Oven-Poached Lemon Butter Cod

With a complex flavor that belies the simple ingredients and preparation, Oven-Poached Lemon Butter Cod is a perfect addition to your dinner repertoire. 

Oven-poached lemon butter cod served

Sometimes you need a little easy for dinner–or maybe a whole lot of easy! But I don’t like to give up flavor to get it. That’s when it’s great to have a dish like this Oven-Poached Lemon Butter Cod, waiting in your back pocket!

With simple preparation and a simple sauce, it includes a secret ingredient (vermouth, shh) that adds a nuanced flavor and a little class to the dish. It reminds me of the impact a shot of sherry has, stirred into a warm soup!


Oven-poached lemon butter cod served

Why You’ll Love This!

Tasty. Seasoned butter alone would be good. But the vermouth in the sauce gives it a punch of flavor and class that makes this extra special.

Easy. You simply make up a quick butter sauce, pour it over your cod and bake. How easy is that!

Healthy. Though not a powerhouse of omega-3 like salmon, cod is loaded with lean healthy protein. And who doesn’t have “eat more fish” on their to do list!

Oven-poached lemon butter cod served

What You’ll Need

Ingredient Notes

  • Cod.  This is the main component of the dish.  You can substitute another mild white fish like haddock. 
  • Butter.  This adds richness and moisture.
  • Lemon.  This provides the lemon flavor.
  • Vermouth.  This provides additional flavor and sophisticated notes.  First choice on substitution would be dry sherry, then a dry-ish white wine.  For an alcohol free version, you can use chicken stock. 
  • Garlic.  This adds flavor to the sauce.
  • Parsley.  This also adds flavor to the sauce.
  • Salt, pepper.
  • Optional: extra lemon slices for garnish

Special Tools

  • No special tools are needed!

Lemon Butter Cod Ingredients

Step by Step Directions

Melt butter in a small saucepan or microwave.   Squeeze in the lemon juice and add the vermouth, chopped parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Add sauce ingredients

Pour the butter mixture over the cod.

Pour sauce over cod

Bake until the cod is opaque and flakes easily with a fork, approximately 15-20 minutes.


Drizzle with butter to serve, and top with a lemon wedge if desired.

a bite of lemon butter cod

How to Serve

Just add a vegetable and a starch to make this a complete meal. A nice green salad, like this Butter Lettuce Strawberry Salad  (with that yummy poppyseed dressing), is also a tasty and healthy addition.

If you’re especially busy or tired, the easiest starch is probably a quality bread served with butter or olive oil. Another option is a potato dish like parsley buttered potatoes. But my real favorite is simply rice. Topped with some of the butter sauce, it becomes extra special too!

Finally, one of my readers added frozen peas right to the cooking pan in this recipe. I haven’t tried it but I love the idea. I’m always up for an easy way to get another vegetable!

Oven-poached lemon butter cod served


If you have a little extra time, you can reduce the sauce at the end. To do this, keep the fish warm, put the sauce in a sauce pan and cook until it’s about half the original volume. You probably won’t have extra for rice then, but it will be even more flavorful.

Cod is a workhorse of a fish. I believe this is due to a couple of factors. First, although prices have risen in recent years, cod tends to be a little less pricey than some other types of seafood.  And second, cod has kind of a chameleon personality which means that it works beautifully in lots of different dishes.

If you’re a mushroom fan consider this Whitefish with Mushrooms and Vermouth, which is similar but cooked in a skillet and loaded with mushrooms.  Have a desire for lobster but not the budget? How about putting your cod to use in this Poor Man’s Lobster!

And it’s perfect for plain old Fish and Chips! We often use my Pan-fried Perch recipe with cod when we decide to do our own Friday night fish fry!

Oven-poached lemon butter cod on a plate with winter squash and potatoes

Tips & FAQs

Wondering about the difference between Atlantic and Pacific Cod? According to Pittman Seafood they are closely related fish that are generally interchangeable in cooking. They add that “Atlantics have a slightly sweet taste. They also have large flakes that fall apart easily when cooked, whereas Pacific cod has a milder, more savoury profile that’s accompanied by firmer, chunkier flakes.”

What is the poaching cooking method? According to Wikipedia, “poaching is a cooking technique that involves heating food submerged in a liquid, such as water, milk, stock or wine. Poaching is differentiated from the other “moist heat” cooking methods, such as simmering and boiling, in that it uses a relatively lower temperature (about 70–80 °C (158–176 °F))”. And as such the cooking time is usually extended.

While this recipe’s oven poaching may not meet the strictest definition of poaching, the liquid is generous and doesn’t come to boil, achieving both the low temperature and the high moisture requirements.

All in One! One Pot or One Pan Meals

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Oven-Poached Lemon Butter Cod

Oven-Poached Lemon Butter Cod

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

With a complex flavor that belies the simple ingredients and preparation Oven-Poached Lemon Butter Cod is a perfect addition to your dinner repertoire.


  • 6 5-ounce pieces of cod, about 2 lbs
  • 1/4 pound butter
  • 1 small or ½ large lemon
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • Optional: extra lemon slices for garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9 x 9 pan with nonstick spray then arrange cod pieces inside of it.
  2. Melt butter in a small saucepan (or microwave in a bowl) then squeeze in the lemon juice. Add the vermouth, chopped parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper to the butter mixture and mix until combined.
  3. Pour the butter mixture over the cod fillets
  4. Bake until the cod is opaque and flakes easily with a fork, approximately 15-20 minutes.
  5. Drizzle with butter to serve, and top with a lemon wedge if desired.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 328Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 124mgSodium: 418mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 35g

Nutrition data accuracy may vary with product selection, calculator accuracy, etc. Consult a professional for the best information.

17 thoughts on “Oven-Poached Lemon Butter Cod

  1. Radha

    This is a wonderful meal! There is tons of information in this post. This recipe is very simple and loaded with flavors!

  2. C. Harada

    I didn’t have any vermouth, as my hubby no longer drinks martinis. I used Riesling instead. Can I use whiskey, Scotch, or sake? What is the flavor difference?

    1. Inger Post author

      Riesling is an excellent choice as a vermouth substitute. If you’ve ever had sherry, vermouth is more like that than whiskey or brandy. Truthfully, I have vermouth just for cooking 🙂 since we don’t drink martinis (at least not the old fashioned kind) either. I hope you enjoyed!

    1. Inger Post author

      Yes, that’s correct–I’ll update the recipe. Thanks for letting me know. Hope you enjoy!

  3. Pam

    Made this last night. I added frozen peas in the baking dish. This was delicious! Served it with mashed potatoes.

    1. Inger Post author

      I didn’t even know I had it–except gradually I think I’ve acquired every form of alcohol 🙂 so I always check!

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