Crunchy Baked Fish Sticks. These aren’t the fish sticks you ate as a kid! Healthy, baked, light and super crunchy, these will definitely be a family favorite
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Living in Maryland, I was spoiled by easy access to fresh seafood. My mom had a couple of favorite seafood markets near our house, and we shopped there regularly. So when I moved to Oklahoma it was a big culture shock, and I refused to eat any seafood for a year. After a couple of years I bought frozen seafood from Sam’s Club, and then eventually discovered truly fresh seafood at 2 stores in Tulsa. Unfortunately I don’t get to Tulsa that often, so I usually rely on frozen.
Cod is one of my favorite types of white fish, and I use it for my Beer Battered Fish Tacos. I have a variety of shrimp and salmon recipes on the blog, but nothing else with white fish. I ate a lot of fish sticks as a kid, and I loved the crunchy crust and flaky interior. But I probably haven’t bought them in about 15 years. Lately I’ve been eyeing fish sticks at the grocery store, but wanted a more grown up, and healthier version, so I created Crunchy Baked Fish Sticks
The first bite of Crunchy Baked Fish Sticks took me back to my childhood! Crispy crust, flaky fish inside. And because they’re baked, less guilt.
TIPS FOR THE PERFECT BAKED FISH STICKS
- Use a firm, mild white fish. I use cod, but haddock or halibut would also work well. The only down side to halibut is that it is significantly more expensive
- Use a cod loin, rather than fillet. The loin is cut from the fattest portion of the fish, and fillets tend to be thin. You want fish sticks that are about 1″ thick
- If you can find fresh cod that’s perfect, but I can never find the thick pieces I want. So I use frozen, vacuum-sealed cod loins
- Panko Bread Crumbs create a light, flaky and crunchy crust. You could use regular bread crumbs, but it will create a more dense crust
- Season generously! The fish and Panko are bland on their own, so you need some flavor boost. I use Old Bay Seasoning, Paprika, and Dried Parsley
- Don’t overcook the Crunchy Baked Fish Sticks. They will cook in 15-20 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the sticks. If you overcook fish, it becomes rubbery. That’s never a good thing.
I’ve always been a fan of Old Bay Seasoning. It’s a Maryland tradition, and you get it with nearly every seafood dish in the state. I was so excited to find it in Walmart in my town, and it’s also available online. I use it for my Old Bay Chicken Wings and my Old Bay Salmon Cakes, so now I’m on a mission to use it every chance I get.
Fish does not hold well for a long time, so make these Crunchy Baked Fish Sticks right before you eat them. The last thing you want is mushy fish. Full disclosure, I will sometimes eat the Crunchy Baked Fish Sticks directly off the baking sheet. I’m single and cook for myself…no shame in my game!
HOMEMADE TARTAR SAUCE FOR CRUNCHY BAKED FISH STICKS
Fish sticks aren’t fish sticks without tartar sauce. Rather than buy a jar that will inevitably sit in the fridge half-used for months, I checked out the ingredients and decided to make my own. It’s guaranteed fresh, I know what’s in it, and I only make what I need?! I let the tarter sauce rest for about an hour before using, so the flavors combine and develop:
- Mayonnaise – the fish sticks are healthy enough for me to justify using the real thing for the tarter sauce, and my favorite brand is Duke’s. To lighten it up, my favorite brand is Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Mayo
- Greek Yogurt – I love the tangy bite of Greek yogurt, and it cuts down on the amount of mayonnaise.
- Pickles or pickle relish – I don’t have pickle relish, but I always have Bread & Butter Pickles in the fridge, so I use those and finely dice them
- Fresh lemon juice and fresh dill add flavor and brightness to the tartar sauce. I also add roasted garlic, which adds a wonderful subtle sweetness
I am so excited about these Crunchy Baked Fish Sticks. Sometimes I’ll serve them with fries, other times I’ll eat them on their own as a snack or a light lunch. I will usually add a squeeze of fresh lemon just before serving, to add a little more flavor. They are so easy to make; I’m not sure what took me so long to figure that out, but I’m sure glad I did.
SHOP THIS RECIPE
- 1 lb cod loin, about 1" thick (thawed, if frozen)
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 1 teaspoons paprika
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 Tablespoon finely diced bread & butter pickles
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh dill, minced
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- In medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, yogurt, pickles, lemon juice, garlic powder and dill. Combine well, and let rest in fridge for an hour
- Cut cod loins into sticks. You want them to be about 2" long by 1" wide. Pat dry with paper towels
- In a large shallow plate, combine Panko, Old Bay, paprika, and dried parsley. Stir to combine well
- In a large bowl, combine eggs, mustard, Old Bay, black pepper and lemon juice. Whisk briskly to combine well
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place a piece of aluminum foil on a baking sheet, and spray with cooking spray
- Dip cod pieces into egg mixture, and turn several times to coat well. Then add pieces to Panko mixture. Toss to coat, and press lightly to ensure that breading sticks to cod sticks
- Place prepared fish sticks on baking sheet. Spray tops of fish sticks lightly with cooking spray. Bake in oven for 16-20 minutes, until cooked through.
- Serve immediately with tarter sauce