My delicious fish sandwich, prepared from scratch, is the perfect “catch” when you crave a slightly more gourmet and flavor-packed version of this fast food fave. Marinated in lemon and spices, then fried until hot and crispy, this fish sandwich recipe is served on a soft bun and piled high with pickles and a mouthwatering spicy slaw!
A Favorite Fast Food Sandwich with Gourmet Flair
Even though these days it is a rare thing for me to go through a fast food drive-through, I must admit that I still get those occasional deep down cravings for a hot, crispy sandwich with a little side of fries or thick-cut chips.
And because I feel like it's rare to find a super flavorful and truly mouthwatering fried fish sandwich going through a drive-through, I figured it was time to create my own version of this classic, fast food fave when my craving comes around!
There's just something about a fish sandwich, fried until golden and crispy on the outside and flakey and juicy on the inside, that makes it a particularly delectable pick. And I especially love it when it's well-seasoned and piled with a cool, spicy slaw, all nestled onto a soft roll or bun.
My fish sandwich recipe makes use of mild, flaky cod fillets that I marinate with a handful of spices and a hint of lemon for brightness. And because I like some spicy kick, I prepare an easy spicy slaw with a hint of mayo, garlic, cayenne pepper, spicy mustard, and my secret ingredient: a small splash of pickle juice for tang!
Heck, I even love to add a few briny pickle slices to my freshly-fried fish sandwich as well!
So if you find yourself getting that craving for a classic fish sandwich with some fresh, gourmet ingredients, now you can skip the drive-through and whip up this tasty little catch for yourself when the craving beckons.
How to Make a Fish Sandwich That's Spicy and Crispy
Cod is terrific piece of fish that really takes well to marinating in some flavorful ingredients.
It's naturally quite mild and tender, and easily absorbs ingredients such as lemon, sea salt, black pepper, cayenne and paprika, plus granulated garlic and onion, which is what I like to use for the marinade.
And once the fish has had a few minutes to marinate, I like to create that crispy outer crust by dredging the fillets in some flour, then whisked eggs, and finally panko breadcrumbs before a trip into hot oil.
The panko bread crumbs create terrific crunch, golden color and a lovely texture, which is part of what makes a fish sandwich so appealing.
And for that spicy slaw, I use a pre-packaged mix of shredded green and red cabbage plus carrots (a “coleslaw mix”) that I combine with my own delicious dressing.
Here's a glance at my fish sandwich recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I marinate my cod fillets in my marinade ingredients for about 15-20 minutes.
- While my fish marinates, I prep my spicy slaw, and keep it cold in the fridge.
- Next, I dredge and shallow fry my fish fillets in peanut oil using my cast iron skillet (or other deeper skillet), until hot and crispy, then let the fillets drain on a paper towel-lined wire rack.
- To assemble the fish sandwiches, I spread a bit of my slaw sauce on the buns, then place a few pickle slices on the bottom bun, place the fried fish over top, then top the fish with spicy slaw and cover with the top bun.
- I serve the fish sandwich with thick-cut potato chips or fries.
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 4
Nutrition Info: 736 calories (per fish sandwich)
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 16 minutes
Total time: 46 minutes
Fish Sandwich Ingredients:
- 1 pound cod, cut into 4 equal, sandwich-size fillets
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
- ½ teaspoon granulated onion
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more)
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup (heaping) panko breadcrumbs
- Peanut oil, for frying (or other high-heat oil)
- 4 large brioche buns, lightly toasted (or your choice of buns/rolls)
- 1 to 2 whole dill pickles, sliced into medium-thick circles or “chips”
Spicy Slaw Ingredients:
- ¾ cup mayonnaise
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- 1 ½ teaspoons fresh, chopped dill
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more, depending on desired spice level)
- 1 tablespoon creole or spicy mustard
- 1 tablespoon dill pickle juice
- 3 cups pre-packaged coleslaw mix (combo of shredded green and red cabbage, plus carrots)
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of the fish sandwich ingredients according to the ingredients list above to have organized and ready for use.
- To prepare your fish, place the cod fillets into a large bowl and add in a couple of good pinches of salt and pepper, plus the paprika, granulated garlic and onion, cayenne, lemon zest and juice, and toss to coat the fish. Marinate for 10-20 minutes.
- While the fish marinates, gather and prep all of your spicy slaw ingredients according to the ingredients list above to have organized and ready for use.
- To prepare the spicy slaw dressing, in a bowl combine the mayo, garlic, sea salt (about ¼ teaspoon), a couple of pinches of black pepper, the dill, cayenne, mustard and pickle juice, and whisk to blend and thoroughly combine. Reserve ½ cup of this dressing to spread on the buns before assembling the sandwiches.
- Place the coleslaw mix—the shredded cabbages and carrots—into a large bowl, and add as much of the slaw dressing to the mix as desired (you may end up using all of it), thoroughly mixing the dressing into the slaw to combine. Keep cold in the fridge until ready to use.
- To bread your fish fillets, prepare your breading station by adding the flour to a medium-large bowl, next add the eggs into another bowl and whisk to blend, then add the panko to another medium-large bowl, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper (even cayenne, if desired).
- Dip each cod fillet into the flour, next into the whisked eggs, followed by a firm press into the panko breadcrumbs until well-coated. Place the breaded fillets onto a plate or platter. Repeat with remaining fillets.
- Once all are coated, heat enough peanut oil (or other high-heat oil) in a cast iron skillet or heavy bottom skillet to shallow fry (about an 1” worth), and slowly heat the oil until shimmery and hot. Add the fish fillets (working in batches of two, if necessary) into the hot oil, and fry for 3-4 minutes per side, until cooked through and deeply golden-brown. Drain on a paper towel-lined wire rack. Repeat with any remaining fish fillets.
- To assemble your fish sandwiches, spread a small amount of the reserved slaw dressing/sauce onto both top and bottom buns, then add a few pickle slices (or pickle “chips”) to the bottom bun. Now place a fried fish fillet over the pickles, top with a generous amount of spicy slaw, and cover with the top bun.
- Serve hot with fries or thick-cut potato chips.
Tips & Tidbits for my Fish Sandwich with Spicy Slaw:
- Cod, a good white fish for frying: I like to use cod for this fish sandwich recipe because it's fairly inexpensive, and has a mild, flakey interior that takes on good flavor from a quick marination. Other good options for a fish sandwich are tilapia, halibut (though it can be quite pricy), snapper, or catfish.
- Panko breadcrumbs for crunch: I like to use panko breadcrumbs seasoned with salt and pepper to create a nice golden and crispy crust for the fish fillets. You can substitute regular breadcrumbs if you prefer, just know they won't create quite as crispy a texture.
- Add pickles for tangy zip: I love adding dill pickle slices to my fish sandwich, for that bright and briny tang. You can use bread and butter pickle chips if you prefer the sweeter variety, or leave the pickles off all together.
- Choose a soft bun as the vessel: I opt for brioche buns here, but feel free to use a traditional seeded bun, or a soft roll for this recipe. Avoid dense rustic rolls for this sandwich, as a soft bun or roll contrasts the crispy fish fillet nicely, and makes it easier to bite through.
- Reheating a fish fillet for leftovers: To make a fresh fish sandwich from leftover fillets, simple reheat the fillet(s) in your toaster oven at 350-400° for a few minutes, until hot and crispy. Then, proceed to assemble your sandwich!
Hungry for more tasty recipes similar to this one? Check out this Korean BBQ Burger, this Spicy Chicken Sandwich, these Baja Fish Tacos, this Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Pesto, this Chicken Cheesesteak!