This DIY Filet-O-Fish Is Crisp, Golden, and Perfectly Square

Follow Sam’s journey in re-creating this treasured fast food menu item.

Published Feb. 10, 2022.

A McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwich is as classic as fast food gets. I myself am a big fan. It’s a crispy, flaky, delicious sandwich with simple, straightforward components: a steamed bun, tartar sauce, half a slice of cheese (it used to be a full slice, but times must be lean at the Golden Arches . . .). 

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Then there’s that perfectly square fish patty. How on earth are those patties so geometrically perfect? Maybe I don’t really want to know. Nonetheless, I was determined to re-create this classic fast food sandwich at home.

I started with cod (black sea bass, haddock, hake, or pollock works, too). But rather than trimming down and wasting precious pieces of fish, I utilized all the cod by making cakes. With simple ingredients, of course: a little mayo, bread crumbs, and eggs to help with binding. Then I pressed the mixture into an 8-inch square baking pan and let it chill and set. The refrigerator worked well. The freezer? Even better. 

After freezing the mixture for about an hour, I was able to pop it out of the pan and cleanly cut out four perfect squares. Amazing! Onto my coating. I tested with panko, but the bread crumbs weren’t giving me that fine-crumbed Filet-O-Fish exterior I sought. Using regular bread crumbs made a huge difference in both appearance and texture. 

Sure, this recipe nails that famous square shape, but I can’t say enough about how good these sandwiches are. They’re crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and thin enough to fry from frozen. So make a batch and freeze ’em for the next time you’re jonesing for a Filet-O-Fish sandwich at home. 

DIY Square Fish Patties

Makes 4 fish patties

Serve the cooked patties on hamburger buns with cheese and tartar sauce.

  • 1 pound skinless cod fillets, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2½ cups plain dried bread crumbs, divided
  • 4 large eggs (1 lightly beaten, 3 whole)
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon table salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon pepper, divided 
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup peanut or vegetable oil for frying

  1. Working in 2 batches, pulse cod in food processor until coarsely chopped into ¼-inch pieces, about 5 pulses; transfer to large bowl. Gently fold in ½ cup bread crumbs, lightly beaten egg, mayonnaise, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Spray 8-inch square baking pan with vegetable oil spray. Using an offset spatula, press fish mixture into prepared pan; cover with plastic wrap; and freeze until firm, at least 1 hour. 
  2. Meanwhile, pour remaining 2 cups bread crumbs in shallow dish. Whisk whole eggs, flour, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper together in second shallow dish.
  3. Run knife around edges of pan and, using dish towel or oven mitts, invert fish mixture onto cutting board. Cut into 4 equal squares. 
  4. Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet. Working with 1 fish patty at a time, dredge in egg mixture, letting excess drip off, then coat in bread crumbs, pressing gently to adhere; transfer to prepared rack.
  5. Set second wire rack in second rimmed baking sheet and cover half of rack with triple layer of paper towels. Add oil to 12-inch nonstick skillet until it measures about ¼ inch deep and heat over medium heat to 325 degrees. Place 2 patties in skillet and cook until deep golden brown and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Place patties on paper towel–lined side of prepared rack to drain, then move to unlined side of rack. Repeat cooking and draining with remaining 2 patties. Serve.

TO MAKE AHEAD: After step 4, place breaded fish patties in single layer on plate and freeze until firm, about 4 hours. Transfer frozen patties to zipper-lock bag and freeze for up to 1 month. When ready to fry, remove from freezer and continue with step 5.

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