HEALTHY FISH STICKS & TARTAR SAUCE
You know what I’m craving? These Healthy Fish Sticks and Tartar Sauce! Random, I know! But random cravings are what inspire most of my healthy recipes. First, I researched all the top recipes for fish sticks and tartar sauce. Then, I set out to create a macro-friendly, gluten-free, dairy-free and Paleo version! It had to be quick and easy too, since I only have 30 minutes to make dinner most nights. The end result? These golden, crunchy fish “sticks” filled with flaky white cod! They’re perfect with my healthy homemade tartar sauce and a side of crispy sweet potato fries (mmm).
Did you know? Mayonnaise (like that used in this tartar sauce) is not inherently “unhealthy.” It depends on the type of oil it’s made from as well as how much you’re consuming! Soybean oil is high in omega-6 fats making it more inflammatory. However, many brands of mayo are now made with anti-inflammatory avocado oil and olive oil. Canola oil is “less inflammatory” in some ways than safflower or soybean oil, but isn’t the best for other reasons (like chemical processing and traces of trans fat).
Making the fish sticks
For the fish, I recommend cod, haddock, halibut, pollock, or any other mild-flavored white fish. If using frozen fillets, be sure to thaw them in cool water about half an hour before cooking, then pat each fillet dry with paper towels. Handle the fillets gently to avoid them falling apart!
Cut each fillet across the grain into 1-2″ wide “sticks,” then pat dry again with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Dredge each fish stick in flour and spice mixture (I used cassava flour, but gluten-free flour would also work). For the spices, I used were garlic powder, sweet paprika, dried parsley and salt. Feel free to use lemon pepper or Old Bay seasoning, too!
Next, dunk in beaten egg white-mustard mixture, wiping off excess on the edge of the bowl. Finally, for that crispy crust, coat in gluten-free panko, gluten-free bread crumbs, almond flour (Paleo), cornmeal or even crushed corn flakes!
Two methods for cooking fish sticks
You can either cook these in an air fryer or in the oven! For the air fryer, set the temp to 400 degrees F and arrange in a single layer in the basket. Air-fry about 15 minutes for nice crispy fish sticks. For the oven, arrange breaded fish sticks on a baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper, then spray lightly with more cooking spray. Broil at 400 degrees F on the second rack down in your oven, about 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
The tartar sauce
For the tartar sauce, I combined nonfat plain Greek yogurt (can use dairy-free) with avocado oil mayo, diced dill pickles, pickle juice, lemon juice, and dijon mustard. It’s so darn delicious! The sauce is honestly the best part, and it’s great for dipping your fries in too 😉 For Paleo tartar sauce, use more avocado oil mayo in place of the yogurt.
The sweet potato fries
Now for the fries, there are two methods that work: (1) Throw them in an air fryer with some cooking spray and seasoning salt for 15 minutes at 400 degrees, or (2) Broil at 425 degrees F on the second rack down in your oven, about 30 minutes, turning halfway through cooking time. I prefer the air fryer as they end up more crispy, especially is you’ll be saving some for the next day.
Here is the printable recipe for my Healthy Fish Sticks & Tartar Sauce! I hope you’ll rate and comment below if you try them 😉
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Healthy Fish Sticks & Tartar Sauce
- 24 oz. wild cod fillets* fresh or thawed
- 1/2 cup gluten-free flour* or cassava flour for Paleo
- 1 tsp. sweet paprika*
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder*
- 1/2 tsp. dried parsley* optional
- 1/2 tsp. salt optional
- 1/2 cup (4 large) egg whites* or 2 whole eggs
- 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 1/4 cup gluten-free bread crumbs* or almond flour for Paleo
- 1/3 cup light mayo* or avocado oil mayo for Paleo
- 1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt* or avocado oil mayo for Paleo
- 1/4 cup (1 large spear) dill pickle finely chopped
- 3 tbsp. white onion finely chopped
- 2 tsp. pickle juice from jar
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
*See blog post above for substitutions.
- If using oven, preheat oven to BROIL at 400 degrees F. If using air fryer, check manual – not all brands require preheating (mine doesn't).
- If using frozen fillets, thaw in cool water about half an hour before cooking, then pat each fillet dry with paper towels. Handle the fillets gently to avoid them falling apart!
- Cut each fillet against the grain into 1-2″ wide “sticks,” then pat dry again with paper towels to remove any excess moisture.
- Combine flour and spices in a medium bowl and set aside. Beat together egg whites, lemon juice and mustard in another medium bowl and set aside. In a third medium bowl, add breadcrumbs (or almond flour).
- Dredge each fish "stick" in flour and spice mixture (shake off excess), then dunk in beaten egg white mixture (wipe off excess on edge of bowl), and finally coat in bread crumbs (or almond flour).
- For oven version, arrange breaded fish sticks on a baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper, then spray lightly with more cooking spray. Broil on the second rack down in your oven, about 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
- For the air-fryer version, arrange breaded fish sticks in a single layer in the basket, then air-fry at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes.
- If making sweet potato fries, you can use the same oven/air-fryer temp; 15 minutes in the air-fryer, or 30 minutes in the oven.
- While cooking, combine ingredients for tartar sauce. Enjoy! Leftovers will keep in the fridge in an airtight container up to one week, but taste best if eaten within three days.
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