Easy Fried Fish Fillets

fried fish

The Spruce

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
340 Calories
19g Fat
12g Carbs
29g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 340
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 25%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 107mg 36%
Sodium 393mg 17%
Total Carbohydrate 12g 4%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 29g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 25mg 2%
Iron 2mg 13%
Potassium 626mg 13%
*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.)

Don't let the simplicity of this tasty fried fish recipe fool you: The fillets fry up perfectly cooked inside, with a beautiful golden crust. Haddock and cod are two excellent choices for our fried fish recipe, but tilapia, pollock, catfish, bass, trout, or perch will also yield a beautiful meal. Ready in 30 minutes, this is a perfect meal for a busy weeknight or to serve as a weekend lunch alongside a salad and a few dipping sauces, like classic tartar, Louisiana rémoulade, or chipotle mayonnaise.

The trick to perfect fried fish lies in the oil and temperature used for cooking it and in the coating used on the fish. Use an oil with a high smoking point, such as canola, corn, safflower, peanut, avocado, or grapeseed oil—avoid olive oil or butter, since they will burn at the temperatures required for frying. Don't skip the flour coating, since it provides a delicious crispy texture, protects the fish from soaking up too much oil, and also keeps the fillet in one piece. For best results, use a heavy-bottomed pan, as it distributes the heat evenly.

Since fish happens to be a more tender protein, if your fillets are particularly thin, keep a close eye on the skillet when frying them. If frying in batches, add more oil as needed and bring up to temperature before adding more fillets. Before starting, lightly pat the fish fillets dry with a paper towel.

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

  • 1 pound fish fillets (such as haddock, tilapia, or cod)

  • 2 cups vegetable oil, for frying 

  • Lemon wedges, tartar sauce, or rémoulade, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients set out for making the fried fish fillets
    The Spruce 
  2. In a shallow bowl or deep plate, combine the flour, paprika, salt, and pepper and mix well.

    Seasoning and flour in a shallow bowl, ready for dredging the fish
    The Spruce
  3. Dip 1 or 2 fish fillets into the flour mixture. Make sure they are completely coated on all sides and gently shake off any excess. Repeat the process with the remaining fillets.

    Dredged fish fillets in the flour and seasoning mix
    The Spruce
  4. Pour oil into a skillet and heat over medium-high heat to 375 F.

    Oil heating in a skillet
     The Spruce
  5. Working in batches, fry the fish in the hot oil for about 6 minutes on each side, or until golden brown, crispy, and cooked through. Remove and set on a cooling rack to let drain.

    Frying the fish fillets in oil
    The Spruce
  6. Serve hot with lemon wedges, tartar sauce, or homemade rémoulade sauce, if desired. Enjoy.

    Fried fish fillets draining on newspaper along with lemon wedges, tartar sauce, and ketchup
    The Spruce

Tips for the Crispiest Fish

Try these tested tips to get your fish crispy every time:

  • Always pat dry your fish fillets using paper towels to ensure the flour coating sticks well and there are no soggy parts.
  • Once the fish is in the pan, never cover it, as you'll end up steaming it and the coating might fall off, leaving behind a greasy fish fillet.
  • Keep the oil temperature steady. A thermometer is a great tool to have at hand, especially if you're fond of fried food.
  • Don't move the fish in the pan but allow it to fry and release from the pan naturally.

Additions for a Flavorful Crust

Make a flavorful crust by adding dry herbs and spices:

  • Add to the flour a few dashes of Old Bay, Cajun, or Creole seasoning, or Mrs. Dash if you're watching your salt intake.
  • Add to the flour 1/4 teaspoon each of dried and ground thyme, rosemary, oregano, savory, dill, cilantro, and parsley.

How Can I Make Gluten-Free Fish Fillets?

It is possible to make crispy fried fish for people on strict gluten-free diets. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Replace the all-purpose flour with finely ground cornmeal.
  • Use rice or oat flours instead of the all-purpose flour.
  • Use a gluten-free mix, usually made from a base of potato starch, rice flour, or garbanzo flour.
  • Use almond meal to coat the fish but be mindful of tree nut allergies.