Cod with Butter, Lemon and Dill Sauce

Baked Code on a bed of sliced carrots and leeks with dill butter sauce, plated and ready to serve.

This is a quick and delicious recipe. Incredibly, regardless of the size of the cod filets, they always cook perfectly in 15 minutes! If your cod is thicker than one inch, the time may be extended to 18 minutes. It is best to use a thermometer to assess doneness. The only time this recipe did not come out right was when I cooked it with partially frozen cod – I will never do that again!

TBK Tips:

  • The cod filets are cooked in a foil packet on a bed of leek and carrot matchsticks – they cook in 15 minutes and the sauce comes together for a wonderful ready-to-eat meal. Serve on a bed of rice or other grain.
  • These packets can be assembled and refrigerated up to a day ahead before baking.
  • Salmon filets do not work for this particular recipe. They contain much more fat than cod filets and the carrots and leeks absorb the fat and are very mushy and unpleasant. Halibut or Red snapper would work fine for this recipe.

Yield: 2 servings


  • 2 boneless skinless unfrozen cod filets. 4 to 6 ounces each is a good adult portion, and they should be at least one-half-inch thick, thicker is better.
  • 1 cup shredded or julienned (matchsticks) carrots
  • 1 cup leeks cut into matchstick (julienned) pieces
  • 1 lemon (for zest and juice)
  • 6 tablespoons softened (not melted) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill or 2 teaspoons fresh dill chopped into small pieces
  • One-half teaspoon of garlic powder
  • One-half teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • One-half teaspoon salt


TBK Tips:


TBK Tips:

  • Have a bowl to collect peels and other food being cut that will not be used in the recipe such as peels and root end and tips of carrots. I keep mine just above and to the left of my work tray.
  • Place a sharps basket at the top of your work tray to keep the sharp tools used in this recipe (peeler, knife, scissors) easy to locate and track in a predictable place. Place another sharps basket at the back of the sink to put the used utensils in a safe place until you have time to clean them.


Step 1:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Step 2:
Gather and prepare your ingredients.

TBK Tip:

  • I use another work tray to gather and organize the ingredients I need for this recipe and have it on the counter near the work tray. I will use it to measure and cut the food.

Step 3:
Place 6 tablespoons of room temperature (soft but not melted) unsalted butter in a medium bowl. Set aside.

TBK Tip:

  • If 6 tablespoons of butter are not yet softened to room temperature, cut it into smaller pieces to increase the surface area exposed to air and it will soften faster.

Tools: Butter Slicer

Step 4:
Wash and dry one lemon. Zest one teaspoon of lemon zest and add to the softened butter. Set aside 2 half-moon-shaped slices for garnish. Juice the remaining lemon and set aside.

TBK Tip:

  • Remove the zest from just the ends of the lemon until you just get one teaspoon and no more. Be sure to wear a cut glove when zesting to protect your fingertips. If enough zest remains on the center roundness of the lemon, it will remain attractive and you can cut a thick slice from the center portion that can be cut into 2 half moons and used for a garnish. Then you can squeeze the 2 zested ends of the lemon to juice and sprinkle the juice over the finished dish for a burst of brightness that will complement the dill beautifully. Be sure to use a strainer to make sure no pulp or seeds get to the final dish.


Step 5:
Wash, peel, and cut carrots to make 1 cup of matchstick-like pieces. They should be no longer than 2 inches and no thicker than one-quarter inch square.

TBK Tip:

  • The slicing side of a box grater is a great tool for making consistent thin slices of carrots that can later be cut into matchstick-shaped pieces. Be sure to wear a cut glove when working with a grater to save your skin. Alternatively, you can produce slightly thicker matchsticks using the TBK Slicing Guide Tool for consistent cuts.


Step 6:
Wash and cut leeks into matchstick pieces to make 1 cup. They should closely resemble the length and thickness of the carrot matchsticks for consistent cooking time.

Step 7:
Add 1 teaspoon dried dill or 2 teaspoons fresh dill chopped into small pieces to the softened butter and lemon zest. Set a small “tree” of fresh dill aside for a garnish if desired.

TBK Tips:

  • If using fresh dill place the feathery fronds in a small (about 6 ounces) bowl with a small diameter. Use a pair of kitchen scissors, holding them with the tip of the blades of the scissors in the bottom of the bowl. Cut the dill with many small squeezes of your scissors. This style keeps your fingers far away from the sharp blades of the scissors, quickly cuts the fronds into very small pieces, and keeps the hard-to-feel herb pieces contained in the small bowl for easy measurement and easy to keep track of the little pieces.

Tool: Dry Measure Spoons

Step 8:
Add one-half teaspoon of garlic powder to the butter

Step 9:
Add one-half teaspoon of ground black pepper to the butter

Step 10:
Add one-half teaspoon salt to the butter (if using unsalted butter)

Step 11:
Mix the herbs, spices, and lemon zest into the butter until evenly distributed.

Step 12:
Cut 4 twelve-inch square pieces of foil. Put 2 on your workspace side by side and set the other 2 aside for now.

TBK Tip:

  • Aluminum foil can be tricky to use and measure. If you have access, use premeasured pop-up foil. If it is thinner than regular aluminum foil, just double each piece.
Cod ready to bake, sitting in aluminum foil boats to contain the delicious sauce once it is poured over.
Before baking add the second piece of aluminum foil and fold over the first to contain the delicious sauce.

Step 13:
Divide the carrots in half and place each in a pile in the center of each piece of foil. This will serve as a “bed” for the cod.

TBK Tip:

  • If dividing the vegetables into approximately half portions, you can always use a talking scale for more accuracy.

Tool: Talking Scale

Step 14:
Divide the leeks between the 2 pieces of foil and place them directly on top of the carrots.

Step 15:
Pat each piece of skinless boneless cod with a paper towel to dry them and place one on each carrot and leek “bed”.

Step 16:
Put half of the butter mixture on top of each piece of cod. It will remain thick on top of the cod.

Step 17:
Place a second piece of foil on each of the piles of food. Line up the edges of the foil as best you can, and seal with thin folds at least 3 times sealing the edges of the packets on all 4 sides. It is important that they be sealed tightly so that the food steams properly. Just as important is they be sealed tightly so the butter does not leak out while it is cooking as you want to capture it after it is cooked to be used as a sauce to be poured on the rice or grain and over the fish and vegetables when plated.

Step 18:
Bake in a 425-degree oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and check to see if the internal temperature in the thickest part of the cod is a minimum of 145 degrees.

TBK Tip:

  • You can insert the tip of the thermometer right into the food through the foil. The hole will be small enough and it will cook for a short amount of time from this point if not quite done, so the hole will not affect the outcome.

Tool: Talking Thermometer

Step 19:
Allow the packets to set for 5 minutes before serving to allow the butter sauce to cool and firm up a bit. Take care when transferring them to a plate that you capture the delicious butter and lemon dill sauce.

Step 20:
Sprinkle each serving with a few drops of lemon juice and garnish with fresh lemon half moon and dill “tree” if desired.

TBK Tip:

  • Always run a damp clean paper towel around the edges of each plate before serving, just in case some sauce or garnish ended up where you did not expect it for a more attractive and clean presentation.

Step 21:

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