Lighter Fried Fish Sandwich with Creamy Coleslaw

baked fish sandwich

Did you grow up eating McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwiches? Any kind of fried fish sandwiches? I sure did. Thousands of them, give or take one to two sandwiches. The tally is so startling it convinces me that even if I never get the chance to eat another, I’ll still—on the eve of my [hard rockin’] eighty-fifth birthday—be able to faintly taste them, to smell them, if reminded.

baked fish sandwich

I hadn’t had one in a while, until about six months ago, when driving around near my hometown, I saw a sign that Mickey D’s was offering a deal on my once-favorite fish sandwich. I drove on through. Now, for those of us who know a thing or two about childhood nostalgia and the kinds of forever-ago dreamy expectations that come with it, this meal was bound to send me barreling toward disappointment. And sure enough—unwrapping it, eating it, I noticed how little flavor it had—outside of that which I can only attribute to its fried state. This lacking, combined with me being so disgruntled by the fact that I’ve always only peeled off the stupid Baltic Avenue Monopoly square from my soda, left me, in a word, ‘meh,’ about the whole experience.


I was sour grapes for a day and a half, wondering if all of the foods I once loved were indeed underwhelming now, too. I thought about re-trying a few of them, but then, no—not Swiss Cake Rolls. There will be no love lost there.

I’d all but forgotten about this incident until my recent grocery shop, when I saw the cod—on sale finally!—and thought briefly to bread it, pan-fry it, and sandwich it. To make it better than the Filet-O-Fish.

baked fish sandwich

To that end, I first had to create a crumb coating with loads of flavor. My mom swears by using Ritz crackers on her baked haddock and cod dishes, and since I know those to be some of the tastiest recipes in all the land, I’m likely to agree they’re the best option for a buttery crisp crust. I, however, didn’t have any Ritz on hand, so I used Club crackers, which I think could really have been any generic white cracker and have yielded similarly great results.

To the crackers, I added garlic because I can’t live without it and a handful of parsley for its cool, clean, and refreshing flavor.

baked fish sandwich


baked fish sandwich

The fish filet, when pan-fried in a little olive oil, is—to be super authorly and articulate here—awe-some. (Did I tell you I was writing a book? Packed with big, beautiful descriptors like awesome.) Since it’s cooked quickly, the cod retains all of its soft and supple integrity. And using only a small amount of oil means that the fish stays fairly low in calories.

I chose to top it with a quick and zesty slaw, adding not only interesting textural variety, but a coolness, a refreshing contrast to the hot fish. The dressing that coats it is creamy, bright with lemon, and only the faintest bit sweet, making it a solid stand-in for traditional sweet-meets-sour tartar sauce.

baked fish sandwich

Mickey D’s take note: this is what a fish sandwich should be.

Lighter Fried Fish Sandwich with Creamy Coleslaw

Yield: 4 Sandwiches

A more delicious and wholesome version of McDonald's Filet-O-Fish


  • 2 cups coleslaw mix (or a mix of shredded green/red cabbage)
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 buttery white crackers (recommended: Ritz or Club)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves (1 handful)
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 pound cod filets, cut into 4 equal sections
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • lemon wedges, for serving


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the coleslaw mix and scallions.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk to combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Add the dressing to the coleslaw and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate the slaw until you’re ready to serve.
  3. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the crackers, garlic, parsley, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the pepper. Pulse until smooth. Pour the crumbs into a wide, shallow bowl.
  4. In another shallow bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Place the bowls of crumbs and eggs side by side to prepare for coating your fish.
  5. Dip both sides of 1 cod filet first in the egg mixture, shaking the fish lightly over the bowl to allow for any excess to drip off, then put the filet into the bowl of crumbs, pressing to coat one side. Flip the filet over and press to coat the other side evenly with the crumbs. Transfer the coated filet to a plate and repeat the process with the remaining 3 filets.
  6. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 of the filets and cook, undisturbed, until the undersides are crisp and lightly golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the filets and cook for 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and loosely tent the fish with foil to keep warm.
  7. Reduce the heat slightly and add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add the remaining 2 filets and cook, undisturbed, until the undersides are crisp and lightly golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook for 3 minutes. Transfer to the plate with the other filets.
  8. To serve, lay the sliced sandwich buns on a clean work surface. Put one cod filet on each of four bun halves, pile each filet with about 3 tablespoons of slaw, and top with the remaining bun halves.


Nutrition Information for 1 Serving (1/4th of entire recipe: 1 full sandwich, including a 110-calorie generic hamburger bun): Calories 390, Total Fat 14.5 g, Total Carbohydrate 32.5 g, Dietary Fiber 1.0 g, Sugars 4.8 g, Protein 31.0 g


  1. Anne says

    Hey Andie…………..Just an FYI………I think that Ritz Crackers taste burnt……….but Towne House Crackers do not……..they are buttery and wonderful.

    LOVE your photography. The fish sandwich is very lush and delightful looking…..mmmmm! Cannot wait to try this. I LOVE fish sandwiches………..

    Have a GREAT day! af

  2. says

    I have never had a fish sandwich before. They just never have seemed that appealing to me. But this looks really delicious so maybe I need to add it to my menu next week.

    Oh, and I still totally get Mickey D’s almost every time we go on a road trip. It’s my guilty pleasure travel food and I sort of love it.

  3. says

    I’ve never had the Filet-o-Fish, but they certainly didn’t look as good as yours does! The coleslaw looks perfect with it! Also, where did you get those hamburger buns? They look scrumptious!

  4. Sharyn Duff says

    This fish sandwich looks light and delicious. I am very anxious to try it. I always eat cole slaw with my fish sandwich.

