Serve up a healthier version of your kids’ favorite food with these baked salmon fish sticks.
Ready in 30 minutes
This is the first recipe I ever posted online. It was way back in the LiveJournal days (hands up, LJ lovers), and I was part of a community there that shared healthy recipes. One day after work, I thought it would be fun to photograph all my steps to make these baked salmon fish sticks—a recipe that we absolutely loved in our house—and share it with the group. So I snapped photos while I worked in our tiny apartment kitchen, I wrote out the step-by-step instructions, and then posted the recipe to the community.
I woke up the next morning to an inbox filled with comment notifications from people who were so excited by the recipe and by my write up. Hundreds of people wanted me to keep posting recipes—and I thought huh, who knew people liked recipes so much? It would be years after that post that I finally found enough confidence to start a healthy food blog of my own (seriously, I waited for years because I thought no one would never care about what I had to say), but that LiveJournal post was definitely the catalyst for me eventually launching Wholefully. I am forever grateful to those people who read that post and gave me such wonderful feedback (in fact, I think a few of you still read, now—hi, LJ friends!).
It’s so interesting how you can sometimes look back in life and pinpoint exactly when something major changed without you even knowing it—and that was one of those moments for me. At the time, and for years afterward, it really didn’t seem like that big of a deal, but posting that one recipe that day was the first step to get me here. I get to spend my days in the kitchen crafting fun, healthy recipes for you guys. I am my own boss. I get to be home with my kid all day. I love my job. And it all started because I decided to post some fish sticks on a website on whim one day. Life, eh?
So what makes these salmon fish sticks so awesome that they’ve been in our dinner rotation for nearly a decade now? Well, first of all, they are super fun. I love anytime I get to eat kid food as an adult. Filet mignon and escargot are great and all, but I’ll take some fish sticks and mac and cheese any day, thank you very much.
These fish sticks are also super tasty and have a great crunch. If you think getting breaded food crunchy in the oven is impossible, let me prove you wrong with these fish sticks. The key is using crunchy panko breadcrumbs (I like to order whole wheat ones) and raising up the fish sticks on a baking cooling rack so the heat can circulate all around them. The baking rack trick is one of my favorites. I pretty much never use a baking rack for its intended purpose—I solely own them for getting breaded foods crunchy in the oven.
These salmon fish sticks are such a healthy alternative to the breaded fish sticks you find in the frozen foods aisle. How many news stories have you read about getting more Omega-3s in your diet from fatty fish like salmon? These fish sticks are a great way to get in your fish-based Omega-3s—they’re so fun and tasty, that even kids will jump at the chance to eat salmon.
Of course, if you really can’t handle salmon (although, I will say, salmon’s fishy taste is greatly diminished in these handheld bites), you can sub in another firm fish like cod, haddock, or pollock. Whatever you do, I recommend checking to make sure the type of fish you buy is from a sustainable source—this guide from the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a great resource for that. Salmon-wise, I tend to go for Wild Alaska Sockeye, it’s got great flavor and nutrients, and it’s rated as a great choice for sustainability (more about salmon sustainability here). Unfortunately, it can also be pretty darn pricey. If you find it on sale, scoop it up and freeze it!
I serve my salmon fish sticks with a dill-lemon sauce for dipping, because I think dill, lemon, and fish are meant for each other. But you could easily serve this up with whatever dipping sauce make you and your family happy. I seem to remember kids dipping fish sticks in ketchup in elementary school. But then again, we dipped everything in ketchup in elementary school. So that might not be the best idea.
- Cooking spray
- 12 ounces fresh or frozen salmon filets (see notes)
- ¼ cup white whole wheat flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons water
- ¼ cup minced fresh parsley, option
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon dried dill or 1 tablespoon fresh minced dill
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley or 1 tablespoon fresh minced parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried chives or 1 tablespoon fresh minced chives
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 425°. Place a baking rack in the middle of a baking sheet. Spray liberally with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Cut the salmon into 2" x ½" sticks, removing the skin if it's attached to the filets. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl or shallow dish, whisk together the flour, salt and pepper. Set aside.
- In another medium-sized bowl or shallow dish, stir together the breadcrumbs, garlic powder, and parmesan cheese. Set aside.
- In another medium-sized bowl or shallow dish, whisk together the egg and water. Line these three bowls and salmon up in assembly line—salmon, flour, egg, and finally breadcrumb mixture.
- To bread the fish, take one of the fish pieces, dredge in the flour mixture, and then tap to remove excess. Then dunk in the egg mixture, letting excess fall off, then place the fish piece in the breadcrumb mixture and press in until all sides are well-coated. Place on the prepared baking rack. Repeat with remaining fish pieces.
- Lightly spray the top of the fish sticks with more cooking spray, then bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through, and the outsides are slightly brown and crunchy.
- While the fish sticks are baking, whisk together all the dipping sauce ingredients.
- Sprinkle the fresh parsley (if using) onto the fish sticks just before serving.
For this recipe, I recommend:
Want to see more of this recipe? Head over to Facebook to see the step-by-step video of me making these fish sticks in my own kitchen.