Pan Fried Cod in a basil and citrus butter sauce. This is so easy to make, and it’s perfect for a special dinner or even a quick and light lunch. Chunks of pan fried cod are cooked in a citrus butter basil sauce!

pan fried cod in a pan with a fork

I made some Pan Fried Cod just for you. It’s super easy if you have a decent non-stick pan (vital), some fish, a few citrus fruits, butter, and basil. Check out these tips for a really tasty dinner.

Best kitchen pan for my pan fried cod

I cook multiple times a day, usually in the morning for blog stuff and then again at night for the family, so having good equipment is important to me. This includes pots and pans, and my major pet peeve is when food sticks to the pan.

So when I was asked to try this cookware set from Wolf Gourmet, I typed a big fat yes in the email reply.

I don’t do many reviews on the blog, but since I was about to tie my current cookware set to a rocket and send it into orbit because I hate it so much, this sounded like a good idea. Wolf Gourmet cookware is made up of multiple layers of stainless steel and an aluminum core to help with durability and keeping even heat distribution. They definitely score high on looks too! I used the 3.5 quart sauté pan to cook my fish and the 8.5 inch skillet for the butter sauce. They both performed well and I was really pleased to have nothing stick to the pan.

Can I use any other fish for this recipe?

This is a really simple recipe with only a few fresh ingredients to hunt down. I used cod but you could use any firm white fish such as halibut, snapper, rockfish or sea bass. Salmon, my favorite fish of all time would work well too but just make sure it’s Copper River Salmon for the best quality! Cod is also a great fish for any occasion, see my post about how easy it is to cook cod

cod coking in a pan with lemons

How to make pan fried cod

The fish gets soaked in some olive oil and the juice from the citrus. Afterward, pan fry it until almost done and then make the easy butter sauce. I poured the sauce back over the fish and then added some extra fresh basil because there was never a time when I said: “Whoa, too much basil.” You can serve this straight from the pan – geez, you can even eat it straight from the pan, just as I did once I finished shooting it. But if your manners are better than mine (and I know they are) serve it over brown rice with some of the sauce.

citrus butter sauce for cod recipe

Should I use salted or unsalted butter for my pan fried cod?

I always tend to use salted butter just because of the added flavor, but if you’re watching your salt intake go with unsalted.

Can I use dried basil instead of fresh basil?

You could but the results will be nowhere near as good if you skip the fresh basil!

Why is cod such a good fish for this recipe?

Cod is a firm fleshed fish meaning it won’t break apart like other thinner fish like tilapia or dover sole. That’s why cod make the best fish and chips and makes it easy for the batter to stick to the fish. Cod also flakes really well and is very easy to cook

Pan Fried Cod in a Citrus Butter Sauce

Pan Fried Cod in a Citrus Butter Sauce

Pan Fried Cod in a Citrus and Basil Butter Sauce

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 195kcal
Author: foodnessgracious
A light springtime dish with flaky white pan fried cod in a citrus butter sauce. Add some fresh basil to brighten up the color and pack another flavor punch.
Print Recipe


  • 1-1 ½ pounds white cod filets
  • 3 oranges
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ cup olive oil divided
  • Fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • Salt and black pepper


  • Lay the cod filets in a shallow pan or baking dish.
  • Zest 1 orange and 1 lemon and add zest to the fish.
  • Squeeze the juice from the orange and lemon you just zested and add to 1/4 cup of the olive oil.
  • Whisk together and pour over the fish. Cover and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
  • In a large oven safe saute pan heat the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil until hot.
  • Carefully shake the excess marinade from the fish, saving it, and drop the fish into the pan.
  • Cook over a medium heat for about 4 minutes and then flip and repeat on the other side.
  • Season the fish with some salt and black pepper.
  • Place the fish into the oven to keep warm while you make the sauce.
  • In another smaller pan, melt the butter and add the sugar and remaining leftover marinade from the fish.
  • Add the juice of the remaining two oranges to the pan.
  • Bring to a boil whisking regularly until the sauce has thickened slightly and reduced.
  • Add about 1/4 cup of finely shredded basil leaves to the sauce.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  • Bring the fish from the oven and pour the thickened sauce over it.
  • Add more basil if desired and serve over rice or quinoa.


Calories: 195kcal