Food

The Fish Sandwich I Make Once a Week

easy fish sandwich recipe

You are looking at my latest MVP dinner…

A version of these pan-fried fish sandwiches have been in my dinner rotation for as long as I can remember. When my daughters were little, it was our gateway meal to get them into fish — I mean, serve anything with a crispy, golden panko crust and you’ve increased the likelihood of enjoyment by a considerable percentage, right? Especially when the filet that’s crusted is as unoffensive a fish as flounder or sole. Over the years, we’ve served the sandwich with a classic creamy slaw, or a simple schmear of mayo and pickles. Sometimes it shows up with roast potatoes on the side, sometimes with baked beans. Gradually, though, the recipe has evolved — these days, there’s mustard powder and cayenne in the bread crumb mixture, and I’ve been favoring a slaw that is heavy on the rice wine vinegar, not so much the mayo. Swap out the baked beans for a wheat berry salad or a fleet of farm-market-fresh salads, and you’re looking at my new favorite dinner, no matter who is sitting at the table.

Pan-Fried Fish Sandwiches with Dill Slaw
Makes 4 sandwiches

Fish

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
1/2 cup flour
kosher salt and pepper
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 pounds delicate white fish filets such as flounder or sole
salt and pepper to taste
4 sandwich rolls, such as Martin’s potato rolls

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Set up your dredging stations on three dinner plates: One plate with flour (salted and peppered), one plate with beaten eggs, one with bread crumbs that have been tossed with mustard powder, cayenne, and more salt and pepper.

Dredge your fish filets: Press filets first into the flour, then using a fork, dip them in the egg, then press into the panko until completely covered. Cooking in batches, add each filet to the hot skillet and fry 2 to 3 minutes a side until cooked through. Remove from the skillet onto a paper-towel lined plate. Repeat with remaining filets. Add each filet to a dinner roll — cutting them in half and layering if you have to, as shown — and top with slaw, below.

Slaw

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
¼ cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Sriracha
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups shredded Napa cabbage (or green cabbage)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon minced shallots or red onion

In a medium bowl, whisk together mustard, mayonnaise, rice wine vinegar, olive oil, Sriracha, salt, and pepper. Add cabbage and toss. Let sit for 15 minutes to allow flavors to meld.

P.S. Five-ingredient Trader Joe’s fish tacos and muffin-tin tapas for picky eaters.

  1. Bri says...

    Made this last night with yellowtail and it was great!! Was halfway into the recipe before I realized I was out of panko, so subbed Italian Breadcrumbs and it worked perfectly. Also was a little skeptical of the coleslaw dressing flavors when I first whisked it up, but it really came together with the dill and onions. Trust!! Jenny knows what she is doing! The whole meal came together in under 30 minutes and was so flavorful! Can’t wait to make it again. I agree with everyone who said this is like a fancy filet-o-fish in the BEST WAY!

  2. Monica says...

    My pregnant tummy is grumbling just from seeing the picture. That’s it, I’ll be making it this week.

  3. Gogogramma says...

    After making the slaw dressing recipe, I scratched it and made a more classic slaw dressing. The sandwich was pretty good on a toasty brioche bun with sliced tomatoes. Certainly easy. Thank you!

  4. Karen says...

    All these comments equating this wonderful recipe with a McDonald’s filet o fish sandwich made me smile. It also reminded me that the best McDonald’s filet o fish sandwich I ever had was actually in Shanghai, China, ( I miss traveling so much!) as the fish was amazingly fresh. I live in the Midwest, so the comparison with what I was used to was startling. Really interesting to see how differently it can taste.

  5. Kathy says...

    Super good. The slaw was a nice lightly dressed, bright option that complimented the fish well.

    Good news: as a person who is notoriously bad at frying anything, I succeeded with aplomb. Your directions were perfect. Rave reviews from all.

  6. Cheryl says...

    Looks delicious! Has anyone tried to do the fish in an air fryer?

