Whether you’re a life-long fish fry fan or brand new to the tradition, you can create your own fish fry at home any day of the week.

Start with beer-battered cod and round out the menu with soup or salad, your choice of potato, a bread basket, dessert, and more!

Plated fish fry on a table.

Even if you’re not religious, the tradition of a Friday night fish fry is probably one you’ve experienced if you have lived in the Midwest.

Normally celebrated as part of Lent in February and March, when Catholics typically abstain from meat on Fridays and holy days, communities gather to savor fish fry feasts. Family-owned restaurants, bars, and breweries alike all share their take on the menu.

It’s truly an institution, and now you can learn how to bring the best of a Midwestern fish fry into your home any time, anywhere.

Beer Battered Cod

Beer-battered cod (or sometimes perch) is very popular. You can also ordered baked cod (often served with lemon and butter).

Beer battered cod, fries, tartar sauce and a lemon wedge on a plate.

Soup or Salad

The server’s interrogation continues with: “Soup or salad?” On Fridays during Lent, you usually can pick between Clam Chowder and “the house salad.” Your choice of dressing on the side!

New England Clam Chowder

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Easy Garden Salad

Don’t underestimate the charm of an easy Garden Salad, made with lots of leafy greens and crunchy, colorful vegetables. No matter the season, you can toss up a simple green salad in minutes with a…

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Bread Basket

Along with your soup or salad, you often get a bread basket: A literal basket of rolls or slices of rye bread, saltine crackers, sesame sticks, and individual packets of butter. It’s extra touches like these that make fish fries feel like such a special event.

Pick your Potato

My sister and I used to be waitresses together, and we still play a game where we try to rattle off all the ways you could order a potato with your fish fry. There are so many ways!

Crispy Potato Latkes

Crispy potato latkes are delicious paired with applesauce or sour cream and chives. They are excellent on the side of your next fish fry! When I think of Friday nights in Milwaukee, I think of…

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Stuff on the Side

Beer-battered cod comes with tartar, always. Baked cod is normally prepared with lemon and butter. Latkes come with applesauce or maybe sour cream and chives. And every plate has the tiniest paper cup of coleslaw.

Drinks and Desserts

Not all fish fries come with dessert, but when they do, you’ve got options: chocolate cake, cheesecake (with or without strawberry topping), red JELL-O, tapioca pudding, rice pudding, chocolate pudding, ice cream (vanilla, chocolate, or butter pecan), rainbow sherbet, maybe even eclairs. And if you’re already full, you just take it to-go.

Cheesecake squares topped with strawberry topping on a cooling rack.

And don’t forget a Brandy Old-Fashioned, THE classic Wisconsin cocktail for a fish fry.

Brandy Old Fashioned

From Friday fish fries to supper clubs, the Wisconsin drink of choice is a Brandy Old Fashioned. Here’s the authentic recipe for the Wisconsin twist on this famous classic cocktail. In 1893, during the Chicago…

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I hope this fish fry brings back wonderful memories of communal dinners gone by! And I hope, if you can’t go out for a fish fry, you can create one in your own home.

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Meggan Hill

I’m the Executive Chef and head of the Culinary Hill Test Kitchen. Every recipe is developed, tested, and approved just for you.

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