Learn to make beer-battered cod without a deep fryer! You'll love this deep-fried fish recipe that you can use with any sturdy white fish.
Your fairy cod-mother is back with a recipe you're going to love! This Beer-Battered Cod is deep-fried and delicious.
Forget forks and knives ― you'll want to grab and devour it!
This recipe is the missing component in my fried cod collection. You can make Pan-Fried Cod Fish with enough oil to shallow-fry, healthier Oven-Fried Cod with just a little oil, or go all in with this Beer-Battered Cod!
After much testing, this deep-fried cod meets my requirements:
- The batter stays on the fish.
- The cod doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan or to other pieces of fish while frying.
- The flavor is delicious!
- The exterior is fluffy and crispy out of the fryer. (Note that like all deep-fried fish, the crust will soften the longer the cod sits out.)
- The fish inside is juicy and tender.
I learned a lot during all of my experiments and am sharing my tips and tricks to reduce the mess and stress of deep frying. Please read the whole post for that information!
Cod Fish: You'll need fresh cod fillets or cod loins. You'll see them sold as Atlantic cod or Pacific cod.
But, feel free to substitute any sturdy white fish, such as haddock, pollock, orange roughy or halibut. I've made beer-battered halibut with this recipe, and it's outstanding!
I wouldn't recommend using thawed frozen fish here, because it will retain too much moisture and won't turn out crispy.
Oil: You'll need two quarts of oil for deep frying the fish. The best oil for deep frying is one with a high smoke point, such as canola oil. Don't use olive oil, because it will burn.
You could substitute vegetable oil or corn oil. I did try this with avocado oil, but found the beer-battered cod tastes better when fried in a milder oil.
Note, canola oil often is sold in bottles that are less than two quarts. You may need to buy two bottles so you have enough. The oil needs to come up three inches high in the pan so the fish will be submerged.
I tried using less oil, but it didn't work well.
Tip: After frying the cod, don't pour the oil you cooked with down the drain, because it can damage the pipes. Save the empty bottle of oil so that once the oil cools off, you can pour it into the bottle and throw it away. You also can use any of the plastic or glass containers from your recycling bin.
Beer: I'll leave it to Scientific American to explain the science behind using beer in fish batter. Basically, it makes the crust light and crisp.
The best beer for beer batter is a mild-flavored one that's not dark, since the taste will be subtly present when you eat the fish. I prefer Labatt Blue.
If you need to skip the alcohol, you can substitute carbonated water (soda water) for the beer.
Baking Powder: This puffs up the beer batter and gives the fried coating an airy texture.
Egg Whites: Using beaten egg whites in beer batter is a game changer. The egg white batter is fluffy, thick and adheres to the cod better than plain beer batter.
It does wonders for the exterior texture of the deep-fried fish too. The battered cod emerges with a crispy, fluffy coating.
Seasonings: Beer-battered cod needs lots of seasoning so it won't taste bland. We're using salt and pepper in the dusting flour, plus salt and a generous amount of paprika in the beer batter.
Note that this recipe calls for plain paprika ― not smoked or hot paprika. If you wanted to substitute either of those, you would have to use less than the tablespoon called for here so it doesn't overpower the fish.
How to make beer batter
See the card at the end of this post for the full recipe, but here's an overview.
- Whisk the flour, seasonings and baking powder in a medium bowl.
- Add cold beer and whisk to combine.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
- Add the beaten whites to the beer batter.
- Fold in the egg whites with a silicone spatula just until combined.
How to batter cod for deep frying
- In a dinner plate, whisk the dusting flour with salt and pepper.
- Dredge the cod in the flour and pat it on with a fork. Flip over the cod and pat the flour onto the other side.
- Transfer the cod to the beer batter. Use a silicone spatula to spread the batter onto the surface of the fish. Flip over the cod with tongs and spread the batter on the other side.
How to deep-fry cod
- When the oil reaches 350 degrees F, use tongs to place up to three pieces of battered cod into the pot.
- Deep fry the fish for three minutes.
- Use a slotted metal spatula to scoop the cooked cod out of the oil and place it on a cooling rack to drain.
- For crispier fish, the cod must be dry before using it in this recipe. Don't rinse it (just feel for any bones to remove). Then pat the cod fillets dry with paper towels.
