Kalyn's Kitchen

Grilled Cod with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon

This recipe for Grilled Cod with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon uses an easy and delicious fish marinade that’s good on any type of firm white fish.

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Grilled Cod with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon on serving plate with cucumber salad

Recently I shared the recipe for Kalyn’s Lake Powell Fish Marinade, and you can’t go wrong with that recipe for grilled fish. But this delicious recipe for Grilled Cod with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon uses another tasty fish marinade I often served when I was catering houseboat trips. Back in the Lake Powell days I made this grilled fish recipe most often with halibut, but now a small package of frozen halibut is $40 at Costco, which seems like a lot for most food budgets.

And right next to the halibut I found Wild Alaskan Pacific Cod, which was much less expensive and absolutely lip-smacking good in this recipe! The grilled cod in the photos is served with easy Cucumber Caesar for a perfect summer dinner. I do realize that grilled fish can be tricky to cook, and Cod is a bit more delicate than halibut, so I encourage you to pay attention to my tips to prevent the fish from sticking when you try this recipe. 

The idea of garlic and basil with fish may seem unusual, but please trust me on this. Normally I love fresh basil, but for a marinade I prefer dried herbs, and I’ve made this fish marinade many, many times with dried basil with great results.  And be sure not to marinate the fish too long, or the lemon juice will start to “cook” the fish. Below you will also find suggestions for more types of fish you can use for this garlic-basil marinade.

What ingredients do you need for this recipe?

What other kinds of fish are good for this recipe:

You can also make this recipe with any firm white fish, especially Halibut, Mahi Mahi, Swordfish, or Tuna.

How can you prevent grilled fish from sticking?

  1. Be sure your grill grates are completely clean.
  2. Before you heat the grill, spray grill grates well with a non-stick spray like Pam for Grilling (affiliate link) or rub with a high smoke-point oil.
  3. After you drain the marinated fish, let fish come to room temperature and brush the side that’s going on the grill first with olive oil (or any oil you prefer.)
  4. Preheat the grill to high, then immediately turn to medium-high when you put fish on the grill.
  5. Brush the second side with oil after you put fish on the grill.
  6. Be gentle and careful when you’re rotating and turning the fish; use a Fish Spatula (affiliate link) if you have one. 

Can you cook this without an outdoor grill?

If you don’t have an outdoor grill (or it’s not grilling weather), grilled fish like this can easily be cooked on a stove-top grill pan with ridges (affiliate link) or a George Foreman Grill (affiliate link) with good results. Remember that the George Foreman Grill cooks both sides at once so grilling time will be a lot shorter!

Grilled Cod with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon process shots collage

How to Make Grilled Cod with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon:

(Scroll down for complete recipe with nutritional information.)

  1. Thaw frozen cod overnight in the refrigerator and drain in a colander.
  2. Combine ingredients to make the marinade.
  3. Put the fish in a Ziploc bag with the marinade and marinate in the fridge for about 2 hours (not longer).
  4. When you’re ready to cook, take fish out of the fridge, drain off the marinade, and let it come to room temperature while you preheat the grill, which you have generously oiled or sprayed with non-stick spray made for the grill. I start heating on high and then turn the grill down to medium-high when I put the fish on. 
  5. Brush the top side of the fish well with olive oil or a high smoke-point oil. 
  6. Put fish on the grill with oiled side down, and cook without moving about 3 minutes. Then g-e-n-t-l-y lift the edge to see if you have grill marks. 
  7. Use a Fish Spatula (affiliate link) to slide under the fish if it’s sticking a bit.
  8. When you have grill marks, rotate fish so it’s going the opposite angle on the first side and cook about 2-3 minutes longer.
  9. Brush the top side of the fish with oil before you turn it over, and turn gently.
  10. Cook about 3 minutes more on the second side. Cod only needs to be cooked to 130F/54C to be done, so if you have one I’d use an Instant Read Meat Thermometer (affiliate link) to check the temperature. Cod is tough when it’s overcooked, so watch it carefully and check often.
  11. Serve hot for a perfect summer meal!

