Learn how to make air fryer cod with this easy recipe using lemon and simple spices for a tender, delicate and delicious cod fish dinner in under 20 minutes.
Cod (or any fish for that matter) in the air fryer isn’t something I would’ve thought would work nearly as well as it does.
All things that I thought would get nice and crispy.
Air fried cauliflower gnocchi were a fun surprise but honestly, this air fryer cod recipe is the one that shocked me the most in its success.
Since I wasn’t attempting to make cod crispy with this kind of recipe, I really wasn’t sure how the air fryer would do in cooking the fish.
Spoiler alert: it blew my expectations out of the water just like it did with air fryer scallops.
Who knew seafood could be such a success in an air fryer?!
One of the first things I made in the air fryer was a rotisserie chicken (for Thanksgiving actually) since mine has the rotating rotisserie attachment.
And while it came out amazingly (honestly, the best tasting homemade chicken I’ve ever cooked), the smell and heat wafted heavily throughout the house from the back vent.
So much so, smoke alarms were going off constantly and I had to open all windows and doors on a 30 something degree day.
So when attempting to make fish in the air fryer, first with my air fryer fish stick recipe and now with this simple cod recipe, I was definitely nervous a similar situation was going to happen.
Except this time, with the stench of fish instead of chicken.
Not quite as welcoming of a smell.
The good news is, that didn’t happen. The shorter cooking time and the lemon and spices used in this cod recipe helped quite a bit.
I also smartened up and now set my air fryer on my stove top and turn the vent hood on above it while cooking.
It’s a pretty good way to avoid fumes, excessive smoke and smoke alarms!
So let’s discuss this ridiculously easy air fryer cod recipe. Here’s the rundown:
How long does cod take to air fry?
It’s a 20 minute meal including prep time. If you want an even quicker cod recipe try this simple blackened cod.
How many ingredients are needed?
There’s 7 total ingredients and that includes salt and pepper.
What does cod in the air fryer taste like?
It results in the most perfect buttery, tender cooked flaky cod you’ve ever eaten. All those things basically mean one more recipe in the win column for the air fryer. And, let’s be honest, more justification for keeping it around and letting it take up precious kitchen space.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED TO MAKE AIR FRYER COD FISH
- 1/2 pound cod filets or cod loin (2 pieces)
- garlic powder
- butter or plant-based butter alternative
- lemon slices
For serving, it’s nice to have some freshly chopped parsley on hand and some cooked rice with an easy vegetable like these sautéed green beans.
This recipe serves two but can easily be scaled up to accommodate a family of four or larger. Just buy more fish and adjust the spices accordingly!
HOW TO MAKE TENDER FLAKY COD IN THE AIR FRYER
First, combine all the spices on a small plate. Season the cod by placing each piece into the spice mixture on the plate and coating the top and bottom of the fish.
Spread a small pat of butter or butter alternative on top of each piece of fish. I use a vegan plant-based butter and it works like a charm.
It helps if the butter is room temperature and you can sort of spread/smear the pat out more evenly on top of the fish.
Place a lemon slice on top of each piece of cod and transfer to the air fryer.
For my air fryer which is the oven type, I place the cod on the trays in the air fryer. If you have a basket model air fryer, place the cod into the basket.
Air fry at 400°F for 12-15 minutes depending on the thickness of your piece of fish.
It’s done when cooked through but still very moist and tender. The fish should flake apart easily as shown below.
It will almost be falling apart in sections as you remove it from the air fryer if cooked for the appropriate amount of time.
WHAT TEMPERATURE SHOULD COD BE COOKED TO?
If you’d prefer to cook the cod in the air fryer to a certain temperature rather than rely on a cooking time, cod should be cooked until an internal temperature of about 145°F.
You can check this with a quick read cooking thermometer like this one.
From oil sprays to muffin cups and from pizza pans to racks, we've got them all, and they make fantastic Christmas presents, too!
CAN I AIR FRY FROZEN COD?
If your cod is frozen instead of fresh you have two options.
If the fish is packaged in plastic and vacuum sealed you can quick thaw it by placing in a bowl filled with room temperature water for 10-15 minutes.
The fish will thaw naturally that way much quicker than leaving at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
However, if preferred, you can cook frozen cod in the air fryer but you’ll use the air fryer to thaw the cod first.
Turn the air fryer on to 350°F and place the frozen cod on the trays (or in the basket) for about 3-4 minutes. This will thaw the cod enough to continue with the recipe as stated. This is exactly the same method for making frozen salmon in the air fryer.
COD FILET VS. COD LOIN
My local fish store always has both cuts of cod on hand. If yours does too or if you’re wondering what the difference is, it’s quite simple.
Obviously, it’s all from the same fish: cod.
The only difference is in the cut and where it comes from on the fish.
Cod loin is cut from more of the center where the fish is fatter.
Therefore when you see cod loin, it’s often shorter and thicker than a filet. It’s the preferred cut as it tends to be more succulent and tender in nature.
Some even refer to the loin cut as the “filet mignon” of a fish.
It’s also usually about $1 more a pound or so when it comes to cod because of that.
Cod loin is my preference when cooking with it, especially in the air fryer. It’s also what I use in my rosemary cornmeal beer battered fish for that thick cut fish and chips type of look.
That said, cod filets will work just as well with this recipe and if you’re making cod piccata, they’re the better choice.
Note, however, the cooking time will be a little shorter with a cod filet than with cod loin. Details on that are in the recipe card below in the notes section.
I think fish dinners often get labeled as “complicated” or thought of as something that isn’t necessarily synonymous with weeknight dinners.
This easy cod recipe is here to prove that kind of thinking wrong. Air fryer salmon bites are another recipe that does the same.
With just 7 ingredients, one of the cheapest and most ubiquitous types of fish (not to mention, an easy one to find wild and sustainably sourced!) is transformed into an amazingly delicious meal.
It’s simple, it’s quick and one more reason to pull out the air fryer!
MORE SEAFOOD DINNER IDEAS
Air Fryer Cod
- 1/2 pound cod, cut into two pieces (*filet or loin, see note below)
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- Kosher salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 2 small pats of butter or plant-based butter alternative
- 2 slices of lemon
- fresh parsley for garnish
- Pat the cod dry then season with garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper.
- Add a small pat of butter or butter alternative on top of each piece of cod.
- Place the lemon slices on top of each piece of cod then set in the air fryer trays or basket depending on model.
- Air fry at 400°F for 15 minutes for cod loin or 12 minutes for thinner cod filets until fish is cooked through yet tender and flaky.
- Serve immediately with fresh parsley for garnish.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.