Fish Batter Recipe for Fish Fry

Fish fry batter is arguably the most important component of a delicious British fish and chips dinner. Next to the actual fish, of course.

fish and chips on a wood serving board with dipping sauces


Fried Fish Batter

Fish fry recipes are plentiful, it seems that every family has one and the recipes for the beer battered fish vary between regions.

In the US, fish recipes are often associated with the Easter holiday where “fish fry Fridays” are held every week. My husband’s family does this and since in our current area, they aren’t as easy to find, I had to create one of our own.

beer battered cod on a plate

However, most fish fry recipes are really just beer battered fish, mostly whole fish fillets, often served with fries as British fish and chips and served any old day of the week.

In my search for the best batter, I came up with this recipe. It is thin, but still coats the fish, and crisps nicely when fried, but doesn’t overpower the actual fish flavor. It defeats the purpose to taste nothing but batter but no fish. I also opted to use fish pieces. They are easier to handle while frying and also easier to dip while eating.

What is a Fish Fry?

A fish fry is a term often used for a party where fresh fish is battered and fried. It is common during Lent to have a Fish Fry Friday. It is also common in New England and the United Kingdom.

Beer Battered Fish and Chips

British fish and chips are typically made with cod or haddock. However, you can use many other different types of white fish in your fish fry, like plaice, halibut, or flounder. I prefer using cod fillets.

angle view of fried fish with french fries

Traditionally, fish and chips are served with newspaper. This is because newspaper was cheaper than buying any other container or plastic and also absorbed extra oil from frying.

The chips, of course, are actually French fries, not potato chips. Fried to a golden brown along with the fish and served with lemon wedges, it is the ultimate comfort food.

While today, British fish and chips are usually served with a layer of white paper underneath the newspaper, many places still serve fish and chips in a newspaper cone.

What Fish is Best for Fried Fish?

As mentioned above, there are several kinds of fish you can fry. Much will depend on your geographic location and what you can locate. Frozen fish is fine as long as it is has been fully thawed ahead of time.

fresh pieces of cod filet

Regardless of type, smaller pieces are easier to handle and make sure it is dabbed dry with a paper towel before battering.

  • Cod- any variety
  • Tilapia- thicker fillets
  • Catfish- thicker fillets
  • Perch
  • Whitefish
  • Rockfish
  • Wall-Eye
  • Local Fish Options

Fried Fish Recipe ingredients

The ingredient list is pretty easy and standard. Any of the seasonings can be omitted or increased based on preference and availability.

The only items that are essential for a great recipe are the fish, flour, egg, beer (or other liquid) and oil for frying.

ingredients for fish fry batter
  • Fish– I like cod, but any white fish will do.
  • Oil for frying– canola, peanut or vegetable oil for deep frying.
  • Flour– both for the batter and to toss the fish before battering, which helps to hold the better on while frying.
  • Seasonings- garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper
  • Baking soda– helps it get crispy and a little puffy.
  • Egg- Binds and creates structure.
  • Beer- Light beer is best. Non-alcoholic substitutes include apple juice, water and chicken stock. As long as you use the same volume and it is liquid, you are good.
  • Lemon– There is nothing quite like fresh lemon juice spritzed onto seafood.

How to make Fried Fish

  1. Making the batter is easy. Simply mix together all dry ingredients for the flour mixture and then add whisked egg and beer until just combined. Do not over mix. Allow the batter to sit for a few minutes to rest. You can even refrigerate it while resting.
how to make beer battered fish
  1. After making the batter, toss the fish in flour, shaking off any excess. This helps the batter stick and not slide off while frying.

Frying Beer Battered Fish

  1. While you can make fish fry recipes in a stove top pan, I do highly recommend using an actual fryer. The most important reason for this is that it’s safer – it’s far too easy for hot oil to splash everywhere in a regular frying pan.
overhead of fried fish platter with fries

The second reason is that a fryer offers better temperature control, which is essential in making sure the fish fry batter gets nice and crispy while the fish gets properly cooked. Also, make sure you use a neutral oil with a high smoke point, like vegetable, canola or peanut oil.

Heat oil to a temperature of 365°F.

  1. Fry fish until batter is lightly brown, approximately 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove, tapping off excess oil. Place on a wire rack with paper towels underneath. This prevents the pieces of fish from getting soggy while letting the oil drain.
  2. Serve this beer battered fish with fries and tartar sauce , cocktail sauce or hot sauce. Hush puppies are also commonly served alongside.

What is the best oil to fry fish?

