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Crunchy Cornmeal Crusted Fish Sticks

Crunchy Cornmeal Crusted Fish Sticks

These healthy Cornmeal Crusted Fish Sticks are super-crunchy and kid-approved. The best part: the hand-breading method doesn’t involve messy fingers! Don’t skip the Homemade Tarter Sauce.

Cornmeal Crusted Fish Sticks |

Recently, we took a “family field trip.”  We drove The Great River Road to Grafton, Illinois observing the beautiful sheer rock/earth bluffs along the Mississippi River. (Who knew the Mighty Mississippi could be so beautiful, even in winter?)

The kids were thrilled to take a car ferry over the Mississippi to Calhoun County. (It’s the only county I know that’s a peninsula into the Mississippi!) Here in the tiny town of Hardin, we discovered one of the most delicious road food restaurants on the planet.

And it was from the Kid’s Menu (of all places) at Mel’s Riverdock Restaurant that we ordered the very best fish sticks I’ve tasted.

Cornmeal Crusted Fish Sticks |

These best-fish-sticks-ever were made from Mississippi catfish, were crunchy from cornmeal, and were just-salty-enough. And for the first time in my dear 7 year-old’s life, he “liked fish!”

I’ve tried to perfect healthier fish sticks – that weren’t fried. But it’s a pain; there are just so many steps: Flouring, egg washing, and then corn-meal dredging. Talk about sticky, messy fingers. Then while baking, they have to be flipped halfway through.

Then, I discovered a method for hand-breading without messy fingers:

  1. Toss the fish in an egg wash – neatly in a bowl!
  2. Cornmeal dredge by shaking in a zip-top bag.

This a new version of best ever fish sticks emerged. They tasted just like Mel’s Riverdoc Restaurant fish sticks.  No messy finger! Try this easy way to hand-bread (healthy) fish sticks: Crunchy Cornmeal Crusted Fish Sticks via @TspCurry Click To Tweet

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Cornmeal Crusted Fish Sticks |

Crunchy Cornmeal Crusted Fish Sticks

  • Author: Serena Ball
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


Healthy fish sticks for Fish Fridays or any day you want big Crunchy Cornmeal Crusted Fish Sticks. Plus they’re kid-approved. Easy hand-breading method doesn’t involve messy fingers. Don’t skip the Homemade Tarter Sauce.


  • 1 tablespoon 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 pound catfish fillets, cut into 20 (1-inch) strips
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 3/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided

Healthy Homemade Tarter Sauce

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped dill pickles


  1. Combine milk and eggs in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add fish, and toss gently to coat. Place panko, cornmeal, seasoned salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large zip-top bag. Add fish to panko mixture; seal bag. Shake bag gently to coat fish.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add half of fish; cook 4 minutes or until done, turning occasionally to brown all sides. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and remaining fish.
  3. For Homemade Tarter Sauce, combine yogurt, pickles, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Serve sauce with fish.

And for the second time in his 7 year-old life, my son again said he “liked fish”…which was almost as exciting as listening to him tell his grandma about our “Family Field Trip to the Mississippi.”

Do your kids eat fish or do they turn up their noses?

Theses healthy fish sticks are super-crunchy and kid-approved. The best part: the hand-breading method doesn't involve messy fingers! Don't skip the Homemade Tarter Sauce. Recipe at #fish #familyfriendly #kitchenhacks


Saturday 10th of February 2018

I love the sound of these! I haven't ever tried making my own fish sticks, but these look super good! :]

Serena Ball

Sunday 11th of February 2018

Try this super easy way of breading them Farrah. No mess!

A Month of Meal Makeovers in March on Pinterest ... and a Celebration of National Nutrition Month ... and a Recipe for Lightened Spinach-Artichoke Dip (Podcast #215)

Wednesday 10th of December 2014

[…] Cornmeal Crusted Fish Sticks by Serena Ball, MS, RD from Teaspoon of Spice […]


Thursday 28th of February 2013

These look so tasty and fun! I always loved fish but never fish-sticks, but I definitely want to try these. The recipe looks so easy


Friday 1st of March 2013

Let me know what you think Meme! The breading is really light, but I think you may like a lot!

EA Stewart

Monday 25th of February 2013

Love that you took a "family field trip" for the day! I'll confess to never having made fish sticks for my kids, who aren't big fish eaters either, although they will sometimes eat Mahi Mahi in fish tacos, and my son can eat smoked salmon like its nobody's business :-) I definitely want to try making a GF version of these fish sticks-so glad you shared!


Monday 25th of February 2013

I actually ran out of panko one time when making these and ground up instant brown rice in my spice grinder. That would be a GF option with GF cornmeal. It worked great. If you don't have a spice grinder, food processor might work!

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