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Fish Fry Batter

My favorite fish fry batter, inspired by my trip to “England” in Epcot, really hits the mark! It’s perfectly crispy with a light and airy beer batter that transforms simple strips or chunks of fish into golden perfection. With just a handful of pantry staples and a couple of cold beers, you can recreate that irresistible crunch and tender flakiness at home.

And the best part? It’s easier than you think. Imagine bringing the charm of an English pub right to your dining table, complete with a side of chips and a sprinkle of malt vinegar!

This restaurant-quality dish will have everyone thinking you ordered in from your favorite pub!

Fish fry in pan with lemon and tartar sauce.

We have made this recipe several times, always with great results! My husband grew up eating fish fry in upstate (central?) NY, which is another version of frying fish.

This recipe is the British version – think fish and chips – and uses a light and airy fish fry batter, not breading.

Ingredients

The batter is made from 4 simple ingredients: flour, beer, baking powder, and salt.

Labeled ingredients for fish fry batter on wooden background
  • Flour: Use all-purpose flour for a balanced batter with good texture and consistency. You can use self-rising flour and omit the baking powder, or try a mix of all-purpose and rice flour for an even lighter, crispier batter.
  • Baking powder: Essential for adding lift and creating a light, airy batter. If you don’t have baking powder, you can make a substitute by combining 1 teaspoon of baking soda with 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar.
  • Salt: Regular table salt works well, but you can also use sea salt or kosher salt for a slightly different flavor profile.
  • Cold beer: A light lager or pale ale works best for a neutral, mild flavor that enhances the batter without overpowering the fish. The beer should be very cold to ensure a crisp batter. If you prefer not to use beer, sparkling water or club soda can be used as a substitute. These options also provide carbonation, which helps create a light, airy batter.
  • Oil: Use a high smoke point oil such as canola, vegetable, peanut, or sunflower oil. These oils are ideal for deep frying as they can withstand high temperatures without burning. Avoid oils with low smoke points like olive oil, as they can burn and impart an undesirable flavor.
  • Fish: Opt for white fish such as cod, haddock, pollock, or tilapia. These varieties have a mild flavor and firm texture that hold up well to frying. If you prefer a different type of fish, ensure it’s a firm, white-fleshed variety. You can also use shrimp or scallops for a seafood twist.

Step by Step Method

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and place it in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to chill. Heat oil in a deep fryer or large, deep skillet to 365°F (185°C).

Pouring better in fish fry dry ingredients.
Adding fish to fry batter.

Just before you are ready to fry, pour cold beer into the chilled flour mixture and whisk until smooth. Pat the fish dry with paper towels, then lightly coat it in flour to help the batter adhere.

Coat the fish well in the batter, allowing any excess to drip off before placing the fish in the hot oil.

Scooping fish out of oil after frying.

Add a few pieces at a time (2 to 4, depending on the size of your cooking vessel) to avoid overcrowding. If using a deep fryer, lower the basket into the oil before adding the fish, then shake the basket immediately after adding the fish to prevent sticking.

Fry the fish for 4 to 6 minutes, observing for a golden brown color. Transfer the cooked fish to a wire rack set over paper towels to drain excess oil and keep the fish crispy.

Remember that when you batter and fry the fish, the pieces will just about double in volume!

Dipping a piece of fish fry into tartar sauce.

Outside you will have a very crisp and lovely coating while inside is perfectly moist tender fish. So good. I ate mine with malt vinegar and my husband opted for tarter sauce.

Tips and Techniques

Creating a fish fry that rivals the delicious offerings of an English pub at home is easier than you might think with a few key tips and techniques. From selecting the right type of fish to perfecting a light, crispy batter, each step plays a crucial role in achieving that authentic pub-style texture and flavor.

  1. Choose the Right Fish: Use white fish such as cod or haddock for the authentic taste and texture. These types of fish are traditionally used in English pubs for their mild flavor and firm, flaky texture, which hold up well to frying.
  2. Cold Batter: Ensure your batter is very cold; you can even chill the beer before mixing. A cold batter helps create a light, crisp coating as the cold temperature causes the batter to immediately start setting upon contact with the hot oil.
  3. Beer Batter: Mix flour, cold beer, and baking powder for a light, airy batter—season with salt. The beer’s carbonation creates bubbles in the batter, resulting in a crispy, airy texture. The baking powder adds additional lift.
  4. Dry Fish: Pat the fish dry with paper towels to help the batter adhere better. Moisture on the fish can prevent the batter from sticking properly, leading to uneven coating and frying.
  5. Flour Coating: Lightly dust the fish with flour before dipping it in the batter to help the batter stick. The flour provides a dry surface for the batter to cling to, ensuring an even coating.
  6. Hot Oil: Use a deep fryer or a large, deep skillet with oil heated to 365°F (185°C) for even frying. Proper oil temperature is crucial to avoid greasy fish. Hot oil ensures a crispy exterior and cooked-through fish without absorbing too much oil.
  7. Do Not Overcrowd: Fry in small batches to maintain the oil temperature and ensure even cooking. Overcrowding the fryer or skillet lowers the oil temperature, leading to soggy, greasy fish instead of crispy.
  8. Drain Properly: Use a wire rack over paper towels to drain excess oil, keeping the fish crispy. Draining on a wire rack prevents the fish from sitting in excess oil, which can make the coating soggy.
  9. Serve Fresh: Serve the fish immediately while it’s hot and crispy, paired with thick-cut fries and malt vinegar for an authentic touch. Freshly fried fish has the best texture and flavor, and serving it immediately ensures it remains crispy and delicious.

