The key to any good southern fish fry is a perfectly seasoned cornmeal coating that fries up golden with a smart, crisp crunch. And the easiest way to achieve that is with your own Homemade Cornmeal Fish Fry Mix!
Making your own cornmeal mix to dredge your fresh fish in for frying is so easy! It only takes just a few pantry staples and about 2 minutes. The benefits? You are in charge of your own ingredients, guaranteeing that your fish is always crispy and tastes just the way you like it. It also eliminates the extra preservatives and flavor enhancers found in store bought mixes, which is important when you want to make and serve only the best.
What Makes A Good Fish Fry
A true fish fry is all about gathering. It’s chance to get together with friends, family or neighbors, swap fishing tales and enjoy the latest catch. Where I live, that includes regional fresh water favorites like bass, bream, crappie and catfish. Besides a crunchy cornmeal breading for those fish, there are a handful staples that show up at every successful fish fry.
- creamy coleslaw
- french fries
- hush puppies
- lemon slices
- dipping sauces, like cocktail sauce, tartar sauce or remoulade sauce
A fish fry is not all about the fried food though. It’s also a great place to find bright, fresh vegetables and other seasonal dishes, like:
- Southern Tomato Cucumber Salad
- Fresh Vegetable Crudite Platter
- Bacon Tomato Pasta Salad
- Green Chile Corn Salsa Dip
- Skillet Blackberry Cobbler
- Berry Watermelon Fruit Salad
Ingredients for Fish Fry Cornmeal Coating
- yellow or white cornmeal- This is what gives southern fried fish its great crunch. Either fine ground or regular ground cornmeal works for this recipe (finely ground cornmeal is usually difficuly to find outside of the southern United States). Regular ground meal does have a coarser texture, but with that comes a bigger crunch and a slightly nutty, fried corn flavor that is incredibly delicious with mild, white fish.
- all purpose flour– just a touch of flour helps the cornmeal coating stick to the fish
- salt- a must for any good recipe
- lemon pepper– ground black pepper and the bright zing of lemon zest are essential for delicious fish
- paprika– a little extra flavor and color
- cayenne pepper– a nice peppery kick
How to Make Cornmeal Coated Fried Fish
Mix the Coating. Simply measure all of the ingredients and dump them into a plastic bowl with a lid or into a brown paper lunch bag. I prefer a brown paper lunch sack because when I am finished, the bag goes straight into the trash- no clean up! Put the lid on or fold down the paper bag and give all the ingredients about 5 good shakes to mix.
Dredge, or Coat, the Fish. Drop several fish fillets or fillet strips into the bowl or bag, put the lid back on or refold bag top. Another 5 or 6 shakes and your fish is ready to drop into hot oil for frying.
Fry the Fish. Fry the fish in a dutch oven, deep fryer or outside propane fish fryer in peanut or canola oil heated to 375 degrees fahrenheit until crisp and gold brown. This usually takes 5-7 minutes. Remove from oil and allow to drain on a baking rack with a paper towel covered baking sheet underneath.
Tips for Making the Best Fried Fish
- When cooking for a group, frying up fillets is best. This makes sure no one accidentally swallows any of those tiny fish bones!
- Additionally, cutting fillets into smaller strips or into “nugget” sized pieces ensures a good even, crispy cook and is genius when feeding a crowd.
- Keeping the oil at a steady temperature is must. Use a thermometer to make sure the oil doesn’t cool off or get too hot. The former results in wimpy, soggy fish, the latter in undercooked, overbrowned fish.
- Put just a few pieces of fish in the hot oil at a time. This allows the fish plenty of room to evenly cook and get a nice crunch, while also not cooling off the oil by introducing too many fish pieces into it at once.
Don’t have a fresh catch to fry up, try individually frozen catfish or tilapia fillets from your local grocer’s freezer!
More Seafood Recipes to Love!
- Louisiana Pickled Shrimp
- Southern Salmon Patties
- Crab Cake Sliders
- Spicy Creole Shrimp Packets
- Million Dollar Shrimp & Crab Dip
If You Make This Recipe, I Can’t Wait To Hear About It!
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Homemade Cornmeal Fish Fry Mix
- 1 3/4 C white or yellow cornmeal
- 1/4 C flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp lemon pepper
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- Place all ingredients in a plastic bowl with a lid or in a brown paper lunch bag. Shake vigrously to mix all ingredients.
- Drop cleaned and washed fish fillets into bowl or bag filled with cornmeal mix and shake vigorously again to coat and then drop fish into canola or peanut oil heated to 375° Fahrenheit to deep fry for 5-7 minutes or until fish is golden brown.
Hosting a Fish Fry?
There’s nothing quite like a fish fry to bring together family, friends and neighbors. Whether you’re hosting your first fish fry or you’re 50th, here are some of my favorite fish fry essentials from Amazon for an successful, easy event!
- Water proof/ Oil proof Tablecloth
- Fish Dipper
- Durable Paper Bags
- Heavy Duty Long Tongs
- Outdoor Fish Cooker with Cast Iron Pot
- Stainless Steel Thermometer
- Collapsible Batter Bowl
- Baking Sheet & Wire Rack
- Canvas Chef Apron
- Deep Fryer