Air Fryer Fish Sticks

Skip the freezer fish sticks and make these fresh, crispy fish sticks using your air fryer! Don’t forget the dipping sauce.

Air Fryer Fish Sticks on a Plate with a Small Bowl of Tartar Sauce and Lemon Slices. More Fish Sticks in Air Fryer Basin Behind the Plate.

Simply Recipes / Nick Evans

Many air fryer fish stick recipes are basically frozen fish sticks popped in the air fryer. Of course, that works, but I think we can do better. 

This version starts with fresh cod, lightly breaded with panko breadcrumbs and air-fried until they are browned and so crunchy. The fish stays juicy and tender, and air frying them is fast and easier to clean up than a traditional deep fry.

I’ve air-fried a number of things over the years, but this fish stick recipe is one of the most successful air fryer recipes I’ve made. Even my kids couldn’t get enough of them. These are perfect for those busy school nights—bread them ahead of time and when it's time for dinner, pop them into the air fryer.

The Air Fryer is Perfect for Fish Sticks

The air fryer works really well with similar-sized fish sticks that you can spread out easily in the air fryer basket. Fish cooks relatively quickly, which helps since you will probably need to air fry them in a few batches.

While sometimes I’ll use a wet batter for fish sticks—like classic British fish and chips—a breaded crust works better in the air fryer, so the fish sticks don’t stick to the basket. I don’t see myself using a traditional fry setup for fish sticks anytime soon!

Air Fryer Fish Sticks on a Plate with a Small Bowl of Tartar Sauce and a Lemon Slice. More Fish Sticks in Air Fryer Basin Next to Plate.

Simply Recipes / Nick Evans

What Type of Fish Works Best for Fish Sticks?

You have some options here. Any firm white fish will do well in fish stick form. Personally, I think cod is the best and is definitely what is used for most fried fish or fish sticks. That said, something like tilapia, grouper, halibut, or snapper would work fine.

For me, cod tends to be the most economical and ends up being buttery and tender after you fry it, while still being firm enough to not just fall apart. 

If you are starting with frozen cod, which is fine, be sure to thaw it completely and blot the fish dry with paper towels before breading the fish. 

How to Get a Crispy Crunchy Crust 

The two tips to getting the crispiest air fried fish sticks are:

  1. Use panko breadcrumbs. They are already crispy and delicious and so when they get fried, they get even crispier. I recommend dipping the fish sticks in cornstarch before the egg and breadcrumbs, which will help the breadcrumbs stick to the fish. You could also use flour for this, but I like cornstarch for fish.
  2. Before you air fry the fish sticks, spray them with a light coat of nonstick cooking spray. This gives just a little bit of fat to the exterior and helps fry the crust of the fish sticks. 
Air Fryer Fish Sticks in Air Fryer Basin

Simply Recipes / Nick Evans

Tips for Air Frying Fish

The biggest problem people have when air frying is they forget to spray the basket to prevent sticking or they overcrowd the basket by piling in too much food. Work in batches and spread out the fish sticks evenly, this is one of the easiest and most successful air fryer recipes you’ll try. It’s a winner! 

What to Serve with Fish Sticks

It goes without saying that you should serve these crispy fish sticks with tartar sauce—recipe below!—and fresh lemons, but there are other serving options as well! I like to serve these with a side dish that is bright and colorful like a sugar snap pea salad or a good coleslaw. If you want something creamy, try a baked mac and cheese, which goes well with any fried entrée!  

Air Fryer Fish Sticks on a Plate with a Small Bowl of Tartar Sauce and Lemon Slices

Simply Recipes / Nick Evans

More Amazing Air Fryer Recipes

Air Fryer Fish Sticks

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 4 to 6 servings

Although it is not required, you can preheat your air fryer following the instruction manual.


  • Nonstick olive oil spray

  • 1 pound cod, sliced into 3-inch sticks

  • 1/2 cup cornstarch

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

For the pickle and caper tartar sauce

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • 1/4 cup minced pickles

  • 2 tablespoons capers

  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

To serve

  • Chopped parsley or dill, optional 


  1. Prep the air fryer: 

    Spray your air fryer pan with nonstick spray. Some people prefer to preheat their air fryer, but I think it’s optional for this recipe.

  2. Prepare the breading station: 

    Combine the cornstarch, salt, and pepper in a large shallow dish. In a separate shallow plate, whisk the eggs. Add panko and paprika to a third shallow dish.

  3. Bread the fish: 

    Add fish sticks into the cornstarch and toss well to coat. Then add to egg mixture to coat and finally add to panko breadcrumbs making sure to coat all sides.

    Fish Sticks Dredged in Cornstarch Mixture for Air Fryer Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Nick Evans

    Air Fryer Fish Sticks Breaded in Panko

    Simply Recipes / Nick Evans

  4. Air fry the fish sticks: 

    Working in batches, add fish sticks to your air fryer basket in an even layer. Spray them lightly with cooking spray.

    Air fry for 6 minutes at 375˚F. Flip fish sticks using tongs and air fry for another 4 to 6 minutes until golden brown. Season with salt to taste, if desired.

    Repeat with second batch of fish sticks.

    Simple Tip!

    You can keep cooked fish sticks in a warm, 250˚F oven, so they stay warm and crispy while you make the second batch.

    Fish Sticks in Air Fryer

    Simply Recipes / Nick Evans

    Fish Sticks Flipped in Air Fryer

    Simply Recipes / Nick Evans

  5. Make the pickle and caper tartar sauce:

    In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, fresh lemon juice, minced pickles, capers, and kosher salt. Mix until well combined.

    Bowl of Mayo, Capers, and Minced Pickles for Air Fryer Fish Sticks Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Nick Evans

  6. Serve:

    Garnish with parsley or dill, if desired. Serve fish sticks with tartar sauce and lemon wedges. 

    Leftovers keep fine in the fridge for a few days in an airtight container. To reheat, air fry at 350˚F for 3 minutes.

    Did you love the recipe? Leave us stars below! 

    Air Fryer Fish Sticks on a Plate with a Small Bowl of Tartar Sauce and Lemon Slices

    Simply Recipes / Nick Evans

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
343 Calories
17g Fat
24g Carbs
22g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 343
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 22%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 111mg 37%
Sodium 580mg 25%
Total Carbohydrate 24g 9%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 22g
Vitamin C 3mg 14%
Calcium 62mg 5%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 272mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.