How to make crispy fish fillets | Gluten-free, dairy-free, low-sodium & paleo options | Recipe Renovator
If you love fish and fried food, but think you shouldn’t eat it because it’s bad for you, this recipe is for you. I take you step by step through how to make crispy, delicate fish fillets with lovely homemade spice. They’re pan-fried quickly in organic extra-virgin coconut oil, so any additional fat is full of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are essential nutrients to repair cellular damage, great for all cells and especially your brain.

Since we started eating fish again, we have been blessed with several neighbors who fish and are generous with their extras. We often have halibut, yellow tail, and yellow fin tuna in the freezer.

I used to love Old Bay seasoning, and you can certainly use it for this recipe, but I’ve been playing around with a homemade salt-free version. Use the reduced-sodium version for this recipe, or try one of the homemade versions below if you’re feeling motivated. If you’re grain-free, use coconut flour for the breading. I like the texture that white rice flour provides; the recipe is equally good with coconut flour.

I always used to overcook fish, but since learning about carry-over cooking, I do much better.

Some tips for perfect fish:

Watch the sides of the fish turn opaque as it’s cooking. Flip when it’s about half-way up the side.

Cook for no more than another 3 minutes at most, unless you have very thick fillets that were partially frozen. (It’s best to thaw fish in the refrigerator overnight.)

Once you remove it from the pan it will continue to cook for the next few minutes (called carry-over cooking), so pull it from the pan when you think it’s nearly done.

Suitable for:
low-sodium, migraine, gluten-free, paleo, grain-free, reduced-sugar diets

Not for:
vegan or vegetarian diets

You might also like:
Crispy fish with lemon-dill sauce from Cooking Light (not gluten-free)
Homemade Old Bay Seasoning from Leite’s Culinaria (omit or reduce celery salt for low-sodium version)
Low-sodium faux crab cakes with salt-free Old Bay Seasoning from Sodium Girl

How to make crispy fish fillets | Gluten-free, dairy-free, low-sodium & paleo options | Recipe Renovator

How to make crispy fish fillets

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 6 mins
Total Time 11 mins
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 4 3 ounce portions


  • 12 ounces white fish (firm) such as tilapia, halibut, cod, or yellow tail
  • 4 tbsp sweet white rice flour use coconut flour for paleo diet
  • 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning use salt-free or reduced sodium
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk canned
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil organic, extra-virgin


  • Set out three shallow bowls or plates.
  • Pour the coconut milk into one bowl.
  • Put half the flour into each of the remaining bowls.
  • Add the seasoning to the flour in one bowl and mix with a fork until one color.
  • Cut fish into 4 portions. Cut the thinner part of the fillet a little wider than the thicker piece when you cut each fillet in half.
  • Pat the fish dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel.
  • Dip each fillet into the flour, dredging on all sides to give it a light coating. This helps the milk stick to the fish.
  • Dip each coated piece into the coconut milk, then let it drip off. The coconut milk helps the breading to stick.
  • Dredge each piece in the spice mixture, coating evenly. I set them back in the flour-only bowl when they are done.
  • Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Swirl to coat the pan.
  • Add the two thick portions of fish to the oil and cook for one minute. (If still partially frozen, cook for two minutes.)
  • Add the thinner portions and cook everything for two minutes.
  • Flip the fish over gently using tongs or a wide spatula.
  • Cook for 2-3 more minutes until fish is just cooked through and flakes with a fork.
  • Serve immediately.


Per three-ounce serving:
  • 198 calories
  • 8 g fat
  • 6 g saturated fat
  • 0 g monounsaturated fat
  • 0 g polyunsaturated fat
  • 0 g trans fat
  • 28 g cholesterol
  • 190 mg sodium (30 mg with salt-free seasoning blend)
  • 206 mg potassium
  • 8 g carbohydrate
  • 0 g fiber
  • 0 g sugars
  • 18 g protein
  • 5 Weight Watchers Points Plus
Serve with spicy salsa, Joe's Mustard Sauce, or your favorite sauce. Leftover fish makes great fish cakes like these. Reheat leftover portions in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat, no need to add oil. This will refresh the crispy coating. Do not microwave, or you will be sad (and so will your office-mates.)