This oven baked cod in foil with pesto and asparagus is the easiest healthy meal to make on a weeknight. Ready to eat in 30 minutes or less, protein-packed cod fish is topped with basil pesto on top of fresh asparagus in foil packets. Delicious, nutritious, and simple!

piece of cod fish with pesto and a lemon slice over a bed of asparagus in an opened foil packet

As a Registered Dietitian, I am all about easy healthy dinner recipes that don’t take a ton of time or effort to prepare. If you have a busy schedule with a lot of commitments, I’m sure you can agree! This oven baked cod in foil with pesto and asparagus is a quick healthy meal that is perfect for busy weeknights.

Baked fish in foil packets, or “en papillote”, yields a very moist, flaky, and tender piece of fish, because the fish will steam in the sealed off foil packet when it is in the hot oven. This recipe requires just four ingredients (besides salt, pepper, and olive oil) and takes 30 minutes or less to make. Cod loin is topped with store bought pesto and baked in a foil packet on a bed of fresh asparagus.

Serve this foil baked pesto cod recipe as is for a light meal, or with a side of roasted fingerling potatoes, pasta, or a whole grain salad!

Looking for even more healthy fish recipes? Try my oven baked cod with lemon and capers, crispy air fryer salmon, salmon and farro bowls, or lemon dill salmon burgers.

Step-by-step video

Ingredients in baked cod in foil

Here is everything you need to make this recipe:

  • Cod loin
  • Asparagus
  • Basil pesto
  • Lemon
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

This recipe is pescatarian, gluten free, and serves two people.

What is cod loin?

Cod loin cuts come from the middle third of the fish, and usually come from larger fish. Compared to cod fillets, cod loins are thicker, moist, and flaky.

If you can’t find cod loin, you can use cod fillets in this recipe. You may just need to cut down on the cooking time by about 5 minutes, since cod fillets are thinner than cod loins.

Kitchen tools needed

To make this recipe, you need a roll of aluminum foil (tin foil), a baking sheet, a knife, and a cutting board.

pesto baked cod in foil ingredients displayed on a light grey backdrop

How to make baked cod in foil with asparagus

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Use a sharp knife to cut cod into two equal sized pieces (alternatively, just ask the vendor at the fish counter to cut the fish for you when you purchase it).
  3. Pat the cod dry with a paper towel and put the pieces on a plate.
  4. Season the cod with salt and pepper on both sides. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the cod.
  5. Wash and dry asparagus. Snap off the woody ends and discard them.
  6. Take two sheets of aluminum foil, about 18 inches long.
  7. Place half of the asparagus in the center of the each piece of foil.
  8. Drizzle a little olive oil over the asparagus, and add a pinch of salt and pepper.
  9. Place one piece of cod onto each portion of asparagus.
  10. Spoon a dollop of pesto onto each piece of cod and gently spread it around.
  11. Fold the foil over the cod and asparagus, and use your fingers to seal the foil into little packets where no air can escape.
  12. Place the foil packets on a baking sheet.
  13. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until cod is easily flaked with a fork or reaches an internal temperature of 145°F.
  14. Let foil packets cool for a minute or two then open them up. You can serve them on a plate in the foil, or use a spatula to move the asparagus and cod onto a plate. Serve with extra lemon wedges.
Two foil packets on a light grey backdrop

Internal temperature for cooking fish

To prevent bacterial infection, it’s important to cook fish to the proper internal temperature. Cook your fish until a meat thermometer reads 145° F.

If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you can check the doneness of your fish by its appearance. Properly cooked fish will be opaque in the middle and flake easily with a fork.

What to serve with pesto baked cod in foil

This cod recipe includes a full serving of vegetables, because the asparagus is baked right in the foil. This meal provides protein + non-starchy vegetables, so you can pair it with a starchy carb to make it a well-balanced meal. Here are some recipe ideas to pair with baked cod in foil:

Can I prepare this recipe in advance?

You can assemble the fish in foil packets up to one day in advance, except for adding the lemon juice. Acidic lemon juice will “cook” the delicate fish like ceviche if left on overnight. Add the lemon juice 10-15 minutes before cooking in the oven.

