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Air Fryer Fish Sticks

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Homemade fish sticks are so much tastier than store-bought frozen fish sticks, and you can make these with just 5 ingredients. Make a large batch of Air Fryer Fish Sticks and have a quick and easy meal ready for your kids and family. 

This is a great high-protein recipe for even the pickiest eaters!

Close up of fish sticks made in the air fryer.

If your family loves crispy, delicious fish sticks, you can make fish sticks in the air fryer! Just 5 ingredients - fresh cod, flour, breadcrumbs, eggs, and old bay seasoning, and SO much fresher than frozen fish sticks.

Related recipes: Air Fryer Recipes for Picky Toddlers

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs cod fish filets, thawed, if frozen
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (use gluten-free flour if needed)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs (use gluten-free panko, if needed)
  • 2 tablespoons old bay seasoning, divided
  • Optional: lemons and fresh parsley for garnish

Ingredients to make air fryer fish sticks.

You'll also need:

  • Oil spray - I HIGHLY recommend using a pure oil sprayer instead of PAM or another "non-stick cooking spray," because PAM contains soy lecithin and foams up. Pure olive oil spray is much healthier, has no additives, and works much better for making food crispy in an air fryer without adding a lot of fat - only a tiny amount of oil gets sprayed out. I love the Mantova one because it is a good size and a good value. Of course, a reusable oil sprayer is much better for the environment, but is a little more messy to refill and maintain.
  • 3 bowls
  • An air fryer (obviously)

Don't get scared by the fact that you need 3 bowls! This fish sticks recipe is super straight forward and SOO worth it to make a large batch of fish sticks to keep in your freezer, ready to reheat for quick meals!

Related recipe: Air Fryer Carrot Fries

Instructions

Step 1: In one bowl, mix the flour (1 ½ cups) and ½ tablespoon of old bay seasoning.

Step 2: In another bowl, beat the eggs.

Step 3: In the last bowl, mix the remaining old bay seasoning (1 tablespoon) with 2 cups panko crumbs.

Step 4: But the cod fish filets into the desired size sticks (about 2 inches long by ¾ inch thick is a good size!).

Step 5: Fully coat the fish sticks in the flour mixture, then the eggs, and finally the panko mixture. Repeat for all the fish sticks.

Collage of 3 pictures for how to bread fish sticks in breadcrumbs.

Step 6:  Spray the air fryer with oil and place 4-5 fish sticks in the basket (or as many as you can fit without them touching). Spray the fish sticks with oil.

4 fish sticks in the air fryer.

Step 7: Air fry at 390 degrees Fahrenheit for 6 minutes. Flip the fish sticks and spray the other side with oil. Cook at 390F for another 4 minutes, or until the fish is fully cooked.

Allow to cool for a few minutes and enjoy warm, garnishing with fresh or dried parsley and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Fish sticks made from scratch.

Related recipe: Tuna Nuggets

What to serve with fish sticks

We love the combination of ketchup and mayo around here! Of course, tartar sauce is also great with fish sticks. Make your own super quick tartar sauce by combining the following ingredients and mixing together:

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1-2 teaspoons pickle relish (or to taste)
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Tiny pinch of salt (optional)
  • Pinch of dried parsley or fresh chopped parsley

Related recipe: 3 Ingredient Tuna Salad

How to store fish sticks

The cooked fish sticks will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days, just allow them to cool completely and keep them in a sealed container. To reheat fish sticks, I recommend air frying them for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through, or reheating in the oven or toaster oven. Microwaving them will not make them crispy again.

How to freeze fish sticks

These fish sticks freeze really well and make a great quick snack or meal for kids. To freeze fish sticks, allow them to cool completely. Then place the fish sticks on a large plate or baking pan lined with parchment paper, and freeze individually. Once frozen solid, transfer to a freezer container or a freezer bag carefully, taking care not to loose the breaded topping. Frozen fish sticks will keep for 1-3 months, but I prefer using them within a month so they don't get that "freezer flavor."

