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Crunchy Baked Fish Sticks

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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
overhead shot of finished fish sticks, with side of french fries

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 
finished fish sticks, with side of french fries

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.

Many locals sprinkle it on their French fries, and it’s also great on other seafood, chicken, and vegetables. I use it for Old Bay Chicken Wings and Old Bay Salmon Cakes.

INGREDIENT TIPS FOR CRUNCHY BAKED FISH STICKS

Use a firm, mild white fish and 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

Panko Bread Crumbs create the golden, crunchy exterior. They’re pretty bland on their own, so I infuse them with lots of flavor from Old Bay Seasoning, paprika, dried parsley, and black pepper.

Spicy Brown Mustard, egg and fresh lemon juice create the base for the Panko mixture to adhere to the fish.

Don’t overcook the fish! Overcooked fish is rubbery, and that is never good.

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
finished fish sticks, one with bite taken out to show texture of fish
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)

overhead shots of fish cut into pieces, dry breading ingredients, wet breading ingredients

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)

fish sticks breaded, ready to bake

Bake Crunchy Baked Fish Sticks in a 350-degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Cooking time may vary based on the size and thickness of the fish pieces.

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. 

overhead shot of finished fish sticks, with side of french fries
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What other types of fish can I use? Haddock or halibut are great substitutions because they have the same mild flavor. Snapper has a slightly heartier flavor, but it would work as well.

Can you reheat these fish sticks? I am not a fan of reheating fish, especially breaded or fried fish. The breading gets soft, and reheated fish never tastes the same. 

Can you make these ahead? Fish typically doesn’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. 

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Crunchy Baked Fish Sticks - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

Crunchy Baked Fish Sticks

Yield: 2 people
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

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

Ingredients

  • 1 lb cod loin, about 1" thick (thawed, if frozen)

BREADING MIXTURE

EGG MIXTURE

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, make Homemade Tartar Sauce. Set aside in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest. 
  2. Cut cod loins into sticks. You want them to be about 2" long by 1" wide. Pat dry with paper towels
  3. In a large shallow plate, combine Panko bread crumbs, Old Bay Seasoning, paprika, and dried parsley. Stir to combine well
  4. In a large bowl, combine eggs, mustard, black pepper, and lemon juice. Whisk briskly to combine well
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a piece of aluminum foil on a baking sheet, and spray with cooking spray
  6. Dip cod pieces into the 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
  7. Place prepared fish sticks on the baking sheet. Spray tops of fish sticks lightly with cooking spray. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, until cooked through. 
  8. Serve immediately, with tartar sauce for dipping

Notes

Use a firm, mild white fish. I use cod, but haddock or halibut works well

Use a loin cut, rather than the fillet

Don't overcook fish sticks! Overcooked fish becomes rubbery and not good

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

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What other types of fish can I use? Haddock or halibut are great substitutions because they have the same mild flavor. Snapper has a slightly heartier flavor, but it would work as well.

Can you reheat these fish sticks? I am not a fan of reheating fish, especially breaded or fried fish. The breading gets soft, and reheated fish never tastes the same. 

Can you make these ahead? Fish typically doesn’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. 

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 2 people
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 321Saturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 261mgSodium: 353mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 48g
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Claire | The Simple, Sweet Life

Sunday 24th of March 2019

I've never baked my own fish sticks from scratch, but I'm definitely going to have to give this a try. I'm sure they're infinitely better than anything you can get at the store!

Julie

Sunday 24th of March 2019

What a transition, going from Baltimore to Oklahoma! We have a great commercial seafood market here in Philly and their local residential shop is one block from my house - we are SO lucky to get fresh fish so easily. Cod is one of my favorites to pick up for dinner, too.

Amanda Mason

Sunday 24th of March 2019

When I was a little girl, I grew up on fish sticks and these remind me of making homemade fish sticks! Loving this recipe and your pictures came out so amazing!!

Andrea

Sunday 24th of March 2019

We love eating fish in the family, but for some reasons, I never make it this way. Such a shame as it looks and sound delicious, can;t wait to give it a try!

Natalie

Sunday 24th of March 2019

My kid loves cod. I can't wait to make him this for dinner. It looks absolutely delicious. I love how you flavored the breadcrumbs. Sounds so flavorful. Saving this recipe to give it a try.

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