Store foil packets with cod and asparagus in the fridge.

piece of cod fish with pesto and a lemon slice over a bed of asparagus in an opened foil packet

Cod nutrition & health benefits

Cod is a nutritious lean protein source to include in your diet. A 3 ounce portion of cod provides 15 grams of high quality protein! In addition, cod provides micronutrients. 3 ounces of cod has:

  • 0.77 mcg Vitamin B12 (32% of your daily needs)
  • 1.754 mg niacin (11% of your daily needs)
  • 172.55 mg phosphorus (25% of your daily needs)
  • 28.14 mcg selenium (day 51% of your daily needs)

Cod has very little fat (less than 1 gram in a 3 ounce serving), but a majority of the fat in is from heart healthy unsaturated fatty acids, including essential omega-3 fatty acids.

Is cod high in mercury?

Some types of fish have a high concentration of mercury, and should be eaten sparingly. Cod is considered a low mercury fish. Of the different cod varieties, Atlantic cod has the least amount of mercury. That means cod is safe to eat a few times a week!

Asparagus nutrition & health benefits

Asparagus is a very nutritious green vegetable to include in your diet. One cup of raw asparagus provides several nutrients, including:

  • 2.8 grams of dietary fiber (10% of your daily needs)
  • 3 grams of plant-based protein
  • 2.9 grams of iron (16% of your daily needs)
  • 0.192 mg thiamin (16% of your daily needs)
  • 0.189 mg riboflavin (15% of your daily needs)
  • 55.7 mcg Vitamin K (46% of your daily needs)
  • 69.68 mg phosphorus (10% of your daily needs)

Asparagus tip: Enjoy asparagus with a Vitamin C rich food (like the lemon juice in this recipe)! to help your body better absorb the iron.

Let me know if you love these recipes by leaving a comment or star rating below, and check out Instagram and Pinterest for more healthy lifestyle inspiration. Thanks for stopping by!

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piece of cod fish with pesto and a lemon slice over a bed of asparagus in an opened foil packet

30-Minute Pesto Baked Cod in Foil with Asparagus

  • Author: Alex Aldeborgh
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: serves 2
  • Category: main dish
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

This oven baked cod in foil with pesto and asparagus is the easiest healthy meal to make on a weeknight. Ready to eat in 30 minutes or less, protein-packed cod fish is topped with basil pesto on top of fresh asparagus in foil packets. Delicious, nutritious, and simple!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 4-6 ounce pieces of cod loin
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 bunch asparagus, woody ends removed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 3 tbsp basil pesto, divided
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Place cod loin on a plate. Pat dry with a paper towel.
  3. Season cod with salt and pepper on both sides and drizzle with lemon juice.
    two pieces of raw cod fish on a plate
  4. Take 2 big pieces of aluminum foil, about 18 inches long.
  5. Place half of the asparagus in the center of each piece of foil.
  6. Drizzle the asparagus bunches each with 1/2 tbsp olive oil and a generous pinch of salt and pepper.asparagus on a piece of aluminum foil
  7. Top the asparagus with the pieces of cod.
    asparagus and a piece of cod on tin foil
  8. Spoon a dollop of pesto over each piece of cod (about 1 1/2 tbsp on each piece). Spread it out a little.
    asparagus and cod with a dollop of pesto on top of a piece of tin foil
  9. Fold the aluminum foil around the asparagus and cod. Use your hands to pinch it into a pouch, so that no air can escape.
  10. Put the foil packets on a baking sheet.
    two foil packets on a baking sheet
  11. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Cod is done cooking when opaque and easily flakes with a fork, or reaches an internal temperature of 145°F when checked with a meat thermometer.
  12. Let foil packets cool for 1-2 minutes, then open them up.
  13. You can serve this recipe right from the foil packets on a plate, or use a spatula to move the food onto a plate.
  14. Serve with lemon wedges.

Notes

Can I prepare this recipe in advance?

You can assemble the fish in foil packets up to one day in advance, except for adding the lemon juice. Acidic lemon juice will “cook” the delicate fish like ceviche if left on overnight. Add the lemon juice 10-15 minutes before cooking in the oven.

Store foil packets with cod and asparagus in the fridge.

Keywords: baked cod in foil, fish in foil packets, oven baked cod in foil