How Long To Fry Fish?

fried fish and sliced tomato and green

Fish is something that’s very easy and very fast to cook whether or not it’s pan-frying, deep-frying or a soup recipe that requires the fish to be boiled. Regardless of the three, the most common would be frying as it is to the most convenient and fast way to cook a fish. That’s why that in this guide, we’d be discussing more regarding how long to fry fish and how to actually fry it.

The process of frying the fish isn’t that time-consuming. The thing that takes so long to do would be preparing the fish to fry. Also, frying the fish doesn’t give you many options when it comes to recipes. You can deep fry it prepared with coatings such as bread crumbs or other mixtures or you can do a simple pan fry of the fish, marinated or just using salt. The choices depend on your preference.

However, when pan frying or deep frying a fish, it’s often suggested to cover it with a nice and flavorful coating as the intense heat and hot oil would likely damage the credibility of the meat of the fish, making it either saggy, over-cooked which is hard and crispy or ruined. The meat of the fish is soft and tender wherein a simple boiling can even cook it, not like the meat of the chicken, pork or beef.

First Thing to Do

First and foremost, you would want to choose the type of fish you want to fry before you start your preparations. It can be salmon, tuna, or whatever you’d prefer but the most common in the east for fried fish would be the milk-fish due to its availability and the easiness to prepare.

Some fish are frozen and most likely be frozen at home so it’s also best that you start thawing the fish hours or days before you start cutting it. It would make things easier for you and will allow your knife to cut through the fish meat nice and easy.


One whole regular size fish that weighs about 1 pound or 2 could at least be cut into four servings if you cut it about half crosswise and about a half an inch to an inch thick, fillet cut.

After done with the knife preparations, you need to rinse the fish with water a few times to wash out the strong fish odor of the fish or any residue that could interfere with the flavor. Put them in a dry washcloth or paper towels and allow them to dry.


Next step would be preparing the fish’s coating. Like we’ve said earlier, when deep frying or pan frying a fish, it is greatly advised to cover it with a nice coating that would not just add flavor and crispiness to the outside layer of the fish but will also protect the inside layer from tearing apart once you started frying. It will also allow you to easily turn the fish in both sides when you try to cook it evenly with just using a simple kitchen tong, fork or even a wooden spatula.

Here’s a simple fish coating recipe we would want to share:

Pan-Fried Fish

frying breaded fish fillet


  • 1 Egg
  • Milk
  • Cornmeal or breadcrumbs
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  • First, get a mixing bowl or a shallow dish so that you can combine your ingredients. Make sure that the bowl or dish has enough space for you to dip your fillets easily.
  • Beat the egg and add 2 tablespoons of milk or water depending on your choice. Milk will add a unique texture and flavor to the fish coating.
  • On a separate dish, combine the breadcrumbs or cornmeal and add some salt and pepper to taste. Some would prefer to add other types of herbs and spices. You can choose to do so depending on what flavor you want. Also as an alternative for breadcrumbs or cornmeal, you can use finely crushed chips or crackers and you wouldn’t need to add some salt into it.
  • Next step would be dipping or dredging the fish into the mixtures you’ve made. First dip it into the bowl of egg and milk, followed by the crumbs or cornmeal. The egg and milk will allow the crumbs or cornmeal attach without breaking once frying starts.
  • Preheat your stove or deep fryer to about 300 degrees. Make sure that the oil is also hot enough that it makes a sizzling sound when you put the fish.
  • Turn the fish on different sides until it has achieved a golden brown color.
  • Once cooked, put it in a nice plate, serve and enjoy!

Deep-Fried Fish



  • All-purpose flour
  • Beer (optional)
  • Egg
  • Baking Powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  • You can start by preheating the oil as you prepare your ingredients to about 375 degrees. You can either choose to use a deep fryer or a heavy saucepan so that it would be possible for you to cook the fish in deep hot oil.
  • Next is to prepare the ingredients or mixture for the coating. Using a shallow or wide dish, pour a half cup of flour and set it aside.
  • On another fish or bowl, break one piece of egg and add a half cup of flour, a quarter teaspoon of baking powder, half cup of beer if you have, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Use a fork or a whisk and start beating the ingredients until it has a smooth texture.
  • After you’re done with your batter, you can dip or dredge the fillets into the flour followed by dipping or dredging it into the batter. Cover all sides. The flour is necessary so that it will help the batter stick to the fish and will not break once you started deep frying.
  • Make sure to shake the excess flour so that you’d have a nice and even mixture of coating on the external layer of your fish.
  • Place the fish using a kitchen tong into the deep fryer or heavy saucepan. Continuously flip the fish over both sides so that it would be cooked evenly.
  • Once the fish starts to turn to a golden brown color, you can take it out and put it in a paper towel so that the excess oil would be absorbed as you don’t want to eat an oily fish and it would also allow the fish to have a nice crispy texture for a longer period of time.
  • Put it in a clean and presentable plate.
  •  Serve and enjoy your deep-fried fish!

How Long To Cook

The procedure may look long for both recipes but it’s actually not that hard or time-consuming. The mixture of ingredients to create your fish coating is very simple and easy. The time it takes to cook the fish is also fairly short.

Assuming that the fish is fillet:

For pan-frying, it usually just takes about 2 to 4 minutes for the fish to cook both sides as long as you have preheated the stove for the designated temperature as you prepared your ingredients.

Also, deep frying also has almost the same amount of time taken to cook both sides of the fish, about 3 to 4 minutes provided that the fryer is preheated and the oil is already hot when placing the fish.


The time it takes to cook a fish depends on the type of cut you have. Whole fish or thickly cut fish takes longer compared to a fillet cut fish as it is only less than a thick inch and heat could easily pass through the meat.

Thick cut fish or a whole fish takes longer as the heat or the oil takes longer to reach the inner layers of the fish meat. Adjusting the oven, stove or fryer temperatures above the normal range of 300 to 400 would leave you with a cooked external layer but a raw inner layer of fish meat.

Make sure to allow the oil and the heat to reach the inner part of the fish if you choose to fry a thickly cut fish or a whole fish.

Want more tips on cooking fish?  Check this out​.