Fish fry batter is arguably the most important component of a delicious British fish and chips dinner. Next to the actual fish, of course.
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Fish Fry Batter Recipe
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.
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.
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.
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.
Best Fish for Frying
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.
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
- Local Fish Options
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.
- 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 Beer Battered Fish
- 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.
- After making the batter, toss the fish in flour, shaking off any excess. This helps the batter stick and not slide off while frying.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- Serve this beer battered fish with fries and tartar sauce , cocktail sauce or hot sauce. Hush puppies are also commonly served alongside.
Make Ahead & Freezing
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.
More fish recipes:
Tools for making Fish Fry:
Electric Deep Fryer – I used to think I was fine pan frying. Then I got a fryer and it made my fried foods SO much more delicious!
Fish Fry Batter
- 2 quarts vegetable oil , for frying
- 24 ounces cod fish fillets , cut into 8 pieces
- 1 1/2 cups flour , divided
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 egg , lightly beaten
- 12 ounces light beer
- Tartar Sauce
- Cocktail Sauce
- 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.