Our simple skillet white fish with garlic butter recipe is like a restaurant quality dish without all the fuss. It’s not complicated to make this pan fried cod. Whether you use cod or any type of white fish, the results are always a tender. This moist and saucy fish recipe that’s worthy of serving to even your most discerning guests.

spooning sauce over skillet white fish

Simple Skillet White Fish Recipe

Don’t be intimidated to cook with white fish. Quality white fish is really quick to cook. All you need is a little patience, a simple sauce like our garlic butter sauce and a good pan. From there, the possibilities are endless when it comes to cooking all types of fish and seafood. The flavors and texture of the fish is so good and truly restaurant quality. All you need to do is to add a nice glass of wine with the skillet white fish and you’re set for an amazing dinner at home.

forked fish on plate for skillet white fish or pan fried cod

Video: Skillet White Fish Recipe with Garlic Butter

Best Pan for Searing or Pan Frying Fish?

We really like a high quality, safe and non-toxic non-stick pan or skillet. There’s plenty of options out there to choose from. These quality non-stick pans will make it easier to cook the white fish, without tearing it when you turn the fish. That’s the most frustrating part: trying to cook delicate white fish without tearing it all up. Here’s some of our favorite quality pans for searing or pan frying fish:

What Types of White Fish to Cook?

There’s definitely different types of white fish. You can use what ever you like and what fits your budget. Here’s a great guide on how to cook different types of fish.

  • Cod, halibut and swordfish are nice with thick fillets
  • striped bass
  • haddock
  • Quality tilapia
  • Mahi-mahi

Tips on Pan Searing White Fish with Garlic Butter

  • We love using fresh chopped garlic for a bright garlic flavor. But if you don’t have fresh garlic, you can replace it with garlic powder. Just know that the powder form is a little stronger, so start with half the amount and add more if needed.
  • Use a good quality olive oil and butter. We also like to use a high flash point healthy oil like grape seed oil.
  • What vegetables to cook together with skillet white fish? Use quick cooking vegetables like asparagus, zucchini, snow peas or thin slivers of cabbage.
  • Make it spicy: hot sauce with the garlic butter is super delicious. So add whatever hot sauces you like. Make an Asian inspired pan seared cod recipe by adding homemade chili crisp. It’s a great recipe!
  • Like we mentioned above, use a quality non-stick pan to keep the fish from sticking. This is super helpful to cook with a great pan and avoid the frustration of a broken up fish fillet.
  • All skillet white fish recipe details are in the recipe box below.
spooning sauce over skillet white fish

Skillet Garlic Butter White Fish

This recipe can be used for just about any white fish fillet you want to cook up. Cooking time will vary depending on fillet thickness and if you use a different type of fish.
Our favorite white fish for this recipe is cod, halibut, quality tilapia, and haddock. You can even use salmon, sole, or other fish fillets if you prefer.
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  • 12 ounces (340 g) (two 6-ounces filets) white fish or cod fillets , skinless
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt , or to personal taste
  • Fresh cracked black pepper , to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) butter
  • 3 large cloves garlic , minced (about 2 Tablespoons)
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) minced parsley
  • Lemon slices , optional for serving


  • Rinse and pat dry fish fillets. Season both sides of fish fillets with salt and pepper. Set aside.
    seasoning fish fillets
  • Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and when heated, add the filets to the skillet, skinned side down. Press down on each fillet with a spatula so that the bottom side makes good contact with the pan (this will help get a better crust and less sticking). Reduce the heat to medium and cook the fillets without moving them for about 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.
    pressing down on fish fillets
  • Flip the fillets and add the butter to the pan. If cooking thicker fillets, cover the pan with a lid to help the fish cook through.
    butter added to pan of fish
  • Basting the fillets occasional with the butter in the pan, continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes (covered if fillets are thick), or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Internal temperature of the fish should be 145°F/63°C. Remove the fish from the pan and set aside.
    basting fish fillets with melted butter
  • Add the garlic and parsley to the pan and cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the garlic is cooked to your preference.
    making garlic butter sauce
  • Return the cooked fish to the pan. Spoon the garlic butter sauce over the fish and serve with optional lemon slices.
    basting fish fillets


YouTube video

Nutrition Information per Serving

Calories: 396kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 35g, Fat: 28g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 14g, Trans Fat: 0.5g, Cholesterol: 115mg, Sodium: 763mg, Potassium: 558mg, Fiber: 0.2g, Sugar: 0.1g, Vitamin A: 687IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 35mg, Iron: 1mg

Can you Freeze leftovers?

Sure, that’s if you have leftovers. But why have leftovers? This is so good to eat fresh. Store any leftovers in the fridge and try to eat it the following day. But if you do need to freeze it, then make sure it thaws completely before you re-heat it. Freeze the fillets in air tight containers or bags.

Can you use frozen fish fillets?

Sure you can. We know it’s not easy to get fresh fillets of fish and frozen fillets are just as good. These are usually flash frozen as soon as they’ve been processed, so they’re still high quality fish. Just make sure the fish fillets are thawed completely and release all the moisture. Add some paper towels between the fillets to help draw out all the moisture and excess water. Hope you enjoy our pan fried cod or skillet white fish recipe!

plate of skillet white fish

Other Sauces to Use

You don’t have to be limited to just the garlic butter sauce for our pan fried cod recipe. Add your favorite other sauces. These extra drizzles of flavorful sauce can add wonderful layers of flavor beyond the simple garlic butter. Try our homemade sauce recipes: