This gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free recipe makes a crispy gluten-free fish fry. If you can’t find gluten-free beer, use plain seltzer water.
When most people think of food from Wisconsin, they think cheese or beer. While living in Milwaukee ten years ago, I found out that fish fry should also make this list.
Each Friday night, many Milwaukee area restaurants offer a fish fry specials. For a reasonable price, you get a plate of beer battered fish, a couple of potato pancakes and, often, a slice of rye bread. The fish fry tends to be “all you care to eat.” I never asked for more fish but, I have to admit, there were a few times when I was tempted! The batter that coated the fish was so light and so crispy. It would have been easy for me to ignore my full stomach just to enjoy a bite or two more.
Now that I’m back in New York and need to eat gluten-free, popping out to a restaurant is no longer an option. Thankfully, I live with a fish fry expert! My Wisconsin-born husband worked in a Milwaukee restaurant that served upwards of 500 fish fry dinners each Friday night. The biggest challenge in converting his recipe to gluten-free? Paring it down. His original recipe made 10 gallons of batter.
Since the original recipe contained about half cornstarch, converting it to gluten-free was easy. White rice flour replaced the wheat flour to produce a super-crisp, light batter for the fish. The best part? It’s also egg and dairy-free!
Gluten-Free Fish Fry: How to Make It At Home
Making the batter is as easy as whipping together pancake batter, and you can make it ahead of time. Greg remembers, “We were so busy at the restaurant, I made the fish fry batter hours before service started. If I hadn’t, we would have been in the weeds all night.”
To make the batter, combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the gluten-free beer. (If you don’t want to use beer, go ahead and use plain seltzer.) You want the consistency of the batter to resemble heavy cream. It should flow easily from a spoon. If the batter seems too thick, add a little more beer or seltzer.
Cut your fish into individual pieces, about five-inch each. Of course this is a personal preference. If you to cut the fish into smaller pieces, go for it. I find pieces larger than five inches unwieldy to fry but that’s just me.
To help the batter stick to the fish, pat it dry, and then coat it in a white rice flour-cornstarch mixture. You don’t want too much flour, so give the fish a gentle shake after coating it. Then dip the fish into the batter. Hold the fish above the bowl for a second or two. This allows excess batter to drip off. Then gently place the fish into the hot oil. you don’t want to hold the fish high above the oil and drop it in. That’s a recipe for splatter and possible burns! Get the fish very close to the surface of the oil and gently guide it in. Depending on your fryer, you can fry up to three pieces at one time. If you fry too much fish (or anything for that matter) at one time, the temperature of the oil drops and the coating of the fish gets oily.
If you don’t want to serve your fish in batches, place the freshly fried fish onto a paper towel-lined baking sheet and keep warm in a 250 degree F. oven.
When having a fish fry, I like to serve it with French fries because…why not? 🙂 In our house, coleslaw and tartar sauce are also a must!
Gluten-Free Beer Battered Fish
For the Batter
- 3/4 cup cornstarch (3 ounces; 85 grams)
- 1/2 cup white rice flour (2 ounces; 56 grams)
- 1/4 cup sweet rice flour (1 ounce; 28 grams)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup gluten-free beer, more as needed
For the Fish
- 1 1/2 pounds skinless fillets (cod, flounder, or haddock), cut into six pieces
- 2 ounces 1/2 cup white rice flour (2 ounces; 56 grams)
- 2 ounces 1/2 cup cornstarch (2 ounces; 56 grams)
- 2 quarts vegetable oil
In medium bowl, whisk together cornstarch, white rice flour, sweet rice flour, baking powder, granulated sugar, salt, and black pepper. Add gluten-free beer. Whisk until batter forms. Batter should flow easily from a spoon, slightly thicker than the consistency of heavy cream. If it's too thick, add an additional tablespoon beer. Set aside. In large bowl or pie plate, whisk together remaining white rice flour and cornstarch.
Preheat oven to 250°F. In heavy bottomed Dutch oven, heat oil to 375°F. Coat (dredge) cod, one piece at a time, into the white rice flour-cornstarch mixture. Shake off excess. Dip cod, one piece at a time, into batter. Allow excess batter to drop off. Carefully lower fish into hot oil. Cook until batter sets, about three minutes. Turn fish and cook until batter turns golden brown, about another three to five minutes. (Frying time varies depending in the size of the cod pieces.) Fry cod in batches, about two to three pieces at a time depending on the size of your fryer.
