I love the crunchy exterior of fried fish, but try to stay away from deep-fried foods as much as possible. However, oven-baked fish filets are often not as crispy and can easily be overcooked. This recipe is different.
These cod filets are juicy and tender, with a beautiful golden brown crust. I’ve also added a little horseradish and a pinch of cayenne pepper to the egg mixture to give the cod an extra boost of flavor. If you’re making this recipe for kids, feel free to leave those out.
Best of all, no deep-fryer is needed.
Oven-fried fish filets are often crispy on all sides, except the bottom. The bottom is usually soggy from soaking up the fish juices and lack of air circulation. Cooking these fish filets on a wire rack ensures that each side is super-crispy.
If you don’t have a wire rack, pre-toasting the breadcrumbs will also help keep the bottom from becoming too soggy.
Pre-toasting the panko breadcrumbs guarantees that they will be golden-brown and crispy once the fish is fully cooked. If the breadcrumbs aren’t toasted beforehand, the fish would be grossly overcooked by the time the breadcrumbs turned golden-brown in color. It’s one of my favorite kitchen tricks to ensure that I always get a beautiful golden-brown crust.
Instead of toasting the breadcrumbs in the oven, I like to toast them in a dry skillet. This way, I can keep a close eye on them to make sure they reach the perfect color.
Just don’t take your eyes off the stove or they will burn quickly!
When choosing fish filets, try to find thick pieces. Filets that are thicker than one inch are less prone to drying out quickly in the oven, giving you a little more room for error. However, this recipe will also work for thinner pieces (like meat closer to the tail), just keep a meat thermometer handy and a close eye on the oven.
- 1 cup Italian-style panko breadcrumbs
- ⅓ cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour, divided
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 3 tsp prepared horseradish
- 3 tbsp light mayonnaise
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 skinless cod filets (about 1½ lbs)
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a wire rack onto a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
- Pour the panko breadcrumbs into a large skillet and toast over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Cook until the breadcrumbs are a light golden brown, then pour them into a large, shallow dish (pie plates work great). Set aside and allow the breadcrumbs to cool fully.
- Pour the ⅓ cup flour into a second shallow dish and set aside.
- Whisk together the eggs, remaining 2 tablespoons of flour, paprika, cayenne pepper, horseradish, and mayonnaise in a medium-sized bowl until no lumps remain. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside.
- Dredge the cod filets by gently dipping the filets in the flour, making sure both sides are evenly coated. Shake off the excess flour, then dip the filets into the egg mixture. Finally, dip the filets into the breadcrumbs and place them onto the wire rack.
- Bake the filets in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the fish is fully cooked and flaky. Serve the fish immediately.