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Copycat Zatarain’s Fish Fry Seasoning

We have a few different homemade Fish Fry seasoning mixes here for you. Whether you want a cornmeal mixture or just herbs and spices we explain here how to make them both. Deep fried or pan fried gives you a flavorful coating for your seafood.

Fish Fry Seasoning

You can make your own homemade fish seasonings yourself!! NO need to buy expensive mixes in a bag that have preservatives and stuff you don’t want. From scratch is the way to go so you can adjust to your liking to make spicy or mild. (affiliate links present)

Seasoning for Fish Fry

Making a cornmeal fish fry is flavorful with a crispy crunchy coating for your seafood with various seasonings used to coat fish before frying. It adds a delicious, crunchy texture and a hint of Southern-inspired flavor to the dish. You can use it on white fish or to make Air Fryer Fried Shrimp too if you like.

You can coat large filets to enjoy for dinner as is with some malt vinegar or tartar sauce or enjoy inside our Air Fryer Fish Tacos. It gives seafood a new flavor profile you will likely love and a bit more texture than if you just stuck with dried herbs.

fish fry tacos

Oil Temp for Frying Fish

You really need to heat your oil (such as vegetable oil or peanut oil) BEFORE adding any food. Use a deep fryer or large skillet with just enough for up to half of your thickness to be submerged. Heat to the desired frying temperature, typically around 350-375° F for this or our Cornmeal for Fish Fry to get super crispy.

Is it better to deep fry or pan fry fish?

Whether it’s better to deep fry or pan fry fish depends on your preferences, the type of fish you’re cooking, and the desired outcome. Both methods can yield delicious results, but they have distinct characteristics. Submerging in oil yields higher calories and fat but will be crispier.

Deep frying typically produces a crispier and more evenly browned exterior due to the fish being fully submerged in hot oil. This method is excellent for achieving a golden, crunchy crust. It also uses more oil since fillets are fully immersed. It can be less healthy due to the higher oil absorption too.

Copycat Zatararain’s Fish Fry Recipe

I will say that this method is best suitable for larger and thicker pieces though as it allows for even cooking throughout the pieces. Pan frying uses less oil, you only need enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan, which can make it a healthier option.

In a skillet offers more control over the cooking process too. You can monitor the fish closely and adjust the heat as needed to prevent overcooking. Quicker for smaller pieces as there’s less oil to heat and maintain. A great option for weeknight dinners. I suggest doing this way so your seasonings infuse and adheres to the outside as it cooks.

Oil Temp for Frying Fish

Cornmeal Fish Fry Seasoning

Creating a flavorful Southern fish fry seasoning is essential for achieving delicious the best outcome for your coating. You can use the same seasonings in the Panko breadcrumb mixture to make Oven Fried Fish too. Here’s a basic recipe for a homemade fish fry seasoning mix you are going to need a few things in your cupboard already. For this one you will need;

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika and garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, onion powder, dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or dry Sriracha is good for heat too
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

If you want to skip the gritty feel and just want super simple I would go with a lot of dry herbs and use flour and cornstarch as the binder instead, use;

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch (if you want it extra crispy)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, onion powder, thyme, cayenne pepper
    • (adjust to taste for spiciness)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)

Use a shallow bowl or plate to combine everything. You should always wait until the oil is close to being at temperature before coating or it will just sit. If you want it to really stick you should pan fry fish instead of dunking the whole thing in which may mean that most of it will slugh off.

Cornmeal Fish Fry Seasoning

How to Fry Fish

In a bowl, combine all the dry ingredients: flour, cornstarch (if using), salt, paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, dried thyme (if using), cayenne pepper (adjust to taste), and dried oregano (if using).

