Homemade Fish Sticks with Tartar Sauce

Homemade Fish Sticks with Homemade Tartar Sauce | browneyedbaker.com #recipe #Lent

Something you may not have known about me: I spent my entire education in Catholic school. Starting in kindergarten and going all the way through college graduation… that’s 17 years, if you’re keeping track. That meant things like uniforms and not having to go to CCD on Sundays. It also meant spending every single elementary school Friday night during Lent in the school gymnasium at the fish fry. My parents always volunteered… my friends’ parents always volunteered… it was a big party, everyone had fun and went home smelling like fried fish. Good times.

While picky little me would turn my nose up at just about any seafood, there was one thing I would agree to eat – fish sticks. This is most likely due to the fact that they were breaded and crunchy and I could dunk them into an obscene amount of tartar sauce. Fish sticks and potato-and-cheese pierogi became my de facto Friday meals during Lent.

The fish sticks I had as a kid were always frozen from a box, which was fine, but I’ve discovered that homemade fish sticks can be prepared in practically no time at all and taste approximately one bazillion times better. Throw in some homemade tartar sauce and you have a meal that can rival even the most popular fish fry in town.

Homemade Fish Sticks with Homemade Tartar Sauce | browneyedbaker.com #recipe #Lent

Buy the best cod you can find (substitute flounder if you’d like), then cut it into “sticks” and do a traditional three-step dredging with flour, egg and bread crumbs. Throw a little oil into a pan, and get them nice and golden brown on all sides. That’s it! Done! The outside is super crunchy and the cod is wonderfully flaky.

Homemade Fish Sticks with Homemade Tartar Sauce | browneyedbaker.com #recipe #Lent

I haven’t been able to quit my fried fish and tartar sauce habit, but this time I made the sauce from scratch. It was fantastic, and quite possibly the best I’ve ever had. Don’t skip it!

If you’ve ever liked fish sticks, these are going to knock your socks off. And if you were never a fan, I guarantee these will make a convert out of you!

Homemade Fish Sticks with Homemade Tartar Sauce | browneyedbaker.com #recipe #Lent

One year ago: Sausage-Cheddar Biscuits
Two years ago: Texas Sheet Cake
Four years ago: Allspice Crumb Muffins
Six years ago: Tiramisu

Homemade Fish Sticks with Tartar Sauce

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Easy homemade fish sticks with an equally easy homemade tartar sauce.


For the Tartar Sauce:
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon minced capers
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¾ teaspoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 dashes hot pepper sauce
Black pepper, to taste

For the Fish Sticks:

1 pound cod filets, cut into 3-inch "sticks"
Salt and pepper
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups panko bread crumbs
Vegetable oil, for frying


1. Make the Tartar Sauce: Stir together all of the tartar sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

2. Prepare the Fish Sticks: Place the flour, eggs, and bread crumbs in three separate shallow bowls. Working in batches, dredge the cod in flour, shaking off the excess. Then, dip in the egg, letting any excess run off. Finally, coat with the panko breadcrumbs and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat until all of the pieces of cod have been breaded.

[DO AHEAD: At this point, the baking sheet can be wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 1 day. Alternatively, you can place the baking sheet in the freezer, and once the fish sticks are completely frozen, transfer to a freezer-safe resealable plastic bag and freeze for up to 3 months. The fish sticks can be cooked directly from the freezer, however the cooking time will increase slightly.]

3. Pour enough vegetable oil into a large skillet to cover the bottom (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet) and place over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, fry the fish sticks in batches (don't overcrowd the pan), turning them so that they evenly brown, about 6 to 8 minutes total. Transfer the fish sticks to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt. Serve immediately.

Baking Alternative: If you prefer baked fish sticks, you can bake the prepared sheet of fish sticks in a 450-degree oven until the fish is cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes, turning once during baking. To facilitate browning, spray the fish sticks with non-stick cooking spray or drizzle with olive oil before baking.

(Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit)


29 Responses to “Homemade Fish Sticks with Tartar Sauce”

  1. Pieliekamais on March 5, 2014 at 3:40 am

    Pinned. Love good fish sticks.


  2. Averie @ Averie Cooks on March 5, 2014 at 4:00 am

    Catholic school, fish fries, everyone volunteering and going home smelling like fish (for like 3 days, almost tile the next Friday LOL)…yep! This was my childhood too 🙂 Great job on the fish sticks!


  3. Stella on March 5, 2014 at 7:01 am

    OMG these sound delicious! I will definitely make these! By the way I am a 13 year old who loves cooking and baking! I have invented some of my own recipes as well! 🙂


  4. Cookbook Queen on March 5, 2014 at 7:29 am

    I’m not a fish stick eater but I have a 9 year old little boy who would go CRAZY for these!!


  5. nancy k on March 5, 2014 at 8:09 am

    I have used the Kirkland brand plain frozen talipia loins that can be purchased at Costco. They are thick and delicious and not anything like the thin filets that are typically seen in grocery stores. I am so anxious to try your homemade tarter sauce recipe…yum!


