Making homemade fish sticks (or fish fingers as they’re sometimes called) in the oven has been on my list of healthy recipe make-overs to develop since this winter. After long last, I am super psyched to be able to share them with you today. They’re crispy and golden on the outside and flaky on the inside. I’ve added a tangy homemade tartar sauce to go with them that is lightened up with the addition of Greek yogurt in place of some of the mayo to help cut down on the calories.

dipping fish finger into tartar sauce

Several of you have written to me (or messaged me on Instagram) letting me know that you are “done with” making separate meals for the kids/picky eaters in the family. Does this sound like you? While I am not one for making separate meals to accommodate the finicky tastes of my 11 year old (she gets what she gets and she doesn’t get upset. Or rather she may get upset but I ignore her.) I do try to come up with menus that will make everyone happy most of the time.

These fish sticks are definitely a recipe that everybody is REALLY happy with. My 13 year old literally cheered when I told her we were having fish sticks for dinner last week! So I would say that this recipe definitely falls into the category of Family Friendly.

I based the technique for the breading and baking on the Baked Chicken Tenders recipe, and it came out so well. So if you’re a fan of that recipe, be prepared to have another go-to recipe on the menu.

 

Buying Ingredients For Homemade Fish Sticks

White fish, such as cod or halibut:

You’ll want to look for fish that can easily be cut into sticks. They’ll end up being about 1/3-inch thick, and 1-inch wide by 2 to 3-inches long. So I found that 1-inch thick filets made cutting the fish easier.

I like to buy frozen cod, that way I can see that the fish is sustainably caught. You can read more about buying cod in my recipe for Cod Fish Tacos. When halibut is in season, that would be a great choice. I tested this with frozen thawed halibut too, and it was delish! 

Kosher salt:

I chose to use coarse salt here because it is easier to sprinkle. If you don’t have coarse salt, you can sub in granulated table salt, but use half as much. Read more about subbing kosher salt for table salt here

All-purpose flour:

The purpose of the flour is to coat the outside of the fish and form a barrier so that it won’t get soggy and the breading won’t fall off. I have not tried it with other flours, but my guess is that rice flour would be a good alternative. We tried that on this Pan Fried Fish and it was great. 

Eggs:

The second breading ingredient is two large eggs, beaten in a dish. This helps make the panko layer stick to the outside of the fish.

Panko breadcrumbs:

The key to awesome crunchy fish fingers is using panko breadcrumbs. They make the coating so crisp! Take a look at the ingredient list and try to buy panko with a short ingredient list. I have noticed that some brands have a lot of unnecessary additives.

Paprika:

This is a tricky ingredient! It’s added, not for flavor, but to color the panko orange. It gives the breadcrumbs a nice golden color- as if they were fried! But they’re not. They’re baked! Sneaky huh?

Garlic powder or onion powder:

This just adds a savory note. 

Avocado oil or organic canola oil:

I prefer avocado oil because it is inexpensive (I buy large bottles at Costco) but you can also buy GMO free canola. If you use another neutral cooking oil like safflower that is fine too.

fish sticks and tartar sauce on a sheet pan from overhead

How to Make Crispy Baked Fish Sticks

How To Defrost Fish

Start out by defrosting your fish if it isn’t already.

You can defrost it in the fridge for 24 hours. If you fish is frozen in cryovac you can quickly thaw it in less than 20 minutes by setting it in a large bowl and covering it with warm water. Replace the water once as the fish thaws and the water cools down.

Prepare the Fish

  • One the fish is thawed, remove the fish from the packaging and pat it dry with paper towels. Lay it on the cutting board and cut into strips.
  • If your fish is about 1-inch thick, then you’ll want to cut it in 1/3-inch thick slices.
  • If the fish is already portioned into 4-ounce pieces, you’ll want to aim for 4 fingers per portion.
  • Lay the fish out and then sprinkle it with the coarse kosher salt.

Set Up Breading Stations

  • You’ll need three shallow dishes. Pie plates or square brownie pans are good.
  • I use a twist on the Standard Breading Procedure. This allows me to get away with using less oil and getting crispy coating by baking and without frying! 
  • Set the  flour in the first, whisk the eggs in the second, and combine the panko mixture in the third dish.
  • To make the panko mixture. I combine the panko, paprika and garlic (or onion) powder first. Then I drizzle on the oil. Next, mash and toss with a fork to coat the breadcrumbs with the oil. It will take a moment to get them evenly moist and to distribute the paprika throughout. The mixture will turn a light orange color.
  • I also set my baking sheet on the far end. The kids always laugh that I call that my “landing pad.” But it helps to have it right where you need it, because once your hands get dirty, you won’t want to be routing around in the cabinet, and coating it with cooking spray.

