These crispy homemade air fryer fish sticks have just 6 ingredients including the fish! The recipe is gluten-free and eggless too with an easy dijon remoulade sauce for serving.
I was in the airport last Wednesday walking back and forth in the gate area trying to get some steps in before sitting for 3 hours on the plane when I kept seeing people with black smudges on their foreheads.
It probably took me staring at at least 5 of them until I realized it was Ash Wednesday.
And I was raised Catholic.
Guess that tells you were I stand on the religious spectrum today.
That said, it seemed like a good time to share these healthier air fryer fish sticks with you!
My childhood was filled with lots of lenten Friday meals of gross bland fish that I fought tooth and nail (never successfully). I want better for you.
Of course, fish sticks are good any time of year, not just lent.
Whenever you want to try these, I think you’ll thoroughly enjoy the crispy air fried fish sticks made with just 6 six ingredients (including the cod!).
The recipe is made in under 30 minutes total and includes a delicious creamy and tangy dijon remoulade dipping sauce.
Better yet, for any dietary concerns, there’s no gluten or eggs in this fish stick recipe.
That’s not only great for those with restrictions, but it makes a much easier, quicker and less messy recipe too!
If we were lucky on a Friday in lent, we’d get some frozen fish sticks instead of baked flounder or sole that my mom wouldn’t even try to make appealing to us.
Honestly, it’s pretty sad if a frozen (sub-par) fish stick is the best case scenario for dinner.
Too bad for my brother and I air fryers didn’t exist back in the late 80s or early 90s because mayyyybe mom would’ve at least attempted something like these homemade fish sticks, air fryer scallops or even just some frozen shrimp made in the air fryer!
Probably wishful thinking.
I’m not as enthralled with the air fryer as some people but, I will say it does protein really well.
A quick and easy breadcrumb coating turns into a crunchy, crispy exterior with a tender and moist flaky interior – aka the perfect fish stick.
INGREDIENTS FOR HOMEMADE AIR FRIED FISH STICKS
- gluten-free breadcrumbs (or regular if GF isn’t a concern)
- ground flax seed
- fresh or dried parsley
- cooking spray
From oil sprays to muffin cups and from pizza pans to racks, we've got them all, and they make fantastic Christmas presents, too!
THE BEST FISH TO USE FOR FISH STICKS
I like cod the best. My store always sells cod loin in addition to filets and it’s a nice thicker section of the cod which is perfect for making fish sticks!
I also like using cod loin in my easy air fryer cod recipe.
Tilapia, halibut or other white fish can also be substituted here if preferred. Love crab? Make these air fryer crab sticks.
Keep in mind, the thicker the filet, the more “fish stick” like it will look.
If you buy a thinner fish like tilapia, you’ll have to reduce the time in the air fryer to not overcook. I prefer filets for making this blackened cod recipe so that’s always an option too if you can’t find cod loin.
HOW TO MAKE AIR FRYER FISH STICKS
If starting with frozen fish, thaw and pat dry. I prefer using fresh fish for this recipe but either will work. If you need a good frozen fish recipe, check out my frozen salmon in the air fryer!
Cut the fish into strips about 1/2″ wide x 2″ long to create “sticks”.
Combine the breadcrumbs, ground flax seed, salt, pepper and parsley in a shallow bowl that’s big enough to fit the fish stick while laying flat.
Spray each piece of fish with cooking spray then place in the bowl with the breadcrumb mixture.
Toss the fish in the mixture until all sides are well coated, pressing down firmly to really adhere the coating to the fish.
Place the coated fish on the tray or in the basket of your air fryer depending on the model you have.
Repeat with all remaining pieces of fish.
Give the prepared fish sticks one last spritz of cooking spray then air fry for 10 minutes.
The fish should be crispy on the outside yet tender and flaky in the middle once finished cooking.
Serve with lemon wedges and the dijon remoulade sauce for dipping if desired.
They’re best enjoyed immediately out of the air fryer.
I find this to be the case with most air fried things, including air fryer cauliflower gnocchi. It does result in a crispy texture but you need to serve things pretty quickly once they’re out.
WHAT TEMPERATURE DO YOU COOK FISH STICKS IN THE AIR FRYER?
Air frying the fish sticks at 400°F for about 10 minutes (cooking time can vary with thickness of fish) seems to be the sweet spot!
Most air fryers default to 400 degrees F on the air fry setting so I usually go with that and it works like a charm!
It’s even the perfect temperature for air fryer carrots. So when in doubt, just go with 400 degrees!
