Wisconsin Fish Fry Recipe

The Friday Night Fish Fry

As far as I know, the fish fry is a Wisconsin thing. Now, I do realize that the fish fry is served in other states, however it just seems like Wisconsin is known for them, and good ones at that. The fish fry is typically on a Friday, and served in pretty much every tavern and restaurant, plated with coleslaw, rye bread, lemon wedges, and your standard french fry or potato pancake. Historically speaking, my first job at age 14 was working at a restaurant known for its fish fry, and my wife and I had our wedding reception party on a Friday night at Milwaukee’s historic Turner Hall. Let me just end by saying the fish fry is important to many of those living in Wisconsin, and as my wife noted last Friday, I have just mastered the fish fry.

Wisconsin Fish Fry Recipe


  • Can of beer
  • Bread flour
  • Fish fillets (I used tilapia, and would highly recommend the same)
  • Salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Vegetable oil (enough for deep frying)

I used two bags of tilapia fillets, of which yielded nine fillets, rinse the fillets and pat dry. In a large bowl, add roughly one cup of bread flour, or all purpose flour, and to that add one 12 oz. can of beer and stir to make a thick batter. Add more flour to come up with a thicker batter. Add in salt and pepper to season. This is where it gets a bit messy, so before diving in, heat a medium pan with roughly four cups of oil and bring to a medium to high heat. In a separate bowl, add more flour, and season with more salt and pepper. Now it is time to get messy. Take your dry fillet, one at a time, place and coat with the batter, then remove and let the batter fall off back into the batter bowl. Take the battered fillet and put it in the bowl of seasoned flour, tossing to coat with the flour. When your oil is ready, add your fillet and cook until golden brown. You can add several fillets to the oil at a time, keeping in mind to not overcrowd.

When they are golden brown, remove to a strainer lined with paper towel, season with salt, and let cool. Trust me, these are piping hot right now. Get ready to plate up with coleslaw, tarter sauce, lemon wedges, and fries. Trust me, this is a must make, and would make most Wisconsinites very proud. Enjoy.


  • heather

    living in several different states and traveling around the country, it seems wisconsin is the ONLY state that knows how to do a proper fish fry. maybe i’m biased b/c wi is my home state, but really everyone else falls flat. there’s just something missing. wish i could go back for one now… preferably at wegner’s st. martins inn!



  • Cristie

    I grew up in New England, where they are no slouches in seafood preparation. I have also lived in many different states over the years and since seafood is my favorite food, I have eaten fish in many forms all over the country. My husband and I spent about 18 months living outside of Milwaukee when we were first married (more than 10 years ago) and to this day I still crave and miss Wisconsin Fish fry. My mouth waters just thinking about it! We recently got our own little fry machine today and my google search for “Wisconsin Fish Fry” led me to this site. Here in New England we have Fish Fries during Lent season but nothing all year like in Wisconsin. The taste doesn’t compare either. I am excited to try your recipe. If only I could start it with a few cheese curds and finish it with a cone of custard! Thanks!

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