Frozen cod filet with lemon rounds and herbs

Cooking Cod from Frozen: 3 Ways to Get Perfect Results

Cooking Cod from Frozen: 3 Ways to Get Perfect Results



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Try the Seafood Box today to get a taste of our delicious, wild-caught salmon, lobster, scallops, and cod.


Did you know you can cook cod fish directly from the freezer? It’s true—you can cook a warm, satisfying cod dinner without defrosting it first.

Cod is such a simple, nourishing fish, and it cooks up fast right out of the freezer. It also adapts well to pretty much any flavor profile. For us, these are all essentials on a hectic weeknight.

So, we’re sharing our favorite tips and a few simple tutorials that will show you how to cook cod from frozen. You’ll learn how you can use your oven, air fryer, or Instant Pot to create wholesome fish dinners straight from the freezer.

4 Tips for Cooking Frozen Cod

1. Don’t use thick cuts.

When cooking fish straight from the freezer, you’ll want to save the large cuts like whole sides of fish for proper thawing and cooking. There’s just too much room for error with those large cuts to cook them directly from the freezer, and you’ll risk uneven cooking throughout.

If you stick with cod fillets around six ounces and under one-inch thickness, you’re golden. (Your cod fillets will be, too, if you use the air fryer!)

2. No need to rinse frozen cod.

Some recipes may tell you to rinse your frozen cod before cooking it to get rid of ice crystals, but this step is unnecessary. If anything, it might leave your fish a bit waterlogged.

3. Use a flavorful sauce or even breading.

When cooking cod from frozen, you won’t want to skimp on the flavor. Try seasoning your frozen cod with our Herbs de Provence-based seasoning salt. Or, consider making a lemon and butter emulsion to drizzle over the top by including the two ingredients in the baking pan with the cod.

You can even bread frozen cod fillets—yes, really! Simply brush oil onto the cod, and then sprinkle on seasoned breadcrumbs. Alternatively, par-cook your cod fillets for about five minutes (essentially defrosting them), then crust them with your breadcrumb or preferred breading mixture and finish cooking.

4. Cook it to an internal temperature of 145˚F.

You’ll know your cod is done when it flakes easily when pressed with a fork, and the flesh is opaque white and no longer translucent. In terms of doneness, the official FDA recommendation is an internal temperature of 145˚F as measured by a food thermometer, which will be a very firm piece of fish.

cod fish and chips plate with tartar sauce and lemon wedges

How to Cook Cod from Frozen – 3 Basic Recipes

It’s 100 percent safe to cook cod straight from the freezer, so long as you cook it at adequately high temperatures that keep it from “the danger zone.” This is the temperature range of 40°F to 140°F, where bacteria grow most rapidly.

So, slow cooking frozen cod is out, but nearly every other cooking method is fair game. Just make sure to cook your cod thoroughly.

Ready to get started? Here are some quick tutorials for how to cook cod from frozen based on your cooking method: oven, air fryer, and Instant Pot.


There isn’t much to baking frozen cod; all you have to adjust is the cooking time. Whereas fresh cod might take 15 minutes, frozen will take around 20 to 25 minutes.

  1. Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Season your cod to your liking, or whip up a quick sauce.
  2. Place cod fillets (about 6 ounces each) in a baking dish. Add the sauce if using.
  3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cod is opaque white, flakes easily, and features a golden brown top.

Air Fryer

If you’d like to achieve crispy, golden brown cod straight from the freezer, the air fryer is your friend. Make sure to keep the cod fillets from touching, leaving space for ample heat circulation.

  1. Preheat the air fryer to 390˚F. Season your cod to your liking, or even create a simple breading.
  2. Place cod fillets (about 6 ounces each) in the basket of the air fryer. Take care not to overlap the fish fillets. Air fry them for 12 minutes, or more if needed.
  3. The cod will be ready when it is opaque white, flakes easily, and has a crispy golden brown exterior.

Instant Pot

The Instant Pot is such a handy tool for steaming fish; this is doubly true when that fish is frozen. You’ll have a flaky, warm fish dinner on the table in mere minutes with the Instant Pot.

  1. Place one cup of water in the bottom of the Instant Pot. Insert your steamer trivet.
  2. Season the frozen cod fillets (about 6 ounces each) to your liking. Place cod fillets on the trivet. You can also add a lemon slice and pat of butter to each fillet for flavor.
  3. Lock the Instant Pot lid and set the Instant Pot to pressure cook for 8 minutes (or less, depending on thickness).
  4. Do a quick release, and enjoy. The cod will be ready when it is opaque white, and flakes easily.

Make weeknight dinners a breeze with these super simple, straight-from-the-freezer cod tutorials. We hope they make life just a little bit easier.

How to Cook Frozen Cod FAQs

Want to know more? Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about cooking frozen cod.

How do you cook frozen cod?

This post taught you the basics of cooking frozen cod in an oven, air fryer, and Instant Pot, but there’s plenty of other cooking methods that work. You can also make blackened cod, pan-fry it (see instructions below), or grill it over medium-high heat for 5 to 10 minutes.

How do you cook frozen cod so it’s not rubbery?

Temperature is the key to making sure your frozen cod doesn’t turn out rubbery or chewy. No matter how you cook it, be sure that your cod reaches an internal temperature of 145˚F as measured by a food thermometer. At this temperature, its flesh will be opaque white and flake easily when pressed with a fork. Overcooking cod will make it tough and dry since more moisture evaporates from the fish as its internal temperature rises.

Should I defrost cod before cooking?

You don’t have to defrost cod before cooking it as long os the fillets are around six ounces and under one-inch thickness. Anything larger and you should consider defrosting your cod first or else you’ll risk uneven cooking throughout the cut.

How do you thaw frozen cod?

Before you start thawing frozen cod, make sure you remove the fish from the vacuum-sealed packaging and place it into a resealable plastic bag. That sounds like an annoying extra step, but thawing fish in its packaging presents a risk for botulism.

If you have the time, move the frozen fish in its new bag to the refrigerator to thaw. Depending on the size of your cod fillets, this method can take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. However, if you forgot to take your cod out the night before, you can thaw your frozen cod in its new bag in a bowl of very cold water. Check it every 30 minutes to see if it’s thawed and be sure to change out the water at that time, too.

Can you pan-fry frozen fish?

Yes! To pan-fry frozen fish, pour avocado oil into a cold sauté pan over medium heat. Once hot, add your fish fillet and cook approximately 4 minutes per side. Keep in mind that you’ll want to have enough oil in the sauté pan to cover the fillet one-third to one-half of the way with oil. For more details, check out this Cod Sticks with Simple Tartar Sauce recipe (skip the cutting step if you’d like to cook the fillet in its entirety.)

Is frozen cod good?

As long as it is stored properly, frozen cod can be a flavorful and convenient addition to your diet. In order to find the best quality of frozen fish, look for vacuum-sealed packaging like the one ButcherBox provides.

ButcherBox’s cod is sustainably harvested in the waters of the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea. The fish are pot caught, meaning they swim in pots until they’re brought on board the ship. The fishery that ButcherBox partners with is also managed under strict standards to maintain long-term sustainability, helping to ensure access to delicious, wild-caught seafood for generations to come.


Shop Seafood ⍈

Try the Seafood Box today to get a taste of our delicious, wild-caught salmon, lobster, scallops, and cod.


Courtney Hamilton is a writer and editor with over seven years' experience in journalism, blogging, communications, and other media. She has written for publications like PaleoHacks, PaleoPlan, The Center for American Progress, OC Weekly, and more. 
Check out more of her work at