Delicious Crispy Air Fryer Fish Sticks are a healthy spin on a childhood favorite! Serve it with a creamy homemade lemon tartar sauce.

Wooden platter covered in newspaper topped with crispy fish sticks, fries, and tartar sauce.

Air Fryer Fish Sticks: Crunchy, Tender, and Oh-So-Delicious.

Who doesn’t love fish sticks? We can’t pass on this nostalgic childhood treat in our house. And what’s even better are homemade fish sticks, because you can skip out on that whole processed meat vibe and get yourself some flaky meaty fish instead. If you’ve ever enjoyed homemade baked fish sticks, then you’ve got to try them in the air fryer. Not only do air fryer fish sticks count as a healthier choice, but the crisp on them is so nice; it’s like they took a dip in the deep fryer. Serve them with homemade lemon tartar sauce and a few lemon wedges for a refreshing spritz. And fries! Definitely fries. Preferably done in the air fryer as well.

How Long to Cook Fish Sticks in the Air Fryer.

Timing will depend on the thickness of your fish sticks. In this recipe, I’ve cut my fish fillets into 1/2-inch strips and cook them in the air fryer for 6 minutes at a temperature of 375º F, flipping them halfway through. If you cut your fish into thicker strips, you’ll want to increase the time a little bit. It’ll take some playing around to find the sweet spot, but with a meat thermometer on hand, you’ll figure it out in no time. You want the fish sticks to have an internal temperature of 145º F.

Ingredients for fish sticks spread out.

The Ingredients Are Simple.

Easy-to-find white fish fillets and a few pantry staples is all it takes to prepare these glorious fish sticks. I’ve used cod here, but you could use halibut or pollock as well. And if you’re a salmon lover, you can totally make salmon fish sticks if you’re into it. Just be sure your fillets are skinless and boneless.

For the fish:

  • Skinless white fish fillets, like cod or halibut
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • All purpose flour
  • Eggs
  • Panko bread crumbs
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Paprika
  • Lemon

Lemon tartar sauce:

  • Mayonnaise
  • Dill pickles
  • Pickle brine
  • Fresh dill
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Lemon juice

How to Cook Fish Sticks in the Air Fryer.

Air fryer fish sticks are super easy to make. You’ll dredge them in flour, egg wash, and seasoned panko bread crumbs, and air fry them to a golden crisp. Here’s the breakdown:

  1. Preheat the air fryer to 375º F. While the air fryer heats up, get your fish ready. Gently pat the fillets with paper towels to get rid of excess moisture and season them with some salt and pepper.
  2. Slice the fish fillets into strips that are about 1/2-inch wide and 3 to 4 inches long.
  3. Set up your dredging station by placing flour, egg wash, and panko bread crumbs into shallow bowls or pie plates. Mix the seasoning into the panko bread crumbs.
  4. Open the air fryer, spray the bottom with some olive oil or non-stick spray. Dredge your fish sticks one by one into the flour, egg, and panko, and place them into the air fryer basket. Don’t overcrowd them—you’ll likely have to do this in batches.
  5. Close the air fryer and cook the fish sticks for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, open the air fryer and carefully flip the fish sticks over. Cook them for another 3 minutes, then open the air fryer and transfer the fish sticks to a plate. Repeat with the other batches until you’re done, and serve the fish sticks with tartar sauce–preferably my homemade lemon tartar sauce! (It’s so so good.) You could also serve it with ketchup if that’s more your jam.

Air fryer basket with crispy golden air fried fish sticks inside.

Close up of crispy golden fish sticks on platter with tartar sauce.

How to Make Homemade Lemon Tartar Sauce.

I love this tartar sauce. Not only is it pickle-y (and we LOVE pickles), but it’s got a bright citrus-y bite to it. Here’s how to make it:

  1. Place all of the ingredients into a small mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk everything together with a fork until well combined. Give it a taste and adjust if necessary. Pop it in the fridge until ready for use—I like to make this first and refrigerate it for about 30 minutes before serving.

Ingredients for lemon tartar sauce spread out, and bowl of tartar sauce.

Equipment You’ll Need:

Recipe Tips + Tricks.

  1. The best types of fish to use for air fryer fish sticks are meaty white fillets, like cod, halibut, or pollock. You could use salmon if you prefer, though you’ll of course have a different flavor.
  2. Make the tartar sauce a few hours in advance and refrigerate it. This will let the flavors marry and the mixture thicken up a bit more.
  3. If you want to make a batch of air fryer french fries to go with your fish sticks (and I highly recommend it), make the French fries first, then set them aside and cover them while the fish cooks. The fries will stay warm and crispy, whereas the fish won’t.
  4. You can use plain Italian breadcrumbs instead of panko, but the crunch and texture will be a little different. Still delicious, though!
  5. Use skinless fillets for your fish sticks.
  6. These are kid friendly, but to make them even more kid friendly, you can cut them into bite-size pieces.
  7. To freeze, store in a freezer-friendly air-tight container for up to 3 months. 

Wooden platter covered in newspaper topped with crispy fish sticks, fries, and tartar sauce.

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Other Air Fryer Recipes You Need to Try:

Wooden platter covered in newspaper topped with crispy fish sticks, fries, and tartar sauce.

Get the Recipe:

Crispy Air Fryer Fish Sticks + Lemon Tartar Sauce

5 from 9 votes

Ingredients

Fish sticks.

  • 1.5 lb cod fillets, Or another meaty white fish, liked halibut or pollock
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup All purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprike
  • Zest of a lemon

Lemon Tartar Sauce.

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup chopped dill pickles
  • 1 TBSP dill pickle brine from the jar
  • 1 TBSP chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Instructions 

Air fryer fish sticks.

  • Preheat the air fryer to 375º F.
  • With paper towels, gently pat the fillets to get rid of any excess moisture; season them with some salt and pepper.
  • Cut the fish into strips that measure about 1/2-inch wide and 3 to 4 inches long.
  • Set up a dredging station by placing flour, egg wash, and panko bread crumbs into shallow bowls or pie plates and lining them up in an assembly line. Mix the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and about 1/4 tsp of salt into the panko bread crumbs.
  • When ready, open the air fryer tray and spray the bottom with a bit of olive oil or non-stick spray. Then, dredge your fish sticks, one by one, into the flour, egg, and panko. Place them into the air fryer basket; be sure not to overcrowd them. You will likely have to cook your fish sticks in batches.
  • Close the air fryer and cook the fish sticks for 3 minutes, then carefully flip the fish sticks over using tongs and cook them for another 3 minutes.
  • Open the air fryer and transfer the fish sticks to a plate. Repeat with the other batches until you're done, and serve the fish sticks with tartar sauce—or ketchup if you prefer!

Lemon tartar sauce.

  • Put all of the ingredients for the tartar sauce into a small mixing bowl.
  • With a fork, mix everything together until well combined. Give it a taste and adjust if necessary.
  • Refrigerate until ready to use. I like to make this first and refrigerate it for about 30 minutes before serving it with the fish sticks.