go-to dinner: panko-crusted fish – A Nutritionist Eats

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Easy panko-crusted fish takes about 15 minutes to make and is SO delicious.

I’m SO excited to launch a new series on A Nutritionist Eats: GO-TO DINNERS.

I’ve realized that most families have a “go-to” dinner. The one that we don’t need a recipe for, usually have all of the ingredients on-hand, and make when it’s 5:00pm and we have no idea what’s for dinner.

These staple meals are probably not the ones we rave about to our friends, but are probably the ones that we should be raving about. They are the meals that can be made over and over again, they are the meals that get us through the week, and they are the meals that our families remember!

Easy panko fish dinner, ready in about 15 minutes and SO delicious.

I actually struggled to think about my go-to dinner because I’m usually testing recipes during the week, but when I thought about the go-to dinner I grew up with, it became a little more clear. I’m sure my parents had a few up their sleeves, but on busy nights between soccer practice and meetings for my parents, I remember tortellini, pesto sauce, and maybe some frozen vegetables on the side. Then I realized that’s also one of my go-to dinners!

No pasta today, but don’t worry, this panko-crusted fish from my friend Maria is SO good. Maria is a trained chef (she went to the Natural Gourmet Institute and I’m obviously super jealous about that), which may make you nervous, but she’s also a busy mom trying to feed her family well. Side note: I am ALWAYS nervous to cook for Maria, even though she assures me that she’s not picky at all! 😉 Maria and I were in a mommy-and-me group together back when our (first!) kids were just infants, and we’ve loved chatting about all things food + kids ever since.

Easy panko fish dinner, ready in about 15 minutes and SO delicious.

As you can imagine, she has a few go-to meals in her arsenal, but the one I’m sharing today is her panko-crusted fish. I am always looking for delicious, kid-friendly fish recipes, so I was so excited to try this one out. No surprise, it did not disappoint! Richie wants to eat it every single day, so that means you should not waste any time! Go get the ingredients – you’ll want to make it asap.

Easy panko fish dinner, ready in about 15 minutes and SO delicious.

Maria serves the fish with a side of sautéed spinach made super easy with “weeknight garlic” aka the little frozen cubes of garlic. Yes there is a time and a place for those and if a chef says it’s ok to use those cubes, you can bet they’ll have a constant spot in my freezer from here on out. I had forgotten how much I like sautéed spinach and it went over well with Demi so we’ll be adding this three-minute side dish to more meals!

Easy panko fish dinner, ready in about 15 minutes and SO delicious.

All in all, this meal takes about 15 minutes, depending on the size of your pan and how many fish fillets you cook at a time. The breading process takes a few minutes, fish takes about 3 minutes per side, and the spinach wilts in about 3 minutes. That’s it! I know you’ll love it!

And a little more about how Maria feeds her family:

What is your family’s favorite meal?
Probably steak! The whole family loves it, and it’s so easy so I make it often. I usually get NY strips or filets.

Cooking: chore or fun?
I love it. It’s an escape from taking care of the kids, but baking is the real luxury for me. If I’m baking, it means that all is right in the world. The laundry is done, the groceries are put away. Everything is REALLY right in the world if I’m roasting my own pumpkin for pumpkin pie!

What do you stress out about when it comes to meal times?
Balancing the typical toddler requests of chicken nuggets and pizza without dumbing down our meals. I wasn’t anticipating a picky eater, but we’re definitely in a picky phase!

What is Luca’s favorite breakfast? 
Easy! He loves multigrain waffles with mixed nut butter (from Trader Joe’s), a little honey, and sometimes strawberries on the side.


Easy panko fish dinner, ready in about 15 minutes and SO delicious.

If you’d like to share your go-to dinner, email me at emily@anutritionisteats.com! 


Panko-Crusted Fish

Easy fish dinner, ready in about 15 minutes and SO delicious.

Easy panko-crusted fish takes about 15 minutes to make and is SO delicious.

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings


For Fish

16 oz white fish (like cod, barramundi, tilapia)

2 Tablespoons mayonnaise

1 lemon, juiced and zested

1 cup panko bread crumbs

2 Tablespoons butter

For Spinach

1 Tablespoon butter

2 frozen crushed garlic cubes (or 2 cloves, minced)

16 oz spinach

salt & pepper to taste


For Fish

In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Spread panko on a large plate.

Pat fish fillets with paper towel.

Spread 1/2 of the mayonnaise mixture onto fillets and then dip into panko, pressing to help panko stick. Spread mayonnaise on other side, and press into panko mixture, so both sides of fish have the mayonnaise and panko crust.

Heat large nonstick pan over medium-high heat and add butter to pan. (If cooking in batches, reserve some of the butter.) Swirl pan so butter mixture coats the bottom of pan, and when it’s hot, add fillets.

Cook for about 3 minutes, gently flip over, and cook another 3 minutes, until cooked through.

For Spinach

While last of fish is cooking, cook spinach.

Heat large, deep pan over medium heat and add butter and garlic. Stir until butter is melted and add spinach, tossing to wilt spinach. Should only take 2-3 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper as desired.

4 oz fillet and 1/4 of spinach mixture4142.4 g398.9 mg22.4 g25 g29.1 g93.8 mg


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