How to Pan Fry Fish

by Isaiah David

Pan frying is an easy and delicious way to prepare fish. Choose thin fillets for the most effective process, and be sure to use clean oil and the freshest fish. Pan frying a decent-sized fish should take no more than about five minutes.

Use a good quality oil with a high smoke point. Avoid virgin or extra virgin olive oil. Use plain old olive oil or, for higher temperature frying, light olive oil. Other types of oil, such as almond oil, can be used to give an interesting taste. If you want something cheap, corn oil is a good choice.

If the fish are frozen, thaw them first. Use cold running water or leave it in the refrigerator overnight.

Use thin pieces of fish. For pan frying, the thinner the better. Usually, you want the fish to be 1 inch thick or less.

Use breading if you want to. With basic ingredients such as eggs, milk, bread crumbs, and lemon, there are dozens of ways to prepare your fish.

Bring the oil up to temperature. Depending on the stove you use, you should set the dial to medium or medium-high.

Add a few fish or fish pieces. Each piece of fish should have enough room to sit on the bottom of the pan and you should be able to easily flip them.

Flip the fish when the bottom is getting brown. Times vary widely between fish, but it shouldn't take longer than five minutes or so to pan fry a fish.

Remove the fish and place them on a piece of paper towel. This will remove excess oil.

Season the fish to taste. Use salt, pepper, paprika, lemon, or any other seasonings you desire.

Serve the fish while they are still hot.


  • Fresh fish will give you the best tasting final dish.

Our Everyday Video

Brought to you by LEAFtv
Brought to you by LEAFtv

Photo Credits

  • Lark Gillespie

About the Author

Isaiah David is a freelance writer and musician living in Portland, Ore. He has over five years experience as a professional writer and has been published on various online outlets. He holds a degree in creative writing from the University of Michigan.