Three-Cheese Cod au Gratin with Italian Breadcrumb Crust


  • Prep Time30 mins
  • Total Time1 hr 15 mins
  • Makes4-6 servings
Three-Cheese Cod au Gratin with Italian Breadcrumb Crust

Photo courtesy of Gabby Peyton.

This is a my version of Newfoundland and Labrador’s classic cod au gratin. Using Italian breadcrumbs adds more seasoning to the crispy topper and Gruyère is an ideal cheese choice: it melts well into the sauce and adds a nutty flavour that doesn’t overwhelm the delicate fish. Most restaurants in Newfoundland and Labrador serve this as a main dish with a roll or crusty bread, but it is also served on top of potatoes or rice. — Gabby Peyton


  • 1.5 lbs cod

  • 1 tbsp neutral oil or butter

  • 5 tbsps butter, divided

  • 3 tbsps flour

  • 2 cups milk

  • 1 tbsp lemon zest

  • 1 tsp dried oregano

  • 1 cup aged cheddar cheese, grated and divided

  • 1 cup Gruyère cheese, grated and divided

  • 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated and divided

  • 1 cup breadcrumbs, with Italian seasoning

  • salt, to taste

  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.

  •  Skin and debone cod filets if necessary. Cut cod into bite-sized chunks and place them in an oven-safe 8x8-in. casserole dish; season with salt and pepper. 

  • In a medium saucepan, heat oil on medium heat, then add onion and cook until just softened. Add 3 tbsp of butter and melt, then add flour, whisking it to make a roux. Add milk a bit at a time, whisking occasionally until it thickens. 

  • Add ½ cup each old cheddar, Gruyère and Parmigiano Reggiano grated cheeses to the saucepan and mix to combine. Season with oregano, lemon zest, salt and pepper.  

  • Pour cheese sauce over the cod and stir to make sure it’s fully coated. 

  • To make the crispy breadcrumb topping, melt remaining 2 tbsp of butter in the microwave in a medium bowl, then stir in Italian breadcrumbs.

  • Top the cod and sauce with the remaining 1.5 cups of grated cheeses to cover, then sprinkle breadcrumb mixture on top. Season with salt and pepper. 

  • Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is brown and bubbly. 

  • Let cod au gratin stand for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Kitchen tip

If you are using frozen cod, make sure to thaw completely and pat dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. For frozen salt cod, defrost then rinse the filets in fresh water then soak the fish in more fresh water for 12-24 hours in an airtight container, changing the water every few hours to desalinate the fish. 

Read Gabby Peyton's essay on learning to love cod.