Classic British Fish and Chips Recipe

Fish and chips on a wooden board with dip in small glass bowl

The Spruce Eats

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Rest Time : 30 mins
Total: 85 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
701 Calories
20g Fat
72g Carbs
54g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 701
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 20g 26%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 186mg 62%
Sodium 662mg 29%
Total Carbohydrate 72g 26%
Dietary Fiber 5g 20%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 54g
Vitamin C 22mg 109%
Calcium 146mg 11%
Iron 6mg 34%
Potassium 2291mg 49%
*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.)

Classic fish and chips are a British institution and a national dish that everyone can't help but love. You can buy them from one of the thousands of fish and chip shops all over the country, including the world-famous Harry Ramsden's—or you can make them at home.

Use a thick white fish for this recipe; sustainable cod, haddock, or pollock are preferable. The fillets are dipped in a flour batter that includes both dark beer and sparkling water, and the carbonation ensures a light, crispy fried fish. The "chips" are simply freshly cut fried potatoes. Use one pot to fry the chips, then the fish, then the chips again (for that crisp exterior and fluffy interior) to ensure both fish and chips are ready to eat at the same time. Serve with a pint and bring the pub home.

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"Although thin, the batter makes a good coating for the fish. My haddock pieces weren't thick, so cooked in 6 minutes. Nicely browned and perfectly done, the fish was soft and moist. The chips were delightfully golden brown. I'm a big fish and chips fan, and this recipe was as good as my favorite restaurant's." —Diana Rattray

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Ingredients

For the Fish:

  • 7 tablespoons (55 grams) all-purpose flour, divided

  • 7 tablespoons (55 grams) cornstarch

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • Sea salt, to taste

  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 1/3 cup dark beer, cold

  • 1/3 cup sparkling water, cold

  • 4 (7-ounce) fish fillets (thick, white fish)

For the Chips:

  • 2 pounds potatoes, peeled

  • 1 quart (1 liter) vegetable oil , or lard, for frying

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for fish and chips recipe gathered

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  2. Set aside 2 tablespoons of flour. In a large, roomy bowl, mix the remaining flour with the cornstarch and baking powder. Season lightly with a tiny pinch of salt and pepper.

    Flour, cornstarch, baking, powder, and seasonings being mixed in a shallow bowl with a fork

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  3. Using a fork to whisk continuously, add the beer and the sparkling water to the flour mixture and continue mixing until you have a thick, smooth batter. Place the batter in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

    Beer being added to flour mix and stirred with a fork to a thick, smooth consistency

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  4. Meanwhile, cut the potatoes into a little less than 1/2-inch-thick slices, then slice these into 1/2-inch-wide chips. Place the chips into a colander and rinse under cold running water.

    Cut potatoes for chips rinsed with water in a metal colander

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  5. Place the washed chips into a pan of cold water. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.

    Cut potatoes being dropped from colander into pot with boiling water

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  6. Drain carefully through a colander, then dry with paper towels. Keep in the fridge covered with paper towels until needed.

    Cut potatoes placed on a plate lined with paper towels

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  7. Meanwhile, lay the fish fillets on a paper towel and pat dry. Season lightly with a little sea salt.

    Fish fillets placed on a plate lined with paper towels

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  8. Heat the oil to 350 F in a deep-fat fryer or large, deep saucepan. Cook the chips a few handfuls at a time in the oil for about 2 minutes. Do not brown them. Once the chips are slightly cooked, remove them from the oil and drain. Keep to one side.

    Chips being fried pale in hot oil in a frying pan

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  9. Place the 2 tablespoons of flour reserved from the batter mix into a shallow bowl. Toss each fish fillet in the flour and shake off any excess.

    Fish fillets being dredged in flour in a shallow bowl

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  10. Dip into the batter, coating the entire fillet.

    One flour-coated fish fillet being placed into shallow bowl with batter

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  11. Check that the oil temperature is still 350 F. Carefully lower each fillet into the hot oil. Fry for approximately 8 minutes, or until the batter is crisp and golden, turning the fillets from time to time with a large slotted spoon.

    Fish being fried golden brown in hot oil in a frying pan

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  12. Once cooked, remove the fillets from the hot oil and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Cover with greaseproof paper (parchment paper) and keep hot.

    Fried fish filets placed on paper towels

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  13. Heat the oil to 400 F, then cook the chips until golden and crisp, or about 5 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain. Season with salt.

    Potatoes being fried golden brown in hot oil

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  14. Serve immediately with the hot fish accompanied by your favorite condiment.

Tips

  • When making this classic version, be sure to use the freshest cod, pollock, or haddock that you can find for the best results. Frozen fish is also fine, but make sure it is thoroughly defrosted and dried with paper towels first.
  • Prepare the batter and only dip the fish at the last moment before plunging into hot oil to fry. This way you will always have a light and crisp snap to the batter.
  • Use a floury potato for the chips. The best varieties are King Edward, Maris Piper, Sante, russet and Yukon Gold.

Why Is Simmering the Potatoes Important?

British "chips" are the same as french fries, and restaurants use a few tricks to make really good and crispy fries. The most important of those are blanching and double frying; the same method used in this recipe. Simmering and the cold water rinse leaves you with blanched potatoes that contain less moisture and will result in crispier fried chips.

Why Do Fish and Chips Get Soggy?

A few factors may result in soggy fish and chips. The first is that the fish and potatoes need to be dry. Removing moisture produces crispier fried food and reduces oil splatter. Oil temperature is also key: If it's too cool, the food needs to cook longer, will soak up more oil, and become soggy. You also don't want it too hot because that can lead to a burnt batter or undercooked fish and potatoes. When deep-frying in a pan, use a thermometer to monitor and maintain the oil temperature. Avoid overcrowding the pan, which will lower the temperature as well.