Homemade Fish Sticks (with Spicy Tartar Sauce)

in Appetizers

Last week I had a straight hour where all I thought about were fish sticks. I’m pretty sure it had everything to do with me avoiding work, coupled with the Los Angeles weather being an absurd 80 degrees in the dead of winter; nonetheless, it was all I could think about.

The weirdest part about this fixation was that growing up cafeteria fish sticks were the last thing I ever wanted on my lunch tray. Even at the ripe age of seven, my brain knew they were not to be trusted.

I mean, just up until last week I was under the not-so-cute impression that fish sticks were made like chicken nuggets: ground up, reformed to a “stick shape”and coated to hide the scariness. I know this sorta doesn’t make sense, but this is what I thought.

Turns out, I was dead wrong. So glad I was wrong. Aren’t you glad!? This means we can still guiltlessly enjoy them.

Turns out they’re made really normal like.

Fish. Bread crumbs. Fry. That’s it.

I took a good quality fish. Cod was on sale! Though, halibut or tilapia would work, too. Basically you need some white fish. White fish. That’s it.

I cut the fillets down the center into thirds. I ended up with three long, super skinny fillets. I then cut those into 4-inch sticks. That’s it! I trimmed some of the edges to make them a better stick-like shape. You can do this too or just leave them be. Whatevs.

Cracked a few eggs in a bowl. Mixed some Parmesan with a few handfuls of panko crumbs. Seasoned it. And dipped. And then fried. That’s it!

If you’re not into the whole hot oil thing, no biggie! I got you.

I actually baked the ones you see below. (Note! These are pre-bake!) The only difference from the fried and the baked is that the baked will give you paler fish sticks. They won’t be nearly as crispy or golden brown. But they’re still delicious. And healthier….so you decide.

If you need me, I’ll be eating the remainder of these fish sticks whilst listening to this pretty song imagining I’m on some vintage wooden sail boat off the coast of Maine. Heat waves do this to me.

Homemade Fish Sticks (with Spicy Tartar Sauce)

Print this recipe!

1 pound of cod fillets (Halibut or Tilapia would work too)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Rinse the cod and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. To cut the fish into “sticks,” slice the fillets into thirds, lengthwise. You’ll end up with three long strips. Cut those strips into 4-inch pieces. I ended up with about 20 (4-inch by 1-inch) fish sticks. Note: I trimmed those 4-inch pieces’ scraggly edges. You can do this too, or just leave it be. Your call.

2. Add the all-purpose flour to a medium bowl. In another medium bowl, crack in the eggs and beat. On a plate, combine the panko bread crumbs, Parmesan, crushed red pepper and salt.

3. Roll the cod pieces in the flour, shaking off any excess. Drop the cod pieces in the beaten egg and then lastly, roll them around in the panko mixture. Transfer the pieces to a baking sheet. At this point you could either place them in an oven to bake or in some hot oil to fry.

4. To bake: Preheat oven to 450F. Place fish sticks on parchment and bake for 15-20 minutes and until edges are slightly golden brown. (They won’t be as golden brown as in the pictures above, but nonetheless, they’ll be delicious!)

5. To fry (my favorite way!): Preheat oven to warm. Place 1 cup of oil in a 10-inch cast iron skillet and heat, over medium-high, to 350F. (If you don’t have a thermometer, no bigs. Add a small piece of bread crumb to the hot oil. If it sizzles and starts to brown, you’re good.) Using tongs, gently add fish sticks to hot oil, cooking on each side for 1-3 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to paper towels to drain and then place in oven to keep warm while you finish the rest of the fish sticks.

Spicy Tartar Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely chopped jalapeño
1/2 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha

1. In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together and add more Sriracha if you like.

{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

sreebindu January 9, 2012 at 12:53 am
Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga January 9, 2012 at 2:17 am

I could just go to town with that tartar sauce. On everything.

And the fish sticks look great too!


Rachael January 9, 2012 at 4:09 am

When I saw this post on my feed I laughed out loud, because I knew after all the “fish stick” talk last week you would come up with a great recipe!
I am so glad you did too, I always thought it was ground up fish..whoda thought?!
Def gonna make these this spring!


Bev Weidner January 9, 2012 at 4:18 am

I had no idea they were just regular white fish either! I thought they were gobs of fish PIECES all formed together.

I’m a new woman.


Heather (Heather's Dish) January 9, 2012 at 5:05 am

i haven’t had fish sticks in FOREVER…these sound so good right now!

weird that i want them for breakfast? :)


Sally @ Spontaneous Hausfrau January 9, 2012 at 5:24 am

YES! These make me so happy! I got a bug up my you-know-whatsky recently about homemade fish sticks but sissed out and just grilled it. I WILL be making these in the near future.


Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray January 9, 2012 at 6:35 am

Hah! I was definitely a fish stick kid as a child…we had them for dinner on more than one short-on-time occasion.

…yeah, I’m not gonna lie, I totally want to make these for myself this week. Comfort kid food is my jam. :)


Ryan January 9, 2012 at 6:57 am

I totally have hours where I think about food instead of doing homework. And it’s been 70-80 degrees here, as well… oooh South Carolina, gotta love it…
These look sooo good, and I never was a fan of fish sticks before. I am going to have to try these!


Hilliary @Happily Ever Healthy January 9, 2012 at 7:12 am

I cannot remember the last time I had fish sticks!


CheekyChic January 9, 2012 at 7:37 am

These kind of fish sticks would totally trick the kids….mwahahahaha…(evil laugh). They just think they’re eating junk food.


Heidi @ Food Doodles January 9, 2012 at 8:20 am

Haha, I knew fish sticks were coming! Awesome 😀 Funny how things we thought were scary as kids are awesome as adults when we actually make the food ourselves. These look so soooo good. I’d be scared to fry them, but I love that you have an option for baking them. I may just try that and see what my kids think 😀


Kelsey @aslolife January 9, 2012 at 8:44 am

wow, these look amazing! I get local fish delivered every other week and I’m hoping it’s something white and flaky so we can make these for dinner soon!


Lori @ RecipeGirl January 9, 2012 at 8:58 am

These are so freakin’ awesome!!!!!!!!


Icklebabe January 9, 2012 at 9:02 am

They look yummy! Have book marked for attempting this week . We call them fish fingers over here in the UK, which seems very strange on writing ;))) fish dont even have fingers ! X


Elle @ Chellbellz January 9, 2012 at 9:05 am

I was just thinking of making a home made Filet O Fish my moms favorite, and of course you somehow manage to Blog recipes that i was thinking off days before


Lisa @ The Cooking Bride January 9, 2012 at 9:24 am

Every once in awhile I this random craving for fish sticks. I think maybe it reminds of childhood or something. I have never been very successful making my own, but yours look wonderful! I’m thinking maybe my little guy will like these as well.


Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe January 9, 2012 at 10:09 am

These look SO good. I want I want I want!


Mary @ Bake Break January 9, 2012 at 11:13 am

If these are half as good as your recipe for zucchini fries, I’m sure they’re amazing! Thanks for all of the great recipes!


Lauren @ FoodIsTherapy January 9, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Oh yum! I thought of you the other day after reading last’s weeks obsession over fish sticks…I was working out while watching Giada DeLaurentis (sick, I know) and she was making FISH STICKS. Looked really similar to yours but were egg-less and I thought I should share!

She also makes these salmon ones that are kind of making my mouth water…

Thanks for your recipe, too! Makes to want some for dinner! I think I’ll go with your sauce though – when I was a kid, I loved them dipped in yellow mustard or even worse, yellow mustard and ketchup stirred together. GROSS!


Adrianna January 9, 2012 at 1:28 pm

I used to work out and watch cooking shows too. Way twisted. Thanks for sharing!


Jessica @ How Sweet January 9, 2012 at 1:06 pm

loving how crunchy these look!


Cassie January 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Awe-some! I used to love fish sticks until I realized how bad they were for you. These look perfect!


Katy January 9, 2012 at 1:52 pm

I live in Maine! I was just talking with my boyfriend about how much we wanted fish sticks! Thanks so much!


Heather January 9, 2012 at 3:28 pm

You read my mind yet again! I just had fish tacos for the first time & I’m wondering where they’ve been my whole life. It had the most succulent fried fish in it so you can bet that I’ll be giving this recipe a go!

Also, dreaming of Maine is an idyllic way to pass time. I lived there & visit my mom there every year & it’s heavenly. Definitely ‘the way life should be’ as the state motto goes.

Heather @ Find That Warm Fuzzy Feeling


Let Me Eat Cake January 9, 2012 at 3:38 pm

loved fish sticks as a kid love them now! this + polenta fries = dinner tonight :)


Kristin January 9, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Yum. I pulled some halibut out of the freezer and these are going in the oven now. Thanks! Should be a crowd pleaser . :-)


Andrea @ LetLooseLittell January 9, 2012 at 6:40 pm

FINALLY! Fancy fish sticks! Yours look crunchy and delightful. And between me, you and the world, I was that kid that went with a double cafeteria order. Sad. I know.


Jessica@MakingHomeSweeter January 9, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Oh yummmm. Such a cute blog, new follower here. I look forward to browsing through everything :)


Adrianna January 10, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Glad you’re here.


