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Pan-seared Cod with Lemon Caper Sauce (Paleo, Whole30)

4.38 from 8 votes

Pan-seared cod with lemon-caper sauce via Food by Mars (Paleo, Whole30)

Guys, this dish might sound and look fancy… but I promise, IT’S EASY! It does, however, taste fancy AF… so that’s still a thing. Pan-seared Cod with Lemon Caper Sauce will impress your guests or keep it private and have a stay-at-home date night like I did! You can really make it your own with your favorite flavors. I used wild, fresh cod fish but you can use any white flakey (skinless) fish. I’ve also made this with scallops and it’s fabulous.

Pan-seared cod with lemon-caper sauce via Food by Mars (Paleo, Whole30)

I’d recommend serving it with something to catch up that delicious sauce… like white rice, cauliflower rice, a sweet potato mash or maybe just some of your favorite (paleo/GF) bread to soak up the juices! If you’re doing Whole30… I’d stick with the cauliflower or potato. I used a homemade “compound” ghee that I made with fresh herbs, but it’s totally OPTIONAL, you can use plain ghee and it will be amazing still. One requirement is to use a non-stick pan for this, cod is very delicate and will stick usually! You can also use a cast iron.

Pan-seared cod with lemon-caper sauce via Food by Mars (Paleo, Whole30)

Pan-seared Cod with Lemon Caper Sauce – Recipe

Pan-seared cod with lemon-caper sauce via Food by Mars (Paleo, Whole30)

Pan-seared Cod with Lemon Caper Sauce (Paleo, Whole30)

4.38 from 8 votes
This simple but restaurant-inspired dish will make for a fancy, buttery, flavorful dinner! The sauce is so versatile, you can use on any seafood or skinless fish you'd like.
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 20 mins
Yield: 2


  • 2 6oz pieces of cod (or other skinless, white flakey fish)
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch black pepper
  • pinch dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp ghee
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup bone broth or chicken/veg stock
  • 2 Tbsp ghee (optionally use herbed ghee - recipe below)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1-2 Tbsp capers

Herbed Compound Ghee (optional)

  • 1/4 cup ghee
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 scallion stalks, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 bunch basil
  • other desired herbs (I used a pinch of fresh thyme and cilantro)
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil (as needed)


Herbed Compound Ghee (optional)

  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor and mix until you have a chunky mixture that's smooth. Only use the olive oil as needed (if your food processor isn't mixing well) - store in a small mason jar in the fridge and use!

Pan-seared fish & sauce

  • Clean and dry pieces of fish (if it's wet, it will be stickier on the pan). Season with salt, pepper, rosemary and set aside.
  • To a non-stick pan, add olive oil over medium heat. Once well heated, add your fish (presentation-side down), you should hear a sizzle. Add 1 Tbsp plain ghee and swirl it around. Let cook for approx. 6 minutes.
  • Slide a spatula under fish carefully, it should not be sticking - if some sides are, try to find a way under to get the bulk of the fish flipped over. Cook for another 2-3 minutes depending on how thick the pieces are. Once done, set aside and keep warm.
  • Next, deglaze the pan by lowering the heat a bit and adding minced garlic, stir around and don't let it burn. Quickly add the lemon juice, broth, and de-glaze the bottom of the pan (with any sticky bits) with a wooden spoon. Next, you can add the capers and season with sea salt and pepper.
  • Now add more ghee (or the herbed compound ghee for extra flavor!), continue to stir here and there, for 3-5 minutes, this will help thicken up your sauce. 
  • Add your fish back to your pan, or simply plate the fish and pour the sauce over top. I like to add it back to the pan to warm it up again and spoon the sauce over top and bottom.
  • Serve fish with all the sauce!
Diet: American
Keywords: fish, paleo, whole30
Course: Main Course


Pan-seared cod with lemon-caper sauce via Food by Mars (Paleo, Whole30)


Hope you enjoy!
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-Alison Marras
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  1. This is a keeper, I made a few changes because i love my garlic. To increase the amount of this amazing sauce o added some white wine. Thank you 😊 for this fancy looking and tasting recipe. 

  2. I am astonished that there are no comments on this recipe. It was amazing! I’m on AIP (so no pepper and no dairy) and low-FODMAP (so no garlic). I replaced the ghee for the cod itself with EVOO; I used solid fat in lieu of EVOO to start. I left out the ghee entirely for the sauce and didn’t miss it. I added a teeny bit of tapioca starch to help thicken the sauce. And that sauce was amazing. My only criticism of the recipe is that the ingredients for the sauce should be doubled so I could have it on everything 🙂 Thank you for such a great recipe!

    • HAHA, Marnie – you’re so sweet. Thanks for sharing your subs and I’m so very happy you enjoyed it. I SO agree with the sauce statement… it’s addicting.