Keep a Dry Hand and Wet Hand

Okay, this is one of my top tips! When you’re breading, use one hand for the flour and bread crumbs, and one hand for touching the plain salted fish and the egg mixture. That way your hands won’t get as clumped up with breading, and you won’t end up wasting any in the process.

Bread the Fish

  1. First dip the fish into the flour. I pick it up off the cutting board with my “wet” hand and drop it into the flour. Then I use my “dry” hand to take a bit of the flour and sprinkle it over the end of the stick and pick it up. I flip it over to make sure the second side is coated. Then I pick it up (with my “dry” hand) and plop it into the egg.
  2. I do the same thing with the egg mixture, but this time with my “wet” hand. Let any extra egg drip off before you drop it into the panko mixture.  
  3. Once the fish is laying in the panko, scoop up some of the breadcrumbs, and pour it on top of the fish finger. Then press it down into the breadcrumbs. Turn it over and do the same again. This will give you a really good coating and keep your “dry” hand from getting in touch with any egg.
  4. Set the fish stick on the prepared baking sheet and then repeat with the remaining fish sticks. Even with the wet and dry hand technique, you will get some buildup on your fingers, so you may want to wash and dry your hands about half way if they are really gunking up.

Bake the Fish Fingers

Transfer the fish to the oven and let them bake until they are crisp. It only takes about 15 minutes for the fish to cook through. You can tell by breaking one open.

Serve Immediately

You’ll want to serve them right away for the crispiest texture. We had them left over and then I reheated them in the oven for 10 minutes at 350. They were nice and crisp but a little dried out. So I would say if possible, serve them immediately.

fish sticks with tartar sauce and coleslaw overhead on a plate

Homemade Tartar Sauce with Greek Yogurt

While the fish fingers are in the oven, you can whip up this easy light tartar sauce. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • Mayonnaise
  • Pickle relish (sweet or dill are both yummy- use sweet if you prefer a sweeter tartar sauce)
  • Brown deli mustard or whole grain mustard
  • Salt and pepper

Just stir it all together and get ready to dip!

Steps To Make Fish Sticks with Tartar Sauce

What To Serve with these Fish Fingers

fish fingers on a plate with coleslaw

Thanks so much for reading. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star review and rating. It helps so much!

Happy Cooking!

~Katie

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Fish fingers on a plate overhead

Fish Sticks

  • Author: Katie
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: 30
  • Yield: 16 fish sticks 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These crispy baked fish sticks (or fish fingers as they’re also known) are so easy and so much healthier than boxed frozen fish sticks. They’re ready in just 30 minutes! Serve them with this light tartar sauce made with Greek yogurt for a kid friendly dinner.


Scale

Ingredients

Fish Sticks

1 pound white fish, such as cod or halibut

½ teaspoon coarse kosher salt

½ cup all-purpose flour

2 large eggs

1 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder or ¼ teaspoon onion powder

5 teaspoons avocado oil or organic canola oil

Light Tartar Sauce

1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons pickle relish

1 teaspoon brown deli mustard or whole grain mustard

¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper


Instructions

Make Fish Sticks:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray or brush lightly with oil.
  1. Cut fish into “sticks” about three inches long by 1/3-inch wide. Sprinkle all over with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and set aside.
  2. Place flour in a shallow dish. Beat eggs in another shallow dish. Mix breadcrumbs, paprika and garlic powder in a third shallow dish. Drizzle oil over the breadcrumb mixture and mash with a fork, continually until the breadcrumbs are evenly moistened.
  1. Use one hand for dry ingredients and one for wet ingredients while dredging the fish. Dip a strip of fish in the flour mixture, turning to coat completely. Dip into the eggs, coating completely.  Press into the breadcrumb mixture, turning to coat completely.  Set on the prepared baking sheet. Continue with the remaining tenders one at a time. Discard any left-over dredging mixtures.
  2. Transfer the baking sheet of breaded fish into the oven and bake until the fish is cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Make Tartar:

  1. Whisk yogurt and mayonnaise in a medium bowl. Stir in relish, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Serve with the fish sticks.

Notes

To Cut The Fish:

  • If your fish is about 1-inch thick, then you’ll want to cut it in 1/3-inch thick slices.
  • If the fish is already portioned into 4-ounce pieces, you’ll want to aim for 4 fingers per portion.

To Make Ahead:

You’ll want to serve them right away for the crispiest texture. We had them left over and then I reheated them in the oven for 10 minutes at 350. They were nice and crisp but a little dried out. So I would say if possible, serve them immediately.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 4 fish sticks
  • Calories: 339
  • Sugar: 3 g
  • Sodium: 594 mg
  • Fat: 17 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 18 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 27 g

Fish finger getting dunked into tartar sauce

fish sticks