Air Fryer Fish Sticks

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Air fryer fish sticks are a convenient and healthier alternative to traditional deep-frying methods. The air fryer cooks these crispy delights to perfection, achieving a golden-brown exterior while maintaining a moist and flaky interior.

Air Fryer fish sticks on a plate with white dipping sauce.

Better Than Store-bought

It takes under 20 minutes to get that crispy, crunchy exterior and tender, flaky interior that you and your kids know and love. All without the use of a deep fryer. Just a little bit of oil, fresh, tender, flaky fish, and a deliciously seasoned crispy coating. So, ditch the frozen food section!

They make a great afternoon snack, weekend lunch, or quick, easy weeknight dinner. There are many serving options, whether you want to have your favorite dip on the side or complete your meal with a serving of rice and steamed veggies.

If your kids are picky eaters, they may have hopped on the frozen fish stick train, too, but even the pickiest eaters will love this recipe. Trust me, air fryer fish sticks are next-level good!

Why This Recipe Works

Air Fryer fish sticks on a plate with lemon wedges and white dipping sauce.
  • Every irresistible bite has the perfect crispy coating to tender fish ratio.
  • The air fryer cooks the fish without the need for deep-frying and all of that extra grease.
  • Using fresh fish filets makes this so much healthier than store-bought.
  • Kids love them not only because they taste great but also because they are fun to dip!
  • It’s such an easy recipe! If you’ve checked out my air fryer tilapia recipe you’ll know what the air fryer can do with a piece of fish in minutes!

Ingredients Needed

ingredients needed to make air fryer fish sticks
  • Fish – Firm white fish cut into 1″ strips. Whitefish is typically mild in flavor and won’t overpower any of the seasoning flavors on the crust. Look below for the best fish to use.
  • Seasoning – Salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning are all that’s required to make a great-tasting fish stick. The Italian seasoning is kept separate and will be used to season the bread crumbs, whereas the other seasonings will help flavor the flour coating.
  • Flour – All-purpose flour is used to start the dredging process. It helps the egg mixture to adhere to the fish.
  • Egg – The egg is the second coating after the flour. It will help the breadcrumbs stick and keep moisture locked in the fish as it cooks.
  • Bread crumbs – I like to use Panko as they are lighter, crispier, and have a crunchier texture.
  • Olive oil – You can also use cooking spray. Using either on the prepared fish just before frying helps it not stick but gives it a nice brown crust.

Best Fish to Use for Air Fryer Fish Sticks

  • Cod
  • Halibut
  • Catfish
  • Tilapia
  • Haddock

Look for a meaty, sturdy fish that won’t fall apart when cooked. Fish that isn’t too “fishy” but has a milder taste and will become nice and flaky once cooked. Pick up whatever is on sale, or use what you have in the fridge.

How to Make Air Fryer Fish Sticks

Please scroll ⬇️ to the recipe card to see the full ingredient amounts and instructions.

Step 1: Prepare your dredging station by placing 3 shallow bowls side by side. Have the fish already cut into strips and pat them dry with a paper towel. In the first bowl, you’ll have the flour and all seasoning except the Italian seasoning. In the second bowl the whisked egg, and the third bowl, the Panko breadcrumbs, and Italian seasoning.

process shot of drying the fish and setting up the dredge station.

Step 2: Using one hand, roll one piece of fish at a time, into the flour mixture. Shake off the excess flour and dip it into the egg mixture, coating the entire surface. Lift it and shake off any excess egg. Last, roll it around in the breadcrumbs, gently patting the crumbs onto the surface. Make sure it gets an even coating.

rolling fish in flour and then dipping in egg wash.
rolling in panko breadcrumbs and placing into air fryer.

Step 3: Place the piece of fish into the preheated air fryer and repeat with the remaining fish sticks.

Step 4: Have one single layer, leaving room between each piece so the air can circulate properly and heat evenly. You may need to do more than one batch.

Step 5: Spray the fish sticks and air fry the first batch for 14 minutes, flipping halfway. They are done once they are golden brown and the fish is no longer opaque.

Air Fryer fish sticks on a plate with white dipping sauce.

FAQs

What are some dipping sauces I can use for fish sticks?

Ooh, this is one of the best parts! The sky is the limit. Stick with classic ketchup, dijon, yellow mustard, or tartar sauce. Maybe you have a thicker dressing you’d like to use, like Thousand Islands or Ranch. For a twist, mix mayo and ketchup, or for a little heat, mayo and sriracha. Even a simple lemon squirt or a garlic butter drizzle would be great!

Can I use this recipe with frozen fish?

Yes, you can. If you have some fish sitting in the freezer or you’ve bought it frozen, by all means, use it. Just be sure to thaw it and dry it first.

Can I use frozen fish sticks?

Definitely, there is sometimes a need for a shortcut when you’re in a time crunch, or fish isn’t in the budget. Fish sticks can be a great alternative. Each brand is different, so read the package directions and substitute 25 degrees from the temperature. You can also do a test batch by setting the air fryer to 400 degrees and cooking it for 8-10 minutes, flipping halfway. Every air fryer is different, so adjust the time and temperature for your specific air fryer. Do not overcrowd the basket.

Can I use this recipe for cooking fish sticks in the oven?

Sure, you can. Just keep in mind they won’t crisp up as nicely! Use a baking sheet, and either a sheet of foil or silicone baking mat and place one layer of fish sticks far enough apart from each other. Bake at 450 degrees for 14 minutes, flipping halfway.

Tips

  • Make sure to pat your fish dry before you begin. Doing this will help EVERYTHING stick from the get-go. Otherwise, you’ll have the coating just falling off!
  • Using shallow bowls helps with the seamless transition from one station to another.
  • I recommend using your hand because it’s easier, and you have more control over your fish, but you can also use a fork.
  • Keep space in between fish sticks. You want even airflow and heat circulation for even cooking.
  • Don’t forget to spray just before cooking! You want a nice golden color on them 🙂

Serving Suggestions

As mentioned above, fish sticks are great as a snack, with just a little dip on the side! However, there will be times when you want to make a meal out of it. Try it with some fried rice, macaroni and cheese, asparagus, or green bean fries.

RECIPE

Air Fryer fish sticks on a plate with lemon wedges and white dipping sauce.

Air Fryer Fish Sticks

Quynh Nguyen
Air fryer fish sticks take just under 20 minutes to get that crispy crunchy exterior and tender flaky interior. All you need is to dredge the fish in breadcrumbs, spray with oil and let the air fryer take over.
Prep Time 6 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 18 minutes
Course Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings
Calories 324 kcal

Equipment

  • Air Fryer

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound firm white fish (cod, halibut, catfish, or haddock) sliced into 1-inch strips
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • olive oil or cooking spray

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the air fryer to 375°F.
  • Prepare the dredging station with 3 shallow bowls. In the first bowl, whisk together salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and all-purpose flour. In the second bowl, whisk the egg. In the third bowl, combine panko breadcrumbs and Italian seasoning.
  • Use paper towels to dry the fish. Using one hand, roll one piece of fish into the flour mixture. Shake off any excess flour and then dip it into the egg mixture. Shake off any excess egg. Then roll and pat the breadcrumb onto the fish, gently remove the fish and place it into the air fryer.
  • Repeat for the remaining fish. Place the fish in a single layer, leaving some space in between each one. Depending on how big your air fryer is, you may need to do 2-3 batches.
  • Spray the fish sticks generously with cooking spray.
  • Air fry the fish sticks for 7 minutes. Flip and air fry for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown and the fish is no longer opaque.

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