Crunchy Baked Fish Sticks aren’t the fish sticks you ate as a kid! These are healthy, baked, and have a great punch of flavor from Old Bay Seasoning. These easy to make fish sticks are on the table in under 30 minutes, and will be an instant family favorite
This post and step-by-step photos updated March 7, 2019
Living in Maryland, I was spoiled by easy access to fresh seafood. So when I moved to Oklahoma it was a big culture shock, and I refused to eat any seafood for a year. Now I rely primarily on frozen fish from Sam’s Club or Costco. I also discovered 2 seafood markets in Tulsa that fly in fresh product daily.
Cod is one of my favorite types of white fish, and I use it for my Beer Battered Fish Tacos. I ate a lot of fish sticks as a kid, and I loved the crunchy crust and flaky interior. Lately, I’ve been eyeing fish sticks at the grocery store but wanted a more grown-up version, so I created Crunchy Baked Fish Sticks
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS
- It’s a light and healthy main dish
- You get the crunch of traditional fish sticks, with a fraction of the calories
- This easy recipe is on the table in under 30 minutes
- Your kids will love them!
CRUNCHY BAKED FISH STICKS INGREDIENTS
- Firm, mild white fish
- Panko Bread Crumbs. Substitute Gluten Free Panko Bread Crumbs to keep them gluten free
- Seasonings: Old Bay Seasoning, paprika, dried parsley, black pepper
- Spicy Brown Mustard
- Fresh lemon juice
What is Old Bay Seasoning? You’ll find it somewhere on the menu of every seafood restaurant in Maryland. It’s a glorious mix of flavors that you will instantly love. Old Bay was originally named “Delicious Brand Shrimp and Crab Seasoning”. No real surprise, the name didn’t stick. The Old Bay name was inspired by a steamship line that traveled the Chesapeake between Maryland and Virginia.
Many locals sprinkle it on their French fries, and it’s also great on other seafood, chicken, and vegetables. You can purchase it online, and also find it in grocery stores around the country. I use it for Old Bay Chicken Wings and Old Bay Salmon Cakes.
SELECTING THE RIGHT FISH FOR CRUNCHY BAKED FISH STICKS
- Use a firm, mild white fish. I use cod, but haddock or halibut also works well.
- Use a loin cut, rather than the fillet. The loin is cut from the fattest portion of the fish, and fillets tend to be thin.
- I don’t have easy access to fresh fish where I live, so I buy the vacuum-sealed, frozen fish from Sam’s Club or Costco. But of course, fresh fish is ideal
How to Buy Fresh Fish
First and foremost, a reputable fish market will never sell you bad fish! Good fishmongers want to help you make the best selection and will even give you tips and recommendations, so use their expertise.
- Fish should smell fresh, like the sea…if it smells “fishy”, it’s not fresh
- Fish should be firm, bounce back to touch, and should never feel slimy
- If you buy a whole fish, make sure the eyes are clear, and not cloudy. Also, check the scales and make sure they are bright, not dull
STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS FOR CRUNCHY BAKED FISH STICKS
Pat fish dry with paper towels. Using a sharp knife, cut fish into pieces about 1″ x 2″. (PIC 1)
In one bowl, combine Panko bread crumbs, Old Bay Seasoning, paprika, and dried parsley. In another bowl, combine eggs, Old Bay Seasoning, spicy brown mustard, black pepper, and fresh lemon juice. (PIC 2-3)
Dredge fish pieces in egg mixture, and then roll in bread crumb mixture. You may need to use your hands to press the crumbs into the fish. Place breaded fish on foil-lined baking sheet. (PIC 4)
COOKING TIME, LEFTOVERS, AND MORE
Don’t overcook Crunchy Baked Fish Sticks! Overcooked fish becomes rubbery. Rubbery fish is not good. They will cook in 15-20 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the fish.
I don’t reheat fish. It never tastes the same, and fried fish (or fried food, for that matter) loses its trademark crunch.
Crunchy Baked Fish Sticks don’t hold well for a long time, so I recommend that you prepare them right before eating. If you make them too far ahead, the breading will get mushy. Full disclosure, I sometimes eat the Crunchy Baked Fish Sticks directly off the baking sheet…no shame in my game!
HOMEMADE TARTAR SAUCE
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 Homemade Tartar Sauce. It’s guaranteed fresh, I know what’s in it, and I only make what I need.
MORE DELICIOUS SEAFOOD RECIPES
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Crunchy Baked Fish Sticks
- 1 lb cod loin, about 1" thick (thawed, if frozen)
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons spicy brown mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- In medium bowl, make Homemade Tartar Sauce. Set aside in fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
- 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, 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 15-20 minutes, until cooked through.
- Serve immediately, with tartar sauce for dipping