Hungry for a Friday night fish fry but don’t want to pay restaurant prices? Kudos Kitchen style homemade fried tilapia is crispy, crunchy, and completely delicious. This recipe is sure to become a staple in your menu rotation.
This post is actually a recipe re-do from one I did back in October of 2010 called Friday Night Fish Fry. Wow! That’s a long time ago! Since I’m not a very skilled blogger (more on that later), but I am a good cook, I wanted to bring this recipe back with a slight update in the recipe itself and, of course, some updated photos.
When I say that I’m not a very good blogger, I mean I don’t quite understand all the proper ins-and-outs of blogging. SEO (search engine optimization) is, and always has been, a mystery to me. I’m not sure if it’s best to update the old post, Friday Night Fish Fry itself, or if it’s smarter to write a new post and link to the old one? I decided on the latter. Even if that’s not the best decision I’ve ever made (as far as SEO goes), my decision to (slightly) update the original recipe for this homemade fried tilapia, including the photos, definitely was!
Every time I make this homemade fried tilapia, it gets rave reviews from family and friends. I’ve made this recipe several times for one friend in particular who says my homemade fried tilapia is one of the best fried fish recipes she’s ever eaten, restaurants included. While I’m not 100% sure she’s telling me the truth, I’m also not 100% sure she’s not! LOL, I guess I’ll have to take her word on it, and bask in the compliment.
The key to making this flavorful homemade fried tilapia tender and flaky is by marinating the fish fillets in buttermilk for at least 1 hour before breading. After that, the key to keep the breading ON the fish while it’s frying is to refrigerate the breaded fillets at least 30 minutes before frying. And my final secret (not so secret) for keeping the breading extra crispy and crunchy is to mix panko, breadcrumbs, and cornflake crumbs. This combination of ingredients, along with the simple preparation steps ensures your homemade fried tilapia will win you rave reviews from your family and friends, just as it does for me!
Another thing that makes my homemade fried tilapia a complete stand-out is the homemade tartar sauce I make as an accompaniment. After all, you can’t have fried fish without tartar sauce, and if I do say so myself, my recipe (found HERE) is one of the best. For a printable version of my Kudos Kitchen tartar sauce, you can find it within my original post: Friday Night Fish Fry. So Good!!!
The ingredient list you’ll need for making homemade fried tilapia is pretty simple. You’ll need a light colored oil for frying. The lighter the oil color, the higher the smoke point, and the better for frying. I used a canola/peanut oil blend. You also need fresh tilapia fillets (or other white fish variety of your choosing), buttermilk, panko crumbs, breadcrumbs, cornflake crumbs, fresh lemon zest, cayenne pepper, Old Bay seafood seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Pretty simple, right?
When I made my homemade fried tilapia recently, I made enough to feed a small army. Since we were having our good friends over for dinner (yes, the same one that LOVES this recipe), and I wanted to have enough fish for leftovers, and a few fillets for the new pictures I wanted to take, so I could update my blog. I prepared A TON of fish (or, maybe I should say a BOATLOAD 😉 See what I did there?). Almost enough to open a pop-up restaurant for the evening. LOL
I think I had 4 – 5 pounds of tilapia fillets, and used approximately 3 cups of buttermilk for the marinade. Since you probably won’t be frying that much fish at one time, I’ll write the recipe for feeding 4 – 6 people, not 10 – 12. HaHa! But you know what, you can never have too much fried fish, especially for an all-you-can-eat Friday night fish fry!
Who’s hungry for Homemade Fried Tilapia? Me too! Let’s get cooking!
Place the fish fillets in a dish. Pour buttermilk over the fillets and place them in the refrigerator for at least 60 minutes, but no longer than 90 minutes. In a large shallow dish, combine panko crumbs, cornflake crumbs, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and Old Bay seafood seasoning.
Add fresh lemon zest to the breadcrumbs and stir well to combine. After the fish has marinated at least 60 minutes, remove it from the refrigerator. Allow the excess marinade to drip off each fillet, and press each fillet firmly into the breadcrumb and panko mixture. Flip the fillet and press the crumbs firmly onto the opposite side of each fillet.