Drain fish on paper towel-lined plate. Serve at once or transfer to rimmed baking sheet and keep warm in preheated oven for up to twenty minutes.
My husband and I are sitting here “WOWing” each other as we scarf down THE BEST fried fish we have ever eaten!!!! Thanks for a recipe I will keep forever and be renown throughout the land for. I forsee impressive dinner parties in our future.
Ha! Glad you enjoyed it!
I used yeast instead of beer – just mixed a teaspoon of dry yeast with the sugar and a cup of water, waited for it to activate, mixed most of it in with the dry ingredients (left out salt and pepper), left in in a warm spot for ten minutes and then used the batter. Mr 10 has renewed respect for me now I can cook fish and chips. I used barramundi (we’re in Oz).
Ah! I LOVE this.
can I use an all purpose gluten free flour instead of the mixed flours?
Sure. The results might be different because all gluten-free blends work a little different. Enjoy!
I’ve been gluten free for five years. I live in Wisconsin and haven’t had a fish fry since, only broiled fish or what we call, poor man’s lobster with drawn butter, Wich isn’t bad, but Last week I decided I missed the fried too much, so decide to try it on my own with some help from the internet. I chose this recipe because of the Milwaukee, Wisconson connection. .I’ve got to tell you, my family couldn’t tell the difference. Sure the process is a bit messy, but worth it. The corn starch is key and I used lakefront New grist gf beer made in Milwaukee. Also works really well with shrimp.
So glad you enjoyed it!
This was fantastic–my family of 5 thought this was the perfect meal. Perfect crunch and hassle-free. Used Haddock soaked in milk and was not fishy at all, and even the 2 youngest ones who won’t eat fish, gobbled it up. This is a keeper. I never comment on recipes, but had to on this one 🙂
Thanks for letting me know!
D. Nichols says
Very good recipe – thank you. I’ve been missing Fish and Chips and this was totally worth the effort. I used haddock and cooked it for a bit less time than called for in the recipe.
Can you make this without a Dutch oven?
Sure. Just be sure to use a deep pot that you can fry safely in without the oil spilling over the sides.
This was great! Everyone in the family loved it including the non Celiac. I used cup4cup instead of the rice flour and it turned out delicious. I never leave comments but just had to because it was so good!
Thank you for your post. I was scrolling through to see if anyone else had subbed a gluten free flour. Delighted to see it worked. On my agenda to make tomorrow.
Chris Hill says
Unbelievable recipe. My wife and daughter are celiac and we have a freezer full of halibut all year. Hadn’t fried any in a couple years. This is better than the original beer batter in my opinion. Well done! And Thanks!!
AH-MAZING recipe, we actually did fried zucchini but it came out awesome. We added a little flavored balsamic vinegar on the side and we were all dying from the amazing flavor, thank you for sharing your recipe!
We are new to the Celiac world. So, when an amazing recipe comes along it reminds you it will be ok. Last night was a reason to celebrate. Thank you so much for an easy to follow recipe that produced incredible results. The fish was crispy outside, but not too much batter. DELICIOUS!!!! A must try recipe.
I adjusted the recipe to just 50:50 rice flour and cornflour (corn starch) for powering, and for the batter I brewed a little yeast in 3/4 cup of water and added this to 3/4 cup rice flour and 3/4 cup cornflour, with 1 tsp baking powder. No other ingredients. It was delicious when I cooked it in olive oil. It actually left us feeling as if we’d eaten something HEALTHY!!! Today I tried cooking in rice bran oil (I may have accidentally used tapioca starch instead of cornflour, as well) – it didn’t go so well, though it was edible. Of course we added fries and salt after the fact. The fish we used was hoki, blue Grenadier.
Wow I am going to print, pin, copy and repeat this recipe so I don’t loose it!!!!! lol
I Love crispy fried fish, but the gluten doesn’t like me, so I cannot wait to try this recipe.
I think it’s so sweet your husband has that compassion with you to create it.
I also took to the experience (the art of frying ?) and Wisconsin background you have, when looking for this kind of recipe, it sounds so good.
Amelia Brown says
Thanks you very much for sharing this recipe, It looks delicious and I will definitely try it soon. Please share some more fish recipes that are easy and less time taking. Thanks once again and keep sharing the good things.
Perfect crispy batter! Made onion rings with the leftovers.