  6. Lexi @ Lexi's Clean Kitchen on March 5, 2014 at 8:33 am

    These look PHENOMENAL!


  7. Terri on March 5, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Must be a ‘Burgh thing – Kindergarten through College at Catholic schools for me too! I can’t wait to try making homemade Tarter Sauce. Have a great day Michelle.


  8. Beth @ Culinary Correspondence on March 5, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Oh yum! I love fish sticks but always feel bad about buying the frozen stuff (I don’t have kids so I can’t even pretend they’re not for me…). It looks so simple to make – I can’t wait to try!


  9. Rachel on March 5, 2014 at 9:16 am

    I am also Catholic and always dreaded Fridays during Lent because I’m a picky eater. I didn’t try fried fish until moving away from the ‘Burgh to Milwaukee, WI and discovered I love it! They have fish fry’s every Friday here just like Pittsburgh and I will definitely give this recipe a try! Although I’ll skip the tartar sauce and dip them in Heinz 57 ketchup. 😉


    • Yvonne on March 5th, 2014 at 9:42 am



      • Rachel on March 6th, 2014 at 10:15 pm

        I didn’t attend Marquette but it certainly is popular here! Moved to the area for a job. 🙂


  10. Yvonne on March 5, 2014 at 9:48 am

    Frozen fish sticks and french fries were the Lenten Friday night regulars at my house when I was growing up. My parish didn’t have a Friday night fish fry – sounds like a fun time. I had forgotten about fish sticks until reading your post and it made me smile.


  11. James Demestihas on March 5, 2014 at 10:33 am

    try using orange roughy instead of cod or sole for fish and chips or sticks and chips…… less fishy and nice and flakey


    • Michelle on March 5th, 2014 at 11:37 am

      I’m not a big fish fan in general and I actually find cod to be one of the mildest and least “fishy”, which is why I used it here. It’s also incredibly flaky, which I love.


  12. AndreaL on March 5, 2014 at 10:33 am

    My mother always made fried fish on Fridays even when it wasn’t lent. But this looks much better. Sorry mom 😉

    So are you giving anything up for lent this year? I’m still trying to decide on what. I saw a few posts on Facebook about people giving up winter for lent. I’m on that as well.


    • Michelle on March 5th, 2014 at 11:36 am

      I actually didn’t decide to give anything up yet. Last year, I gave up peanut butter (gah!). I saw someone on FB said they were “adding” something – like doing something nice every day, etc. I like that idea, too!


  13. Zainab @ Blahnik Baker on March 5, 2014 at 10:41 am

    I spent my first 12 years of school in a Christian school too with the uniforms as well. I am a big fan of fish sticks but always buy them out. I will have to try this recipe.


  14. Jen of My Tiny Oven on March 5, 2014 at 10:54 am

    I love a good fish stick! These look so crunchy and the sauce, love tartar sauce!


  15. Pennie D. on March 5, 2014 at 11:26 am

    I just love fish sticks, but the store bought kind always tasted to greasy and salty for me, besides being mostly breading and hardly any fish. Most definitely will make these. So simple, who knew.


  16. Lisa @ Simple Pairings on March 5, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    Wow, you did a great job! I have love fish sticks since I was a kiddo, and I still love them now. Beautiful work!


  17. Emily on March 5, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    Oh wow, these look great -must have a go!! 🙂
    Although just one question: In the picture, which method of cooking the fish did you use? Was it fried or baked? Plus if I were to bake it, would it still have as a crispy texture as when frying them?


    • Michelle on March 5th, 2014 at 7:43 pm

      Hi Emily, I fried them. I don’t think baking provides as crispy a texture as frying them does.


  18. Martha in KS on March 5, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    When I was growing up my Mom would buy a box of fish sticks & a box of breaded scallops. We’d call them “bats and balls” – don’t know where it came from but it was apropos for their shapes. Yours look much better.


  19. Alexis on March 5, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    Love the blog but WHAT is going on with these crazy pop up ads? Today it was the Maytag Man wanting viewers to launch a video. Pop up from bottom of computer screen. this pop up happened even though I have medium-high popup blocker (can’t put on high or would not be able to read the recipes!)


  20. ami@naivecookcooks on March 5, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    Looks mouth watering!


  21. kelly on March 6, 2014 at 10:34 am

    These fish sticks kicked off our Lent on a great note!


  22. vanillasugarblog on March 6, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    We eat so much fish here and hubby loves his with extra crispy coating.
    So I’m loving these.
    You did such a good job on the ‘crunch factor’.
    Have to share on my friday links!


  23. Laura Dembowski on March 13, 2014 at 8:45 am

    I went to Catholic school as well. We never had fish fries, though. I have always loved fish sticks and am dying to make tartar sauce. Awesome recipe!


  24. Kris O. on March 14, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    I made your fish sticks tonight and they were great. The only adjustment I made was using gluten free crumbs instead of the panko and no capers in my tartar sauce. It was a fantastic dinner. Did two pounds of Cod and had enough to freeze for another light meal. I know I can always count on your recipes to be fab!


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