Becky January 9, 2012 at 9:57 pm

I have been wanting something different to add to my quick fix dinner options. I need buy every single ingredient required, though. Will do it next paycheck! Thanks for clearing up that terrible memory I have of what fish sticks were in grade school :)


Adrianna January 10, 2012 at 8:30 pm

Awww. I hope it’s worth it. With those same ingredients you can make a lot of the other fries on this blog. So I hope that justifies the cost. :)


Nik January 10, 2012 at 6:03 am

These look so damn fine, lady! It’s just 6:00am and I want to eat them! Now!

I’ve only baked them and it was not a success. I think I missed the crispy texture. Baking might have reminded me too much of cafeteria style. I guess it’s time to fry them up. It’s not like I’ll make them every day or anything. They’re a sometimes food.


Adrianna January 10, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Bummer. Yeah, I definitely liked them fried more. And yes, fried foods aren’t for every day but OMG are they amazing.


Amber January 10, 2012 at 6:55 am

My first visit, and I totally just fell in love with your blog. Thanks for this <3 Can't wait to make these!!

Love & Cake,


Alexis @ There She Goes January 10, 2012 at 7:10 am

i never knew fish sticks were chunks of fish! and i used to get down with them like once a week in elementary school :)


Britney January 10, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Yummy! I have Tilapia in the freezer. Easy meal for tomorrow night.


Kelly January 10, 2012 at 6:12 pm

These look absolutely perfect, yummy!!


Kori January 10, 2012 at 7:25 pm

This looks so good! I discovered your blog over the holidays and had about six recipes I wanted to make for New Year’s Eve. It was a tough decision but I went with the smoked gouda sandwiches and zucchini fries & sauces for appetizers. Delicious! I can’t wait to try out more of your recipes! Happy New Year!


Adrianna January 10, 2012 at 8:29 pm

This makes me so pumped. I love those zucchini fries. So glad you liked. :)


Heather January 10, 2012 at 7:29 pm

I made these for dinner tonight and they were awesome! A few family favorite, thanks for sharing.


Adrianna January 10, 2012 at 8:29 pm

YES. I love this.


Stacie January 10, 2012 at 7:43 pm

This is the PERFECT recipe for my husband! Fish sticks were all he ate before we got together! I’m so excited to try these!


Fisher Boy January 11, 2012 at 11:26 am

Adrianna, not only is this fish sticks recipe a delicious homemade version of the busy parents’ standby, the sauce is such a creative yet easy take on regular tartar sauce. It’s the kind of gourmet you don’t have to worry and sweat over — our favorite kind!


Nadine January 12, 2012 at 11:01 am

this looks so delicious!!
need to try this! thanks for sharing =)


kero January 16, 2012 at 5:02 pm

sooo excited about this post. i love fishsticks, but hardly get to have them. forget the frozen cuz they never taste quite right, but i’ve never thought to make my own. these look great. ty!


MikeVFMK February 3, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Okay, these are fish sticks that I could enjoy. And they look so good! Lovely.


Teri February 7, 2012 at 1:46 pm

these are great and if you toast the breadcrumbs first and bake them, they are golden brown.


Rylie February 19, 2012 at 10:49 pm

Oh! I just bought tilapia for the first time (recovering vegan here) and I was debating what I should do with it. Definitely going to try fish sticks. The boyfriend will love it too :) I’m trying to trick him into eating a little better! (Or at least cut down on the pizza and hamburgers)


Amy March 6, 2012 at 8:00 pm

These are amazing. I baked them and turned half way so both sides were nicely browned. Thanks for sharing!


Robyn March 8, 2012 at 6:48 am

just wanted to report that i made these last night – the baked version – and they were crispy and delicious! even better with roasted potato wedges for a way lighter version of fish & chips that doesn’t leave you comatose after! haha


karlschneider November 3, 2014 at 10:33 am

Here’s a little tip from the Japanese school of tempura: add a tablespoon or so of cornstarch to the flour, it will help the coating to stick better! And also let the coated fish pieces rest for a few minutes on a wire rack before frying…that will help, too!


Adrianna Adarme November 3, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Love this tip. Thank you!


Valeria May 18, 2015 at 7:20 am

I made this dish with my husband yesterday – it was delicious!! :) My husband gave me a great tip – he said that when breading the fish have one hand as the “dry” hand for handling the flour and the bread crumbs and one hand as the “wet” hand for the eggs, that way breading goes by quick and mess-free. My husband is the cook in the family (he was a line cook at one of the best restaurants in Birmingham, AL) BUT thanks to your blog I have been able to cook some great dishes :) :) I cannot say enough about how much I LOVE this blog and how FANTASTIC the recipes are!! THANK YOU!


Adrianna Adarme May 20, 2015 at 10:28 am

Oh yay! I love this. I’m so glad you’ve had success with the food! Let me know if you try anything else. xoxo


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