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How to Fry Fish with Cornmeal

How to Fry Fish with Cornmeal

Last Updated on 23rd April 2022 by

To give your fried fish a flakier crust with a lovely golden brown appearance, try using cornmeal rather than flour the next time you bread it.

When you fry fish with cornmeal, you’ll change up the flavor a little bit and make it your fish a really good fit with certain sides, including coleslaw, mashed potatoes, green beans, and more.

How to Get Cornmeal to Stick to Fish

Fried fish and cornmeal breading make a great pairing, but if you don’t prepare your fish properly, the cornmeal will fall off in the oil. You will end up with spoiled oil and fish without proper breading. To make sure the cornmeal sticks to the fish, you’ll need to use egg or milk.

Egg is the best option, as it has a natural tendency to stick things together. Though you’ll find milk helps the cornmeal stick to the fish fairly well, it may change up the flavor in a less appealing way than what you’d get by using egg.

Plus, the cornmeal doesn’t stick to a milk-coated piece of fish as well as it does to fish that’s been dipped in egg.

Frying with Cornmeal Versus Flour

Cornmeal might not make a good substitute for flour when it comes to baked goods, but it can be used instead of flour when you’re frying fish, chicken, and other meats. Here’s what you should know about how to fry fish with cornmeal instead of using flour.

You end up with a crispier coating with cornmeal, and that means it won’t absorb as much oil when it’s frying. This gives you a meal that’s lower in fat than if you were to use flour for frying. You also get a piece of fish start holds up better when used with sauces, not becoming as soggy and fragile.

If you prefer the way flour breading tastes and looks for your fish, you can use a combination of cornmeal and flour, using half of each. When frying with cornmeal, make sure that the coating is light and even, otherwise it might not look appealing or you might lose a lot of it when frying.

How to Make Fish Batter with Cornmeal

I’ll share with you a recipe for cornmeal fish batter and cooking up the fish on your stovetop. This method uses a mixture of cornmeal and flour.


  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup of yellow cornmeal (white cornmeal works as well)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of chili powder
  • 1 egg
  • pound of boneless fish filets (catfish, tilapia, etc.)
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 4 tablespoons of canola oil


  1. In a bowl, mix together salt, black pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, flour, and cornmeal.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat egg and water together until they have blended fully.
  3. Then, dip your fish filets into the cornmeal mixture to make sure that the fish is coated on all sides.
  4. Next, dip the coated fish into the egg mixture and then back into the cornmeal mixture again.
  5. Heat the oil on the stove on medium heat in a large frying pan or skillet. Fry the fish for about two or three minutes on each side, until the fish will flake easily when you prod it with a fork.

Once the fish comes out of the oil, you can dry it off on a paper towel to get rid of the excess oil. Allow it to rest for a couple minutes before serving it up.

Cornmeal Fish Batter No Flour

What if you want to cook up cornmeal bread and fish without using any flour at all? How do you change up the recipe to accommodate that? You can you use a mixture of cornstarch and cornmeal as a substitute for flour.

Use the same amount of cornstarch as you do cornmeal, and then you can also add milk to the egg mixture to help ensure that the cornmeal sticks to the fish properly.

You’ll get a slightly different texture if you’re using this kind of cornmeal mixture rather than one that incorporates flour, and the taste may be a bit different as well.

If you’re not happy with how it turns out and you prefer the texture of flour but want to keep this a gluten-free dish, you can use gluten-free flour instead. Just use a mixture that combines as much cornmeal as gluten-free flour, and it should turn out fine.

Do You Use White or Yellow Cornmeal for Frying Fish?

When shopping for cornmeal, you’ll have two different options- white or yellow. You may be confused about which one to use, and you might not sure whether there’s a reason to pick one over the other.

You could even find blue cornmeal in some locations, but usually it will usually be just a choice between the white or yellow cornmeal. Is there a difference, and can you use them interchangeably when frying fish?

They’re both made from corn, but these two types of cornmeal are different from one another. They have different flavors and different characteristics. White cornmeal comes from white corn kernels, whereas yellow cornmeal comes from yellow corn kernels.

The yellow cornmeal has a sweeter taste, so if you’re making a sweet food like a pastry or cornbread, you may want to use yellow cornmeal.

It has a stronger taste to it, and there’s more vitamin A and B than what you’ll find in white cornmeal. You can use either one when making fried fish, but if you’re looking for a taste that’s not quite as sweet, definitely go with the white cornmeal.

You can use them interchangeably, and you don’t have to change up how much cornmeal you’re using for a recipe depending on whether you’re using white or yellow cornmeal.

You also get more of a golden brown look with the yellow cornmeal then you would with white cornmeal, so keep all these things in mind as you choose your ingredients for frying fish.

4.7/5 - (6 votes)
Pauline Loughlin
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I'm Pauline, a mother of four grown children, my passion for cooking stemmed from the joy i get cooking for my family. I love to try new dishes, especially when dining out but creating and sharing my own recipes is my favourite thing to do!


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Sunday 7th of January 2024

Your article helped me a lot, is there any more related content? Thanks!


Sunday 19th of February 2023

This was delicious!! I've always used a panko, parmesan coating with my white fish and it would be ok. But my whole family, including my very picky eater son gobbled this cornmeal coated fish right up! This is my new go to fish recipe! Thank you so much! Btw I used yellow cornmeal and the fish looked so golden and appetizing.


Friday 23rd of September 2022

Hi - In the previous recipes for fish frying you say "flour and cornmeal". Am I correct in my assumption that these are not"self-rising"¿

Pauline Loughlin

Monday 26th of September 2022

Hi. Yes just plain flour is all you need