If you tried this recipe, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below! SUBSCRIBE for more recipes.

📖 Recipe

Fish fry in pan with lemon and tartar sauce.

Fish Fry Batter

Easy and authentic fish fry batter to make fried fish—just add chips! Inspired by my trip to "England" in Epcot, my favorite easy fish fry batter is perfectly crispy with a light, airy beer batter. It transforms simple fish into golden perfection with just a few pantry staples and cold beers, making it easy to bring the charm of an English pub home.
4.94 from 15 votes
Author: Marie
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Meal
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 563 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 400 grams all purpose flour (about 3 1/4 cups)
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 550 ml very cold beer (about 2 1/3 cups; you’ll need 2 bottles but will have some leftover)
  • Oil for frying
  • 2 pounds fish thick cut into 1.5 inch strips

Instructions
 

  • Combine flour, baking powder, and salt and place bowl in fridge for at least 15 minutes.
  • Heat oil to 365 degrees F (185C)
  • Just before you are ready to fry, pour cold beer into flour mixture, and whisk the mixture.
  • Pat fish dry before coating and optionally lightly coat in flour.
  • Add fish, a few (2 to 4) pieces at a time (depending on how large your cooking vessel is) and coat well in the batter. Allow the batter to drip off a bit before placing the fish in the fryer.
  • If using a deep fryer, add the fish when the basket is in the lower position or else it will stick to the basket. After adding fish, immediately shake the fryer basket a bit so the fish doesn’t stick to the basket.
  • Fry for 4 to 6 minutes watching carefully for a golden brown color, and then transfer the fish to a plate lined with paper towels.

Notes

Tips and Techniques
Choose the Right Fish: Use white fish like cod or haddock for a firm, flaky texture.
Cold Batter: Keep the batter very cold, even chilling the beer before mixing.
Beer Batter: Mix flour, cold beer, baking powder, and salt for a light, airy batter.
Dry Fish: Pat fish dry with paper towels for better batter adhesion.
Flour Coating: Lightly dust fish with flour before battering.
Hot Oil: Heat oil to 365°F (185°C) for even frying.
Do Not Overcrowd: Fry in small batches to maintain oil temperature.
Drain Properly: Drain fish on a wire rack over paper towels.
Serve Fresh: Serve immediately for the best texture and flavor.

Nutrition

Calories: 563kcalCarbohydrates: 55gProtein: 38gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 279mgPotassium: 755mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gCalcium: 115mgIron: 4.1mg
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Source: Thanks to The Guardian for teaching me how to cook perfect battered fish. It’s easy!

13 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    My husband (a picky eater who never likes anything new) liked it better than cornmeal breading. He ate till he was stuffed, which never happens. I mixed the dry ingredients as you called for but I saved half for another time and only used 1 can of beer because we do not like leftover fish. I loved the crumbles and used the leftover batter and fried it up in little drops of fried batter, just like in your frier basket photo. Thanks.

  2. 5 stars

    Made fish and chips with this recipe tonight. It is seriously the best one I’ve ever used. Added paprika for color and used crisco. Save this one!!!

    Reply

  3. 5 stars
    The best recepie I’ve ever seen. We loved it!
    For those who don’t want to use beer can use mineral water instead.

  4. At first it called for baking Soda which I thought was different but my attention was grabbed. However when I read the recipe it indeed called for baking powder. Almost the same as mine except I add lemon pepper and paprika if using new oil. Helps it go golden. A new trick I just learned and tried. It was also very tasty. I love trying new ways to do fish. This recipe other than cook times worked out very well.

    1. Thanks! I’ve corrected that…as far as cooking times, it will depend on size and thickness of the fish so it is hard to say. I’ll make a note of that as well. Glad you enjoyed!

  5. Sounds great I use the same thing except I add a half cup of corn meal adds to the crisp texture of the batter

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