Homemade Fish Sticks
These easy Homemade 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 crunchy panko breading will be your new favorite thing. 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. As much as I love fish, I didn't love the idea of a processed fish stick. I would rather make Crispy Baked Fish or Baked Fish and Chips.
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 homemade fish sticks made with flaky white fish, panko breadcrumbs, spices, and Parmesan cheese. Her 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.
Why We Love Homemade Fish Sticks
- Family-friendly: Unlike store-bought fish sticks, this is a meal both kids and adults will love! Fresh, flaky crispy fish with tons of flavor.
- Healthy, cleaner ingredients: Let's be real, fish sticks don't always contain the most natural or appetizing ingredients. The fish looks over-processed and is sometimes slimy. These homemade fish sticks are made with natural ingredients and most important whole chunks of fresh fish.
- Quick and easy: So I will not pretend these are as easy as frozen fish sticks, but they only take about 15 minutes longer and taste so much better! In less than 30 minutes, including prep time, you can make these homemade fish sticks.
Ingredients and Substitutions
The ingredient list for these homemade fish sticks is short! Not counting the spices, you only need four simple ingredients.
- Fish: The most common fish choices for these fish sticks are cod, haddock, halibut, tilapia, or snapper. Make sure to choose fish fillets that are about 1 inch thick so the fish sticks aren't too thin. These can also be made with salmon. If using frozen fish, make sure to defrost it first and blot it dry with a paper towel.
- Breadcrumbs: For the crispiest option, use Panko breadcrumbs, which absorb less moisture than standard breadcrumbs. If you prefer regular breadcrumbs, they can be used but the fish sticks won't be quite as crispy. Regular breadcrumbs also may not stick as well, so consider dredging the fish in flour before dipping it in the egg and breadcrumb mixture. The flour helps the breadcrumbs stick to the fish.
- Parmesan cheese: To add a slightly cheesy, slightly nutty flavor to these fish sticks, I love adding Parmesan cheese to the breading. If that's not your thing, leave it out and add some extra breadcrumbs.
- Spices: Adding spices to the breadcrumbs is a great way to boost the flavor. I used garlic powder and oregano, but almost any spices would work. Consider using Italian seasoning, Old Bay seafood seasoning, Cajun seasoning, or paprika.
How to Make Homemade Fish Sticks
- Prep the fish: 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.
- Set up the breading station: Mix together the panko breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and seasonings in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, I whisk together the eggs. Then line the bowls up in this order: eggs, panko mixture, and then your prepared baking sheet, ideally with a wire rack.
- Bread the fish: Dredge the fish pieces one at a time into the eggs, then into the panko mixture. Make sure to press the breadcrumbs into the fish to coat it all around. Then lay the fish in a single layer on the baking sheet. Spray the tops of the fish sticks with more cooking spray or brush with olive oil for a really crispy breading.
- Bake the fish sticks: Place the fish sticks 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. The fish should be opaque and flaky.
What type of fish is used for fish sticks?
When buying frozen fish sticks in the store, they are usually made with Alaskan pollack. It is a mild, flaky white fish.
When making homemade fish sticks, you can use almost any fish you like. Make sure you can cut pieces that are 3/4 -1 inch thick for the bets results. Makee sure the skin has been removed from the fillets.
Recipes Ideas for Homemade Fish Sticks
There are lots of ways to customize this recipe from changing the fish to playing around with different spices and seasoning.
- Change up the seasoning: 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.
- Change up the breading: Use regular breadcrumbs, seasoned breadcrumbs, or make breadcrumbs with an almond meal or nut flour. You can also add some almond flour or ground flaxseed for some extra nutrients.
- Use different fish: These taste great with all types of white fish and can also be made using salmon, steelhead trout, and other fish.
- Make fish "nuggets": Cut fish into bite-sized "fish nuggets" for another way to eat that's kid-friendly.
- Change up the dipping sauce: Although fish sticks are usually served with tartar sauce, we love serving them with different sauces like this homemade honey mustard sauce for dipping.
- Add lemon: Add some fresh lemon zest to the breading mixture and then serve the fish sticks with fresh lemon slices.
Side Dish Ideas
There are so many easy options for serving these fish sticks.
- Fries and chips: Make some homemade skinny fries, sweet potato fries, or baked potato chips on the side.
- Roasted vegetables: While the fish sticks are baking in the oven, you can also roast some vegetables like these easy roasted green beans or carrots.
- Salads and slaw: Pair these crunchy fish sticks with a nice green salad like this Arugula Salad or some more traditional Creamy Coleslaw.
Leftovers, Storage, and Freezing
These baked fish sticks will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. Let them cool fully before storing them and then reheat them in the oven or air fryer so they stay crispy.
To freeze these fish sticks, let them cool completely. Then place them on a baking sheet in the freezer for 2-3 hours until the outside freezer. Add them to a bag or freezer-safe container and store for 1-2 months. Bake in the oven to reheat fro 12-17 minutes, just like regular frozen fish sticks.
If you have leftover fish sticks, they are great for fish tacos, salads, wraps, and fish sandwiches.
Frequently Asked Questions
Find the most common questions about making fish sticks at home.
Are fish sticks made with real fish?
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 it could come from multiple parts of the chicken. The same goes for fish sticks. They are generally made from fish but it could be any kind of whitefish, any part of the fish, and sometimes is made from several kinds of fish, processed together into a "stick."
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.
Homemade Fish Sticks
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- 1 lb. cod fillet, skin removed
- 2 eggs, whisked (or 3 egg whites)
- 1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
- 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 3/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 3/4 tsp. oregano
- 1 Cooking spray (or olive oil)
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- Nutritional Information
* 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.
Homemade tartar sauce: Tartar sauce is the classic sauce for fish sticks. You can buy it in the store or make some homemade tartar by combining equal parts 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup light mayo, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, and 1-2 tbsp dill pickle relish. Season with salt and pepper and add fresh parsley or lemon to make it even more delicious. You can also add some capers for fancier tartar sauce.
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