Fish sticks aren’t just for little kids!
A freezer favorite beloved by people of all ages, sometimes nothing hits the spot quite the same way as perfectly fried up fish sticks will.
Sure, they might not be the absolute healthiest option in your kitchen – few fried foods are – but that doesn’t stop millions and millions of people from enjoying fish sticks every year.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could eat fish sticks more often without having to worry about them blowing up your diet?
Wouldn’t it be cool to have a fish stick recipe on hand that was pretty healthy, free of gluten, and didn’t lose any of the flavor of fish sticks – and might even be more flavorful?
That’s where this quick guide comes into play!
Below we sort through almost everything there is to know about gluten-free fish sticks, how healthy they are really, how store-bought options compared to homemade, and then we get into our favorite gluten-free fish stick recipe you absolutely have to try.
Let’s do this!
How Healthy Are Fish Sticks, Anyway?
As we highlighted a moment ago, it’s tough to argue that any fried foods are quite as healthy as a salad – but that’s okay.
Fish sticks (especially gluten-free fish sticks) are a whole lot healthier than most burgers, fried chicken, and most everything else you can find tossed into a deep fryer.
We are, after all, talking about fish as the backbone ingredients here!
Yes, fish sticks came about as a “quick fix” solution to solve an oversupply of fish commercial fishermen were bringing to the market. These early fish sticks were anything but super healthy, loaded with sodium, all kinds of breading options, and dipped in some pretty unhealthy oils to get that fried finish.
Today’s gluten-free fish sticks, though, are a far cry from those freezer favorites.
No, gluten-free fish sticks (those you buy at the store as well as those you make at home) use high quality ingredients designed to make this as healthy a fried food as can be.
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How Do Store Bought GF Fish Sticks Compare to Homemade?
One of the coolest things about the “gluten-free revolution” we’ve been seeing in food for a couple of years now is the introduction of a lot of GF friendly foods that no one would have thought could be made before.
Gluten-free fish sticks are a perfect example!
Almost every major fish stick brand on the market today (including Ian’s as well as Gorton’s) makes their own gluten-free option. Many of these are downright delicious – Gorton’s has always been a favorite fish stick brand – but how do they stack up against homemade options?
Well, truth be told, there’s a couple of different things that separate commercially available GF fish sticks you’ll find in your local grocery store freezer and the kinds of fish sticks that you can make on your own.
For one thing, you’re kind of at the mercy of whatever the commercial fish stick maker decides to use as their fish ingredient when you buy these at the store.
A lot of fish stick manufacturers use pollock (that’s a great fish to fry), but some of the budget brands use lesser quality fish – and some even use a combination of different fish that have been ground up together.
With homemade gluten-free fish sticks, though, you get to pick exactly what your fish sticks are made out of.
Want to use haddock or pollock?
Go right ahead!
Want to shake things up and use cod or halibut?
You can do that too!
Secondly, your homemade gluten-free fish sticks aren’t ever going to include all the chemicals, additives, and preservatives that commercially available options inevitably have to stick in their recipes.
Those ingredients are almost always designed to extend the shelfstable life of the fish sticks sold in stores, but they also help to tinker with the taste. You’ll find a ton of sodium in most commercial GF fish stick recipes, too.
It goes without saying that when you make your own gluten-free fish sticks the only things that find their way into the recipe are the things you add yourself.
You get a lot more control over what goes into your dishes (and your body).
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The Most Delicious Gluten-Free Fish Sticks You’ll Ever Make
Okay, okay – now it’s time to share with you our favorite GF fish stick recipe we’ve ever tried.
Here’s the ingredients you’ll want to get your hands on:
- 1.5 ounces of grain free tortilla chips
- 0.25 teaspoons of Chili powder
- 4 White fish fillets (5 ounces each) – halibut and cod work really well
- Salt and pepper (to taste)
- 2 tablespoons of avocado oil
Kick this recipe off by patting your fish dry with a paper towel and then cutting them into 2 inch wide strips.
From there, you’ll want to preheat your oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with a bit of parchment paper (or something else nonstick and oven safe).
Now take your tortilla chips (the backbone of your “breading”) and your chili powder and add it to a food processor. Blast and pulse this mixture until it’s the consistency of breadcrumbs. You want it fine, but not so fine that it feels like sand.
Put salt and pepper to taste on your fish and then brush your avocado oil across all surfaces. Sprinkle your “breadcrumbs” onto the fish, pressing gently before moving to another side to get really even coverage and distribution.
Spritz your fish sticks with a little bit of healthy oven spray (a quality olive oil spray works best), drop them on to the baking sheet, and then stick them in the 400°F oven for about 12 minutes.
While that’s happening you’ll want to make an amazing chipotle mayonnaise that goes perfect with these gluten-free fish sticks.
- 3 tablespoons of avocado
- 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
- 1.5 teaspoons of avocado oil
- 1.5 teaspoons of lime juice
- 0.5 teaspoons of chipotle chili powder
- 0.25 teaspoons of raw honey
- Salt and pepper to taste
While your gluten-free fish sticks are cooking away you’ll want to combine all of these triple leave mayonnaise ingredients into a small bowl, whisking them together until everything is nice and incorporated.
Set the whole thing aside in the refrigerator (uncovered) until you’re ready to pull your fish out of the oven.
After the 12 minutes cook time you might decide that you want your GF fish sticks to be a little crispier.
If that’s the case, pop them back into the oven with your broiler on high for about 60 seconds. That’ll do the trick.
And there you go, that’s really all there is to making the absolute best gluten-free fish sticks on the planet today (and a great dipping sauce to go with them).
Tried out for yourself and don’t be surprised if it becomes a healthy household favorite!