If you grew up in New England, or are a seafood lover who has spent any time there, then you probably have a deep affection for baked haddock with a crunchy breadcrumb topping. It is a mainstay of loads of seafood restaurants, whether they be sit-down tablecloth spots or fish shacks near the water. It’s one of the most simple fish dishes on the planet, but it’s satisfying and comforting and reminds many of us of some version of the good old days. Serve it with creamed spinach or creamed kale and rice for a very satisfying fish dinner.
What Is Haddock?
Haddock is a member of the cod family from the Atlantic Ocean but much smaller than the Atlantic cod. It is a lean saltwater fish, and its flavor is sweet and mild, with softer flesh than Atlantic cod. Like cod, haddock is a flaky, delicate white fish. It’s a bit thinner than cod but has a similar mild flavor. It is most commonly prepared poached or baked and can often be found stuffed or topped with a breadcrumb coating like this one, especially in New England.
Haddock is in season from April to November. It’s usually sold with the skin on, and make sure you place the filets skin-side down in the pan so that the topping is sprinkled over the fish itself.
Baked Haddock: This New England favorite with its crunchy, buttery breadcrumb topping is a nostalgic, satisfying fish dinner!Tweet This
Tips for Baking Haddock
If you can get center-cut filets, those will be thicker and more even in size, so the fish will bake evenly. (I was not able to, as you can see from the photos, but let me tell you, all of the filets were just delicious!)
Begin checking the fish for doneness after about 8 minutes of cooking time per inch. You can do this by inserting a very thin sharp knife into the thickest part; if it slides in with barely any resistance, the fish is cooked through. When you tilt the knife, you should see that the flesh of the fish is opaque throughout, or possibly has just a hint of translucence in the middle. The internal temperature should be 145 degrees when measured with an instant-read thermometer. The fish will continue cooking through for a few minutes after it is removed from the heat. Also, see How to Bake Salmon.
Baking the fish at 450 degrees should ensure a nicely browned crumb topping by the time the fish is cooked through. However, if you want the top to be a bit more browned but don’t want to overcook the fish, you can put it under the broiler for the last minute or two of cooking.
- Haddock – You can try this preparation with any other fish! Haddock is just the most classic fish choice for this New England classic. See substitutions for haddock below.
- Breadcrumbs – In some places, crushed Ritz Crackers are used, and those are also delicious. I called for breadcrumbs because more people have them on hand, but if you want to get yourself some Ritz Crackers, smash them into crumbs, and substitute those for the breadcrumbs, please do! You will want to lower the amount of butter from 6 tablespoons to 4 tablespoons in that case, as the crackers are pretty buttery as is.
- Butter – Necessary for flavor and to keep the crumb topping together.
- Parmesan cheese – This is optional but adds some nice salty, savory umami flavor to the dish.
- Garlic powder – Just a touch to add a hint of garlicky flavor to the topping.
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper – Always!
Butter Breadcrumb Topping for New England Baked Haddock
This recipe is as much about the topping as it is about the fish, and I don’t say that lightly or often. The topping is basically breadcrumbs and butter, and it gives the whole dish a terrific crunch and richness. If some members of your family (you know who they are) feel like fish dinners feel unsubstantial or unsatisfying, then I encourage you to try and change their minds with this recipe. If you want to use gluten-free breadcrumbs for dietary reasons, do that!
Substitutions for Haddock
Haddock is pretty readily available in New England states but may be hard to find outside of the region. You can definitely use another flaky white fish, like cod, scrod, halibut, tilapia, or catfish.
How to Make Baked Haddock
- Make the topping: In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with the melted butter, Parmesan (if using), garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
- Sprinkle the topping over the fish: Place the fish filets on the prepared baking pan, skin-side down, if applicable. Sprinkle the breadcrumb topping evenly over the fish.
- Bake: Bake the haddock at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes, until the fish flakes easily with a fork and the topping is golden brown and crunchy.
- Serve with lemon wedges and a sprinkle of parsley.
What Goes With Baked Haddock?
So many things! Give one of these side dishes a try:
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New England Baked Haddock
- 4 (6 to 8 ounce) haddock fillets
- 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)
- ¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Lemon wedges (to serve)
- Chopped fresh parsley (to serve)
- Preheat the oven to 450 F. Spray a baking dish large enough to hold the fish in a single layer with nonstick spray.
- In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with the melted butter, Parmesan (if using), garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
- Place the fish filets in the prepared baking pan, skin-side down, if applicable. Sprinkle the breadcrumb topping evenly over the fish. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the fish flakes easily with a fork and the topping is golden brown and crunchy. The internal temperature should be 145 F on an instant-read thermometer.
- Serve with the lemon wedges and a sprinkle of parsley.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.