Grilled Cod with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon on serving plate with cucumber salad

 

Make it a Low-Carb Meal:

The grilled cod in the photos is served with easy Cucumber Caesar. For a delicious low-carb meal, this cod would also be delicious with something like Air Fryer Asian Green Beans or a perfect summer tomato salad.

More Good Ideas for Fish for the Grill:

Grilled Halibut with Cumin and Lime 
Grilled Salmon Burgers with Caper Mayonnaise
Grilled Mahi Mahi with Korean Dipping Sauce 

Grilled Cod with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon on serving plate with cucumber salad

Grilled Cod with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon

Yield 4 servings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 25 minutes

Grilled Cod with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon is a perfect main dish for summer, and this recipe is really delicious.

Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 4 pieces cod or other firm white fish

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 6 T olive oil plus a bit more for brushing fish
  • 2 T fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse ground black pepper ( or less, to taste)
  • 1 tsp. Spike Seasoning (see notes)
  • 1 T garlic puree or minced garlic (see notes)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried basil

Instructions

  1. Thaw the fish completely in refrigerator if frozen. Drain the fish well in a colander placed in the sink.
  2. Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, black pepper, Spike Seasoning (affiliate link) or other all-purpose seasoning blend, garlic puree, and dried basil.
  3. Put fish in Zip-loc bag or plastic container with a snap-tight lid, arranging it in a single layer.
  4. Pour marinade over and marinate in refrigerator for about 2 hours. Turn it over a few times if you’re home. Don’t marinate it much longer than this or the marinade will start to “cook” the fish.
  5. When you’re ready to cook, take the fish out of the fridge, drain off the marinade, and let fish come to room temperature.
  6. Oil the grill grates generously with oil poured on to a paper towel, or use a non-stick spray made for the grill. Then turn grill on to high and preheat.
  7. Brush the top side of the fish well with olive oil or a high smoke-point oil. 
  8. Turn the grill to medium-high when you are ready to put the fish on (or for a charcoal grill, you can only hold your hand there for a few seconds when it’s hot enough to cook fish.)
  9. To get grill marks, lay the fish diagonally across grill grates; after 3 minutes gently lift the edge to see if the grill marks are dark enough. You may need to use a Fish Spatula (affiliate link) to slide under the fish if it doesn't lift easily.
  10. After first grill marks appear rotate fish so it’s laying diagonally the other way. Wait for the second set of grill marks, and then brush the top side with oil before you turn it over.
  11. Very gently and carefully turn fish over to cook about 3 minutes the other side. Cod only needs to be cooked to 130F/54C to be done, so if you have one I'd use an Instant Read Meat Thermometer (affiliate link) to check the temperature.
  1. Cod is tough when it's overcooked, so watch it carefully and check often. Don't overcook! Serve hot.

Notes

If you don't have Spike Seasoning (affiliate link) use any all-purpose seasoning blend. I use garlic puree or minced that comes in a jar; you can substitute slightly less garlic powder but I think the garlic puree from a jar gives better flavor.

Remember that when you're using ingredients in a marinade, you're not eating all of that in the finished dish. I'm assuming only about one-fourth of the oil will be eaten, so I adjusted that in the nutritional information.

I made this recipe for years at Lake Powell but I don’t remember if I created it or saw the recipe somewhere; if anyone recognizes it please let me know so I can give proper credit.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 256Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1.3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6.5gCholesterol: 99mgSodium: 521mgCarbohydrates: 1.8gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 41g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.

If you make this recipe I'd love to hear how it turns out. Leave a star rating or share on social media with the hashtag #KALYNSKITCHEN, thanks!

Grilled Cod with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon square image of fish on serving plate with cucumber salad

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet  Suggestions:
This Grilled Cod with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon is a great recipe for any phase of the original South Beach Diet, or any other type of low-carb eating plan.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Grilling Recipes for more ideas like this one. Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Historical Notes for this Recipe:
This recipe was first posted in 2011, using Halibut for the fish. After I discovered beautiful cod fillets at Costco the recipe was updated with new photos and more information about cooking fish on the grill in 2021.

