How to Make Beer-Battered Fish at Home

Updated: May 02, 2024

Beer-battered fish is a key part of any good Friday fish fry—and it's easier to make at home than you think.

For some, it’s not Friday without a fish fry—especially a fish fry with beer-battered fish.

This crispy main is a must from jolly old England to America’s heartland. And while you may be used to snagging fish and chips at your favorite joint in town, it’s exceptionally easy to make beer-battered fish right in your own kitchen.

Do You have to Use Beer in Beer-Battered Fish?

Beer adds flavor and richness to the batter. And the alcohol will burn away during the cooking process. But if you prefer, you don’t have to use beer in this beer-battered fish recipe. Nonalcoholic beer or even sparkling water will do the trick here.

The reason beer is a popular choice for battered fish is because the carbonation in the beer makes for a light, crispy coating. That same carbonation and the slight acidity of the beer also helps create a batter that’s very tender and flaky. You can get these same results with bubbly water or a NA beer. Don’t use sugary sodas or other drinks, though—they are too sweet for this fish recipe.

If you are using beer, go with a lighter beer.

How to Make Beer-Battered Fish

An at-home fish fry doesn’t require much—just your go-to spices and a little patience. Be sure to stock up on lemon wedges and tartar sauce before you start.

Ingredients

Overhead Shot Of All Ingredients for beer battered fishTMB Studio

  • Oil for frying
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup very cold beer or nonalcoholic beer
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 cod filets, approximately 6 ounces each
  • Tartar sauce and lemon for serving

Directions

Step 1: Prep for frying

First, make sure you’re choosing the right oil for frying. Soybean, saffron and peanut oil are all good options. You can also use canola oil.

Heat the oil in an electric skillet or countertop fryer to 375°F. Make sure you add enough oil so the fish filets can be submerged.

Editor’s Tip: If you don’t have either of these gadgets, you can absolutely use a Dutch oven. Be sure to have a thermometer on hand so you can monitor the temperature of the oil. Getting the right temp and maintaining it is key for properly cooked and crispy fish.

Step 2: Make the batter

In a shallow bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and spices. Stir in the egg and cold beer until the batter is nice and smooth.

Editor’s Tip: You can use any beer you like in this beer-battered fish recipe, but lighter beers are the most popular choice.

Step 3: Coat the fish and fry

coating and frying Beer Battered Fish gifTMB Studio

Next, grab your cod filets and pat them dry. This will ensure that the batter clings to the fish. Dip the fish into the batter and allow excess to drip away.

Carefully place the fish into the oil and fry until golden, about two to three minutes on each side. Remove the fish from the oil and drain on paper towels before serving.

Editor’s Tip: Fry in batches. Overcrowding the pan or fryer can cause the filets to stick together or not cook all the way through.

Frequently Asked Fried Fish Questions

What type of fish is best for frying?

This recipe uses cod, a very traditional pick when talking about how to fry fish. But it’s not the only option on the list of the best fish for frying. Tilapia, catfish and local panfish—think walleye, perch or bluegill—are also good selections.

Stay away from swordfish, tuna and salmon. These fish do not have the right texture for frying.

How do you get batter to stick to fish?

Excess moisture will cause the batter to run off, so the secret here is to pat your fish filets dry before dipping them in the batter.

Why is my fried fish not crispy?

The primary reason your fish isn’t getting crispy is that the oil isn’t hot enough. Make sure to wait until the oil hits the right temperature before adding the fish.

At lower temps, the oil will seep right into the coating rather than crisping it up. So have patience as you wait on that oil to heat!

What can you serve with fried fish?

Aerve your beer-battered fish with plenty of lemon wedges and tartar sauce for dipping. Popular sides for fried fish include potato pancakes, rye bread and coleslaw. And, of course, don’t forget fries for a classic fish and chips combo.

Time to Fry!
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