Place all the crumb coated fish on a baking sheet and return to the refrigerator to chill for an additional 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large, high sided skillet, heat a light colored oil to 375 degrees (I used a canola/peanut oil blend). *NOTE – For SAFETY sake, NEVER fill a pan with HOT OIL more than half full as the oil will bubble and expand once a food is added.
Gently and carefully slip 2 – 3 cold, breaded fillets into the hot oil. Fry each fillet for 2-3 minutes each side until golden and crispy. Carefully remove the fillets from the oil with a slotted spatula and place the fried fish on a baking sheet fitted with a rack. Immediately season the fried fillets generously with kosher salt. Continue frying the remainder of the breaded tilapia fillets, keeping the already fried fillets warm in a preheated 300-degree oven, if needed.
Serve hot with lemon and tartar sauce, if desired.
- 2 pounds fresh tilapia fillets
- 1½ cups buttermilk
- 3/4 cups panko crumbs
- 3/4 cups cornflake crumbs
- 3/4 cups breadcrumbs
- zest of one lemon
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon Old Bay seafood seasoning
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt plus additional for after frying
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 3 - 4 cups light oil for frying I used a canola/peanut oil blend
Place the fish fillets in a container and pour the buttermilk over top.
Place the container in the refrigerator and marinate for 60 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large shallow dish, mix together the panko crumbs, cornflake crumbs, breadcrumbs, lemon zest, cayenne pepper, Old Bay seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Remove the fillets from the fridge, allowing the excess buttermilk to drip off, and press each fillet into the crumb mixture on both sides.
Place the breaded fillets on a plate or baking sheet and return the breaded fish to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
In a wide, high sided pan, add enough oil to fill the pan halfway with oil. *DO NOT OVERFILL*
Heat the oil over medium/high heat to 375 degrees. *Note - if you don't have a thermometer, you can tell when the oil temperature is ready by sticking the handle of a wooden spoon into the hot oil. If lots of small bubbles emerge from the spoon, the oil is ready.
Carefully slide a few breaded fillets into the hot oil, making sure not to overcrowd the pan.
Fry each fillet until golden brown on both sides (approximately 2 minutes per side).
Carefully remove the fried fish from the oil using a slotted spatula and place on a baking sheet that has been fitted with a rack.
Immediately season the hot fried fish with additional salt.
Continue the same process until all the fillets have been fried.
Keep the fried fillets warm and crunchy in a low 300-degree oven while frying the remaining fish, if needed.
Serve hot with lemon wedges and tartar sauce if desired.
Tools and equipment:
baking sheets, and a baking rack to fit the sheet (optional)
large, high sided skillet
2 large, shallow dishes for marinating and breading
measuring spoons and cups
funnel (for funneling the cooled oil back into the oil bottle for reuse or disposal)
After the fish has been eaten, and the oil has completely cooled down, you can then use a funnel to pour the used oil back into its original container for another one or two fryings. Or if it has already been resued a few times, funneling it back into the original container will make the disposal of the oil easy peasy.
Below I’m including an Amazon affiliate link for THE most used, and THE most loved kitchen utensil I have in my Kudos Kitchen. I use it practically every day, and every single time I use it I am thankful I have it. It’s a slotted spatula (or fish turner). I use it as I would use any other spatula, only more so. I can’t recommend it highly enough, especially for recipes such as this one for homemade fried tilapia.
By clicking on the photo of the slotted spatula below, you’ll be taken directly to Amazon.com so you can make your purchase (if desired). As always, you are under no obligation to do so. I just wanted to share with you a product that changed my life in the kitchen 😉
I hope you’ve enjoyed this recipe for homemade fried tilapia as much as I’ve enjoyed bringing it to you. Should you have any questions for me regarding this recipe, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly or leave me a comment in the comment section at the end of this post. I promise to get back with you as soon as possible with a reply.
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Until we eat again, I hope you have a delicious day!
The post above includes affiliate links. When I find a great product or service, I like to share it with my readers. Sometimes I use affiliate links so I can earn commission for my recommendations. As always, I thank you for your support!