These crispy crunchy fish sticks are super easy, baked so they are healthy AND seriously delicious! Whether you a little kid or a big kid, you’ll fall in love with these! High in protein and low in fat, since they are baked to crispy perfection, these fish sticks are a must-make!
So let’s show a raise of hands – how many of you as a kid loved those frozen fish sticks? Yep, me too! Now, how many of you as an adult still eat them? Nope, me neither. I’d say honestly somewhere in my late teens I stopped eating them. Which is sad as I loved fish sticks as a kid. Like one of my favorite meals was fish sticks dipped in copious amounts of ketchup (never tartar… gag!) and Mom’s mac ‘n cheese (never the blue box). I think for me it was a come to the realization that there was a whole world of deliciousness waiting for me to partake in.
As I grew into an adult and eventually was living on my own, I never really bought fish or those frozen fish sticks. I cooked other foods but just never fish. I love almost all seafood so why not make it? Dunno. Thankfully Mr. Fantabulous came into my life and was huge into eating healthy and living a high protein diet. At first, the man was all about tuna fish, chicken, and pasta. While I love all 3, there are way more things out there in the world to eat than just that. So I started buying fresh fish.
Cod was a safe bet as you really can’t screw that up – well you can if you overcook it but it’s so hearty and stable. From there we went through phases of tilapia, swai (yeah I read the articles but I still like it), haddock, pollock, and halibut. Monk Fish is to die for but also expensive. I’m not sure if I would use monkfish for fish sticks; kinda seems sacrilegious in a way. For this recipe, I went with haddock but you can go with whatever your local grocer has. And I know what you’re thinking “Can I use frozen fresh fish?” – the answer is yes. Just let it thaw properly (I thaw mine in the fridge), cut it and pat it dry before making the recipe.
I’ve been making this recipe now for about 10-15 years but honestly, I hadn’t made it for the past 5 or 6 years. I just ‘forgot’ about it. I mean I have so many recipes in my head, in notebooks, in tablets, on the back of napkins and pretty much everywhere I can stuff one that I can’t keep ’em all straight. It wasn’t until I was poking around my freezer one Saturday Mr. Fantabulous was off doing something that I found 2 lovely large pieces of frozen haddock in my freezer. Since it was a crappy day out as it had been raining here in Pittsburgh all day, it felt like a ‘comfort food’ kind of day.
I don’t know about you but for me, mac ‘n cheese is one of my top favorite comfort foods. So I whipped up a batch of my Super Creamy Simply The Best Mac ‘n Cheese Ever with I think the perfect pasta ever – cavatappi! As I was boiling the noodles I looked at the haddock. Fish with mac ‘n cheese just makes sense. I was going to just bake it but ya know, I needed some texture. While I love fried foods (a little too much as my thighs would say), I didn’t want all that extra grease and fat. So I went with baking them.
While I don’t live a gluten-free liffe I still use my Gluten-Free Panko bread crumbs to coat foods when I want a seriously crispy crunchy exterior. And the best part, I make them from scratch from a single item I always have in my cupboard! A quick assembly-line of dredge-dip-coat and those fish sticks were ready to go into the oven.
When baking most white fish, it doesn’t take long; depending on the size/thickness anywhere from 10-14 minutes for loins.I actually prefer the loin cuts versus the fillets as they are meatier though depending on the type of fish a filet rocks. And best of all, when you can get a whole fish… Mmm!!!
In the recipe, I actually flip my fish sticks during baking as I want a nice even crispness all the way around. My only bit of advice when flipping them, be gentle as the fish is delicate and could potentially break so just go slow and maybe use tongs and help it along with your other hand (without getting burned!). Now my husband, I swear, has impeccable timing when it comes to just ‘appearing’ in the kitchen when food is done. I swear I don’t need to call him or have a dinner bell. The man could be outside, at the edge of our 5 acres with his head in a ditch for hours on end. But let me pull something out of the oven and just set down to take a bite and that man just appears in the kitchen asking if lunch is ready.
So I made him a plate of the fish sticks with some mac ‘n cheese, which to be honest, he doesn’t really like mac ‘n cheese. I KNOW, RIGHT! He’s weird! Before we both took a bite he said “hey, do we have any more of that cole slaw in the fridge? That would be awesome with this!” OMG, how could I forget about my Pittsburgh Slaw! That addition was the perfect item to add to the plate and finish it off. For once we ate without the tv on; the man likes the background noise. During those silent moments, you could hear the “CRUNCH!” of the fish sticks and the following “mmmm!” This was such a great and easy lunch for us that truth be told, I turned into a dinner the next night. And of course, he gave the Mr. Fantabulous stare of disbelief with accompanying head shake as I dipped my fish sticks in a ridiculous amount of ketchup. Hey, whatev….
So okay when you make this, and you will, you need these 2 items to serve with it as they honestly round out the meal!
So whether you’re a big kid now or a little kid, definitely give these fish sticks a shot as you’re going to love them as much as I do!
- Preheat oven to 400F, rack in the middle. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a cooling rack inside. Spray the cooling rack with cooking spray and set aside.
- Set up a station with 3 pie plates. In the first pie plate, mix the flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder together. In the 2nd pie place beat together the egg and water until frothy. In the 3rd pie plate mix together the bread crumbs and the parsley.
- Creating an assembly line, dredge the fish stick in the flour, shaking off the excess. Next, dip it in the egg mixture coating all sides letting the excess drip off. Lastly, place the stick in the breadcrumb and gently press to coat evenly. Place the stick on the coated cooling rack. Repeat until all are coated and on the rack.
- Mist all of the sticks with olive oil and bake for 6 minutes. Pull the pan from the oven and carefully flip. Mist again with olive oil and bake for another 6 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, plate and squeeze some lemon over top prior to serving.