Healthy New England Baked Scrod with Saltines

Healthy New England Baked Scrod with Saltines

Scrod ... what?
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I recently finished The Evil Inside by Heather Graham. There is one scene where Jenna, the protagonist, orders New England Baked Scrod in a restaurant in Salem. So, my culinary focus today is on this dish that’s as comforting as a New England foggy morning, and as unpretentious as a pair of worn-in jeans. I hope you like my version, which uses mayonnaise and saltines to coat the fish.

Discover the history and deliciousness of New England Baked Scrod, a traditional coastal dish. Learn how to prepare it, its health benefits, and perfect wine pairings.

What is New England Baked Scrod?

New England Baked Scrod is a traditional dish from the northeastern United States, specifically the coastal regions of New England. “Scrod” refers to any white-fleshed fish such as cod, haddock, or pollock, which is typically baked with a cracker crumb topping. In this version, we’re using saltines, adding a delightfully crunchy texture that complements the tender fish wonderfully.

The term “scrod” has a unique and interesting history. It is believed to have originated in the early 19th century, although there is some debate about its exact origins. One theory is that it comes from the Dutch word “schrod,” which means “to cut into pieces.” This would make sense, as scrod is typically served as a fillet.

Another theory is that the term “scrod” is derived from the Old English word “screadian,” which means “to shred.” (As many words in English come from different languages, this would make sense that “schrod” and “screadian” are similar words.)

However, the most commonly accepted theory is that “scrod” is a term used in the Boston area to refer to a young cod or haddock, typically less than 2.5 pounds. The word is thought to have come from the term “sacred cod,” which was shortened to “scrod.”

The “sacred cod” is a wooden carving of a codfish that hangs in the Massachusetts State House, symbolizing the importance of the fishing industry to the state’s economy.

Over the years, the term “scrod” has evolved and is now used more broadly to refer to any white-fleshed fish that is used in the dish, regardless of its size or age. This change is likely due to the fact that the populations of young cod and haddock have decreased in the Atlantic Ocean, leading to the use of other types of fish in the dish.

The recipe for New England Baked Scrod has also evolved over the years. While the traditional recipe calls for a simple topping of cracker crumbs, modern versions often include additional ingredients such as garlic, lemon, and herbs to enhance the flavor of the fish.

Despite these changes, the basic elements of the dish remain the same: a tender, white-fleshed fish baked with a crispy, flavorful topping.

The Health Benefits of Eating Scrod

Scrod is not just tasty, it’s healthy too! High in protein and low in fat, it’s a great source of essential nutrients like Vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids, which contribute to heart and brain health. Plus, when baked, not fried, it’s an excellent choice for those watching their waistlines.

Selecting the Best Fish for Your New England Baked Dish

Selecting fresh, high-quality fish is crucial for this dish. You can use any kind of white fish. Tilapia is actually a good choice, since it is plentiful and inexpensive. If using a frozen fish, let it defrost first. (Cooking times will vary if using frozen fish.)

Substitutions and Variations

While traditional New England Baked Scrod uses saltines, feel free to experiment with other types of crackers or breadcrumbs for a different texture. For a gluten-free version, try using crushed rice cakes or cornmeal. You can also add different herbs or spices to the topping for an extra flavor boost.

However, I would advise against using mayonnaise that is low in fat or completely fat-free for this recipe. The fat gives the fish a good flavor (as well as seals the moisture while cooking).

Wine Pairing Suggestions for New England Baked Scrod with Saltines

A crisp, acidic white wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc or a light-bodied Chardonnay pairs beautifully with this dish, complementing the fish’s delicate flavor without overpowering it.

Yield: 4 servings

New England Baked Scrod with Saltines

Discover the history and deliciousness of New England Baked Scrod, a traditional coastal dish. Learn how to prepare it, its health benefits, and perfect wine pairings.

This delicious New England Baked Scrod uses a saltine crumb top. Try it with different other crackers, like oyster crackers, Ritz crackers, or even Cheerios.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 17 minutes
Total Time 27 minutes


  • 1 pound fresh white fish, such as cod, tilapia, or flounder
  • 1 cup full-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, dried or fresh is okay
  • 1 teaspoon coarse ground salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 sleeve of saltine crackers, finely crushed


    1. To start, preheat your oven to 375F. If you’re using foil or paper, lightly spray it with non-stick cooking spray. Next, arrange your fish fillets on the prepared sheet.
    2. Add all the dry ingredients together in a bowl and combine thoroughly.
    3. Spread the mayonnaise mixture evenly over each fillet, and then sprinkle the crushed saltines on top. Put the baking pan in the oven and bake the fish for about 15-20 minutes or until it’s cooked though and looks opaque. (Haddock will need to be cooked longer because it is thicker, and flounder will need to be cooked for a shorter amount of time because it is thin.)
    4. As the final step, switch the oven to broil. Spray the Saltine topping with cooking spray and let the fish broil for 1-2 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Serve with potato wedges or rice pilaf, and a veggie.


Try to use fresh fish whenever possible. If using frozen fish, make sure to thoroughly thaw and pat dry before baking to avoid a watery result. Also, don’t skimp on the cracker topping - it provides a delightful contrast to the soft, flaky fish.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 741Total Fat 54gSaturated Fat 10gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 42gCholesterol 182mgSodium 1248mgCarbohydrates 5gFiber 1gSugar 1gProtein 58g

Nutritional values automatically generated.

Did you make this recipe?

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You can also try my Beer-Battered Cod recipe.

Some more photos of this deliciousness:

Discover the history and deliciousness of New England Baked Scrod, a traditional coastal dish. Learn how to prepare it, its health benefits, and perfect wine pairings.
See the beautiful Saltine topping?

Discover the history and deliciousness of New England Baked Scrod, a traditional coastal dish. Learn how to prepare it, its health benefits, and perfect wine pairings.

Did you enjoy my step-by-step guide to making the perfect New England Baked Scrod with Saltines? I hope you find this dish as comforting and delicious as my family does. I’d love to hear about your experiences making this recipe, so please share in the comments below.

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