Frying fish requires a high smoke point oil to reach the best frying temperature of 335°F-365°F. We recommend canola or peanut oil.

Optimal Oil Temp For Frying Fish

Deep fat frying is defined by frying in oil between the temperatures of 350°-365°F, but since this is a delicate fish and very thin, you can get away with a slightly lower temperature.

How long to fry fish?

The trick is having the right temperature of oil so the fish inside has time to cook because the battered outside burns. Using a frying thermometer will help monitor the temp.

Other serving suggestions for this Fish Fry Recipe

Fried fish is commonly served with French Fries but also coleslaw. Give our vinegar coleslaw and creamy coleslaw a whirl. A nice side salad or green veggie like pan fried broccolini or steamed green beans is also delicious.

Make Ahead & Freezing This Fish Fry Recipe

Fried fish is best served immediately after cooking, while still warm and crispy. It is best reheated in the oven on low heat. I do not recommend freezing this dish.

fish fry batter for pinterest

Fish Batter Recipe FAQs

What is in a fish fry?

Fish, the beer batter and oil.

How do you get batter to stick to fish?

If the fish is patted dry and the batter is the right texture, there should be no problem with it sticking. If you want to make sure it sticks really well, toss the fish fillets in flour before battering and it will stick even better.

More fish recipes:

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Voodoo Shrimp Creole is a tomato-based dish using shrimp and beer to make a sweet and spicy broth. Serve over rice or grits for a full meal. #voodooshrimp #shrimpcreole

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close up of fish fry
overhead of fish fry batter

Fried Fish (Beer Fish Batter)

4.54 from 65 votes
This beer batter fried fish uses light beer and a few basic ingredients to create the best fish fry batter for British fish and chips. Yum!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4



  • Heat oil in a deep fryer to 365 degrees. If you don't have a deep fryer, you can heat oil in a large dutch oven or cast iron skillet, use a candy thermometer to measure.
  • Rinse fish and pat dry. Leave whole or cut into smaller pieces.
  • Combine 1 cup flour, garlic powder, paprika, fine sea salt, baking soda, ground pepper in a shallow dish, stirring to combine. Stir egg into dry ingredients.
  • Gradually mix light beer until a thin batter is formed.
  • Toss filets in 1/2 cup flour and tap off excess, this helps the batter stick.
  • Dip fish fillets into the batter and immediately drop into hot oil. Work in batches so you don't crowd the pan.
  • Turn once to ensure all sides are lightly brown and crispy, approximately 3-4 minutes for each batch, although this will be dependant on the thickness of your filets as well.
  • Transfer to a wire rack on a baking sheet to drain. Set into a hot oven to keep warm until the rest are completed.
  • Serve with cocktail or tartar sauce.
  • If you've tried this recipe, make sure to come back and let us know how you liked it in the comments or ratings.



Adapted from . 


Calories: 401 kcal, Carbohydrates: 28 g, Protein: 35 g, Fat: 13 g, Saturated Fat: 9 g, Cholesterol: 114 mg, Sodium: 1276 mg, Potassium: 846 mg, Fiber: 1 g, Vitamin A: 990 IU, Vitamin C: 1.7 mg, Calcium: 50 mg, Iron: 2.9 mg
Author: Chef Jessica Anne
Calories: 401
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: beer battered fish, fish and chips, fish fry, fried fish
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
overhead of fish fry batter
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Chef Jessica Anne Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal, Mashed and more!

Read More About Jessica

4.54 from 65 votes (54 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating

Questions and Reviews


  2. 5 stars
    I made both the tartar sauce and this fish recipe last night and it was a lovely combo of flavours. Everything was fairly quick for a nice yummy dinner. The fish batter had great flavour and was nice and crisp on the outside. We will be using both recipes together more ! =)

    1. 5 stars
      Thanks so much, Sara! Glad you enjoyed both and thank you for taking the time to come and let us know.

  3. 5 stars
    I tried this tonight. Very first time I’ve deep fried fish. It was delicious! My husband and daughter also loved it. Will definitely make this again.

        1. Hi carl- I have not, but because it is a wet batter, it won’t work as well. You really need to have the contact with hot oil to stiffen it up. The wet batter will just fall through the AF holes.

  4. 5 stars
    I love doing fish fry’s at home. This batter is so light and flavorful. My whole family just loves it!!

  5. 5 stars
    Yum! This is authentic tasting as it gets. SO SO good. My childhood best friend is from Englad and her mum always made Fish and Chips for us at lunch playdates. This recipe takes me back to such wonderful memories.