Wisconsin-Style Beer-Battered Fish

March 12, 2021 Updated: March 12, 2021

Slipping your fish some beer might seem like overdoing it, but the beer in the batter releases a bit of carbonation when it hits the fryer, giving a lifting lightness to what will be a crunchy coating.

  • 1 pound perch fillets (or cod, haddock, or walleye), patted dry
  • 1 egg, beaten lightly
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 3/4 cups flour, divided
  • 12 ounces beer (pilsner, amber, or light ale)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or go full Sconnie and use Lawry’s seasoned salt)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

Add oil to a deep cast-iron kettle, such as a Dutch oven—at least 3 inches deep but never more than half full—and heat it to 375 degrees F.

For the batter, whisk together the egg, baking powder, and 1 cup of flour. Then add the beer gradually, adjusting the beer amount so that the batter is just thick enough to stick to the back of a spoon in a thin layer. Whisk until it’s smooth. If the batter is too thick, you will end up with soggy breading.

Mix the remaining flour with seasoned salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika, and spread out on a plate large enough to accommodate a piece of fish.

Dry off each piece of fish using a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.

Set up the assembly line: the fish pieces, the plate of flour, and then the bowl of batter, all leading to your pot of hot oil. Coat the fish first with the flour and then the batter, allowing for excess batter to drip off. Then lower the fish gently into the oil so you don’t splash yourself. Fry for 3 to 4 minutes watching for a golden crust, then remove with tongs and place on a paper towel to drain excess oil. Thicker pieces of cod or haddock may require a couple extra minutes in the oil. Work in batches, without overcrowding, so that the pieces don’t stick to each other or to the bottom of the pot.

Serve with French fries or potato pancakes, coleslaw, a slice of light rye bread, tartar sauce, and a lemon wedge. Pairs nicely with a brandy Old Fashioned or a German pilsner.