I Tried Seven Fast Food Fish Sandwiches—This Is the One I’ll Order Again

But it's not available forever, so act fast!

Fish sandwich taste test

Fast food fish sandwiches are not something you get to enjoy every day. In fact, most fast food restaurants don’t even serve fish sandwiches all year round. Many restaurants only bring their fish sandwiches back during the Lenten season (a few months before Easter) to appeal to customers who are abstaining from meat on Fridays. 

That’s actually why the first-ever fish sandwich, the Filet-O-Fish, was added to its fast food menu. During Lent, which is the 40-day period before Easter, Catholics fast from red and white meats on Fridays and Ash Wednesday. In the ‘60s, a McDonald’s franchisee realized he was losing a ton of business on those Fridays, so he presented Mickey D’s CEO, Ray Kroc, with a solution to the no meat on Friday rule: a fish sandwich—and the rest is history. 

Today, many fast food restaurants introduce their fish sandwiches for a limited time during the Lenten months, which is typically between February and April. Of course, you don’t have to have a religious reason to eat the fish sandwiches, but it’s a great option if you want a meat-free meal. 

We tried seven fast-food fish sandwiches to determine which one will be our go-to while they are all still available. Here are the results:

The Best Fast Food Fish Sandwich

7. McDonald's Filet-O-Fish

McDonald's Fish Sandwich

McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish is the fast food fish sandwich, and so beloved that it’s a permanent menu fixture. The Filet-O-Fish is a fish patty with cheese and tartar sauce on a steamed bun.

It’s certainly a nostalgic offering—just ordering it took me back to post-shopping runs to McDonald’s with my Grandma. 

Unfortunately, the Filet-O-Fish really hasn’t withstood the test of time. It’s a classic, that’s for sure, but it was also the most boring and bland fish sandwich I ate. The patty doesn’t taste like much, my slice of cheese was barely there so certainly didn’t add any flavor, and the tartar sauce was more mayo than anything else. Sorry, Grandma, but it’s a no from me.

6. Burger King's Big Fish

Burger King Fish sandwich

Tyrel Stendahl/Dotdash Meredith Design

Burger King’s Big Fish sandwich is a crispy Panko-crusted filet with tartar sauce, pickles, and lettuce on a brioche bun. The Big Fish is another one of the few fish sandwiches that are available all year round. 

There’s something about this fish sandwich that is off. I couldn’t tell if it was the pickle flavor, the fish itself, or the tartar sauce that didn’t know if it wants to taste like vinegar or mayonnaise, but I couldn’t get behind this sandwich. I appreciated that BK tried to add a little more with the lettuce, but it couldn’t save the sandwich.

5. Popeyes' Classic Flounder Fish Sandwich

Popeyes Fish sandwich

Popeye’s Classic Flounder Fish Sandwich is a fan-favorite sandwich that joined the menu in 2021. It’s a limited offering made with flounder that’s marinated in Louisiana herbs and spices, pickles, and tartar sauce on a brioche bun.

I have to say, I had high hopes for this sandwich—especially because Popeyes consistently breaks the internet with its chicken sandwiches, but I was disappointed. The spice mix is too overpowering for something as delicate as fish. I couldn’t taste anything beyond spices and bread, which is definitely not what I was looking for. This fish sandwich did get a few points because the spice mix had a nice kick, but I don’t think many people are searching for a good spice mix when they’re eating a fish sandwich.

4 Arby's King's Hawaiian Fish Deluxe

Arby's Deluxe fish sandwich

Arby’s King’s Hawaiian Fish Deluxe is a limited-time menu item complete with crispy fish, Cheddar, shredded lettuce, tomato, and tartar sauce on a King’s Hawaiian bun.

I was the most excited about this sandwich because who doesn’t love a sweet King’s Hawaiian bun? But the thing I was most excited about was actually the sandwiches’ downfall. The fish on its own was tasty, but it was overpowered by all the sweet flavors of the bun and tomatoes. In the end, it tasted more like a tomato sandwich than a fish sandwich.

3. Popeyes' Spicy Flounder Fish Sandwich

Popeyes spicy fish sandwich

Popeyes Spicy Flounder Fish Sandwich sits on the limited-time menu with its Classic counterpart. The spicy version includes a flounder filet marinated in Louisiana herbs and spices, pickles, and spicy mayo on a brioche bun.

I didn’t love the original sandwich because I felt the spices overpowered the fish, but in this version, the spicy mayo really takes over. As a spicy food fan, I loved the spicy mayo’s taste—in fact, I would have topped every single one of these sandwiches with Popeyes’ spicy mayo given the choice.

Again, however, the fish was overpowered, I could have been eating any protein on that sandwich and I would have had no idea. So, if you want to drown out the taste of fish, this is the sandwich for you.

2. Arby's Crispy Fish Sandwich

Arby's Crispy Fish Sandwcih


Arby’s Crispy Fish Sandwich is its classic fish sandwich that pops up on the limited-time menu every year. The sandwich has a crispy fish filet, tartar sauce, and shredded lettuce on a sesame seed bun.

While I thought that McDonald’s sandwich was going to taste nostalgic, Arby’s sandwich was actually the one that did. This is the quintessential fish sandwich that you remember your mom making when you were young or getting at your church’s fish fry. The fish was crispy and had a good flavor and the tartar sauce wasn’t doing too much. My only complaint was that it was a little dry, so I would ask for a side of tartar sauce next time—or maybe even one of Arby's iconic sauces.

1. Wendy's Crispy Panko Fish Sandwich

Wendy's fish sandwich

Wendy’s Crispy Panko Fish Sandwich is a limited-time offering complete with a Panko-breaded fish filet, dill tartar sauce, pickles, American cheese, and lettuce on a bun.

When trying seven fish sandwiches, you don’t want to stuff yourself on one when you know there’s more to come. However, I couldn’t help myself from going back for more bites of this Wendy’s sandwich. 

The fish is perfectly crispy and the pickle adds an extra crunch in contrast to the fluffy bun. The tartar sauce was more vinegary than mayo-forward, making it my favorite tartar sauce of the day. And the lettuce was incredibly fresh and crunchy, which was a sharp contrast to the limp lettuce of the other sandwiches. The only downside was the cheese was pretty underwhelming next to all the other ingredients, but I didn’t mind all that much.

Leave it to the Fresh Never Frozen company to really knock it out of the park with the fish sandwich. Would I choose the fish sandwich over one of Wendy’s burgers? Probably not, but I will absolutely be going back for another fish sandwich when I can’t have red meat next Friday.

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