How Long Does it Take to Fry Fish? (Chef’s Guide)

how long to fry fish?

If you’re like me, then you know there’s absolutely nothing better than biting into some delicious and delectable fried fish dinner in the summer.

If you’re new to making this tasty entree, then you might have a few questions such as how long to fry fish or what the ideal temp for deep frying fish actually is. If so, don’t stress.

We have answers to all the most commonly asked questions about making fried fish for dinner, including the ideal deep fry fish time.

This dish is perfect for those long, summer days when you wish you were at the shore hanging out with your friends. Best of all, it doesn’t take that long to cook, either. In fact, your batch of tasty fish will be ready to consume and enjoy in only a few minutes.

That’s what I love about a deep fryer; it makes the cooking process so fast. Plus, sometimes fried food just tastes better, right?

Let’s dive into everything you need to know about frying fish (and yes, pun definitely intended):

What is the Best Fish to Fry?

Ah, this is probably one of the most important questions you should ask. After all, choosing the wrong fish can leave a bad taste in your mouth (both literally and figuratively).

When it comes to frying fish, you should opt for any of the following types of fish:

  • Striped Bass
  • Perch
  • Tilapia
  • Catfish
  • Halibut
  • Alaskan Cod

If tilapia being mentioned on this list concerns you, let me break down why. Though tilapia by itself can be a little bit of a hit or miss in terms of flavor, it actually provides a pretty great base you can build flavors on, especially when deep fried.

In any fried tilapia recipe, you’ll want to use a little bit of Old Bay seasoning to ramp up the flavors. If you don’t have Old Bay, you can, of course, swap it out with some paprika for a little kick.

Whichever you use, both can be considered the secret ingredient to making tilapia jump off the plate (flavor-wise, of course).

The same can be said for halibut. While a little sweeter than tilapia, halibut is mild enough to pair really well with bold flavors like lemon juice.

When it comes to frying fish, choosing something with a mild flavor gives you versatility. Plus, it won’t take away from the fried texture being the star of the show.

Ways to Fry Fish

So, you want to fry up some fish, right? The most common way to fry fish is, of course, with an actual deep fryer. After you cover your fish in a batter, you’ll place it in a deep fryer that’s filled with oil in order to fry it.

Though this is a very popular method, it is also one of the unhealthiest. People are much more health conscious today, which is one of the main reasons why appliances such as air fryers have sprung into popularity over the past few years.

An air fryer achieves the same fried results but without the oil, allowing you to feel a bit better about the kinds of food you’re consuming.

Keep in mind that seasoning is key if you’re opting for the air fry method. Douse a little salt, pepper, and the secret ingredient – lemon juice – on your filets before placing them in the air fryer. If you prefer to not use lemon juice, use some cajun seasoning instead for a little kick.

Another popular way to fry fish is to cook it in a pan. This will take longer than the deep fryer/air fryer methods but is a good option if you don’t own the two appliances referenced above.

How to Season Fish Before Frying?

C’mon, we all want to know! Part of what makes a fried fish recipe taste so great is the kind of seasoning that’s used to elevate the flavor.

As such, one of the most important parts of learning how to make fried fish is knowing what seasonings to use and the best methods for doing so.

Before ever adding oil to your fish, first, add all of your herbs and spices. Adding seasoning on top of oil creates a slick surface and you may lose a lot of your seasoning during the cooking process.

By adding it before the oil, you’re guaranteeing more flavor because the seasoning is more likely to stay on once it gets submerged in the deep fryer.

There are a few ways you can season your fish before frying. The first is to add salt and pepper. Though simple, it tastes great. Other excellent seasonings include beer, garlic, cayenne pepper, and onion powder.

Beer, for example, tastes great when paired with tilapia, whereas garlic and cayenne pepper pair beautifully with catfish.

Regardless of which seasoning you go with, always slice your fish into strips about 3” wide. This makes it easy for them to get fully coated in the seasoning.

Then, when it comes to seasoning them, go as light or as heavy as you want. This is where personal preference comes in, so do whatever you think is best.

How Long Should You Fry Fish?

How long does it take to fry fish? The answer to this common question will depend on whether or not you’re using an air fryer, deep fryer, or regular pan, as these are the most common methods of frying fish.

Are you using a deep fryer? If so, fry your fish for approximately five minutes on each side until golden brown. Using a frying pan? Cook them for about two minutes on each side.

The only cooking method that will take the most amount of time will be if you’re using an air fryer. This method takes about 20 minutes to complete, when flipping your filets about halfway through to make sure they’re evenly cooked.

But once it’s done, you’ll be able to enjoy some delicious deep-fried fish for dinner. Serve with a little tartar sauce and white wine and you’ve got the perfect meal.