It is best to reheat frozen fish sticks in the oven or the air fryer, so they remain crispy. Reheat for about 3-4 minutes at 350F in the air fryer, or until heated through, or for about 5-10 minutes in the oven at 350F, or until heated through.

Can you use other fish for fish sticks?

Fish sticks are typically made with cod, a firm white fish. Cod works really well because it can be sliced into fillets without crumbling too much, and it holds up well to being dipped, fried, and flipped.

You can definitely try making fish sticks with other white fish that you have on hand, but the fish sticks might fall apart a little... which is OK! They're still yummy!

How to make gluten-free fish sticks

This recipe uses flour and panko breadcrumbs for the fish sticks, which are normally not gluten-free. However, the recipe works GREAT with a gluten-free flour mix (Kind Arthur is my favorite!) and gluten-free panko breadcrumbs. Follow the same instructions to make gluten-free fish sticks. 

Air fryer fish sticks - high-protein snack for picky eaters

If you're new here, this blog is about helping parents feed their picky eater toddlers, and air fried fish sticks are a GREAT choice for kids!

Fish sticks are high in protein, and cod fish has lots of health benefits (source) - it is high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12, both of which are super important for kids' growth and development. The fact that it is breaded is also not a bad thing for most kids - many kids' diets need carbs and hearty meals... especially if they are picky eaters and you can barely get them to eat a full meal in the first place!

I write about how much protein toddlers need, and how to get picky toddlers to eat meat, and fish is a great protein for picky kids because it is a softer texture than other "meats." In addition, many kids like uniform shapes, such as fish sticks or nuggets, as well as crispy foods. So do your best to make these fish sticks uniform in size and shape, if you're hoping that a picky eater toddler will eat these! Different shapes can sometimes scare off picky kids. 

More kid-friendly recipes to try:

If you enjoyed this recipe, let me know with a comment and a star rating below. And don't forget to share it on Facebook and save it on Pinterest for later!

Yield: 20 fish sticks

Air Fryer Fish Sticks

Crispy air fried fish sticks on a plate.

Just 5 ingredients to make this high-protein kid-friendly recipe: Fish Sticks in the Air Fryer. These fish sticks freeze well too!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs cod fish filets, thawed, if frozen
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (use gluten-free flour if needed)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs (use gluten-free panko, if needed)
  • 2 tablespoons old bay seasoning, divided
  • Oil spray
  • Optional: lemons and fresh parsley for garnish

Instructions

  1. In one bowl, mix the flour (1 ½ cups) and ½ tablespoon of old bay seasoning.
  2. In another bowl, beat the eggs.
  3. In the last bowl, mix the remaining old bay seasoning (1 tablespoon) with 2 cups panko crumbs.
  4. Cut the cod fish filets into the desired size sticks (about 2 inches long by ¾ inch thick is a good size!).
  5. Fully coat the fish sticks in the flour mixture, then the eggs, and finally the panko mixture. Repeat for all the fish sticks.
  6. Spray the air fryer with oil and place 4-5 fish sticks in the basket (or as many as you can fit without them touching). Spray the fish sticks with oil.
  7. Air fry at 390 degrees Fahrenheit for 6 minutes. Flip the fish sticks and spray the other side with oil. Cook at 390F for another 4 minutes, or until the fish is fully cooked.

Notes

- Make a super quick tartar sauce by mixing together these ingredients:

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1-2 teaspoons pickle relish (or to taste)
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Tiny pinch of salt (optional)


- Cooked fish sticks keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days, or can be frozen for up to 1-3 months. It is best to reheat frozen fish sticks in the oven or the air fryer, so they remain crispy. Reheat for about 3-4 minutes at 350F in the air fryer, or until heated through, or for about 5-10 minutes in the oven at 350F, or until heated through.

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As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

20

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 142Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 61mgSodium: 322mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 14g

The nutritional information provided is just an estimate and will vary based on the actual ingredients you use. If you are tracking nutrition for yourself or your child, check with a nutritionist, dietitian, or pediatrician about whether this recipe is right for you or your child.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment below and share your photo on Instagram - please tag @highchairchronicles , I love seeing your creations!

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