- Wait to heat the oil until after you've battered the cod. If the oil is left too long over the heat, it will become so hot that it will nearly burn the outside coating of the fish fillets when you place them in the pot.
- Keep the beer cold in the refrigerator until you need to add it to the batter. Cold beer helps make crispier deep-fried fish.
- To prevent the beer batter from sliding off the fish, dust the cod with flour first.
- To prevent sogginess, let the deep-fried cod drain on a cooling rack instead of dabbing the fish with paper towels.
Tips to prep for deep frying
The first time I made deep-fried fish, my smoke alarm went off and my kitchen was covered with splattered grease. No, thanks!
So, I implemented the following tips, which I now use every time with great success. Before starting:
- Spread an old towel on the floor in front of the stove so your floor won't get splashed with oil during frying.
- Open the kitchen windows to let out smoke and odors.
- Wear a full apron to protect your clothes from splashes of oil.
- Wear socks and shoes to protect your feet.
- Wear oven gloves (affiliate link) to protect your hands and wrists during the frying process. Gloves are better than mitts so you have use of your fingers.
Equipment used in this recipe
Before starting the recipe, set out all of the kitchen equipment you'll need so you'll be ready to work efficiently. These are unsponsored affiliate links.
- A 6-quart pot, ideally stainless steel, for frying.
- A cooking thermometer to check when the oil has reached 350 degrees F.
- A silicone spatula to fold the egg whites into the beer batter and then spread the fluffy batter onto the flour-dusted cod.
- Tongs to grab the beer-battered fish and place it in the hot oil.
- A slotted metal spatula to remove the deep-fried cod from the oil.
- A cooling rack that you can set over paper towels (or a paper-towel-lined sheet pan) to allow the oil to drain from the fried fish.
How to serve beer-battered cod
Beer battered cod is best served immediately, while the coating is still crispy. We literally stand at the counter, grab a hot piece of fish and devour it before grabbing another!
It's delicious plain, but I like mine with a squeeze of lemon. My hubby likes to dip his fried fish in tartar sauce. Our daughter likes to dunk hers in mayo mixed with Sriracha.
But don't worry, this cod will still taste wonderful after the crust has softened. I love eating a cold piece out of the fridge for breakfast!
We also use leftovers for fried fish sandwiches and beer-battered fish tacos.
Frequently asked questions
My favorite pan for deep frying on the stovetop is a 6-quart stainless steel pot. It needs to be deep enough for the food to be submerged completely, with plenty of room above the bubbling hot oil.
Many people recommend using a cast iron pot for deep frying. I tried it and found that the oil quickly rose above 350 degrees F, and the fish was coming out too dark. If you use cast iron, monitor the temperature closely before starting, and lower the heat a bit if needed.
Don't use a nonstick pan, because of the chemicals that may be released during deep frying.
To reheat leftovers, you can heat the fish for 30 seconds in the microwave, then toast it in a toaster oven for 2-3 minutes to crisp up the exterior. If you don't have a toaster oven, you can let the fish come to room temperature, then heat it on a foil-lined pan in a 350-degree F oven for 10-15 minutes.
Otherwise, using the microwave will warm the fish but produce a soggy exterior.
More cod recipes to love
My family is head-over-heels for this Baked Cod with Bread Crumbs and Butter, a restaurant-quality meal that's easy to make at home.
Finally, my article on How to Cook Cod includes all of my 5-star cod recipes and information about buying and storing cod.
If you try this Beer-Battered Cod recipe, be sure to leave a comment and a rating!
Beer-Battered Cod (Deep Fried)
- 1 6-quart stainless steel pot (Or cast iron. See notes if using a deep fryer.)
- 2 pounds cod fillets (or haddock, pollock, halibut, etc.)
- 2 quarts canola oil for frying (or vegetable oil or corn oil)
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika Use regular. See notes.
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cold beer (including foam) (Don't use dark beer.)
- 2 egg whites beaten to stiff peaks
- Lemon wedges
- Set out two eggs so they will be easier to separate later. Keep the beer in the refrigerator until you need to pour it. (It needs to be very cold to help the batter be crispy and not soggy.)
