Should Cod Smell Fishy? Exploring the Truth

Should Cod Smell Fishy? [Explained] 

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Fish is one of the vital food which is the primary source of various nutrients. Some people prefer to eat fish dishes at restaurants as they do not want to deal with the fishy smell.

Do you want to cook a delicious cod recipe but are unsure whether it is normal for the fish to have a fishy smell? 

Should Cod Smell Fishy? 

The cod should be fresh and mild but should not have an extremely fishy, sour, or ammonia-like smell. The eyes have to be clean and protrude only a little. However, you can eat cod if it smells moderately fishy, but avoid eating it if it is stinky! When the cod stinks, it will have a strong and terrible odor, which shows that the fish is getting bad. 

Want to know more about what fresh cod will be like? How to identify if the fish is fresh or gone bad? If yes, scroll down the below sections. 

What Should Fresh Cod Be Like? 

What Should Fresh Cod Look and Smell Like? 


The fresh cod has a light and even surface. If the fish has turned unpleasant, you can notice the formation of transparent and yellowish spots on its surface.

Outer Coating

If the cod is fresh and edible, it will have a dry and shiny outer coating. Spoiled fish have a covering of slime or dirty substance on their surface. 


With fresh fish, you will get a fresh odor, neutral, or a weak odor. The fish has likely gone bad if you smell a terrible and relatively strong smell.  

The bacteria on the surface will break out the chemical trimethylamine oxide into stinky trimethylamine right after the fish is killed. Because of that, fishy scents occur almost quickly after the fish is dead.

The fish can be cooked and eaten as long as its flesh is solid and has shiny skin instead of slimy.

Do you want to know when cod has gone bad?

The best technique is to inspect and smell the cod. It is because the warning symptoms of spoiled fish are a dull color, a sour smell, and a sticky texture. If you notice any of these signs, throw them away. 

Best Tips You Can Used To Get Rid Of The Fishy Smell 

Here are some highly beneficial tips you can use to become free of the fishy smell while cooking the cod. 


Soaking fish pieces in milk for about half an hour is one of the quickest ways to eliminate the fishy smell prior to cooking. Rinse the milk-soaked fish when you need to cook them.

White Vinegar 

Soak cod in a mixture of white vinegar and water for around 5 minutes. After that, remove the fish, rinse it with water, and dry it using a paper towel before using the cod for marinating.


Flour is another most common substance that can eliminate fishy odor. Use a large amount of flour and coat the fish. Set it aside for one hour and use regular water to clean.

Garlic and Thyme 

While cooking fish, put garlic and fresh thyme in the same pan, and it will help replace the fish odor with a delightful aroma. 


Put an apple slice in the pan when you bake or cook the fish in oil. The apple will absorb the fish odor.

Cinnamon Stick

While your fish is being fried, place a cinnamon stick in the frying pan, and it will keep the strong fishy smell away. However, do not add too many cinnamon sticks as they may add this flavor to the fish. 

Peanut Butter 

When cooking fish, add a teaspoon of peanut butter to the pan. It is said that peanut butter will absorb fish odors. However, if you are allergic to peanuts or peanut butter, it is better to avoid this tip.  

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Different Ways To Cook Cod 

Cod is a delicious fish, and it can be cooked in several ways as per your taste. Here, we have listed some of the delicious ways you can cook cod.

1. Baking frozen cod 

Though the defrosted cod can cook quickly, you can also directly bake frozen cod. If you want to defrost the cod, cook it instantly as it might go inedible if left at room temperature for over two hours.


  • Frozen cod
  • Garlic powder 
  • Pepper 
  • Salt 

​Step 1:​ Clean the oven carefully and preheat it up to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2: Add garlic powder, pepper, and salt as the seasoning to the cod. 

Step 3: Take a baking dish and put the fish fillets in it. If you want to use sauce over seasoning, you can add it in this step. 

Step 4: Cook the cod for 20 to 25 minutes until you can see the opaque white and golden brown upper surface. The fish must be cooked until it reaches a steady internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. 

2. Grilling cod in foil 


  • Cod
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Minced peppers
  • Butter
  • Lemon juice
  • Pepper 
  • Salt
  • Aluminum Foil

Step 1: In a saucepan, melt the butter and add the lemon juice. After that, stir them so they can mix well. 

Step 2: Flavor the sliced codpieces with pepper and salt for taste. 

Step 3: To make a basket, put one cod fillet in the center of a sheet of aluminum foil and fold the sheet’s edges upward.

Step 4: Fill the foil packages with sliced peppers and tomatoes. Combine the butter and lemon mixture in the bowl. Pack every bag and cook over the indirect fire on a preheated grill up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 5: Simmer for about 12 to 15 minutes over indirect heat. If not, cook it till the fish is dark and flakes readily with an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Step 6: In order to avoid burns from the gushing stream, be cautious while opening foil packs. Then, serve it with a dip. 

3. Steaming cod in an electric steamer


  • Cod
  • Broth 
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Step 1: With the help of paper towels, pat the cod fillets dry.

Step 2: Add pepper, salt, and your favorite seasoning to the cod. 

Step 3: Fill the steamer’s container with broth and insert the cod into a specified pot. Then, carefully close the lid and turn on the steamer. 

Step 4: Steam cod for about 15 minutes, or until the fish flakes simply using a fork and appears opaque in the center. In addition, the cod needs to reach the specified internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. 

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4. Making deep-fried cod 


  • Cod fillets (2 lbs)  
  • Flour (1 cup) 
  • Vegetable oil 
  • Water (1 cup) 
  • Egg 
  • Mustard powder (⅓ cup) 
  • Baking powder ( 1 tablespoon) 

Step 1: Take a mixing bowl and add the flour, dry mustard powder, and baking powder. Blend the mixture thoroughly. 

Step 2: In a large and deep pot, pour the oil and heat it until the oil reaches 400 degrees Fahrenheit. It is better to use a deep fryer thermometer to confirm the temperature. 

Step 3: Take a mixer or a spoon and stir the flour mixture, sugar, water, salt, and sugar.

Step 4: Then dip each fillet in the batter fully.

Step 5: Carefully put every piece of cod into the hot oil and fry for about 5 minutes, or until the fish has an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 6: Prior to serving, drain the fish on paper towels. This way, you can release the excess oil. 

Here is a video on how to perfectly cook cod fish

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

What can I serve cod with? 

You can serve cod with several side dishes that complement the main dish. Some of the best choices are mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, roasted vegetables, wilted spinach and lemon, cauliflower rice, regular brown rice, or penne pasta. 

How long can raw cod be left at room temperature? 

You can not leave raw cod at room temperature for a long time. It is because bacteria will thrive quickly when the fish is at temperatures between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. You can only use the raw cod that is left at room temperature for not over 2 hours. 

How long should I bake cod? 

Bake the cod for about 15 to 17 minutes when cooking it at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. At 400 degrees Fahrenheit, bake the cod for around 12 to 15 minutes. In case the cooking temperature is 425 degrees Fahrenheit, the cooking time should be nearly 10 to 15 minutes. 

How long does raw cod last after it is frozen and thawed? 

We can safely store the cod in the freezer for about 6 to 9 months. After defrosting the cod, you can again store it in the fridge for an extra one or two days before cooking. If you thawed the fish in cold water or microwave, cook it instantly.


Fresh cod can sometimes have a slight to moderate fishy odor. However, if the fish is radiating a terrible and strong smell, it may have gone bad, and you should avoid eating this kind of spoiled fish.

The fresh cod will have a decent odor with an even and dry surface. 

Read our cod recipes and start making those different dishes.

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