  7. Doris says...

    I made this for dinner tonight after a long hard day. It was super easy. The best part is the 5 out of 5 people gave it a 10/10 stars. That is unheard of in my house! Thanks so much. Keep them coming Jenny!

  8. Will this recipe work with tilapia fish?

  9. Kelly says...

    I made these tonight, they were perfect! Everybody loved them and I will definitely make them again. Thank you!

  10. Nikki Ricks says...

    I literally did awooga eyes when I saw that picture. Can’t wait to make this.

  11. Sarah K says...

    This looks so good. Wow. I am also a McD’s Filet og Fish lover but now I might attempt this at home.

  12. that looks so good !

  13. Mj says...

    Made this tonight minus the slaw (salad on the side) so good!! Thank you.

  14. Cici says...

    I made this! I used flounder, and also added shrimp in the same way, and they both turned out great!

    We used to love eating whole fillet fish sticks, but have been trying to eat less processed foods, so this is a great/easy alternative! The Gortons frozen crispy fish fillets are actually really good, but this you can taste the fish even better. So we no longer have to feel left out about our frozen fish sticks.

    If only I could get to the point where I make my own panko crumbs… but I think I will probably never get to that point haha.

  15. Alex says...

    I do this a little differently. I go to McDonald’s and get a fish sandwich and large order of fries, bring it home, and eat it with a Crown Royal Manhattan on the rocks. Works great.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha yum!

    • Cici says...

      hahahahaha

    • BB says...

      sometimes it’s those little changes to a recipe that really make it!

  16. Tricia M says...

    Fish finger sandwiches work as well especially in some really good bread with lettuce and tomato ketchup!

  17. patricia says...

    you can use this same recipe and instead of frying on the stove, heat a cast iron skillet in a 425 degree oven, add the oil to the hot pan, allow to heat 1 minute, carefully add the fish and fry in the oven. Fry on one side and turn half way through. 3-4 minutes per side.

  18. Will says...

    Fried? Why? It’s just adding a larger amount of unnecessary fat, even using olive oil. We also have “fried fish” sandwiches often, bot we use a toaster oven (hey, this is the South, and it’s been a long hot summer so no need to increase the heat using the regular oven. I use a combination of regular, plain, and pako bread crumbs. Just coats the fish with enough olive oil to hold the breadcrumb mix (blended to taste) and bake, GENTLY flipping once. Serve on whole grain bread or buns with your choice of condiments (dill relish is one of our favorites) and you have an easier and healthier sandwich.

    • Janey says...

      Jenny’s recipe sounds much more appetizing and fun to make. Yours sounds like you may as well microwave some fish sticks, dip them in relish and call it a day.

  19. MB says...

    This looks so yummy! I can’t wait to try it for the grown ups but also get the kids to have a go…. and the slaw sound so good too, I love anything with dill Speaking of which, after you posted the shrimp roll recipe we’ve made it at least 5 times and every single time we marvel at how good they are!

  20. Margo says...

    Will definitely try. Quick, easy, and delicious!

  21. Rebecca B says...

    Looks delish! Also – TJs has delicious frozen panko breaded tilapia that is SO GOOD! You can do a sandwich, similar to the post, OR, we love fish tacos. Warm up some tortillas, bake the fish, preshredded cabbage from TJs, a quick little lime/sriracha mayo and you are SET! Maybe add a margarita!

    • Sarah says...

      I was just making my grocery list and thought of the TJ’s panko breaded tilapia for this recipe! It’s so good and a time saver :)

  22. Ann says...

    Those rolls! Sparked a memory for me of my best friends’ kitchen counter in high school. They always had a package of those rolls on the counter. They are damn good.

  23. Sandra says...

    Would love some healthier recipes!

    • Riley says...

      What about this makes it unhealthy to you?

  24. Claire says...

    Thanks for this- it looks wonderful, and I will give it a try.
    Do you have any tips or special tools to deal with the removal of pin bones in fish? If I remember I always ask the people at the seafood counter to remove them, but they don’t always get them all.

