Air Fryer Fish Sticks

air fryer fish sticks

Diana Rattray / The Spruce

Prep: 18 mins
Cook: 16 mins
Total: 34 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Yield: 8 to 12 pieces
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
393 Calories
6g Fat
47g Carbs
34g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
×
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 393
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 8%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 168mg 56%
Sodium 1450mg 63%
Total Carbohydrate 47g 17%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 34g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 139mg 11%
Iron 4mg 22%
Potassium 563mg 12%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Air fryer fish sticks are super easy to fix because you know exactly what's in them. You won't find preservatives, oil, dairy, or sugar in these tasty fish sticks. Panko breadcrumbs add the crunch to the fish sticks, while a well-seasoned flour mixture adds complementary flavor.

Haddock is a flaky, mild-tasting fish, making them a sure crowd pleaser. You can usually find frozen haddock fillets that are fairly uniform in thickness. Cod and pollock are also excellent choices. Old Bay Seasoning is a popular spice mixture that complements fish and shellfish. If you can't find Old Bay, you can either make your own or substitute it with a Creole seasoning blend.

These fish sticks make an enjoyable weeknight meal. Add a side of French fries, sweet potato fries, coleslaw, or mac and cheese, along with tartar sauce, remoulade, or ketchup for dipping.

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces frozen haddock fillets (or cod or pollock, thawed)

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (divided use)

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (divided use)

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients for air fryer fish sticks
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  2. Pat the fish dry with paper towels, then season lightly with about half of the salt and half of the pepper.

    cut fish pieces on a cutting board with salt and pepper
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  3. In a small bowl, combine the remaining salt and pepper with the flour and Old Bay seasoning.

    seasoned flour
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  4. In another bowl, beat the eggs with the Dijon mustard.

    eggs, beaten
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  5. Coat the fish sticks lightly with the flour mixture, then dip the fish in the egg mixture to coat all sides. Let the excess egg drip off, then coat the fish sticks generously with the panko crumbs, pressing to help the breading adhere.

    breading station for fish sticks
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  6. Place the individual coated fish pieces on a rack while you dip the remaining pieces. At this point, you may refrigerate the fish sticks until you are ready to cook.

    air fryer fish sticks ready to cook
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  7. Lightly oil the air fryer basket or spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat it to 400 F.

    air fryer basket oiled
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  8. Arrange about half of the fish sticks in the air fryer basket, leaving a bit of space between each one. If desired, spray them lightly with cooking oil.

    air fryer with fish sticks
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  9. Cook the fish sticks at 400 F for 12 to 16 minutes, flipping them after 8 minutes. Transfer the fish sticks to a rack and repeat with the remaining pieces.

    air fryer fish sticks on a rack
    The Spruce / Diana Rattray
  10. Serve the fish sticks with lemon wedges and tartar sauce, remoulade, or ketchup.

    air fryer fish sticks
    air fryer fish sticks

Make It Ahead

These fish sticks are freezer-friendly! Prepare the fish sticks with the breading mixture and arrange them on a baking sheet until firm. Transfer them to a zip-close freezer bag and freeze them for up to 1 month. Put the frozen fish sticks in the preheated 400 F air fryer and cook for about 18 to 20 minutes, turning after about 9 minutes.

How To Store and Freeze

Fish is always best eaten as soon as it's cooked, partly because leftovers must be heated to a higher minimum temperature of 165 F. If you have leftover fish sticks, refrigerate them in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days. To freeze, place the cooked fish sticks in a zip-close freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Reheat cooked fish gently to 165 F, the minimum safe temperature for leftover food.

What Kind of Fish Is Best for Fish Sticks?

Most frozen fish sticks (or fish fingers) use whitefish, which is a generic term for several species, including Atlantic cod, haddock, whiting, hake, and pollock. The cooked fish is flaky and mild in flavor.

Can You Use Substitute Fine Breadcrumbs for Panko?

You can use fine dry breadcrumbs instead of the panko crumbs, but the texture will be different. To make breadcrumbs at home, process day-old bread and toast it until it is dried.

Tips

  • Avoid overcrowding the air fryer basket. Fish sticks need airflow on all sides to brown evenly.
  • To facilitate browning, spray the fish sticks lightly with oil when arranging them in the basket and when turning them.
  • Open the air fryer as often as needed to check for browning.
  • Use an instant-read thermometer to check for doneness. The minimum safe temperature for fish and seafood (USDA guidelines) is 145 F.

Recipe Variations

  • Instead of cutting the fish into sticks, cut it into nugget shapes. For nuggets, shake the basket a few times during the cooking process to help them brown evenly.
  • Feel free to open the air fryer as often as needed to check for the fish temperature or browning.
  • Baked Fish Sticks: To bake the fish sticks, preheat the oven to 450 F. Arrange the fish sticks on a greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, turning halfway through.
  • For a finer coating, pulse the panko crumbs in a food processor.