  1. Use a whisk or fork to thoroughly mix all the spices and flour until the seasoning blend is well combined.
  2. Your fish fry seasoning mix is now ready to use. You can use it to coat fish fillets, shrimp, or other seafood before frying.
  3. To use the seasoning, dredge your fish or seafood in the mix, ensuring it’s evenly coated. Shake off any excess seasoning before frying.
  4. Heat your oil in a deep fryer or large skillet to the desired frying temperature, around 350-375°F ideally.
  5. Carefully place the seasoned fish without breading, or Beer Battered Halibut in the hot oil and fry until it’s golden brown and crispy
    • this will usually take 3-5 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the pieces.
  6. Once the fish is fried to perfection, remove it from the oil and let it drain on paper towels to remove any excess oil.
  7. Serve the crispy fried fish with your favorite side dishes and condiments.

Feel free to adjust the spices and seasonings to suit your taste preferences. If you prefer a spicy fish fry, increase the amount of cayenne pepper, Cajun seasoning or jalapeno powder. Conversely, if you like it milder, reduce the amount of cayenne pepper or omit it altogether. Homemade fish fry seasoning allows you to customize the flavor to your liking.

pan fried fish

Calories Fish Fry

For the mixture we share below there are nutritional facts listed. This won’t really vary as far as just the dry mix goes but will once you add it to the outside of your proteins. If you are concerned about healthy choices I would just make sure you use a pan with just enough oil to coat the bottom, that way it won’t be absorbed much.

Spicy Fish Fry

If you love a little heat and want to make a spicy fish fry, you can easily kick up the flavor with some spicy seasonings and ingredients. We mention cayenne pepper and jalapeno powder above but there are other choices as well such as;

  1. Chili powder which is a blend of ground chili peppers along with other spices like cumin, garlic, and paprika. It’s commonly used in chili recipes, Mexican cuisine, and Tex-Mex dishes.
  2. There are various types of hot sauces available, each with its own flavor profile and heat level. Examples include Tabasco, Sriracha, and Frank’s RedHot. You can drizzle hot sauce on dishes or use it as a condiment.
  3. Fresh serrano and habanero and other types of green peppers are very hot and can be finely chopped and added to salsas, sauces, or marinades to bring intense spiciness.
  4. While not as spicy as chili peppers, black pepper can add a subtle heat to dishes. Freshly ground black pepper has a more pronounced flavor.
  5. Wasabi is a Japanese condiment known for its intense spiciness. It’s commonly served with sushi and sashimi.
  6. Szechuan peppercorns provide a unique numbing and spicy sensation. They are often used in Chinese cuisine, especially in Szechuan dishes.
  7. Gochugaru is a Korean red pepper powder commonly used in making kimchi and other Korean dishes. It has a moderately spicy flavor.
  8. Harissa is a North African chili paste made from roasted red peppers, spices, and garlic. It’s known for its complex spiciness and is used in dishes like tagines and couscous.

Whole dried chili peppers can be crushed or added to dishes to release their spiciness. Examples include Thai bird’s eye chilies and ancho chilies. If you do have some left, save in freezer bag once cooled in the fridge and then Reheat Fried Fish in Air Fryer.

Copycat Zatararain's Fish Fry Recipe

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Fish Fry Seasoning
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Fish Fry Seasoning

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword cornmeal, fish fry, seasoning
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 200kcal
Author The Typical Mom



Cornmeal Fish Fry Seasoning

Fish Fry Seasoning No Cornmeal


  • Cornmeal fish fry – Mix all ingredients together in a shallow bowl. When your oil is to temp, 360 degrees F., Blot fish dry with a paper towel and press into cornmeal seasoning to coat both sides. Lay carefully into the hot oil filled skillet.
  • Fish fry no cornmeal – Heat your oil to temp, 360 degrees F. Add 1 tsp of cajun seasoning to buttermilk and 1 tbsp into your flour with salt, cornstarch and Old Bay. Season both sides of your fillets with the remaining seasonings. When oil is hot dip seasoned fish into buttermilk, then sit into flour, flip to coat both sides. Lay in hot oil to fry.


Nutrition Facts
Fish Fry Seasoning
Amount Per Serving (1 oz)
Calories 200 Calories from Fat 27
% Daily Value*
Fat 3g5%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 2mg1%
Sodium 509mg22%
Potassium 213mg6%
Carbohydrates 38g13%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 1223IU24%
Vitamin C 0.1mg0%
Calcium 36mg4%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Recipe Rating

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