  25. Farah Sanders says...

    How do you avoid the coating just coming right off the fish after it is cooked? Happens to me every time i try to fry fish.

    • Jeannie says...

      Fish must be completely dry before applying flour.

    • Arielle says...

      Does the slaw keep well? Thank you!

  26. K says...

    I absolutely can’t wait to make this. I’m really, really, into fried chicken sandwiches and this looks delicious.

  27. This looks so tasty. I this recipe right now.

  28. Em says...

    Oh wow. Adding this to my meal plan for next week. Love meals that my husband, toddler and I can all eat.

  29. Arianne says...

    Try setting out a small bowl of white vinegar when you start cooking and leave it out for a few hours / overnight! It really helps absorb the scent. Works for any strong cooking smells, esp fish.

    If you have a cat, though, best to set it somewhere they can’t reach – I’ve never seen my cat leap as high as she did when she stuck her little face in the bowl expecting water!

  30. SlyBK says...

    Can you make this with salmon? Signed, fish-lover and living in a house with people who hate eating fish

    • This looks so tasty. I must try this recipe right now.

  31. Michelle says...

    yum! thank you! this is going on the menu.

  32. rbn says...

    YUM.

    I’ve done something similar with tartar sauce. But I have a question, since mayo actually squicks me out. Has anyone made tartar sauce with sour cream? Or yogurt? Or something else?

    I will of course also try this version, which looks A plus.

    • christine says...

      I sub plain greek yogurt for mayo all the time. Tastes better to me and know it’s more healthy, too.

    • Karen says...

      you can use a mixture of sour cream and yogurt, but I use whole milk greek yogurt (Fage total 5). It’s quite good
      Karen

  33. Elizabeth R. says...

    Looks yummy! A thought for a future post: a couple of recipe ideas that use similar bases and spices. Building up an arsenal of food and pantry items is spendy but I would like some variety in recipe ideas. Just a thought. Thanks!

    • Britt says...

      I second this!

    • Jordan says...

      This is a great idea!

    • SB says...

      I was thinking a similar thing! Especially when you’re cooking for one or two, the grocery packaging usually means if you buy stuff to make one recipe, you either have to eat the same thing all week, or figure out another recipe that works! So maybe either a few recipes with similar ingredients OR a recipe with ideas on repurposing the leftovers!

      Of course there’s the classic – roast a chicken, have chicken meat for sandwiches/salads, use carcass for soup, etc. But an example that works for me is roasting up some sweet potatoes and mixing with black beans and seasoning, etc – then I use that base to make quesadillas, with eggs, in chili, nacho toppings, etc. Another thing I love to do is make a big greek-esque salad (“esque” because ingredients may vary depending on availability haha) – then I can have it just as a salad, throw it in a wrap, add chickpeas or fish or chicken to “bulk it up”, toss it with leftover quinoa/other grain, etc, etc. Anyway! Would love to see more similar ideas from others!

  34. Emily B says...

    This looks so delicious and easy and not something I’ve ever made before! Can’t wait to try it! Thanks

  35. Connie says...

    This looks delicious! My one issue is that for us the odor of fried fish lingers long after the meal is eaten :(. What do you do to manage that? (My family says I am overly sensitive so maybe it is just me…)

    • Pam says...

      I actually came here to ask the same thing. I’d love to make fried fish, but don’t want the house to reek of it for hours (or days!) after.

    • Lindsay says...

      Turn on the overhead range fan to high while you cook, and then to low for a while after. Or if you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor space and a barbecue/grill with a side burner, cook this one outside! I do all the time with bacon in order to avoid the lingering smell.

    • Tess says...

      I came down here to ask this same question! We are in a small one-bedroom apartment and don’t have a vented hood, so the fish smell is a tough one :/ Such a bummer because I love fish and its so fast and yummy!
      Any suggestions for controlling the smell would be welcome..

    • Agnès says...

