I have cod and every recipe that I can find says to use lemon juice, but I personally hate lemons. What can I cook the cod with, other than lemons? I don't want it to be dry and I want to bake the cod.

  • 1
    I know you said you want to bake it, but Cod poaches nicely, which should keep it from drying out. I use the lemons just to keep it elevated a bit to prevent overcooking on the bottom. For that role, oranges or limes would do just as well. Maybe even some halved leeks or cherry tomatoes for something totally different. Poaching is a healthy way to cook, too. Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 3:38
  • I am not familiar with poaching, is anything special needed for that? Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 12:05
  • Nope! It's especially easy to do if you have an electric skillet, but I just use a traditional 12" skillet on medium-low heat. Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 13:00
  • Lemon used at the beginning of a recipe helps reduce how flaky fish can get. It's not required as answers have indicated, but it does have a slight difference in outcome beyond just flavor.
    – Escoce
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 15:38

3 Answers 3


Lemon is used as a flavoring, not as a cooking liquid, it's not going to keep the fish moist. The secret of having moist fish is the same as having moist beef, chicken or any meat or poultry: don't overcook it. Cooking releases moisture from the flesh, so cooking it well is all about timing - getting it cooked enough to have the internal temperature and consistency you want and no more as every extra second means more moisture lost. Fish is especially sensitive to timing, but with a bit of practice anyone can cook fish well.

Fish, meat or poultry will have a juicy mouth feel when there is enough moisture stored in the flesh after cooking. Overcooked fish in a pool of sauce will still have a dry mouth feel, whereas perfectly cooked fish with no sauce at all will have a moist mouth feel.

As for what to cook cod with as a replacement for lemon the answer is nothing. Fish has enough moisture to begin with, and when baking you don't need to assist heat transfer. Lemon is simply a flavoring, so replace it with flavoring you like. This could be browned butter (or just a bit of butter) if you want richness, or herbs if you like, or you could just season it with salt and pepper.

If you want to get more fancy you could seal it up in parchment paper or foil (oil the foil so it doesn't stick) with a tiny bit of water or butter and some herbs and bake it that way, it seals in the moisture and creates a sauce - delicious!

  • Thank you, I think I will try the wax paper idea you suggested, I really like that! Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 12:07
  • Do you mean wax paper or parchment paper? I did not think that wax paper could be used in the oven because the wax will melt and affect the food being cooked.
    – ElmerCat
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 15:05
  • Good point @ElmerCat, I mean parchment paper. I'll edit accordingly
    – GdD
    Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 15:09
  • +1: Do nothing is always a possibility! (Not only in cooking!) ;-)
    – Fabby
    Commented Apr 16, 2016 at 13:02
  • Are you sure it is irrelevant texture wise - I know nothing about fish cuisine, but do not most foods cook differently when acid is added? Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 15:55

You could bake it in an orange sauce with orange juice, thyme and orange zest

  • 1⁄2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1⁄2 tablespoon dried thyme or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • chopped 1⁄2 tablespoon orange zest

There's certainly no requirement to use lemons if you don't care for them or simply don't have any. Here's a batch of cod that I just baked tonight:

enter image description here

Placed on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, drizzled with some olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder and Old Bay seasoning — but use what ever appeals to you.

Bake in a moderate oven (385F) for about ten minutes, until the thickest part of the fish flakes apart easily like you can see in the picture. Don't overcook the cod and it won't get dried out.

Baking on parchment paper also makes cleanup very easy!

  • Does fish stick to parchment paper? Or does it come off easily? Commented Apr 13, 2016 at 12:08

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