How to Fry Panfish Fillets CRISP Outside, Tender Inside!

by Rollie Brandt

This has been our family method for preparing fresh panfish from our Minnesota lakes for decades. Simple ingredients! Simple instructions! Crisp, delicious, boneless fillets every time!


  • Panfish fillets
  • Egg
  • Milk
  • Saltine Crackers
  • Ritz Crackers
  • Seasoned salt
  • Pepper
  • Flour
  • Cooking oil
  • Butter
  • Instructions

    Step 1

    Note: see my guide "Fillet (BONELESS) Fresh Panfish you Catch." My husband shows step by step how to fillet them. I have perfected this fish coating / frying method 40 years. These never taste fishy!

    Step 2

    Fish fillets freeze well for months frozen flat in plenty of water in a ZipLoc bag.

    Step 3

    Basic simple, yet important ingredients..

    Step 4

    THE SECRET IS THE CRACKER TYPES and HOW they are crushed. See next videos. NEVER OVER CRUSH into a fine powder.

    Step 5

    I use about half and half Saltines and Ritz (brand names or generic. Just be sure one type is SODA crackers and the other is BUTTERY crackers)

    Step 6

    The RITZ were used once in a pinch and became the secret to the perfect combination!

    Step 7

    Crush crackers coarsely using a rolling pin in a bag or with a blender or food processor... Whichever method you prefer.

    Step 8

    They crush easily.

    Step 9

    Some fine... Some larger pieces. This makes for a coating with character, and more likely fries up crisp.

    Step 10

    My easiest method for making my crumbs...

    Step 11

    Just a few seconds if using a blender.

    Step 12

    Into a gallon bag, scoop approx 1/2 cup flour and a few shakes of Seasoned Salt and some pepper.

    Step 13

    Assemble your coating ingredients.

    Step 14

    Three-step process for coating the fillets.

    Step 15

    Fillets should be rinsed under cold water and checked for bones. Even if filleted by someone as good as my husband is, sometimes a few bones remain. See video...

    Step 16

    Rinsing and removing any bones that remain is fast and easy with a kitchen shears.

    Step 17

    It's only in that "V" area where a few bones can linger.

    Step 18

    The moist fillet will coat nicely with flour and seasonings.

    Step 19

    Egg / milk mixture sticks easily to the floured dry fillet.

    Step 20

    Cracker crumbs adhere to egg / milk. See video...

    Step 21

    This how we prepare the fillets for frying...

    Step 22

    All coated and ready to fry! Discard whatever crumbs remain unused. ( I never pour the leftover cracker crumbs back into my storage container due to bacteria.)

    Step 23

    If you wish to coat fillets a few hours before guests arrive, simply place coated fillets in plastic container w/wax paper between each layer, seal and refrigerate until frying time.

    Step 24

    Pour less than 1/4" oil into skillet and add 2-3 Tbsp's butter.

    Step 25

    Heat a small oil and butter on medium heat. See video for a guide as to how much oil and heat. All stoves vary... Experiment with yours.

    Step 26

    Preheat oven to 250°. I use a rack over a cookie sheet to catch drips and crumbs. This is key to keeping fillets crisp!

    Step 27

    When oil and butter is ready, lay fillets in single layer and fry to golden brown. Takes 2-3 minutes per side.

    Step 28

    You'll be able to tell about when to flip. Watch closely.

    Step 29

    Fry other side 1-2 minutes.

    Step 30

    IMPORTANT: Place fillets in 250° oven on rack over cookie sheet to keep CRISP until ready to serve.

    Step 31

    Serve immediately with desired side dishes. We often have a vegetable or salad, plus a pasta or rice side dish. For a more summer-y meal, serve with beans and potato salad (see my other guides) .

    Step 32

    Delicious no-bone fillets.... Crispy on the outside, tender and moist on the inside.