Can You Fry Fish Without Cornmeal or Flour?


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Flour or cornmeal makes a good breading for fried fish. Whether you forget to pick up flour or cornmeal at the store or you don’t want to use these ingredients, you may find yourself in a situation where you have to choose to use something else.  

Most fried foods are breaded in a flour or cornmeal breading and then fried in oil for a crispy coating. But, if you don’t have any flour or cornmeal or simply don’t want to use any, can you fry fish without them?

You can fry fish without breading it in flour or cornmeal. You can either fry it in oil just marinated or seasoned without a breading or substitute the flour and cornmeal for another type of breading. 

You can bread fried fish in anything you’d like. It’s okay to experiment and find a new favorite. If you don’t want to use any substitutes, then just fry the fish without any breading at all. 

You don’t have to bread fish to fry it. 

Breading fish does make it taste better and gives it a nice crunchy texture with a juicy inside, but you can skip the breading if you want. If you still want to use a breading you can choose a substitute for flour or cornmeal (which I will cover a little more below).

Mixing flour and cornmeal gives you a delicious breading for fried fish. You can also fry fish without breading it at all. To give it flavor, simply marinate and season it. Then place it in some heated oil and fry for a few minutes until golden brown. 

So, if you don’t have any flour or cornmeal or don’t want to use any, this is okay. There are plenty of substitutes you can use instead. Fish can still be fried without cornmeal or flour.

To see some of the most popular fish seasoning just click here. 

What Can I Use To Fry Fish Instead Of Cornmeal Or Flour?

Any type of fish can be fried for a yummy meal. Typically, fish is breaded in a flour or cornmeal breading. Because it is a crunchy and thin coating on the fish, it’s easy to use other types of ingredients for the breading. 

So, if you don’t have any flour or cornmeal and still want to make fried fish, you can! We mentioned that there are substitutes for these ingredients that you can use to fry fish. 

So, what can you use to fry fish with instead of cornmeal or flour?

There are many substitutes you can use as a breading for fried fish. Cornmeal and flour can give the coating a specific texture and flavor, but many other ingredients can be used. Most of these consist of corn flavored ingredients and flour substitutes.

These substitutes don’t replace the texture or flavor of flour or cornmeal, but they do add that crispy texture to the fish. They work great for breading the fish for a new twist and who knows, you may end up enjoying it so much, you want to cook it with the substitutes again. Cornmeal or flour breading on fried fish is usually done in a thin coating and keeps the fish juicy with a crunchy coating. 

‘Substitutes for flour or cornmeal in a fried fish recipe include the following:

  1. Corn grits – This is similar to cornmeal in flavor and texture. 
  2. Polenta – Similar in flavor to cornmeal and somewhat similar in texture. 
  3. Corn flour / Polenta flour – This is similar in flavor but a different texture than cornmeal
  4. Corn chips – Similar in taste, these should be ground up before breading the fish.
  5. Semolina Flour – This is similar in texture but a different flavor than cornmeal.
  6. Cornflakes – These are light and airy and can serve as a great replacement for breading fish. Instead of being savory like cornmeal, this will result in a more sweet flavor.
  7. Wheat flour – This doesn’t have the same texture as cornmeal but is used as breading to  make it crunchier and lighter.
  8. Whole wheat bread crumbs – Bread crumbs are used in breading many types of food and whole wheat bread crumbs are healthier than white bread and provide a softer texture.
  9. Oats – When ground, these have a similar consistency to cornmeal and can also be used in a flour breading. They are an alternative to corn or gluten for those with allergies.
  10. Bread crumbs – Because they are ground and baked, these are similar to bread crumbs except they are lighter and crunchier.
  11. Panko – Although it doesn’t have a lot of flavor, this is used as a breading for many recipes. Just replace the corn meal with this for a light and crunchy coating.
  12. Rice flour – This is a fine powder with a light and sweet taste. It is also low in calories. You can add some baking powder to this to help create a more crispy breading.
  13. Cereal – This should be mixed with other ingredients like flour or bread crumbs for the right consistency, but it is a great alternative. It is healthier, lighter, and crispier.
  14. Cornstarch – This creates a crispier coating that holds up better than other breadings. It will also absorb less of the frying oil as the fish fries.
  15. Crushed saltine crackers – These season the fish with their salty flavor and because of their crunchy and airy texture, they make a great breading.

Along with all of these, you can also use some non-traditional substitutes for breading fried fish. Some of the most popular substitutes are: matzo meal, pumpkin seeds, and even flaxseeds. Depending on how you want it to taste, you can use pretty much anything to bread fried fish. 

As long as it produces a crispy texture, then it can be used as a substitute. But, keep in mind that the flavor will be different. Still, you can use many substitutes for flour and cornmeal in a fried fish recipe.

Final Thoughts

Fried fish is a delicious meal enjoyed by many world-wide. Fish can be fried without flour or cornmeal. Although these are usually used to give the fish a crunchy coating, there are many substitutes that can be used instead. 

The fish won’t have the same flavor, but these other breadings will work well. So, instead of flour and cornmeal, use one of the substitutes mentioned in this article. Or you can just fry the fish without using any breading at all if you like. 

Hannah R.

Hey, I'm Hannah and I'm the founder of Get Eatin'.

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