10 Best Fish For Pan-Frying (Saltwater & Freshwater) | Salmon, Tilapia…

Pan-frying is one of the best ways to cook fish, but it can be difficult to decide which type of fish you should pick when cooking. With so many types of fish available in the market, it may seem impossible to pick just one.

However, there are some key factors that will help determine your choice for pan-fried fish: the thickness of the meat, fat content (or oil absorbed), and their flavor profile. But these are just general guidelines, so try experimenting with these ten different species and see which works best.

There are two basic types of fish: white and red. Some chefs say that you should first determine the cooking method before choosing a fish, but most people pan-fry all fish.

On average, the best types of fish for pan-frying are saltwater fishes. Saltwater fishes are great for frying because they have fewer bones than freshwater fish and they can be cooked just as quickly.

Some of the most popular saltwater varieties are Shrimp, Halibut, and Alaskan Cod. On the contrary, the best freshwater fish to pan fry are Tilapia and Salmon.

What Is The Difference Between Saltwater Fish & Freshwater Fish?

The difference between saltwater and freshwater fish is mostly due to where they live. Saltwater fishes live in oceans while freshwater fish live in lakes, rivers, or streams. The habitats of saltwater fishes are much more diverse than that of freshwater fishes because saltwater fishes have the ability to travel between many different habitats which include open seas, shallow reefs, and deep waters.

In terms of aquaculture, saltwater fish like shrimp, halibut, and trout are raised in saltwater pools for people to consume as food.

10 Best Types Of Fish For Pan-Frying

The best types of fish for pan-frying are those that are firm, meaty, and dense. These are generally the white meat fishes. The following types of fish would be great to fry up in a pan:

Saltwater Fish

Alaskan Cod

The Alaskan codfish is a great option for pan-frying because it’s flaky, light, and not overly heavy. It is also a healthier option since it has lower fat levels and less cholesterol. You can choose between Alaskan codfish that’s frozen, fresh, or even canned. If you fry the cod in olive oil, you will create a nice golden crust and taste delicious!


Halibut is a lean and flaky white fish with a mild taste that pairs well with sauces. It’s a versatile fish that can be prepared in many different ways and doesn’t shrink up when fried. Plus, it has a firm texture which results in less crumbling and more pieces of even size. The high-fat content means that it fries nicely and creates crispy edges on the outside while staying moist on the inside.

Striped Bass

The Striped Bass fish are very popular in the northeast Atlantic region. Once you fan fry them, they will turn out light and flaky, with a crispy skin that will be perfect on the outside and tender on the inside. It’s also easy to cook, so if you’re looking for something quick and delicious, the striped bass is perfect for pan-frying.

Spotted Sea Trout

The meat on these small, white fish is firm and holds up well to cooking methods like pan-frying that require high heat. This type of fish can be found in the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Pacific Ocean. It’s best served with a dipping sauce like tartar or other cocktail sauces.


Perch is a member of the cod family, which means that it has a delicious meaty flavor that can be enhanced by a simple breading or batter. And because it is flaky and tender, cooking it any way you want will yield a tasty result. There are plenty of ways to cook this fish. The best way to do it is to fry it with lemon and butter or baked in foil with tomatoes and herbs.

Prawns [Shrimp]

Shrimp is a great option for pan frying because it cooks quickly, doesn’t dry out, and can be seasoned in tons of different ways. Pan-frying shrimp is also a great option if you’re looking to create a dish that’s low carb, healthy and flavorful all at the same time!

Freshwater Fish


One of the most popular types of fish in American households is tilapia. It has a mild flavor, a flaky and moist texture, and it’s quite inexpensive. The most common preparation for tilapia is pan-frying because this will allow you to get that nice golden crust.


Pomfret is a type of fish that’s typically used in Asian cuisine. It can be a great dish to prepare if you’re looking to make something that has a bit of an Asian flair. Pomfret fish are typically pretty low in calories but have high protein content. They are very delicate and have a mild flavor. The flavor is hardly noticeable when pan-frying, but because pomfret is so delicate it makes a great option for this cooking method.


Catfish is the perfect option for pan-frying. This type of fish is easy to find and has a meaty, flaky consistency that will hold up well during cooking. A catfish can be pan-fried easily by adding some oil, salt, and pepper and will cook in just a few minutes.


This one is a very light, non-oily fish with a mild flavor. It can be pan-fried in a variety of ways for an easy and delicious meal. Salmon is very healthy, plus it’s lean and low in calories. It is known for having high amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids that are good for your heart, brain, and skin.

Why Pan-Frying Your Fish Is A Good Option?

Pan-frying is one of the easiest ways to cook because you don’t have to tend to the food while it’s cooking. You just put it in and let it go.

And while that may sound like a dream, there are some pitfalls that come with pan-frying. These include overcrowding the pan or using too much batter or breading so that pieces touch each other as they fry; this inhibits browning by preventing fat from getting in between them.

Adding fat helps keep foods moist and makes browning easier because fats have an unusually high surface area per unit of mass; this means they dissolve oxygen easily which helps create molecular reactions leading to browning.

Fats also spread over foods to prevent moisture loss and absorb heat more slowly than oils do. To maintain a good frying temperature, it is best to use an oil with a high smoke point such as peanut, safflower, canola, coconut, olive, or sunflower oil.

Best Oils For Pan-Frying Fish

Oils are a key part of pan-frying, and if you choose the wrong type of oil there is a chance that your fish will overcook or burn.

Peanut oil, safflower oil, canola oil, olive oil, coconut oil, and sunflower oil are all good choices for pan-frying the fish. The reason being that these oils all have a high smoke point. Which means they won’t burn easily while you’re frying.

If you’re looking for an in-depth article on why we chose those 6 oils over other types of click, please click here to find out – 5 Best Oils For Frying Fish

How To Pan-Fry Your Fish Correctly?

To pan-fry your fish, start by heating a skillet on high heat with a little bit of oil. Next, dredge the fish in flour or cornstarch (or both) and lay it out gently into the heated frying pan. Cook your fish on one side for about 3 minutes or until it’s golden brown. Flip the fillet over and cook it on the other side for another 3 minutes or until it’s also nicely browned.

Final Thoughts

Fish is a healthy, light protein and it can be cooked in many different ways. Pan-frying is the best and the easiest way to cook your fish.

If your goal is overall health and wellness, then you are better off grilling or smoking your fish.

Grilled and smoked fish are the healthiest because you don’t have to use oil, and the smoke from the burning wood helps add flavor to it. If you’re interested in knowing the best woods to grill or smoke fish, here’s the article where we talk in-depth about that – Top 7 Wood Chips For Smoking Fish

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