      I feel that if I wash the pan right after, and put the used oil in a jar, it doesn’t really smell anymore…

    • Kate says...

      I put white vinegar and water in a sauce pan and let it simmer for a little while (watching very carefully, usually while I’m doing dishes so I don’t forget about it). Vinegar is really good at eliminating odors, and it really seems to work for me!

    • I finally found a solution to fried-food smell!!! I’m so excited because that was a big reason I hated to fry food! Put 1-2 cups apple cider vinegar in a little sauce pan with 1-2 cinnamon sticks. Bring to boil – don’t cover. Let the vapors clean the air. It will smell like vinegar for a bit, but totally removes any other strong odor. I will take the hot saucepan and a trivet and sit it in the dining room and even out in the living room for a bit for good measure. Just bring it back to a boil to get the steam rolling off it again if you want. I keep the vinegar/cinnamon sticks in a jar near my cleaning supplies and get it out after a frying session and boil it up.

  36. Kat says...

    This is honestly so simple and genius. I don’t know why I’ve never thought of a fish… sandwich! Can’t wait to try!

  37. Julie says...

    Aaaand one of my weekend dinners is sorted. I don’t know why I never consider fish sandwiches, they never disappoint!

  38. Twyla says...

    Jenny – can you tell us why you recommend frying in olive oil and not an oil with a higher smoke point (like grapeseed)? I was under the impression that olive oil wasn’t the best oil for deep frying…

    • Candy says...

      Hi Twyla. I cook breaded fish like this often. Jenny’s recipe isn’t for deep frying the fish, but rather sautéing over medium high heat in 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) oil, which should be fine with olive oil. Olive oil’s smoking point is 410 degrees. You’re right that grapeseed can take a higher temp — 450 degrees is its smoking point — but the recipe says medium-high heat so it should be fine using olive oil. I’m sure grapeseed would work well, too.

    • AW says...

      This isn’t deep frying— it’s shallow/ pan frying. Regular olive oil has a smoke point between 390 and 460F. Most frying temps are around 350F— so it’s perfectly safe to do as shown here. (EVOOs smoke point is lower at 350-410F).

    • Sara says...

      Twyla, you are spot on if she were deep frying or if cooking over high heat. since she’s not deep frying, but pan frying over medium heat, it’s ok to use olive oil!

  39. Lauren E. says...

    I would love to cook more fish! Unfortunately, I feel like there’s nowhere near me that sells quality fresh fish. But this looks absolutely delicious!

    • Hi Lauren,
      I would imagine this is the kind of fish recipe that would work great with frozen (thawed) fish fillets. I live in Colorado and sometimes have the same issue with finding fresh fish. Hope this helps!

  40. Olivia Jane says...

    This looks sublime! Going on the meal plan for next week for sure.

  41. Jenny Rosenstrach says...

    Haha, that was absolutely MY gateway to fish when I was a kid.

  42. Jeannie says...

    Looks delicious!! Another great way to eat fish!

  43. Colleen says...

    Looks SO good. Do you use fresh or frozen fish?

    • Jenny Rosenstrach says...

      It will work with frozen (thawed obviously), but it will of course be better if it’s the freshest fish you can find.

  44. Cynthia says...

    My husband puts rice wine vinegar in his slaw, too! It doesn’t have the bite of apple cider vinegar, which is why we like it.

    • Clara says...

      A pandemic discovery has been frozen Gordon’s breaded fish. So easy (throw it in the oven) and tasty. I can’t believe how crispy it gets! A huge step up from my memories of the cafeteria fish sticks of my childhood.

      We make it with oven fries (just cut up a potato, toss with oil and put on sheet pan at whatever temp fish is cooking) and broccoli or slaw. Still feels like a very “restaurant” meal since breaded fish is something I’d usually only get on vacation at the beach.

  45. Kate says...

    This looks AMAZING. I have no shame about the fact that I love a McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwich (add lettuce), and this looks like the ultimate elevated version.