Let me show you how to make these extra crispy fish fingers which are perfect for dunking in a bowl of homemade tartare sauce. I’ve coated them with Panko breadcrumbs for extra crunch, and I’m going to let you in on a little secret that keeps the fish moist on the inside and adds even more flavour to the crispy coating.
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Crispy fish fingers
These are the crispiest fish fingers I’ve ever made. No kidding! They’re coated in Panko breadcrumbs that provide a satisfying crunch when you bite through them. And they’re made in an air-fryer which means you don’t need any oil so they are healthy too.
If you don’t have an air-fryer you can bake them in the oven – they’ll still have that lovely crunch.
For more flavour, and to keep the fish moist and juicy, I’ve mixed some mayonnaise with the egg that’s used to bind the crumbs to the fish. I can’t believe I haven’t done this before. It makes such a difference to the taste and texture of the fish fingers.
The coating is made by dredging the strips of fish in seasoned cornflour, followed by a mixture of egg and mayonnaise, and finally in breadcrumbs. I would recommend putting the fish fingers into the refrigerator for half an hour before cooking them, to give the coating time to settle on the fish, but you can get away without doing this if you are in a hurry.
To serve with the fish fingers, I’ve got a tangy homemade tartare sauce that really goes really well with the fish. And it only takes a few minutes to throw together.
Tips for the best fish fingers
- Use a firm white fish such as cod, haddock or pollock.
- Try to cut all the pieces of fish the same size so that they cook evenly. I find the loin is the best cut to use as it is nice and chunky, and gives you nice flaky fish fingers.
- Pat the fish gently with a sheet of paper towel to make sure it is dry before you add the coating. This does 2 things:
- it ensures the coating will stick firmly to the fish; and
- less water means less steam produced as the fish cooks, resulting in a crispier coating.
- Rest the coated fish fingers in the refrigerator for half an hour before cooking them to give the coating time to settle on the fish.
- For the crispiest coating, use Panko breadcrumbs, or if you are using fresh breadcrumbs, toast them lightly in a frying pan before using them.
What you will need
If you are going to be making the fish fingers in an air-fryer, I’d highly recommend this air-fryer oven. It comes with three shelves, meaning you can cook more food at once. On the other hand, if you are going to be baking the fish fingers in the oven you will need a large baking tray.
In both instances, I would recommend lining your trays with baking parchment to prevent the fish fingers from sticking to the tray.
For coating the fish fingers you will need three shallow bowls to hold the coating ingredients.
And for the tartare sauce, you will need a small mixing bowl. These are handy because they stack inside one another, and they also have lids which means you can use them as storage bowls too.
- Fish – you can use any firm white fish – cod, haddock or pollock are ideal, but you could also use salmon, hake, kingklip or barramundi. The fish should be cut into evenly-sized strips. Bear in mind that the fish will shrink slightly when cooked, so don’t make the strips too small.
- Cornflour (or cornstarch) – I like to season the cornflour with salt and ground black pepper before coating the fish, but if you are on a salt-restricted diet you can skip the salt.
- Egg – lightly beaten and mixed with mayonnaise. The mayonnaise is my secret for adding extra flavour to the fish fingers, and also for keeping the fish moist as it cooks.
- Breadcrumbs – I like to use Panko breadcrumbs which you should be able to find in any large supermarket, or if not you can get them from Amazon. You could also make your own breadcrumbs by grating day-old bread on a box grater, or by whizzing it around in a food processor. I would recommend toasting these breadcrumbs in a dry frying pan before using them.
Tartare sauce will stay fresh for at least 4 days if stored in a covered container in the refrigerator. You can eat it immediately, but the flavour improves on standing so I always make it an hour or so before I want to use it so the flavours can develop.
Mayonnaise – this forms the base of the sauce. You can use full fat mayonnaise or the lighter variety. You may also like to try this recipe for homemade mayonnaise.
Gherkins – these are just pickled cucumbers. You can use the larger gherkins or the smaller cornichons. I like the dill flavoured ones, but you can use whatever flavour you prefer. They should be finely chopped – about the size of a matchhead.
Capers – these should also be finely chopped.
Lemon juice – you will only need a small amount or the tartare sauce will be too sour, but just a dash makes all the difference to the flavour.
Spring onion – I like to add a finely chopped spring onion, but this is optional.
Dill and parsley – finely chopped. Use fresh herbs if possible, but if you only have dried dill and parsley you can use that – but you will need to use less as dried herbs are much more concentrated than fresh herbs.
What to do
Chop the ingredients finely and combine them in a mixing bowl.
Stir until well-combined and then store the tartare sauce in a covered bowl in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve it.
Note – the flavours of the tartare sauce improve on standing. I like to make this about an hour in advance and let it stand in the refrigerator for a while.
If you are making your own breadcrumbs, here’s how to toast them.
Grate slices of bread on the largest holes of a box grater and then place the crumbs in a dry frying pan on a low heat.
Stir the crumbs until they start to dry and turn brown. Keep your eye on them, they burn easily.
Once they are brown, remove the breadcrumbs from the heat and allow them to cool.
Leftover breadcrumbs can be stored in a plastic bag in the freezer and used for another meal.
Prepare three bowls with seasoned cornflour, beaten egg and mayonnaise, and the breadcrumbs.
