Baked Cod with Ritz Cracker Topping

Once years ago, when I was six years old, visiting my aunt and uncle in Washington D.C., I ate an entire box of Ritz crackers. We never had anything like those crackers at home, so buttery, so delicious. And once I started, I couldn’t stop eating them.

They are banned from my house for the very reason that I still find them impossible to resist. Banned with the exception of this recipe. Have you ever had white fish, baked with a Ritz cracker topping? It’s such a standard in New England that you’ll even find a Ritz cracker and butter mixture already packaged in plastic containers for sale at fish markets.

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It’s so easy, all you have to do is put the fish fillets in a baking pan, smother them with the topping, and bake. And the taste? Like lobster—infused with butter. Can you use a different cracker? I don’t think so. You can, of course, but it just won’t taste the same.

Baked Cod with Ritz Cracker Topping Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6.

Any white, lean fish will work with this recipe. In New England, cod, haddock, pollock and hake are traditional, but walleye, catfish, bass, snapper, Pacific rock cod, striped bass or Gulf Coast redfish will all work.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds skinless cod fillets
  • Salt
  • 1 sleeve of Ritz crackers (about 34 crackers)
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • Lemon and parsley for garnish (optional)

Method

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1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a small baking pan or casserole pan with butter or a little oil. Rinse off the fish fillets with cold water, pat dry. Use long nose pliers to remove any pin bones from the fillets. If you want, cut the fillets into large serving pieces. Place the fillets at the bottom of the pan, sprinkle with salt.

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2 Melt the butter. Crush the Ritz crackers over a bowl; they should look like coarse breadcrumbs. Mix the melted butter with the breadcrumbs. Pack the crumb mixture over the top and sides of the fish fillets.

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3 Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily. (Thin fillets may take less time, very thick fillets may take longer.)

Serve the fish with lemon and parsley.

Links:

Baked Fish with Pine Nut, Parmesan and Basil Crust - from Kayln's Kitchen
Cornflake Crusted Baked Cod - from Angie's Recipes
Portuguese Baked Cod - from Sweetnicks

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44 Comments

  1. Linda

    I actually saute finely chopped onions and bell peppers (red) add a little dry thyme in a little olive oil butter mixture until the onions and peppers are soft and then add the crushed up ritz to this mixture. Also, sometimes I’ll add chopped up shrimp, scallops, crab just before the onion pepper mixture is done (don’t overcook because it will go in the oven) and make a seafood ritz stuffing.

  2. Audrey

    Living in Maine, we bake any firm white fish this way, but add to the Ritz/butter mixture, finely diced onion and a can of minced clams….yummy!

  3. Bex

    Being a lobstering family (husband) we have been using Ritz crackers and buttah for decades over our fish and especially our lobtah and cod casserole. Heaven on earth. I also can sit and eat a whole roll of those things but never quite the entire box – yet! Actually they are so buttery, you really don’t need to add the melted butter!

  4. mary

    This is so totally New England – you are right. I grew up on lobster pie – lobster smothered with ritz crackers and butter. Adding lemon is optional!

  5. irene

    I need to try this with some fish tonight! I use Ritz crackers to bake chicken breasts. Pierce & soak the breast(s)in milk for about 10 minutes or so. Crush up some Ritz crackers in a ziploc, shake the chicken pieces in the cracker crumbs and arrange in a baking dish. Top with some melted (or unmelted if you’re lazy like me) butter and bake at 350 until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees. The chicken comes out really tender and the toppping is crispy and buttery, so I’m usually fingering up the crumbs left in the pan as well. I usually also bake in the same dish some cut up red potato pieces tossed in EVOO and sprinkled with an herb of the day.

  6. Jeni

    This is exactly how I learned to bake salmon, way back in college! My Seattle roomate taught me and it’s still one of my favorite ways to prepare any fish!

  7. Linda in Washington State

    Hi Elise

    I have been looking for a breaded bake fish recipe.
    I wanted to share with you my favorite cooking ingredient,
    Crisco Professional cooking spray made with canola oil that can take the high temps of oven frying or pan-frying using baking pans or stainless steel cookware. With this recipe
    I will spray baking pan, then add the Ritz and spray once more.
    For my kids, I buy the frozen thin cut French fries. I use Crisco spray on a piece of parchment paper then add the fries then spray again. The fries are crisp and golden but not greasy or limp like the famous fast food chains and have with a lot less calories.

  8. kstrom

    We make this recipe with halibut – a little pricey for large families, but soooo delicious! I might make it for dinner tonight, in fact…

  9. Mike

    This sure sounds like your Panko-crusted Salmon recipe. I use it often, but substitute a white fish–roughy is my fav, but cod or haddock works, too. A bit more work than Ritz crackers, I guess; but not much.

  10. Judy B.

    Ha! A transplanted New Englander, I’ve been making this dish for years and years, using halibut. A couple of differences…I use low-salt Ritz crackers and use regular salted butter, simply because it’s what I have on hand. I also add garlic powder and lemon pepper to the melted butter before mixing it with the cracker crumbs. This dish is fabulous, and it’s funny, I’ve never even thought of making it with cod, but I will certainly do that next time. My kids loved this stuff growing up and now they make it for their families, as do any of my friends who have had it and loved it. The crumb topping lends itself to all sorts of seasoning experiments, so play with it and have fun!! Do remember to use a pan that keeps your fish fairly snug, so the crumbs cover as much as the fish as possible. So nice to see this recipe here…thanks, Elise!

  11. Ally

    Never heard of this but can’t wait to try it! Any idea if this would work with tilapia? I have a bunch of frozen tilapia fillets I’m trying to get rid of!

