crispy pan fried fish

fried fish

Get ready for THE BEST fried fish you’ve ever tasted! Crispy. Crunchy. Salty. And, perfect with your chips, dill pickles and malt vinegar!

Recipe for Fish Fry

There is nothing tastier than a simple recipe for a fish fry! Living on the Hammock Coast, it’s pretty common to see charitable organizations holding fish frys. Folks flock to these events because they know they’re going to get the best fish and chips ever! Plus, some delicious coleslaw and hush puppies. 

Pan Fried Fish Recipe

Now my pan fried fish recipe could just be the best! That’s because you’re going to be making it at home and you’ll be eating that fish as soon as it comes out of the hot skillet. Frying in a pan, a cast iron skillet, is the only way to go. Not much oil. Just enough to fry the dredged batter and make it crispy in not time at all. 

For this recipe, you’re going to want a nice mild white fish, flounder, grouper, catfish, trout, cod. 

Southern Fried Fish Recipe

Now a Southern fried fish recipe is all about the spices. And, my recipe uses the quintessential, it will not disappoint Old Bay seasoning mixture. Plus, we’re going to add some kick with smoked hot paprika, and, of course, sea salt and lots of black pepper. 

How to Fry Fish with Cornmeal

If you’re going to learn how to fry fish, then it has to be with cornmeal. I like to use a cornmeal mix, like Martha White or White Lily. And, make sure your cornmeal mix is self-rising and white cornmeal. This self-rising will give you a little more of the puffy crunch that’s just so fabulous when you bite into that hot fish. 

How to Fry Fish with Flour

Now you can batter your fish with flour, but, for me, that’s a little too heavy of a batter. So I’m going to suggest you learn how to fry fish with just a little flour. Yes, we’re going to use primarily cornmeal and just a little flour in this recipe. The flour will help bind the crust to the fish filet. 

Fish Side Dishes

May I suggest some absolutely perfect fish side dishes! You don’t want your side dish(es) to compete with the crispy crunchy fish. And, all of these are winners! 

Fried Potatoes and Onions

Harissa Fried Potatoes

Campari Tomato Salad

Crunchy Blueberry Pineapple Slaw

Cucumber Celery Salad

Mediterranean Celery Salad

Farm Fresh Corn Caprese

Blue Cheese Coleslaw

Fried Fish Recipes

This is one of my two fried fish recipes. But, I have some other fish recipes that are equally as fabulous. Take a peek at some of these yummmies!

Sauteed Cod 

Italian Fried Flounder

Bacon Crumbled Catfish Filets

Blackened Fresh Fish

fried fish

fried fish

crispy pan fried fish

Yield: About 2-3 hungry souls!


  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • 1 ½ to 2 lbs. fish filets, white flaky fish, spottails, black drum, thick flounder, red fish
  • 3 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
  • 2 tsp. smoked hot paprika
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 cup corn meal mix, white, self-rising
  • ¼ cup flour, all-purpose
  • 1 cup avocado oil


  1. Put the buttermilk in a medium size bowl and add the cleaned dry fish filets. Set aside for about 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine and mix the Old Bay, paprika, salt and pepper.
  2. Put the corn meal and flour in a pie plate. Blend together. Add about two-thirds of the seasoning mixture and blend in.
  3. Put the oil in a large skillet (10-12”) over medium heat. As it’s heating dredge and coat the fish filets.
  4. Take a filet of fish, shake off excess buttermilk, coat in cornmeal mixture and repeat (quick douse in buttermilk and back into the cornmeal mix). Put on a plate. Repeat this process with all the fish filets. Sprinkle the remaining seasoning mixture on the fish about to be fried!
  5. The oil should be about 350 degrees. It will begin to shimmer.
  6. To check the heat without a thermometer, flick some of the cornmeal into the hot oil, increase heat if needed, and if it sizzles, it’s ready.
  7. Place two to three filets (depending upon size of each) in the hot oil. Fry on each side about 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Do not crowd the fish. Drain as you’re removing the fish to a plate.
  8. Continue this frying until all the fish is done. If not serving immediately put a light foil tent over the fish.

Your sharing is GOLDEN! Thank you!

Your sharing and comments help me stay in business! Share a photo if you make the recipe #allyskitchen Thank you! xo Ally

fried fish

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  1. New at Frying fish …….What should I coat the trout in if I want to fry it with Panko? What temp should I heat the grill if cooking on a gas grill? should it take about the same time as you mentioned above ? Thank you, Tiffany

    1. Hi, Tiffany, frying fish, like fried chicken, is really an art and can take some time to master the technique. Not to discourage, of course. Is your trout whole fish? Fileted? When I put fish on the grill, I usually don’t coat w/any bread crumbs, Panko, flour dredge b/c it’s just so difficult to control well the heat level (at least on my grill). I love to grill whole fish or do whole fish in the oven. Here are a couple of recipes. Frying fish I think works better with fileted fish. You can pan sear. Or you can do a dredge/coating, heat oil and fry creating an outer crispy crust on the fish. You’re larger and thicker fish will need to cook longer. Once your fish reaches an internal temp of 135F, you’re fish is good to go. Wish I could just have you here in the kitchen w/me, luv! xoxx ally Here are some fish links.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi Ally,
    You said to add 2/3rds of the seasoning mix, so what do I do with the other 1/3rd???

    1. OH, gosh, luv, awesome, catch. THANK YOU. After you dredge, sprinkle the remaining seasoning mixture on one side of the filets before frying! xoxx ally

  3. Ally, a few questions:

    1. what do you do with the oil after frying with it? Could you cook chicken in it after the fish? (With same buttermilk and cornmeal/flour)?? For fried chicken…

    2. What sauce do you like on fried fish, if any- tartar, cocktail, etc?

    3. How do you tell when fish or chicken is done frying? And do you put it on paper towel to catch some grease or what? Thx.

    1. Hi, Alice!

      1. You can do two things. One when it completely cools, strain, put in mason jar, refrigerate and reuse (I’d only do that once.) Or you can dispose, cool completely, pour into a pour it into a nonrecyclable container with a lid and throw it in the garbage. Common nonrecyclable containers that work well include cardboard milk cartons and similar wax- or plastic-lined paper containers. Since I use just about an inch of oil (avocado), I usually don’t have that much left after frying the fish.

      2. I’ll do both. I don’t really need a sauce when eating this freshly caught fried fish. We prefer a medley of pickles, olives, chow chow, etc. Sometimes I’ll use my blue cheese dressing sauce!

      3. The fish will begin to gently show ‘crevices’ and cracks. Also if you’re using thin filets, they fry pretty fast. If it’s a whole fish or filets, use this technique, place a fork at an angle in the thickest part of the fish. Gently twist. If it flakes, it’s done. Also look at the fish, it shouldn’t be transucent. The meat should be white and flaky (if white fish).

      Chicken is a different creature. You’ll need to use a meat probe (digital). Place it in the thickest part of the meat. The temperature should be 165. Here’s a great meat probe. We use for frying or grilling meat.

      Use code: FinalTouchx10 (extra $10 off)

  4. Hi,
    A couple questions please:
    Can you dip just once in the cornmeal mixture?
    can you use regular(non self rising) corn meal?
    thank you,

    1. Yes, you can single dip. And regular flour will work. The self rising adds a little poof. Thanks, Ron!

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