with Corn Salsa
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 easy this meal is to make and how fresh and delicious it tastes!
This pan fried cod was such a delicious meal! I loved how quick and easy it was to make too. Definitely adding this to our regular dinner rotation!— Jane
Perfectly cooked tender, juicy and flavorful cod paired with refreshing, bright corn salsa is such a wonderful combination and an incredible summertime dinner!
Cod is a quick & easy fish to cook and there are several different cooking methods you can choose. You can bake cod, grill it, pan fry (sear) or even smoke it. We especially love pan fried cod! Pan searing fish adds more flavor than other options (think golden brown perfection) and it can be completely cooked in under 10 minutes on the stovetop!
Why you should make this recipe
- Flavorful. Cod is a mild-tasting fish and 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’s then quickly seared, on both sides and served with a topping of fresh corn salsa.
- Easy to make. I’d put “how to pan fry fish” up there among what I consider essential cooking skills. Anyone can learn how to make this – it’s so easy! And you’ll have a tasty and healthy dinner in minutes, any night of the week!
- Healthy. According to Healthline, cod has many health benefits. It’s packed with protein but low in calories, fat, and carbs. It also has plenty of B vitamins and provides several important minerals, including phosphorus and selenium. There is no flour needed, so this dish is naturally gluten-free. It’s a lighter meal option that’s fresh, colorful and totally delicious!
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 ours! 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, flounder, tilapia, 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. Sub with lemon juice, if you’d like.
- Olive oil. Using olive or avocado oil in the marinade ensures the outside of the fillet will get nice and crispy when pan fried. It also helps all of the spices adhere to the fish. Canola oil may also be used.
- 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 seasonings!
- Corn salsa. You could totally omit the salsa or serve your fish 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 this dish.
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, grilled salmon, mix it into a fresh green salad or use it as a component of fajita chicken burrito bowls.
Making this salsa recipe 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!
How to make this recipe
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.
- Marinate the cod. Combine all of the seasoning ingredients and then sprinkle and pat the blend over the fillets, ensuring to coat the back and front of each one. If you have the time, let the fish marinate for about 15 minutes.
- 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 ingredients (sweet corn, red bell pepper, jalapeño, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, crushed red pepper, honey, salt and pepper) in a bowl.
- 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. Work in batches if your pan is small.
- Serve. Plate the fish with the corn salsa and any other sides you may be serving. Enjoy!
This pan-fried cod really is so simple, but here are some tips to make sure your seared fillets are awesome every single time!
- Fresh or frozen. This recipe works well with both fresh and frozen fish. Be sure to thaw any frozen fish before coating it in spices.
- Size of fish. I recommend using fillets that are similar in size and shape, so that they cook at the same rate.
- Type of cod. Atlantic or pacific cod may be used, though many argue Atlantic is better. There are some textural and light flavor differences.
- Pan for cooking. You can use a 12-inch 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.
Frequently asked questions
We recommend using a light coating of oil and heat the pan over medium-high heat until hot before adding the fish. Hot oil will cause a crust to form which will keep the fish together.
If your fish is tough, it’s most likely because you overcooked it. Overcooking is the most common mistake most people make when they cook fish. It can make for tough, dry, and tasteless fish. Cook times vary for different types of fish, but in general, you want to stay in the range of 3 to 5 minutes per side.
Cook time will vary depending on the thickness of your cod fillets. Mine were about 1.5 inches thick and took about 3 minutes on each side in a preheated pan. 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. Be careful not overcook it or it will be tough and bouncy.
This meal is SO good as-is, but feel free to get creative with your ingredients and make this recipe your own! Here’s some ideas:
- 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.
- Make it spicy by mixing in a pinch of cayenne pepper to the spice blend.
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 sauce. Keep the Tex-Mex theme going by adding a side dish of cilantro lime rice or cilantro lime cauliflower rice. And don’t forget the homemade salsa and skinny margarita!
Prep & make ahead tips
This cod recipe 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 an airtight 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.
If you’re looking to amp up dinnertime at your house, you should definitely give this easy recipe a try. This one is sure to get rave reviews! It’s SO delicious!
If you try this easy 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. Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.
Pan Fried Cod
- 4 (6-ounce) fillets (about 1 1/2 pounds) cod or other white flaky fish
- 1 medium lime, juiced
- 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 medium red bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium 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!