For a visual on making this recipe, check out my web story video for crispy homemade air fryer fish sticks.
HOW TO MAKE THIS FISH STICK RECIPE IN THE OVEN
If you don’t have an air fryer (although I highly suggest it for this recipe!), you can bake these fish sticks in the oven instead.
I suggest a baking temperature of 450°F for 10-12 minutes. Place a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet and put the fish on top of the cooling rack.
This method will encourage air flow around all sides of the fish sticks to get a crispy exterior.
Gently flip the fish sticks half way through the baking time.
For a crispier result, try broiling for the last minute just be careful not to burn.
If your oven has a convection setting, use it at 425°F instead of 450°F.
MAKING FISH STICKS HEALTHIER
What I love about this recipe is that the ingredients are simple, wholesome and nutritious.
If you look at the back of a box of frozen fish sticks, you’ll probably see a bunch of ingredients you can’t even pronounce.
Not to mention, fish that was most likely not sourced sustainably.
That’s why making your own homemade healthier fish sticks is the way to go!
With just six ingredients, all of which you probably have on hand in your pantry, this fish stick recipe is a much healthier option for your family.
You can even make your own breadcrumbs with bread you have on hand instead of using store bought breadcrumbs if you want to keep things even simpler and less processed.
I do this all the time by simply toasting a few slices of bread, letting them cool completely then tearing into pieces and pulsing in my food processor until breadcrumb consistency.
THESE FISH STICKS ARE GLUTEN-FREE AND EGG-LESS!
So many “breadcrumb” coated recipes like fish sticks are not gluten-free and use eggs to help the coating adhere.
Not this one!
By using gluten-free breadcrumbs and cooking spray instead of eggs, these fish sticks are perfect for feeding anyone with dietary restrictions that keep them from eating gluten or eggs.
Without eggs in the recipe, the process is also much simpler and way less of a mess.
I personally hate sticky egg hands when coating fish and meat and I’m sure you do too!
HOW TO MAKE THE DIJON REMOULADE DIPPING SAUCE
Most fish sticks are served with either a tartar sauce or remoulade for dipping so I had to whip up a quick and easy sauce for this recipe.
- mayonnaise of choice (see recipe notes for my vegan choice)
- dijon mustard
- minced red onion
- minced pickles
- salt & pepper
Mix the ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined and that’s it!
You can also just dip in ketchup or mustard if preferred.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH AIR FRIED FISH STICKS
Fish sticks are one of those things that just need a side of fries. Ya feel me?
Whether that’s just some frozen fries you throw in the air fryer or oven while the fish sticks bake, perfectly crispy rosemary baked fries, jicama fries or a non-traditional vegetable fry like green bean fries, you gotta have some fries with fish sticks!
More “fry” options to consider:
- eggplant fries
- asparagus fries
- crispy fried potato strips
- zucchini fries
- sea salt and vinegar beet chips
Besides fries, a simple salad will round out the meal nicely.
Once again (because it’s the best simple salad!), I highly recommend my baby kale salad recipe.
THIS is the kind of fish recipe I would’ve been ok with as a kid during lent!
These air fryer fish sticks are flavorful, simple, crispy and tender.
The dipping sauce and fries on the side make it a meal everyone will love, even the fish skeptics!
Try my rosemary cornmeal beer battered fish if you’re looking for a more traditional fish and chips sort of recipe (aka not healthy). It’ll definitely satisfy that kind of craving.
MAKE SURE TO CHECK OUT THESE FISH RECIPES TOO!
Air Fryer Fish Sticks
- 1 pound wild caught cod loin* cut into strips about 1/2″ x 2″
- 3/4 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs, or regular breadcrumbs if preferred
- 2 tablespoons ground flax seed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
- cooking spray
For the remoulade dipping sauce
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, **see note
- 1/2 teaspoon minced red onion
- 3 round pickles, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon capers
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat air fryer to 400°F.
- Combine the breadcrumbs, ground flax seed, salt, pepper and parsley in a shallow bowl.
- Spray each strip of cod with cooking spray then place in the bowl with the breadcrumbs. Turn and press down on each side until well coated. Place the fish stick on the air fryer tray or in the basket depending on model. Repeat with remaining fish sticks.
- Spritz the tops of the prepared fish sticks with more cooking spray then bake for 10 minutes until crispy on the outside.
- Prepare the remoulade by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl and stirring together.
- Serve the air fried fish sticks with lemon wedges, fresh parsley and the remoulade sauce.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.