Deep-Fry Fish at the Right Temperature

If you’re using a deep fryer or pan, the ideal deep fryer temperature for fish is between 350 and 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s critical that you fry your fish between this range because anything higher than this will burn your filets. And trust me when I say that there’s nothing worse than a burnt, uber-chewy fish filet.

The deep fry fish temp for an air fryer, on the other hand, is 400 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re looking for the best-fried fish recipe to use with an air fryer, pair either cod or catfish with breadcrumbs, olive oil, onion powder, and chili powder (the secret ingredient for a little pop of heat).

If you don’t have breadcrumbs, granola actually makes a fabulous (albeit surprising) alternative.

How Do You Know When Fish is Done Frying?

If this is your first attempt at making fried fish, you’re going to have questions such as how long to deep fry fish and how long to fry fish in oil.

However, another question you should be asking is how to recognize when your filets are done frying and ready to serve.

While, sure, you can use the cooking times above for guidance, accidentally serving soggy, greasy fish because it’s undercooked is a big no-no.

When fish is done frying, the filets will actually float up to the surface. This applies to deep frying only, as rising to the top isn’t possible in either a pan or air fryer.

If you’re using either a pan or air fryer, you can tell that your fish filets are fully fried if they’re golden brown and flake rather easily. If they don’t flake a little, cook them for a minute or so longer until they do.

Ways to Tell if Deep-Fried Fish is Done

Are your fish fully fried? As mentioned above, easy ways to tell is if they’re golden brown, flaky, or, if cooked in a deep fryer, rise to the surface of the oil.

Another easy way you can determine if your fish is fully fried is to measure its internal temperature.

Most fish should reach an internal temperature between 140-145 degrees. Tilapia is a bit of an outlier as its internal temperature can be a bit above 145 degrees.

In order to measure the internal temperature of your fish, you’ll need to buy a digital thermometer. Insert this into the thickest part of your fish to get an accurate temperature reading.

You can purchase an internal thermometer at your local grocery store or online at many popular retailers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Check also:

How Long Does it Take to Fry Fish?

On average, it should take less than 10 minutes to fully fry your fish. Deep frying your fish or cooking it in a pan will take about six to eight minutes (when cooking for approx. 3-4 minutes on either side).

Air frying it will take about 20 minutes, cooking each side of the filet for approximately 10 minutes when cooked at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

But what about other types of fish? For example, how long to air fry fish sticks? Because of their size and the way they’re sliced up, it should only take about nine or 10 minutes to cook.

However, keep in mind that you will have to flip your sticks over about five minutes into cooking to make sure they’re fried evenly on either side.

How Long Should I Pan Fry My Fish?

Generally speaking, you should pan fry your fish for about eight minutes, flipping them over around the four-minute mark so they’re evenly cooked on both sides.

When it comes to frying fish, one part of the cooking process you can’t overlook is adding flour and eggs to your filets. As with any fried food, the taste and texture are the results of the type of batter that’s used. One of the most common ingredients used in flour.

Flour keeps all the juices in, while also simultaneously creating that beautiful, flaky crust we all love when served those tasty fish and chips dishes. There are different types of flour available including ground wheat, barley, all-purpose, and chickpeas.

For frying your fish, you should opt for ground wheat flour because it’s not super grainy, which could otherwise distract from the overall bite.

Now knowing this, you might be wondering how to fry fish with flour. All you have to do is sprinkle some on. Get a nice coat on it, but don’t make it too thick.

Sometimes, people may run into problems such as the flour not sticking properly. This is a simple fix.

Curious about how to fry fish with flour and egg? All you need to do is mix in a little bit of egg with your flour and then add it to your filet. This will make it stick better so you get a great fried taste and texture on your filets or fish sticks.

How Do You Cook Fish in a Deep Fryer?

Knowing how to fry fish in a deep fryer is critical if you want to make this meal for yourself and your loved ones moving forward.

First, add about two inches of canola oil (or vegetable oil, if you’re looking for an alternative) to your deep fryer and set it to 350 degrees.

While that’s heating up, coat your filets with flour. If you prefer to help them stick better, add a little bit of egg to it. Then, add some breadcrumbs to get a crispy coating.

Once the oil is bubbling, submerge your filets inside, turning them mid-way through (approximately four minutes into cooking). Once they’re cooked, let them drain on something absorbent like a paper towel to soak up all the excess moisture.

There’s literally never been an easier way to make your own batch of fried fish!

how long to fry fish?

How Long Does it Take to Fry Fish?

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Frying time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

If you’re new to making this tasty entree, then you might have a few questions such as how long to fry fish or what the ideal temp for deep frying fish actually is. If so, don’t stress.


  • Striped Bass
  • Perch
  • Tilapia
  • Catfish
  • Halibut
  • Alaskan Cod


  1. So, you want to fry up some fish, right? The most common way to fry fish is, of course, with an actual deep fryer.
  2. After you cover your fish in a batter, you’ll place it in a deep fryer that’s filled with oil in order to fry it.

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