15 Fish & Seafood Recipes for Picky Eaters

overhead view of New England Clam Chowder II recipe in a bowl garnished with bacon bits, parsley, and oyster crackers
Photo: Jason Donnelly

Fish can be tricky to cook, especially for beginner cooks, first-time fish eaters, or the all-around unfamiliar. Fish can also be polarizing. With strong odors and oily textures, fish and seafood may be off-putting to the uninitiated or even to those who've tried it many, many times and still just don't find it crave-worthy. But the truth about fish and seafood is that how it is prepared can determine a great deal about how it will be received. Where smoked salmon is oily and fishy, cod, halibut, and rainbow trout are milder and can easily be swapped out for chicken or pork in a number of familiar favorites. Sweeter seafood like shrimp may also be more appealing to picky eaters. Peruse these 15 fish and seafood recipes to find some that will impress the picky eaters in your family enough for them to ask for seconds.

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Tartar Sauce-Battered Fish Sticks in the Air Fryer

Recall childhood meals with these crispy fish sticks. What was good enough for you as a kid is likely good enough now or for your picky kids. Serve with more tartar sauce or homemade remoulade. Ketchup will work, too, if that's what it takes to get kids to eat the fish.

02 of 16

Crunchy Pecorino Baked Cod

Cod is a thick, meaty white fish that's delicious on its own, in sandwiches, or under a coating of crispy crumbs. Dried herbs and a splash of Worcestershire sauce add all the flavor you need, while mayo provides enough cling to keep the panko mixture stuck to the fish.

03 of 16

Air-Fried Crispy Fish Po' Boys with Chipotle Slaw

Air-Fried Crispy Fish Po Boy Sandwiches

Filet o' Fish sandwiches have a cult-like following for a reason: Crispy fish sandwiches are positively delicious. This po' boy is jazzed up with a warmly spiced coleslaw and a hint of salty cheese. Using the air fryer will help ensure the fish remains juicy while the outside gets beautifully crisp.

04 of 16

Baja Style Fish Tacos

If your family enjoys taco Tuesday, switch up your basic ground beef or chicken for cod fillets. The crispy coating makes it a dinner in disguise; picky eaters may not realize they're eating fish. But even if they do, they'll be surprised by how well it goes with all their favorite taco toppings.

05 of 16

Popcorn Shrimp

Popcorn shrimp are popular on kids' menus at restaurants for a reason: They can convince picky kids to eat seafood. It doesn't hurt that popcorn shrimp is great for dipping in any number of sauces: Ketchup, cocktail, or tartar sauces are all welcome along side these crispy shrimp.

06 of 16

Shrimp Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Crema

If the cod tacos get two thumbs up, go for another seafood taco with shrimp. Shrimp's natural flavor is sweet, not fishy, which makes it more picky eater-friendly. Just be sure to not overcook the shrimp. Bouncy shrimp is no one's favorite.

07 of 16

Crispy Beer Batter Fish and Chips

Crispy Beer Battered Fish and Chips
Chef John

You don't have to be in England to enjoy this classic takeaway dish, but if you've ever been and found that you loved it, you'll be thrilled to enjoy it on this side of the pond. Chef John promises his version stays crisp so you don't have to be in a hurry to eat it before the crust turns soggy.

08 of 16

New England Clam Chowder II

overhead view on a bowl of creamy New England clam chowder II topped with crispy bacon and chopped parsley.
Allrecipes Magazine

"This is a great recipe for when you're craving clam chowder, and don't want to wait. Here in Rhode Island, we have an abundance of clams, so I make this one often, using quahogs that my boys dig up," writes POPPASQUASH.

09 of 16

Baked Halibut with Crispy Panko

Baking fish is one of the best ways to cook fish for picky eaters. Baking the fish helps you avoid overcooking, and it helps the fish retain moisture. Halibut, like cod, is thick and flaky, which more easily replicates the familiar chicken. The flavors of the panko topping are kept simple so that the mild flavors of the halibut aren't overwhelmed.

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Chef John's Crab Cakes

Once picky eaters are OK with shrimp, move on to crab. Crab cakes are a fun fishy alternative to meatloaf or hamburger steaks. These are mixed with as little filler as possible so that the sweet lump crabmeat shines.

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Honey-Glazed Baked Salmon

Pairing one of the most popular fatty fish with the iconic duo of honey and garlic may help picky eaters warm up to it. But be careful not to overcook the salmon, as overcooked salmon is fishy and tough (one of the reasons fish-phobic eaters steer clear of fishy dishes).

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Darra's Famous Tuna Waldorf Salad Sandwich Filling

If tuna salad turned you off to fish and seafood, know that there are delicious alternatives out there that will make you love tuna salad again. Start with this version, which has added flavor from curry powder, and the full Waldorf treatment (apples, walnuts, and celery).

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Coconut Shrimp I

"Very delicious! I chilled the batter and marmalade overnight and prepared the shrimp the next day. Even though I lost coconut in the oil, a lot was still on the shrimp. Chilling is the secret," writes Allrecipes community member 1Husband_1Hound.

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Copycat Bang Bang Shrimp

Many picky eaters will eat seafood at restaurants, where professional chefs can prepare it. Bring home some of their favorite seafood dishes, and you may be able to convince those picky eaters (or yourself) to enjoy more fish dishes at home. Start with this one: The tangy-sweet sauce makes fans out of even the most fish-phobic people. If they're fans of heat, up the sriracha for a stronger kick.

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Southern Fried Catfish

Just like fish sticks, fried catfish rarely leaves picky eaters wanting more. The cornmeal crust makes an irresistible crunch that brings enough flavor for an interesting bite but doesn't overwhelm the mild catfish. Serve with tartar sauce or any number of dipping sauces that will please the picky eater.

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More Inspiration

Spaghetti with Tuna and Capers
Kim's Cooking Now
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