These homemade Air Fryer Fish Sticks are a classic made healthier in the air fryer! Sliced mahi-mahi or cod are breaded in flour, seasonings, and breadcrumbs, then air fried until golden and crispy in 30 minutes.
If using frozen fresh, thaw before using. Pat dry the fish with kitchen towels. Cut fish into 3-4 inch long pieces, about 1-inch thick. Season fish pieces with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper, and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. This extracts the moisture ensuring a crispier fish, and also seasons it.
In a shallow bowl, mix flour with salt, black pepper, garlic, dried basil, paprika and cayenne (if using). Spread the seasoned breadcrumbs into another shallow bowl. If using plain breadcrumbs or panko, season them with ½ teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. In a 3rd shallow bowl, beat the two eggs. Note: Arrange the bowls in the following order for a convenient process: Fish sticks, flour, egg and breadcrumbs.
Remove the fish from the fridge and pat dry once again to wipe away the released moisture. Dredge the fish sticks in seasoned flour, shaking off any excess.
Dip the fish sticks in beaten eggs.
Now dip them in seasoned breadcrumbs and toss to coat them well.
Spread the fish sticks in the fryer basket in a single layer, leaving ½-inch space between them. Spray them with cooking spray and cook in the air fryer at 400°F for 10 minutes.
Flip the fish sticks, lightly spray again and cook for another 3-5 minutes until they are light golden and crisp.
Remove them in a serving platter. Lightly squeeze lemon juice over them. Enjoy them right away with some sriracha mayo or lemon caper sauce.
Breadcrumbs: you can use already seasoned breadcrumbs or season plain breadcrumbs yourself with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper.
Let it rest. After you dry, slice, and season the fish, let it sit in the fridge for 20-30 minutes. Not only do the seasonings add flavor, but the salt extracts moisture so the fish sticks can get nice and crispy.
Pat dry. You'll pat dry the fish pieces before you refrigerate them and also after you refrigerate them. The less moisture, the crispier the fish sticks will be.
Spray them. Use a non-aerosolized cooking spray to coat the outside of the fish sticks. This also helps them achieve that golden-brown color and crispy texture.
Leave space. Make sure the fish sticks aren't touching in the air fryer so the air can circulate.
The nutrition facts below are my estimates. If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.