Parmesan Fish Sticks are baked in the oven until crispy and crunchy for a healthy fish stick that both parents and kids absolutely love.
These Baked Fish Sticks with a Parmesan and panko breading will be your new favorite things. Seriously, they are so good. So whip up a big batch, make some Zucchini Fries, and watch your family inhale this healthy dinner.
Honestly, I hadn't had a fish stick for probably 25 years up until I made this recipe. (I bet you can guess why.) I used to like them as much as the next person, but I couldn't abide by eating all the processed bread coating and who-knows-what-kind of fish hidden under all of it once I started eating healthy.
It turns out I wasn't alone in my aversion to fish sticks. A friend of mine was trying to figure out a good at-home recipe for fish sticks since her son loved them but she wanted no part of giving him the super processed fish sticks she typically found in the freezer section. She also was hoping to find a recipe that her older kids and husband would eat so she didn't have to prepare multiple meals.
Enter these healthier, slightly more sophisticated fish sticks made with panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Her fish-stick-loving-son ate them up and the rest of the family was pleasantly surprised. They also freeze well, which is a definite bonus for prepping future meals. So you can "shop" for frozen, breaded fish sticks in your own freezer!
These are great for those lazy Friday night dinners when you want to "pop" something in the oven (other than pizza) and watch a good movie with the family. Or, if you want a break from red meat, want to incorporate more fish into your diet, or observe the Lenten season.
How do you make Parmesan Fish Sticks?
The first thing I do when making fish sticks is to pat the fish dry so that the seasonings will stick. Then, I cut the fillet into 1-inch-wide sections and lay those aside.
I mix together the Parm, panko breadcrumbs, and seasonings in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, I whisk together the egg whites. I then line the bowls up in this order: egg whites, panko mixture, and then a greased baking tray (I used cooking spray).
I dredge the fish pieces one at a time into the egg whites, then into the panko mixture (being sure to press the breadcrumbs into the fish to coat all around), then lay the fish in a single layer on the baking sheet. I spray the tops of the fish sticks with more cooking spray then pop into the oven for 10-12 minutes. You'll know they are done when the breadcrumbs have started to brown and the fish is cooked through. (If you're not sure, you can cut one open and check.)
Are fish sticks good for you?
While fish is generally good for you, once it's breaded and fried, it pretty much stops being good for you. Any nutrition you'd get from what's left of the fish hiding under all that breading is quickly negated by all the breading, oils, and other processed foods that coat the fish.
You'll still get the protein from the fish, though not very much, so you'd have to eat several to get a good amount of protein in your meal. There are also a ton of calories in the breaded and fried fish sticks. For example, one frozen fish stick has about 80 calories, while four or five of the fish sticks in this recipe would only be about 200 calories. That's quite a big difference.
Frozen, processed foods also tend to contain a lot of sodium, which isn't good for your heart or circulatory system. It can make you feel bloated, thirsty, and sluggish. Ultimately, baked fish sticks have more protein, fewer calories, and less salt than the processed variety.
Are fish sticks real fish food?
Fish sticks are made from "real" fish, much like chicken nuggets are made from "real" chicken. Sure, there is actual chicken in a chicken nugget, but from where the chicken parts actually come...well, you probably don't want to know. The same goes for fish sticks. They are made from fish but it could be any kind of whitefish, or several kinds of fish all at once, mushed together into a "stick."
I'm really not making those store-bought ones sound appetizing right? I hope not, because the whole point is for you to want to make healthier foods, of course.
Ideas for customizing Parmesan Fish Sticks
- You could add different seasonings to these fish sticks, like an Italian seasoning blend, garlic salt, jerk seasoning, blackening seasoning, or an Indian spice blend.
- Try a combination of gruyere with your Parmesan or other hard cheese.
- Another kind of whitefish will work as well, experiment till you find the one that works best for you.
- Cut fish into bite-sized "fish nuggets" for another way to eat this that's kid-friendly.
- Make a yummy honey mustard sauce for dipping!
- No matter how you choose to customize these, you're sure to love them way more than the freezer variety, and your kids will too!
Looking for more healthy fish recipes?
Parmesan Fish Sticks
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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