  5. says

    I always used to have Fish fillet from McDs when i was younger – this one looks infinitely better! I am definitely going to be trying it :) Thanks Andie!

  6. Jennifer says

    This looks a million times better than a fish sandwich from any restaurant, let alone McD! I will be making this recipe this weekend! YUM! Although, I do sometimes get a fish sandwich from restaurants, it never leaves me satisfied.

  7. diane says

    Andie, this looks amazing (as EVERYTHING you make does)! That being said, I have to ask…did you miss the cheese?

    • says

      Thanks Diane! You know, that’s a good question. My answer here is no, because I think it really would have taken something away from the fish (and the awesome breading). However, if you do think about adding some, I’d opt for something mild to just add richness and a creamy mouth-feel rather than for flavor. Does that make sense?

      • says

        I have to agree with you on this one Andie…

        Something about the crunchy slaw and fried fish begets simplicity and chases away the cheese. Perfect the way you have it! Love your photography.

      • diane says

        It does make sense, thanks. I’ve put this on next week’s dinner menu for Monday night. Can’t wait to try it! My husband & I had beeen having fish at least once a week, but sadly we slipped away from that somehow. This is the perfect way to bring it back and I can’t wait to try it. I’ve done fish with the Ritz crackers before with great results…the Club crackers sound like they will be perfect too. Who doesn’t LOVE a club cracker??!! I’ll let you know how it turns out. Thanks again for your bright, positive posts. They always are such a treat to read! :-)

  8. Kym Donachie says

    Do you think substituting panko would work? This is my next meal either way….beautiful photos…I want to go to there!

    • says

      Thanks Kym! Yes, panko works great here! I’d recommend using 1/2 cup panko and running the crumbs through your food processor to grind them a little finer. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of grinding them, I understand, but I do find that a smaller, more uniform grind of panko lets the crust of whatever meat/fish you’re working with cook more crisply and evenly.

  9. says

    Growing up in West New York state as a kid, we almost ALWAYS went for a Friday Fish Fry with my grandparents. I remember how fun and exciting it was and how GOOD it tasted. But now in Florida and a grown up, any comparison like you said is just sadly SO disappointing. I am totally making your lightened up and what I know will be more flavorful version 😉

  10. Hootie says

    I was just this very evening recounting a trip to river street in savannah to a restaurant called one eyed Lizzie’s and their grouper Reuben which was very similar to what you have here but on a hoagie. It was SO great that we went back the very next day to order the exact same thing and we STILL 5 or so yrs later talk about the simple sandwich :) love the crust, can’t wait to try it

  11. says

    Wow Andie, this is great. I love it love it love it!!!. Wonder whether I can use a deep fryer for this, since I just got a small deep fryer from Target for $25. I guess it will work. This looks way better than a McDonald’s Fillet O Fish.

  12. says

    I’ll agree with you there Andie, this is definitely what a fish sandwich should look like, and it’s making me want one really bad lol :)

  13. says

    I have never wanted to try a Micky d’s fish sandwich, they always looked so gross to me! This sandwich, however, looks incredible. You are a fantastic photographer and this recipe looks to die for! I hope to try this soon. :)


  14. says

    Looks really tasty! My Dear Parents and Dear Brother would really like this meal, as they are the fish eaters.

    Andie – Which brand and model of food processor do you own?

    • says

      Thanks! My food processor was my mom’s from, oh, probably 1988? It’s a Sunbeam and it still works like a dream, but I know the models out now must be better. I keep it for nostalgia. I’d recommend buying anything made by KitchenAid or Cuisinart.

  15. Kelsey says

    Well hot damn this came at a perfect time! Mum went a bit mad on fish that was for sale and we have a whole draw full of the stuff. I know what we’ll be eating all summer, if it lasts that long! ;D

    Thanks for posting this, it looks delicious, my guilty pleasure was always fish finger sandwiches x

  16. Shan says

    OMG! I made this tonight and it was amazing!!!! The only changes I made was I made a little extra breading and eyeballed some dried parsley instead of fresh. I also HAD to have it with some tartar sauce and a half slice of cheese. I served it with a side of baked fries and it was SO.GOOD!

  17. Butch Luedke says

    History lesson….It’s not our imagination. McD’s fish did taste better many years ago because they used COD. Now its POLLOCK.

  18. ICE says

    I am going to try the Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper chips. This is what I use on my tuna casseroles and it is yummy!

  19. says

    This looks absolutely fantastic! I would love to try this soon. I also love your photography. You do a wonderful job!
    I wish my pictures compared! (the joys of only using a cell phone. lol)

  20. jackie kapcheck says

    My healthier fish sandwiches turned out awesome on my first try! I bought my cod from Costco (so, of course, I had 2.5 lbs instead of 1). I have a garden so I was able to use very fresh and pungent flat leaf parsley along with my Ritz crackers. I had to pop several crackers in my mouth during the process to ensure their buttery flavor was intense enough ; ). Anyway, I coaxed my 12 year old into trying it with his eyes closed and in a darkened room so that he couldn’t quite see the coleslaw in it. My back up plan was to separate the items on a plate and he could just eat the fish with a fork and eat the very lightly buttered and toasted bun as ala cartes. The fish did fall apart a bit and was messy, but I was then able to make good use of my Ruffles chips (representing the “chips” part of fish N chips) and scoop any slaw and fish that had snuck out. Great recipe Andie! I listened to your book on Audible during my runs and decided to check out your site. I feel like I know you. I am not overweight, but did struggle in my youth with that extra 10 or so – a bit chunky. Even though people think I have it all under control – I think about it constantly and how to keep it all consistent as I age. Ugh. Even when you’re the weight you want, you continue to be scared that it will slip away ….. Look forward to more of your recipes and endeavors! xoxo


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