Grilled Cod with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon Pinterest image

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    21 Comments on “Grilled Cod with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon”

  1. Pingback: Grilled Swordfish with Mango Salsa - Recipe Girl

  2. Outstanding! made this recipe using halibut.
    Wonderful flavor.

  3. I think that would be better; hope it works.

  4. Hmm. My other option is to make up the marinade tonight then toss the fish in as soon as I get home tomorrow. Cook everything else and the fish last. This would let it marinade maybe 30-45 minutes. Better than nothing!

    Thanks for the help!!

  5. Truthfully I have no idea how that will work since I haven't tried it that way, but I doubt if the flavor will be as good without the marinating as usual.

  6. If I won't have time to marinate for only 2-3 hours, can I leave the lemon juice out until before cooking if I need to marinate overnight? I'm assuming it's the acid in the lemon juice that will "cook" the fish?

    I'm prepping a bunch of stuff tonight to cook after work tomorrow and would really like to use this marinade on some haddock I have.

  7. I am amazed that in all this time no one has asked about the accompanying side salad in a very light sauce! I have looked everywhere trying to find it. Can you help? Thank you!

    • There's no actual recipe needed for this simple salad. It's just my favorite summer combination of cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and olives, lightly dressed with vinaigrette dressing and lots of fresh-ground black pepper. I like Le Parisien Vinaigrette, but if you can't find that Paul Newman's Olive Oil and Vinegar dressing is another good one.

  8. Jeanette, I agree, this is such an easy way to make fish moist and flavorful.

  9. Kalyn,
    What a nice light marinade for fish, whatever is available. I used to be intimated by cooking fish, but it is so easy.

  10. And I noticed in my comment I wrote "I assume you" instead of "I assure you" so we are all typing too fast! I can't figure out why the herbs would turn brown, but I do always put them in some kind of plastic container with a snap-right lid or in a Ziploc bag.

    Did you puree the basil with olive oil like I described in this post about How to Freeze Fresh Basil? That should have kept it from turning brown.

  11. Hi Kalyn!

    Thanks for the comment. I actually meant I put them in the freezer in tupperwares. A friend said maybe if I had put them in ziploc bags sucking the air out they wouldn't have browned. Do you think this is the problem? it's sooo sad because it took me ages to grow my herbs 🙁

  12. Thanks. I don't think I've ever had haddock; never see it for sale here.

  13. Your fish looks perfectly cooked! I don't think garlic and basil sound unusual at all! In fact, I frequent that combination with haddock and it is definitely delicious! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  14. You should be putting them in the freezer, not in the fridge. I assume you, if you follow directions and put the herbs in the freezer it will work.

  15. Hey! Sorry this doesn't fit here but I just read your "freezing herbs" post:
    I picked, cleaned and dried basil and mint and placed them in tupperwares in the fridge yesterday. Today when I opened them they seemed to have a strange smell – a bit rotten – and the leaves are greying (both plants). i wonder if this method is correct?
    Thanks!

  16. Happy Fourth of July to you too. I do love Penzeys, and also The Spice House (they are brother and sister.)

    I know you can buy Spike from Amazon.com if you don't ever find it, or just use any all-purpose seasoning blend that you like.

  17. I have a couple pieces of MahiMahi I'd like to use this with. For some reason I havn't been able to find 'spike' seasoning locally,however I do have a long over-due appreciation thank you for suggesting Pensky's spices and have been enjoying them very much.Thank you Kalyn,and Happy,Healthy 4th to you and yours.

  18. Lydia, I do think this marinade would be great on cod.

  19. I love grilled fish. For some reason, halibut isn't that easy to find in my local fish markets, so I tend to grill salmon, tuna or swordfish. I think this marinade would be delicious with cod loin, which is a cut we can get here in New England, though it's not a grilling fish so it's one to try under the broiler.