Crispy Fried Fish

Howdy folks, and thanks for stopping by the website! I do love me some time out on the lake just North of town. The Major, Shannon and I set out on a beautiful day to catch some fish to fry up. We didn’t catch much besides a real pretty little Perch, who I threw back so he could fatten up a little bit for another day. It’s a good thing I’ve got some other catch in the ice box back at the barn!

Start with a Good Homemade Tartar Sauce

I’m telling you – taking five or ten minutes to mix up your own tartar sauce takes any fried fish to the next level. I like to mixup some Duke’s Mayonnaise, W sauce, capers, diced dill pickles, and some horseradish.

Tip: Make the tartar sauce ahead of time because you want it cold and a little firm when it’s time to eat.

Crispy Fried Fish

The best fish for frying, in my experience, is white and flaky. The crust needs to be crispy and golden brown, and to achieve that you need to have oil at a good, steady temperature. Check the oil temperature often while frying because adding the fish will reduce the temperature of the oil.

What Breading Ingredients Make the Crispiest Fried Fish?

The base of the breading mixture will be a cup of all-purpose flour and a cup of yellow corn meal. This gives the fried fish the classic gritty breading texture. Corn starch is essential to fish breading. Add a heaping tablespoon of it because it will help the batter adhere to the fish. Add a heaping tablespoon of baking powder as well. This will give the batter a extra pop of volume for a better bite. Then, flavor the mix  – I use garlic powder, ground mustard, smoked paprika, and Original Seasoning. Mix well.

What Batter Ingredients Make the Crispiest Fried Fish?

First, start with a dab of flour. This will thicken the batter just a bit. This flour will be completely mixed into a roux-type batter. A lot of people use beer for this, but I suggest you use a lemon-lime soda like Sprite or 7 up. Thicken it up just a tad using some flour, until it’s thicker than water but thinner than pancake batter. Set aside and it’s time to get the oil hot.

First and foremost, dry out the fish filets, checking for any bones or any skin that may be sticking around. You may need more than one paper towel.

Tip: Fish must be thoroughly dried before battering so the batter will adhere well during frying.

How to Fry the Crispiest Fish in the World

I like a quick fry. To do this, I like to slice the filets in to two-three inch pieces. If there is any yellow fat, I like to trim that off. Once the fish is dry and the oil is ready, dip the fish in the breading thoroughly and shake off excess. Dip into the wet mixture, and then do it again. I call this double baptizing: wet, dry, wet, dry, shake off excess, and into the fryer.

Tip: Constantly monitor the temperature of the oil.

Fry until the fish is crispy and golden brown. It should only take about 4 minutes. Serve immediately with that delicious homemade tartar sauce. You’ll dance with joy – there ain’t nothing like than a good ol’ fashioned fish fry.

Four crispy golden fried fish rest on a wire rack, while the fifth is dipped in a thick homemade tartar sauce.

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Crispy Fried Fish - Cowboy Kent Rollins

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 -6


  • 6 white fish filets bass, crappie, catfish
  • 1 cup plus 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 heaping tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 3 teaspoons ground mustard powder
  • 4 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • ½ cup lemon lime soda Sprite
  • 2 ½ tablespoon Original Seasoning or salt and pepper
  • Oil for frying

Tartar Sauce

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons diced dill pickle
  • 1 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons diced capers
  • 3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspooons horseradish


  • Place the fish on a cutting board and pat dry with a paper towel.
  • In a medium shallow pan, combine 1 cup flour, cornmeal, cornstarch, baking powder, garlic powder, mustard, smoked paprika and Original Seasoning, or salt and pepper.
  • In small, shallow pan, whisk together the remaining 4 tablespoons of flour and soda. Adjust the ingredients until you achieve a consistency thinner than pancake batter.
  • Dip the fish in the wet mixture, then dredge through the flour mixture to coat generously. Lightly shake any excess coating off and place on a wire rack. For a thicker crust, dip the fish back in the wet mixture and dredge through flour again. Let the fish rest on the wire rack for 5 minutes before frying.
  • Meanwhile, add about 3 inches of oil to a saucepan, Dutch oven or deep fryer and heat to 350 degrees F.
  • Place a few fish in the oil at a time. Cook for about 4 minutes, flipping fish occasionally, or until they are a rich golden brown. Place on a wire rack. Let cool slightly and serve with tartar sauce.

Tartar Sauce

  • In a small bowl whisk together all the ingredients. Adjust to taste. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or until ready to serve. 
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!