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Easy Lemon Pepper Fish

This easy Easy Lemon Pepper Fish recipe can be made two ways: crispy breaded or seared using cod, tilapia, catfish, or any white fish you choose. This dish is drizzled in a zesty lemon butter sauce for mouthwatering flavor.

lemon pepper fish, mashed potatoes, and green beans on a plate

If you’re fan of recipes like my Air Fryer Catfish, Pan Seared Salmon, and Air Fryer Fish Sticks you will love this recipe!

What Type of Fish to Use

You can use any white fish such as cod, tilapia, catfish, etc. I love to use cod.

raw cod fillets on a plate

How to Get Lemon Flavor

You will need to use quality lemon pepper seasoning to actually add flavor to the fish. I also love the Lemon Garlic Seasoning from Trader Joe’s.

Once the fish is cooked (you can bake, sear, or air fry it), I love to drizzle it in a lemon butter sauce for even more flavor.

fish fry breading, smoked paprika, lemon pepper, and salt in white bowls

How to Zest a Lemon

I use this lemon zester from Amazon. You can also use a box/cheese grater. If using the zester hold it one hand and the lemon in the other. Graze the lemon over it, away from you and back and forth. You can read more about How to Zest a Lemon here.

How to Make Lemon Pepper Fish

  1. Pat the fish dry.
  2. Season the fish with lemon pepper, smoked paprika, salt, and fish fry breaded (for breaded fish).
  3. Air fry, bake, or sear.
  4. Combine lemon juice, lemon zest, and butter in a saucepan on medium-high heat.
  5. Drizzle over the cooked fish.
butter in a cast iron skillet
seasoned fish in a cast iron skillet

Breaded Fish

If you want breaded fish, you will need fish fry breading mix. You can make your own using 1/2 cup yellow corn meal and 1/4 cup all-purpose flour. If air frying, be sure to spritz the fish with oil after breading, and spray any white spots to ensure proper crisping.

collage of 4 photos with breaded fish in a glass bowl and an air fryer

Fish With No Breading

You can make this recipe without breading by adding spices to the fish and then air fry, sear, or bake and drizzle the fish in lemon butter sauce.

Lemon Butter Sauce

The homemade lemon butter sauce is what takes the fish to the next level. You can dip the cooked fish in the sauce while serving, or glaze the fish in the sauce.

fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, and butter in a white bowl
lemon butter sauce in a saucepan

How to Reheat

I don’t recommend the microwave for cooked fish. You risk tough texture when using the microwave. I recommend the air fryer or oven at 350 degrees until warm.

How to Store Leftovers

Leftovers can be stored in the fridge tightly covered and sealed for 3-4 days.

lemon pepper fish, mashed potatoes, and green beans on a plate

Freezer Tips

Leftover wings can be frozen for up to 2 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight and follow the instructions above to reheat.

Pair With These Recipes

Air Fryer Fries
Air Fryer Green Beans
Roasted Ranch Potatoes
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Grilled Asparagus in Foil

lemon pepper fish, mashed potatoes, and green beans on a plate

More Lemon Pepper Recipes

Lemon Pepper Chicken Wings
Hot Lemon Pepper Wings

lemon pepper fish, mashed potatoes, and green beans on a plate
Print Pin
5 from 3 votes

Easy Lemon Pepper Fish

This easy Easy Lemon Pepper Fish recipe can be made two ways: crispy breaded or seared using cod, tilapia, catfish, or any white fish you choose. This dish is drizzled in a zesty lemon butter sauce for mouthwatering flavor.
Save this recipe here.
Course dinner, lunch
Cuisine American
Keyword lemon pepper catfish, lemon pepper cod, lemon pepper fish, lemon pepper tilapia
Servings 4 servings
Calories 258kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 white fish fillets I used cod, approximately 1 pound total
  • 2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika Regular paprika is fine.
  • salt to taste
  • cooking oil I use olive oil.
  • 1/4-1/2 cup fish fry breading Only necessary for breaded fish. Use enough to fully coat the fish.

Lemon Pepper Glaze

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice For me, this was the juice from 1 small lemon.
  • 1 1/2-2 teaspoons lemon zest Use 2 teaspoons for bold lemon flavor. This was 1 small lemon.