Coat each fish stick first in cornflour, then in the egg/mayonnaise mixture, and finally in the breadcrumbs.
Arrange the fish fingers on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for half an hour.
Arrange the fish fingers on the trays of your air-fryer (on a sheet of baking parchment).
Set the temperature to 165 C / 330F and set the timer for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes swap the positions of the trays and turn the fish fingers over.
Bake for another 5 minutes.
If you want to bake the fish fingers in the oven, arrange them in a single layer on a baking parchment-lined baking tray and spray them lightly with cooking spray.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 180C / 355 F.
In both cases (air-fryer or oven) the fish fingers should be golden brown and crispy.
You can cook these fish fingers in a conventional air-fryer (with a basket), but depending on the size of your air-fryer basket you may have to cook the fish fingers in batches to avoid over-crowding the air-fryer.
I like to serve fish fingers with french fries and peas, with a good helping of tartare sauce. See my recipe for crispy French fries.
Instead of tartare sauce, you may like to try making a quick Marie Rose sauce by mixing equal quantities of mayonnaise and tomato ketchup with a few drops of Tabasco or Worcestershire sauce.
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Once the fish fingers have been coated with egg and breadcrumbs, you can freeze them. Arrange them in a single layer on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and place them into the freezer. Once they are solid, transfer them to a plastic bag and freeze them for up to three months. Bake or fry from frozen according to the recipe instructions. You may need to add one or two minutes on to the cooking time.
Yes, you can shallow fry the fish fingers in shallow oil in a frying pan. You should fry them for 3 to 4 minutes per side until they are golden brown.
Pin for later
If you would like to make these crispy fish fingers and tartare sauce, why not pin the recipe to one of your Pinterest boards so you can find it easily. Just click on the image below.
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You may also like to try some of my other fish recipes:
- Pan-fried fish fillets with a light batter
- Mediterranean oven-baked cod with marinara sauce
- Monkfish kebabs with cherry tomatoes
- Fish Milanese with buttery garlic and parsley sauce
- Spicy fish and rice bake in tomato sauce
- Easy homemade fish cakes
Crispy fish fingers with homemade tartare sauce
(Click the stars to rate this recipe)
- 1¼ pound / 560 grams cod (or other firm white fish) Cut into evenly-sized strips
- ¾ cup / 90 grams cornflour / cornstarch
- 2 medium egg lightly beaten
- ¼ cup / 60 ml mayonnaise
- 1 cup / 125 grams Panko breadcrumbs
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper or to taste
- cooking oil spray only if baking the fish fingers in the oven
- 1 cup / 240 ml mayonnaise
- 3 tablepoons finely chopped gherkins
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped capers
- 1 small finely chopped spring onion
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Chop the gherkins, capers and spring onions finely.3 tablepoons finely chopped gherkins, 1 tablespoon finely chopped capers, 1 small finely chopped spring onion
- Combine them with the remainder of the ingredients (except the salt and pepper) in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.1 cup / 240 ml mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill, 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley, salt and black pepper to taste
- Taste for seasoning and add salt and finely ground black pepper if necessary. You can also add more lemon juice at this point if you think it needs it.
- Transfer to the refrigerator while you fry the fish fingers.
- If you intend frying the fish fingers in an air-fryer, preheat the air-fryer to 165°C/330°F.If you intend baking the fish fingers in the oven, preheat the oven to 180°C/355°F.
- Prepare three shallow bowls – one with cornflour seasoned with salt and black pepper, a second with the lightly beaten egg and mayonnaise, and a third with the Panko breadcrumbs.¾ cup / 90 grams cornflour / cornstarch, 2 medium egg, 1 cup / 125 grams Panko breadcrumbs, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, 1 cup / 240 ml mayonnaise, ¼ cup / 60 ml mayonnaise
- Cut the fish into evenly-sized strips and pat dry with a piece of paper towel.1¼ pound / 560 grams cod (or other firm white fish)
- Dip each piece of fish first into the cornflour, then into the egg and breadcrumb mixture, and finally into the breadcrumbs.
- Arrange the coated fish fingers on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator for half an hour to give the coating time to settle.
- Arrange the fish fingers on an air-fryer tray or oven-baking tray (line them with baking parchment first).
- Air-fryer – Fry the fish fingers for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes swap the trays around, turn over the fish fingers and fry for another 5 minutes until the fish fingers are golden brown.Oven – Spray the fish fingers lightly with cooking spray and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.
- Serve the fish fingers with french fries and peas, along with the tartare sauce.
- You can use dried herbs in place of fresh dill and parsley, but you will need a lot less. Dried herbs are far more concentrated than fresh. Start with half a teaspoon of each, then taste and add more dried herbs if necessary.
- You can substitute the Panko with fresh breadcrumbs. I would recommend toasting the breadcrumbs in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes to crisp them. Stir continuously and take care because they can burn easily.
- To avoid waste, measure the coating ingredients as stated in the recipe. If you run out of cornflour or breadcrumbs, add more as needed.
- If you are in a hurry you can skip chilling the coated fish fingers in the refrigerator, but you run the risk of the coating falling off as the fish cooks.
- The instructions given are for an air-fryer oven with trays for cooking the food. If you are using an air-fryer with a basket you may have to cook the fish fingers in batches to avoid over-crowding the air-fryer.
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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