How to Deep Fry Fish

Have your own fish fry with these easy, step-by-step instructions for frying it perfectly.

Jeannie's Kickin' Fried Fish
Photo: Doubletigers

Midwesterners will be more than familiar with the term "fish fry." Thanks to its thousands of scattered lakes, the region boasts a bountiful supply of fresh fish for a large part of the year. Fish fries have become a tradition among folks in the Midwest and parts of the South.

Learn how to have your own fish fry. Here you'll get step-by-step instructions for frying fish at home.

How to Deep Fry Fish in 5 Steps

Everyone loves fish and chips, and you can easily achieve the same buttery and flaky fried fish in your own home.

Deep frying fish in pan
Jason Donnelly/Meredith

1. Pick Your Fish

Same thing goes for deep frying as for pan frying: You're going to want to go with more of a neutral-flavored fish that isn't overly oily. So most types of white fish will do. Some common choices include cod, tilapia, catfish, halibut, trout, striped bass, flounder, and perch. If you're making fish and chips, cod is going to be a solid choice.

For tips on how to pick the freshest fish refer to our guide. You can go with fresh or frozen, just factor in thawing time if you're using frozen.

2. Prep the Fish

One pound of skinless fillets, or four 4-ounce skinless fillets (about ½-inch thick) is the perfect amount for serving a family of four. If you're starting with frozen fish, start by thawing them in the refrigerator for 24 hours ahead of time.

If your fillets are thicker than ½-inch thick, go ahead transfer them to a cutting board and cut them lengthwise to get the desired thickness — this will give you crispier fish in the end! Then cut the fillets into 3-inch x 2-inch pieces. Rinse the fish and pat dry with paper towels.

3. Heat Your Oil

As the name suggests, deep-fried fish is going to require a pan with a deeper interior. You can either use a 3-quart heavy saucepan a deep-fat fryer. If using a saucepan, heat 1 quart of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Attach a deep-frying thermometer to the side of the pan and heat the oil to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) .

4. Make the Batter

We'll use the batter from this Classic Fish and Chips recipe courtesy of Allrecipes Community Member Dan. You're welcome to customize your batter how you'd like — Chef John's beer batter fish and chips makes for a fun variation.

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, mix 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon ground black pepper.
  2. Stir in 1 cup of milk and 1 egg until smooth. Let the mixture stand for 20 minutes.

5. Dredge the Fish and Fry

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) — you'll see why in a second.

One piece at a time, dredge the fish in batter and place it in the hot oil. Fry until golden brown. After frying each piece, place it on a plate lined with a layer of paper towels to drain.

To keep the fish warm while the others are frying, transfer them to a baking dish and place in a preheated oven until you're ready to serve.

Favorite Fried Fish Recipes

Side Dishes to Serve with Fried Fish

Don't forget the sides! Fried fish can't stand alone. Of course you can serve them with chips for a classic English pub meal. Fried fish also pairs well with fresh, light, and tangy sides like coleslaw or cucumber salad.

But if you're looking to double down on the fried food, you can't go wrong with hushpuppies or homemade salt and vinegar chips. For more side inspiration, refer to our complete list of the best sides for fried fish. And be sure to have plenty of malt vinegar, lemon wedges, and tartar sauce to serve alongside your entree.


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