I Tried Ina Garten’s “Perfect Weeknight Recipe” and It Has a Fun Retro Ingredient

published Nov 16, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
fish sits breaded in a square ridged plate on a green tablecloth
Credit: Grace Elkus

My mom loves Ina Garten, I love Ritz crackers, and we’re always on the hunt for new, easy fish recipes, so it was as if the stars aligned when we saw Ina’s recent post on Instagram. Her recipe for Baked Cod with Garlic & Herb Ritz Crumbs looked crispy and buttery and full of flavor, and I already had all the ingredients on hand. Would it live up to her description as “a perfect weeknight recipe?” Here’s what happened when I gave it a try.

How to Make Ina’s Baked Cod with Garlic & Herb Ritz Crumbs

This dish comes together quickly and easily, and is comprised mostly of pantry staples. You’ll start by coating a baking dish with olive oil, then placing four cod fillets in the dish and turning them around to coat the fish in the oil. We already had halibut on hand, so I opted to use that instead of cod (a few comments on Ina’s Instagram post assured me this would work just fine). After that, you season the fillets with salt and pepper, and bake for 10 minutes.

As the fish bakes, you’ll combine Ritz cracker crumbs, panko, minced fresh parsley, minced garlic, lemon zest, and salt in a small bowl. I was planning on crushing my Ritz crackers with a rolling pin to make the crumbs, but they’re so flaky and delicate I ended up just breaking them up with my fingers. Add melted butter and stir to combine. Remove the fish from the oven, pour dry white wine and freshly-squeezed lemon juice overtop, then divide the crumb mixture evenly among the fillets. Return to the oven and bake until the fish is just cooked through. Serve hot with the pan juices and lemon wedges.

Credit: Grace Elkus

My Honest Review of Ina’s Baked Cod with Garlic & Herb Ritz Crumbs

This recipe proved, once again, why Ina is so beloved: It looked and tasted a little fancy, but couldn’t have been easier to make. The ingredient list was so simple that I wasn’t expecting to be completely blown away by the flavor, but that’s exactly what happened: each bite was packed with garlicky, lemony goodness. The crispy-crunchy topping was a welcomed contrast to the tender, flaky fish, and there was just the right amount of it to coat each fillet without totally smothering them.

This dish also gets high marks from me for being able to pair well with just about anything. I opted for green beans and white rice, but roasted potatoes or crusty bread would be great, too — anything starchy to soak up the extra pan juices. And since you need a splash of white wine to make the dish, you can always pour yourself a glass to enjoy with dinner.

My only complaint about this recipe is that it was a tad salty, and a little too oily for my liking. Between the buttery Ritz and the butter used to moisten the crumb topping, I didn’t feel like the fish needed to be swimming in olive oil, too. Read on for what I’ll change when I make this recipe again.

5 Tips for Making Ina’s Baked Cod

This recipe actually got me excited about cooking fish at home, which doesn’t happen often. If you’re planning on giving it a go as well, these tips will set you up for success.

  1. Cut the amount of oil in half. Next time I make this, I’ll grease the pan with 1 tablespoon of oil instead of two. You’ll still be left with plenty of pan juices and the final dish will be a little lighter and less greasy.
  2. Reduce the amount of salt. Ina calls for seasoning the four fillets with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and to add 1 teaspoon salt to the crumb topping. I found the final dish to be a little too salty, so I’d scale back in both of these applications and season with salt to taste at the table.
  3. Melt the butter directly in the topping bowl. To save you from dirtying an extra dish, go ahead and melt the butter in the bowl you’ll use for the topping, then add the ingredients directly to the butter as you prep them.
  4. Roast the lemon wedges. Instead of simply serving the baked fish with lemon wedges, I’d love to try tossing them into the baking dish for the second round of cooking to intensify their flavor and lightly caramelize them.
  5. Use what you’ve got. I think any mild, flaky white fish would work here, or you could even bake the crumb topping over shrimp. Feel free to swap another leafy herb for the parsley, such as dill or cilantro.

Have you ever made Ina’s Baked Cod with Garlic & Herb Ritz Crumbs? Let us know what you thought in the comments!

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: I Tried Ina Garten’s “Perfect Weeknight Recipe”