- Place 2 quarts of canola oil in a 6-quart pot (ideally stainless steel) on the stove. The oil should be three inches high in the pot. Leave off the heat for now. (If you heat it too early, the oil will become too hot and the fried fish will be too dark.) Attach a candy thermometer to the inside of the pot or place a deep-frying thermometer next to the stove.
- Place a cooling rack on top of a half baking sheet near the stove. Place tongs and a slotted metal spatula near the stove. Open the kitchen windows for ventilation. Place an old towel on the floor in front of the stove to protect the floor from grease.
- Prepare the cod: Don’t rinse the fish, because it needs to be dry in order to turn out crispy. Feel for any bones to remove, then use kitchen scissors or a knife to cut the cod into serving portions about 4 or 5 inches long. Set the fish in a 9x13 pan or platter. Pat the cod dry with paper towels.
Prepare the Dusting Flour
- Place ½ cup flour in a dinner plate. Whisk in 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper to combine.
Make the beer batter:
- Place a cup of flour in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk in 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1 tablespoon of paprika and 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Separate the eggs one at a time, adding the egg white to a liquid measuring cup and placing the yolk into a container to refrigerate for another use. There must not be any yolk in the egg white. If you mess up, you’ll need to replace that egg white. When you have a clean egg white, pour it into a small mixing bowl. Repeat with the other egg white.
- Beat the whites with an electric hand mixer until stiff peaks form. (The egg whites are ready when you turn off the mixer, lift up the beaters, and the peaks remain standing.)
- Pour one cup of cold beer (including foam) into the flour mixture in the medium bowl. Gently whisk to combine but do not over mix. (Otherwise, too much gluten will form, and the batter will be soggy.)
- Gently fold the stiff egg whites into the beer batter with a silicone spatula, just until combined.
Batter the Cod
- Set up an assembly line from left to right with the cod, dusting flour, beer batter and a 10x15 baking pan (or sheet pan) to hold the battered cod in a single layer.
- Use a fork to place a piece of cod in the dusting flour. Use the fork to pat some flour on top of the fish. Flip over the cod and pat some flour all over the surface.
- Holding up the fish with the fork, shake off any excess flour. Place the piece of floured cod into the beer batter. Use a rubber spatula to spread the thick batter on top of the fish. Using tongs, flip over the cod. Spread the batter on the other side with the rubber spatula. Use tongs to transfer the battered cod to the holding pan.
- Continue battering the rest of the fish. Bring the pan of battered fish to the stove so you can start the frying process. (Don't let the battered cod sit for too long, or it won't turn out crispy.)
Deep Fry the Cod
- Heat the oil over high heat and leave the pot uncovered. It will take a few minutes for the oil to reach 350 degrees F.
- Wearing oven gloves, check the temperature of the oil using the thermometer. When the oil reaches 350 degrees, it is ready to fry.
- Wearing gloves and using tongs, immediately and carefully place up to three pieces of battered cod into the hot oil, trying to prevent them from touching. (It’s important not to overcrowd the pot.) Fry the cod submerged in the oil for three minutes (there is no need to flip it.) The fried fish should have a medium, reddish brown color on the outside.
- Wearing oven gloves, use a slotted metal spatula to transfer the fried fish to a cooling rack that’s placed on top of a baking sheet. (If you don’t have a cooling rack, place the fish on a platter or sheet pan lined with paper towels.) To check if the fish is done, you can cut open one piece to make sure the inside is cooked. The cod should be white, flaky and not slimy.
- Continue frying the rest of the fish three at a time (or two), frying them for three minutes. If the oil starts splashing out of the pot, slightly lower the heat. The oil must be rippling continuously.
- When all the cod has been fried, turn off the heat under the pot. Move the pot to a cool burner. Don’t pour the oil down the sink drain, or it can cause damage. (See notes.)
- Serve the cod immediately with lemon (and mayo, if desired). The cod's exterior crust will soften the longer it sits. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to three days. It tastes delicious cold.
- To reheat leftovers, you can heat the cod for 30 seconds in the microwave, then heat it in a toaster oven for 2-3 minutes to crisp up the outside. You also could let the cod come to room temperature and heat it for 10-15 minutes in a 350-degree-oven. If you choose to reheat the cod in the microwave, the outside coating will be soggy, but the fish will still taste good.
(Recipe Source: Cooking with Mamma C)