How to Prevent Fish from Sticking to a Pan

Everybody likes fish fry or crispy fish fry. When we have a weekend party or summer party, fish fry is one of the most popular dishes for everybody. We have to know how to prevent fish from sticking to a pan. The problem is that when we fry fish in a frying pan, we always feel stressed about whether we can flip it properly. Turning the fish to the opposite side is a challenging task for me. Not only me, but we all have this experience, which is an awful feeling when we try to turn fish in the pan and it won’t turn. That means we must know how to avoid fish sticking to the pan. Hopefully, this lesson will give us the tools we need to cook a piece of fish perfectly without sticking to the pan, or we will know how to prevent fish from sticking to a pan.

How to cook fish properly

Bring the fish to room temperature about an hour before cooking. Adding a cold protein to a hot pan causes the temperature of the pan to decrease and results in uneven cooking. Prepare the fish by patting it dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. This can decrease the temperature of our pan and cause our fish to steam rather than sear.

fish frying

How to Prevent Fish from Sticking to a Pan

There are many ways to prevent fish from sticking to a pan. Now we discuss how to avoid fish sticking to a pan and let us know a few tips as well.

Protein sticks

Since proteins stick when they slowly unravel, we have to ensure they cook quickly. This means the heat must be high enough to start setting protein immediately when we prepare a fish fillet to fry. then we need a seasoned pan and sheer it in a very hot skillet. We want to use fats such as avocado oil, canola oil, and vegetable oil. Sauteeing requires a small amount of fat, just enough to lightly coat the pan with the oil.

There are a few tips for ensuring a lovely seared piece of fish:

  1. Medium/high heat
  2. Hot pan
  3. Dry fish
  4. Time


Temperature is important for perfectly frying fish without sticking to a pan. When we add fish to the pan, the pan will drop some heat. That’s why we dry fish with a paper towel before we prepare the fish and take it to room temperature.

We always know this tip: a drop of water on a hot pan is immediately boiled violently and evaporates after a few seconds. That means our well-season cast iron skillet or heavy-bottomed pan is perfectly preheated with medium-high heat. Now the pan is hot enough to cook, sauté, or fry.

perfect fish fry

Dry fish

If our recipe says dry fish, then we must dry it with a paper towel before we marinate, and we don’t mix water in marination. We just add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Here we are discussing pan-frying or sautering, not shallow-frying.

Seasoning fish

Season the fish thoroughly on both sides with kosher salt and black pepper, which helps prevent it from sticking. The salt acts as a barrier between the fish and the fat and also helps to firm up the protein. This is one of the ways to know how to prevent fish from sticking to a fish frying pan.

Crispy Skin

fry fish

To get crispy skin for a fish fry, we have to have a well-seasoned fillet and hot pan and only flip the fish once. Repeatedly turning it over in the pan can damage the fish and prevent the skin from getting crispy. We know that when the fish is ready to flip, it will naturally release from the pan with minimal sticking. We can flip our fish easily with a thin, slotted, flexible spatula. Once we can easily lift a corner of the fish without sticking, we can flip and finish cooking on the stovetop or oven. If it doesn’t flip easily, then give it another 30 seconds and try again; please don’t force it.

Overcooked fish

overcooked fish

Once the fish is released, turn the fish and let it cook until it is firm. But not flaky; if we let it flake in the pan, we will overcook our fish due to carry-over cooking. Some people will dust a piece of fish with seasoned flour to help keep it from sticking since the flour on the fish mixes with the oil on the pan to form a roux. However, we can follow our basic rules: hot pan, hot oil, dry fish—all of which help keep fish from sticking in the pan. We don’t need to add flour, but sometimes it makes fish fry delicious, more crispy, and juicy.


We all have our own ways of cooking; however, these tips and techniques may help us all cook fish without sticking to the pan. Heating our pan properly is the key factor for keeping our fish from sticking and will give us a flavorful crust. We do understand that fish is very high in protein and relatively low in fat. This can make for a very healthy meal. So we should fry fish perfectly without it sticking in a pan or messing it up by following these few methods that we discussed above.

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