Make restaurant-quality, tender, flaky air fryer cod in just 15 minutes with just a handful of ingredients. A delicious, nutritious, versatile, low-effort, low-carb protein for busy weeknights!
Who doesn’t love a fuss-free, quick protein they can throw on the table in under 15 minutes? I’ve already shared recipes for air fryer salmon and chicken thighs, but now it’s the turn of this versatile white fish.
This method requires practically no effort and a handful of ingredients. The air-fried cod will pair with practically any carb and veggies for a fuss-free meal.
Just season the cod fillets and add some butter and lemon slices. Then air fry it until tender and flaky in the middle with lightly crispy edges. It’s fresh, delicate, light, buttery, and delicious.
It also contains just a fraction of the calories and fat of fried fish and is even child approved since it’s such a mild fish.
You can even cook air fryer cod from frozen. Plus, this method even works for other white fish (!), and takes just a fraction of the time it would when baking them.
And if you’re just making a couple of fillets, you could use the other half of the air fryer basket for cooking veggies (like asparagus or zucchini fries) simultaneously for a simple “one pot” meal.
Ingredients for Air Fryer Cod
- Cod: You can use cod loin or cod filet (the latter is leaner and more budget-friendly). If possible, ensure the cod fish fillets are a similar size, especially thickness, to cook evenly. It’s best to cook fish with the skin on to hold it together (you can remove it before eating if preferred).
This method will also work with most other types of white fish when using similar-sized fillets. I.e., haddock, flounder, sole, tilapia, snapper, bass, etc.
- Butter: I recommend using unsalted butter, but salted will work (reduce the salt to season). Cooking oil like avocado oil or olive oil will work, too.
- Lemon slices: This will add a bright and citrusy flavor to this recipe.
- Seasoning: I use a simple combination of cumin, smoked paprika, salt, and black pepper. But feel free to experiment with other spices, like garlic powder, onion powder, or cayenne pepper. You can also use seasoning blends like Old Bay seasoning, Cajun, and taco seasoning.
You could also garnish the air fryer cod fish with fresh herbs, like parsley or dill.
Can I Use Frozen Cod Fillets?
Yes, you can air fry cod from frozen or allow it to thaw first (instructions in the recipe card notes below).
How to Thaw Frozen Cod
There are a couple of ways you can thaw frozen cod.
If you have time, transfer the pieces of fish to your fridge. Depending on their size, it can take between 12-24 hours to thaw them this way.
If you’re running short on time, prepare a large bowl of cold water. Transfer the frozen filets into a waterproof Ziplock bag. Remove the excess air and submerge it in the water for about 25-30 minutes.
It’s technically possible to use warm water and thaw them for just around 15 minutes. But warm water can lead to texture changes, uneven cooking, and may even create a food safety hazard.
Dry them with a paper towel to remove excess liquid from the fish before seasoning them.
How to Cook Cod in Air Fryer
Cooking cod in an air fryer is quick, simplecally foolproof in a handful of steps.
First, use paper towels to pat the cod fillets dry. If it’s one large cod piece, first cut it down into even-sized fillets. It’s also best to allow them to come to room temperature for 15 minutes, though not vital.
Next, how to season cod fish. I love using a mini sieve/tea strainer to evenly disperse the spices (paprika and cumin) over the fish. But you can use your fingers, too.
Then, divide the butter into four small pieces and place one on top of each fillet. Place a lemon slice directly over that.
Spray the air fryer basket with a little cooking oil to avoid sticking. Then place the fillets in the air fryer basket in a single layer, leaving space in between.
It’s important not to overcrowd the air fryer basket; otherwise, the fish may cook unevenly.
Air fry the cod for 10 minutes at 400ºF/200ºC for medium-thick fillets (about an inch thick).
Increase or decrease that by 1-2 minutes based on their size. It’s best to first check on them at 8 minutes, and there’s no need to flip them over at any point.
Then, season with salt and pepper (and optionally more lemon juice), and enjoy!
How Do You Know When Cod Is Cooked?
The most accurate way to ensure cod is safely cooked is to use a thermometer and ensure the internal temperature is between 140-145ºF/60-62.7ºC.
If you don’t have a thermometer, press a finger or fork at an angle into a fillet. It should feel firm and, if pressed harder, easily separate into tender white flakes.
What to Serve with Cod
This air fryer cod recipe is a wonderfully versatile protein to make up any meal when paired with sauce (like tartar sauce), carbs, and veggies:
- Grains: Brown rice, quinoa, couscous, bulgur wheat, vegetable pilaf, etc. OR low-carb cauliflower rice.
- Pasta: Garlic lemon pasta, garlic olive oil pasta, pesto pasta, pasta salads, etc.
- Potatoes: Roasted, mashed, etc. Most potato dishes pair with air fried cod.
- Salad: Either alongside a simple salad or flaked up into one. Coleslaw pairs well, too.
You can also use the leftover cod in salads, sandwiches, fish tacos, wraps, etc.
More Seafood/Fish Recipes
- The Best Air Fryer Shrimp (So Quick!)
- Honey Glazed Salmon Recipe
- Lox Bagel
- How to Cook Salted Cod
- Tuna Salad Sandwich
- Coconut Shrimp
- Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass Recipe
If you try this recipe for air fryer cod, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!
Easy Air Fryer Cod
- 16 oz cod 4 fillets; similar thickness is advised
- 1 lemon small
- 2 tablespoon butter unsalted works best, but salted will be fine
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder optional, or use your favorite spices/spice blend: garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, or seasoning blends like Old Bay, Cajun, and taco seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste, optional
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper or to taste, optional
- Food Thermometer optional
- Use paper towels to pat the cod fillets dry. If it's one large cod piece, first cut it down into even-sized fillets. It's also best to allow them to come to room temperature for 15 minutes, though not vital.
- Season the fish. I love using a mini sieve/tea strainer to evenly disperse the spices (paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper) over the fish, but you can use your fingers, too.
- Divide the butter into four small pieces, place one on top of each fillet, and place a lemon slice directly over that.
- Spray the air fryer basket with a little cooking oil to avoid sticking, then place the fillets in the basket in a single layer, leaving space in between.It's important not to overcrowd the air fryer basket; otherwise, the fish may cook unevenly.
- Air fry the cod for 10 minutes at 400ºF/200ºC for medium-thick fillets (about an inch thick). Increase or decrease that by 1-2 minutes based on their size. It’s best to first check on them at 8 minutes, and there's no need to flip them over at any point.How to know when it's cooked? The most accurate way to ensure the cod is safely cooked is to use a thermometer and ensure the internal temperature is between 140-145ºF/60-62.7ºC. If you don't have a thermometer, press a finger or fork at an angle into a fillet. It should feel firm and, if pressed harder, easily separate into tender white flakes.
- Season with salt and pepper (optional) and enjoy!
- This method will also work with most other types of white fish when using similar-sized fillets. I.e., haddock, flounder, sole, tilapia, snapper, bass, etc.
- Optionally, you could also garnish the fish with fresh herbs, like parsley or dill.
- Remove any excess ice from the fillets and pat them dry.
- Place the fish in the air fryer basket for 4-6 minutes at 350ºF/175ºC, until thawed.
- Then, remove it from the air fryer, increase the heat to 400ºF/200ºC, and continue with the recipe as if using fresh fish.
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