How to Throw a Proper Fish Fry

If you didn't grow up or live in the South, you may have never heard of a fish fry. A proper Southern fish fry is the exact opposite of a stuffy dinner party. Friends and family gather to celebrate the day's catch, typically occurring outside in the late afternoon. There all kinds of freshly fried food, with an emphasis on fresh caught fried fish.  While the fish can vary based on what is caught, it'll be in the white fish family, like catfish, tilapia, or haddock.

Don't fear if you aren't near a pond to catch your own fish. With the right ingredients and equipment, anyone can throw a proper fish fry.

Origins of the Fish Fry

We can thank the Roman Catholics for ending their week with a Friday fish fry and sharing their tradition with the rest of us. During Lent, Catholics refrain from eating meat. It became a tradition, that on Friday nights, families would celebrate the end of the week with a fish fry. After becoming popular in parts of the rural Midwest and South, it spread to the rest of the country. As it's popularity grew, we thankfully don't need to wait for the Lenten season to enjoy a fish fry.

What You'll Need For Your Fish Fry

As the name implies, you will be doing a lot of frying. You'll need to be prepared ahead of time, especially if feeding a crowd. Make sure you have everything listed before you start cooking.

Deep Fryer:  You'll want a deep fryer on hand to achieve the golden brown crispy coating on all the fried dishes. You can pan fry if you don't mind the indoor mess, or if you don't own a deep fryer.

Oil: To achieve the best fish possible, you'll need to fry in screamin hot oil. Oils with a high smoke point, like peanut or vegetable oil work best. Their mild taste won't overpower the flavor of the fish.

Paper Towels: No one likes a greasy piece of food. Make sure to lay your freshly fried fish on a paper towel to soak up any excess oil.

Side Dishes: A fish fry is not complete with some delicious side dishes. The classic sides are coleslaw, hushpuppies and French fries. Epicurious shares some great recipes for sides that are delicious, but won't steal the show

Check out Epicurious's Side Dishes

Classic Fish Fry Recipe


A tried and true fried fish recipe needs to make fresh fish the star. In order to achieve the signature crispy crust, you'll want to use a combo of all purpose flour and cornmeal for the breading on the fish fillets.

To keep the fish moist and flavorful, most recipes suggest marinating the fish in buttermilk for a few hours before cooking. Once marinated, you can dredge them in the flour/cornmeal mix with some paprika for extra flavor.

Fry the fish in small batches for about 5 minutes, or until they're nice and crispy.

Don't forget to serve with lemon wedges and tartar sauce to enhance the flavor of the delectable, flaky fish.

Sip on a cold beer or sweet tea and enjoy the evening with friends and family.

Check out Paula Deen's full Southern fish fry recipe

Watch: What Is Your Favorite Way To Cook Fish At Home?