After enjoying a successful day on the water, I've got the best fried walleye recipe you'll find for enjoying a flavorful shore lunch or homemade fish fry!
Deliciously flaky walleye fillets are tossed in a simple yet flavorful seasoned breading and pan-fried to crispy golden brown perfection.
What is it?
Fried walleye is popularly eaten across the Great Lake region of the United States and wherever this mild-flavored freshwater fish is found. Across the Midwest, and in particular Wisconsin, fried walleye is one of the most popular menu items found at any Friday night fish fry. It is most commonly served coated in a seasoned breading and deep-fried until golden brown.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Fresh walleye fillets - Other fresh fish can be substituted. This recipe would work really well for fried perch too.
- Large Eggs
- Milk - Milk thins out the egg. You can omit milk if you want a thicker breading.
- Ritz crackers - You will need approximately one sleeve of buttered crackers. However, saltine crackers can be substituted.
- All-purpose flour
- Table salt
- Lemon pepper seasoning - It is important to buy lemon pepper seasoning that does not already contain salt, or your breading will be too salty. To check, simply look at the ingredient list on the back and see if salt is listed.
- Garlic powder
- Black pepper
- Oil for frying - I typically use canola oil for frying because it has a high smoke point. Some people prefer olive oil for its flavor.
How to fry walleye
This is an easy pan-fried walleye recipe that works equally well to be deep-fried. I suspect most home cooks will be frying this up in a deep-sided skillet or cast iron frying pan, but you are welcome to use a home deep fryer as well. In the end, the best way to fry walleye is whichever method is most accessible to you.
Add at least one inch of oil to your skillet, set it over medium-high heat, and heat oil to 350 degrees for frying.
As the oil heats, set up your dredging station. In a shallow bowl, combine your milk and eggs and beat them together to create your egg wash. In a separate dish, prepare your breading mixture by combining the flour, cracker crumbs, and seasonings.
Dip fillets in the egg wash, and then let the excess drip off before dredging them in your flour mixture one at a time. Place the fish fillets in hot oil for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until the breading has turned golden brown. Then remove the walleye from the frying oil and let drain on a wire rack briefly. Serve your deep fried walleye with tartar sauce and a lemon wedge.
How to serve a fish fry
If you want to serve this recipe for fried walleye at home as a classic Midwestern Friday night fish fry, like we do here in Wisconsin, serve your fried fish with the following fixin's to make this an authentic experience:
- Choice of potato - French fries are the most common choice, but baked potatoes and even potato pancakes are frequently offered as well.
- Classic coleslaw - A traditional creamy coleslaw is almost always served. You may find a vinegar coleslaw at more refined Supper Clubs and eateries.
- Rye bread - Typically the rye bread is served with butter. It can be marble rye or traditional rye bread.
- Tartar sauce - You can easily make your own homemade tartar sauce.
- Fresh lemon wedges
Storing and Reheating Leftovers
Any leftover fried walleye should be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator and eaten within five days for the best flavor. Leftover fried foods will lose their crispiness in the microwave, so it is best to gently reheat your pan-fried walleye fillets in a 350 degree oven for ten minutes, or until heated through. The exact amount of time needed will vary depending on the thickness of your fillets, so keep an eye on it.
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- Large skillet
- Tartar sauce
- Lemon wedge
- Combine eggs and milk in a shallow dish and whisk together until combined.
- In a separate dish, add your flour, crushed crackers, salt, lemon pepper seasoning, paprika, garlic powder, and black pepper. Mix to combine.
- Dip the walleye fillets in the beaten eggs, then let the excess egg mixture drip off and dredge the fillets in the cracker crumb mixture, ensuring the fillets are fully coated with breading.
- Place the fillets in a deep sided skillet filled with an inch of oil heated to 350 degrees and cook walleye for 3-4 minutes per side, or until the breading turns golden brown and the walleye reaches 145 degrees.
- Remove the fish from the hot oil and set it on a wire rack, or paper towels, to drain for a minute or two, then serve with tartar sauce and a lemon wedge.