Instructions

Breaded Fish

  • Ensure the fish is completely dry.
  • Combine the fish fry breading, paprika, lemon pepper, and salt in a bowl large enough to dredge the fish.
  • Sprinkle the fish fry onto both sides of each fillet. Ensure the entire filet is coated with breading. Add additional breading if necessary. See notes if you struggle with getting the breading to adhere.
  • Air Fryer: Spray the air fryer basket with cooking oil. Place the breaded fish in the air fryer basket. Spray the fish with cooking oil.
    Air fry on 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Flip the fish halfway through. Cook time will vary based on the size and how thick the fish fillets are.
    Top the fish with the lemon pepper glaze or use it for dipping. I like to top the fish with glaze and then air fry for an additional 1-2 minutes for the glaze to seep in.
  • Oven: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Placed the breaded fish on the parchment paper. Spray the fish with cooking oil.
    Bake on 425 degrees for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Cook time will vary based on the size and how thick the fish fillets are.
    Top the fish with the lemon pepper glaze or use it for dipping.

Non-Breaded Fish

  • Ensure the fish is completely dry.
  • Sprinkle both sides of the fish with lemon pepper, paprika, and salt to taste. Rub the spices into the fish.
  • Pan Sear: Add 1 teaspoon of cooking oil or butter to a skillet on medium-high heat.
    When hot, add the seasoned fish. Do not overcrowd the pan. The fish shouldn't touch. Cook the fish in batches if needed.
    Cook the fish for 2-3 minutes on each side until the fish is cooked through. It will turn opaque at the center. The fish will easily flake with a fork when it has finished cooking.
    Top the fish with the lemon pepper glaze.
  • Air Fryer: Add the seasoned fish to the air fryer. Air fry on 400 degrees for 7-10 minutes or until the fish is flaky. Cook time will vary based on the size and how thick the fish fillets are.
    Top the fish with the lemon pepper glaze.
  • Oven: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Placed the seasoned fish on the parchment paper.
    Bake on 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until the fish is flaky. Cook time will vary based on the size and how thick the fish fillets are.
    Top the fish with the lemon pepper glaze.

Lemon Pepper Glaze

  • Add the butter, lemon juice, and lemon zest to a saucepan on medium-high heat. Stir and cook until the lemon zest has dissolved.

Notes

If you struggle with getting the breading to adhere, you can coat both sides of the fish with mustard prior to adding the breading. The fish won’t taste like mustard. Mustard is great to use for fish, ribs, etc. to keep breading intact. Using this method, the fish won’t be as crispy! So keep that in mind. If the fish is completely dry, the breading should stick just fine on its own.
For any cooking method you use, your cook time will vary based on the size of the fish you use. You will need to keep a watchful eye as it cooks or you will risk overcooking the fish and it will turn out dry.
For breaded air fryer fish, if you don’t flip the fish the other side won’t crisp.
For crispy fish, it’s better to use the butter lemon glaze for dipping. The sauce may soften the breading on the fish.
If using breading, be sure to spritz the fish with oil after breading, and spray any white spots to ensure proper crisping.
You can melt the butter for the glaze in the microwave and combine it with the lemon. I find it harder to get the lemon zest to smooth out doing it this way. (So I don’t, lol).
Recipe Tools Used in this RecipeAs an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition (displayed with net carbs)

Serving: 4oz | Calories: 258kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 7g
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Nutrition DataMacros are provided as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. This information is calculated using MyFitnessPal.com. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.
Recipe Rating




Judy R

Monday 8th of August 2022

Thanks for the recipe. My husband wasn't looking forwar to fish for dinner, but he loved this. I fried it in a pan with 1/4 inch of oil (I know, not the healthiest) and didn't make the sauce, but he loved it and ate his fish, so I consider that a win. We used pollock fillets.

staysnatched

Monday 8th of August 2022

Awesome.

Sydney

Wednesday 3rd of August 2022

So easy and soo good!! I had to make this one immediately!

staysnatched

Wednesday 3rd of August 2022

Wonderful! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Dara

Tuesday 2nd of August 2022

Oh my goodness!! When I saw Brandi post this recipe I went straight to the store to buy some fish. Tonight we made this with catfish. Tomorrow I am making with cod. The lemon butter sauce drizzled over the fish took my catfish to the next level. I used the air fryer for the catfish and did the lemon pepper seasoning and fish fry breading. Incredible!

staysnatched

Tuesday 2nd of August 2022

Wonderful! I'm so glad you enjoyed it.