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Cod Piccata is a lightened-up, pescatarian version of classic Italian piccata. Succulent fillets of seared cod paired with a buttery, lemony sauce and capers make this dish worthy of special occasions like dinner parties and date nights. But it’s quick and convenient enough for weeknights too – an easy recipe to keep in your rotation for a fresh, flavorful, crave-worthy meal any time.

Cod Piccata served on an oval platter photographed from the top.

Unlike most piccata recipes, this Cod Piccata is naturally gluten-free because it skips the flour coating and goes straight into the skillet after seasoning the cod fillets with salt and pepper. Then the luscious sauce provides the rest of the flavor!

Ingredients You Need to Make Cod Piccata

Cod Piccata Ingredients on a white marble board.
  • Cod Fillets: or other firm white fish fillet, like halibut or haddock
  • Olive Oil: extra-virgin olive oil
  • Butter: salted or unsalted butter
  • White Wine: or chicken broth
  • Lemon Juice: fresh lemon juice 
  • Capers: ideally non-pareil capers
  • Fresh Parsley: flat leaf parsley (Italian parsley)
  • Lemon: fresh lemon slices for serving (optional)
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper


What is piccata?

Piccata is an Italian dish that includes meat that is pounded flat (veal is most common in Italy) before being coated in flour and seared, then bathed in a tangy, buttery sauce. Capers are another key ingredient in most piccata recipes to add vibrant pops of salt and acidity.

What is piccata sauce made of?

Piccata sauce is typically made with butter, lemon juice, white wine or chicken broth, and capers. It’s a light and flavorful sauce that adds richness and bright flavor to the dish.

How is cod supposed to be cooked?

Cod is best cooked over medium-high heat in a skillet in a sizzling combination of oil and butter. It should be seared until it’s golden brown and flakes easily with a fork. It can also be baked as in this Parmesan Baked Cod recipe.

What does cod pair well with?

Cod is a very mild fish and pairs well with a variety of flavors, such as lemon, capers, herbs, and vegetables. It’s also delicious with tomato based sauces and is often served with pasta or rice.

How long should cod be cooked in a skillet?

Cod should be seared in a skillet for a total of 4-5 minutes per side, until it’s golden brown and flakes easily with a fork. 

Cod PIccata close up shot from overhead.

Key Step

In this recipe, to avoid overcooking while achieving a golden-brown sear, the cod fillets are seared in a skillet until nearly done (but not cooked all the way through), then removed from the pan. You’ll make the sauce in the same skillet before returning the cod to finish cooking before spooning the sauce over the top and serving, garnished with fresh parsley and lemon slices (if desired).

Cod Piccata served on a platter with a spoonful of sauce.

More Flavorful Fish & Seafood Recipes:

More Must-Try Versions of Piccata

How to Make Cod Piccata

Sear cod fillets until golden brown in a combination of sizzling oil and butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, about 2 minutes per side; transfer to a clean plate. 

To the same skillet, add wine, lemon juice, and capers; boil until slightly reduced then stir in the remaining butter. Return the cod fillets to the skillet to reheat and finish cooking. Then transfer fillets to a serving platter, spoon sauce over the top and garnish with lemon slices and parsley as desired before serving. 

Cod Piccata

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Calories: 338
Servings: 4 people
Pan seared cod fillets in a lemon butter caper sauce are a cod lovers twist on classic piccata!


  • 4 6-ounce cod fillets
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter divided
  • 1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup capers drained and rinsed
  • fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish, optional
  • 1 small lemon thinly sliced for garnish, optional


  • Pat cod fillets very dry and season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat avocado oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until hot and sizzling. Add cod fillets in a single layer and cook, undisturbed, until golden brown on one side, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and, with a thin spatula, flip each cod fillet and cook 2 to 3 minutes more until nearly done (they'll continue to cook on the plate and be returned to the pan for 1-2 minutes, so take care not to overcook). Transfer cod fillets to clean plate.
  • Add white wine, lemon juice, and capers to skillet and bring to boil; continue boiling until reduced slightly, 1-2 minutes. Add remaining 3 tablespoons butter and stir to melt. Return cod fillets to skillet and spoon sauce over until coated and heated through, 1-2 minutes more (or until cod is cooked to your liking). Remove from heat and transfer cod fillets and sauce to platter. Garnish with parsley and lemon slices if desired and serve.


Calories: 338kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.5g | Cholesterol: 103mg | Sodium: 487mg | Potassium: 777mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 439IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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  1. Pauline says:

    5 stars
    I love all the extra capers and lemon in your recipe and the sauce looks divine. I would this at any restaurant.

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      That’s such a kind compliment, Pauline. Thank you!