  12. Alicia

    I have found Trader Joe’s Social Snackers to be a great substitute for the Ritz! I also bake it the fish with a little wine and lemon juice in the pan.

  13. Mary Morris

    I also love Ritz crackers and ban them from my house for the very same reason, I will eat them all. Ritz crackers with any kind of jam/preserves, tastes like a mini-pie, and they go well with salami and/or any kind of cheese.
    I totally distrust and would not make the “Mock Apple Pie” with Ritz crackers, but I think the fish recipe is worth a try – Mary

    • Rich Cavanaugh

      You haven’t Lived until you’ve had a piece of “Apple Ritz” (what my kids call it) My wife turned me on to the stuff over 20 years ago and it’s a family favorite. I know people who still call me a liar when I tell them there are No apples in it. Instead of a pie pan, we spread the mixture in a cookie sheet then make a sugar/milk glaze on the top. When it comes out of the oven, everyone in the house is doing the “anticipation dance” waiting for it to cool enough to devour it. :o)

  14. Pam Green

    Hi Elise! Have you ever had Ritz cracker pie? It’s a very simple dessert – crushed crackers mixed with beaten egg whites and nuts, sugar and flavoring, seved with real whipped cream after baking. There’s a good recipe on cooks.com. Thanks for all the great recipes!

  15. Rosemarie Tomes

    Last night we ate baked cod with chopped canned tomato and coconut powered mixed in the tomatoes – the Ritz version is excellent, but sometimes you might like a little sauce, and this is great with new potatoes and beans from the garden. Also children like tomato sauce as they recognise it!

  16. Christian Gehman

    Thanks for this, Elise– what an interesting idea. It makes me wonder if a little Ritz cracker meal might be a good addition to the cracker meal I use to bread oysters before sauteeing them in butter ….

  17. Medna

    Agreed about this being a New England staple. My mother used to eat the topping she bought at the fish market straight out of the container! I always found it all a bit too rich, but she loves it.

  18. grm

    OMG,I am hungry now by just looking at this beautiful picture. I don’t know if I should eat my monitor or go shopping. Simple, easy and I am sure delicieux. LOL

  19. Jen

    I made this tonight using tilapia. It was awesome. I added a little garlic powder to the butter/cracker mixture and baked for 15 minutes at 350.

  20. Sally

    This sounds delicious and I’ll be trying it soon! I’ve been reading the comments and see some of ideas that I thought of (using the topping on lobster, for instance). I think it would be good on boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, shrimp and even vegetables. I have a broccoli casserole recipe that uses something similar with the addition of cheddar cheese.

    This topping could be dangerous! :-)

  21. Espahan

    Oh my, oh my! I have never had this but I feel like I must have eaten this way back when. What a wonderful excuse to run out and buy a box of Ritz Crackers. I love them, too, and Cod fish. Thank you.

  22. randi

    I made this Wednesday night, laughing the whole time how ridiculously easy this was and it couldn’t possibly be that great. Well I was so wrong. Is was delicious!! I wished I had made extra. Had mahi mahi in the freezer so I used that.WOW so good!

  23. Nicola Protts

    OMG! I love cod! And this is great great recipe. My husband, daughter, even my mother (she has her own restaurant) says THANK YOU! I cooked this cod yesterday for dinner and it was superb!
    This is the best recipes blog ever!
    Good luck!

  24. Yeni

    I made it with the bite-size ritz (with cheese middle). Yum! New fav way to cook white fish! Nobody touched the crackers since they are very rich. But as topping, it really compliment the fish! Thanks for the inspiration Elise

  25. Julie

    Wow, Elise! I made this tonight and YUM. I’ve never cared for Ritz so I was a little unsure but your claim of tasting like lobster intrigued me and HOLY COW. It tastes like lobster. How does that happen?

    I used frozen cod filets and they were wonderful. I only wish I’d made more. This will be a keeper, for sure. In fact, I’ll probably end up making it again this weekend so the family that missed it can try it. Thanks for another winner!

  26. Bonnie

    One of our family’s favorite dishes is “Ritz Beans”. Cook some green beans (we are partial to the whole frozen kind, but any will work) and smother them with buttered Ritz crumbs. Stand back while the kids fight for “first digs” into the bowl. This is requested for every birthday, every Christmas, every Thanksgiving, and just about any other time I ask for requests. It’s so much better than that cream of mushroom green bean thing.

  27. Jenn

    Made this tonight. Noticed the juices in the bottom of the pan made some of the topping kind of soggy. So while the Red Lobster biscuits were baking in the oven, I put the fish on a clean baking sheet and the last five minutes of the biscuit time at 425 degrees, I put the fish back in. It was perfect. We all agreed that next time we’ll add garlic to the crumb mixture. A little too bland on its own.

  28. Caren

    The 1st time I made this 20 years ago, I found it soggy…BUT…if you bake it on a cookie sheet and place it at a slight angle or use a sheet that has a drip pan, it is much better. I love this recipe and my family can’t hardly wait for it to come out of the oven.

  29. Leroy J

    Season up the fish and the crumbs with a bit of old bay seasoning or a dash of garlic and onion powder and a bit of cracked pepper.

  30. Lovada Timothy

    I made this the other night for the first time and it is delicious. Cod is the only fish I will eat cause it don’t have that “fishy” taste and this was perfect. I used the new Garlic butter Ritz crackers and I also added 2 teaspoons of lemon pepper and 1 t. parsley to my crumb mixture. I will definitely keep this on our menu. Thank You so much.

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