This article was updated on 18th September 2023 for clarity and to incorporate new insights.
If you’re a fan of seafood, then you’ll know how difficult it is to reheat fried fish without losing the crispy batter and its moist, soft flesh. So I decided to test out five different reheating methods and find the best solution.
The best way to reheat fried fish is in the oven. Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Place a wire rack over a baking sheet (to catch crumbs or any liquid drips), then place the fried fish on top. Reheat the fried fish in the oven for approximately 10 minutes or until it’s piping hot.
How I tested reheating fried fish
I judged the results of each method based on the texture and flavor of the batter (the crispier, the better) and the flesh (it should be succulent, not rubbery).
The methods I tested out included:
- In the oven/toaster oven: Consistently good results.
- In a skillet: Quicker than the oven.
- In the microwave: Really not recommended.
- In an air fryer: Perfectly crisp batter.
- By re-frying: A bit greasy.
Related: How To Reheat Fried Calamari
Reheating fried fish in the oven/toaster oven
Time: 10 minutes
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Put a wire rack on top of a baking sheet and place the fish on the wire rack. If you don’t have a wire rack, place the fish directly on a preheated baking sheet.
- Heat the fried fish in the oven for approximately 10 minutes, flipping the fish after 5 minutes if it’s on a baking sheet.
- Optional: If the fish is heated all the way through but isn’t crispy enough, turn the broiler on for 1-2 minutes to give it a more crunchy texture.
A wire rack works best because it lets the hot air circulate the fish, crisping it evenly all the way around. A baking sheet is okay, but make sure to preheat it along with the oven so it’s not cold when you put the fish on it.
Pro tip: If you have chips, you can reheat these in the oven at the same time as your fish (or use one of these chip reheating tips).
Results: The oven is great when you need to heat several pieces of fish at once. It gave my fish a nice crisp (although the air fryer is better) and produced consistent results. The only downside is it’s a bit slow, although less so if you’re using a toaster oven.
Reheating fried fish in a skillet
Time: 4-6 minutes
- Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. There’s no need to add extra oil, but you can add a light coating if you want (not too much or the fish will be greasy).
- When the pan’s hot, add the fried fish.
- Press the fillets down while frying for 2-3 minutes.
- Flip the fish over and fry for a further 2-3 minutes.
- When the fish is hot, remove it from the pan and allow it to drain on a paper towel for 60 seconds if it seems greasy.
Only batter that’s touching the pan will crisp up, so press down firmly on the fish with your spatula to maximize contact points. The residual oil in the batter will be enough to prevent sticking, but if you baked the fish you might want to add a small amount.
Note that the timings above are only a guide. The exact time it takes to heat your fish will depend on the thickness of the fillets and the density of the batter.
Results: This method worked well. It crisped the batter, and the fish inside was still moist. However, it’s a bit messy and you have a pan to wash up afterwards so I preferred the oven!
Reheating fried fish in an air fryer
Time: 4-5 minutes
- Preheat the air fryer to 350°F (180°C).
- Place your pieces of fried fish in one layer inside the basket. You can spray them with a light coating of oil for extra crispiness, but this isn’t necessary.
- Heat the fish for 4-5 minutes or until they’re hot.
Avoid stacking the fish or letting the pieces overlap or touch. There needs to be plenty of space for the hot air to circulate as this is what crisps the batter.
And don’t forget about them! Air fryers are very harsh, and just a minute too long will burn the fish.
Results: The air fryer was made for reheating fried food, so it was no surprise the results were fantastic. The batter crisped up perfectly and was delightfully crunchy and it was fast enough that the fish didn’t have time to dry out.
Reheating fried fish in the microwave
Time: 2 minutes
- Place the fish on a microwave-safe dish lined with a paper towel.
- Heat the fish in 30-second bursts for up to 2 minutes.
- Allow the fish to rest for another 30 seconds before serving.
Heating in short bursts means you’re less likely to overcook the fish. Fish can turn very rubbery in the microwave if you’re not careful (but that’s not the biggest issue here).
Results: I don’t recommend using the microwave to reheat your fried fish. The batter ends up far too soggy and there’s no way around this. It was really unappetizing.
Reheating fried fish by re-frying
Time: 1-2 minutes
- Heat some oil to 350°F (180°C) in a pot.
- Check the oil temperature with a cooking thermometer for accurate measurement.
- Once the oil has reached the required temperature, drop the fish in for 1-2 minutes.
- Roll the fish over in the pot to ensure it is evenly heated.
- Once hot, remove the fish from the oil and drain it on a paper towel.
The oil’s temperature must be accurate when you’re frying fish. The batter will soak up the oil if it’s too cold. And if you allow the oil to get too hot, the batter will burn before the fish has had a chance to heat up.
Results: Re-frying the fish is a good way to get the batter nice and crisp. However, even after leaving the fish to drain on the paper towel, it was still much greasier than any of the other methods I tried. This method is also a lot of hassle and not very healthy.
How to store fried fish
To store fried fish, blot any excess grease off the batter and wait for the fish to reach room temperature. Once cool, pack the fried fish in an airtight container lined with a paper towel. The fish will last for up to 3 days in the fridge.
Always make sure the fried fish is cool before you seal your container. If you put warm fish into an airtight container, it will create condensation, which will leave you with soggy batter.
The paper towel also works to avoid soggy batter by soaking up any moisture that does make its way into the container. If you’re storing multiple layers of fish, separate the layers with extra paper towels or use parchment paper.
Can you freeze fried fish?
Fried fish freezes well for up to 6 months. However, it may not be possible to get the freshly fried texture back. While the flavor will still be there, the batter will never be as crispy as when you first cooked it.
How to freeze fried fish:
- Cool the fried fish to room temperature and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Spread the fish out on the tray and place it in the freezer for around an hour, or until the fish is solid.
- Transfer the fried fish to a freezer bag and remove as much air as possible*.
- Label and date the freezer bags and place them in your freezer.
If your frozen fish fillets are too big to fit in a freezer bag, you can simply wrap them in a layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of foil and freeze them like that.
Flash-freezing the fish before storing it in the freezer bag ensures the pieces don’t stick together, so you can reheat one piece at a time if you wish.
*The best way to remove air from a freezer bag (excluding vacuum sealing) is to dunk it in a bowl of water. The pressure from the water will force the air out. You can also use a straw to suck the air out.
How to reheat frozen fried fish
Don’t thaw your frozen fried fish before reheating it because this can make it overly soggy. Instead, reheat it straight from frozen in the oven or air fryer. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C), then place the frozen fried fish on a wire rack and heat for 15-25 minutes.
Read Next: What To Serve With Fried Fish
How To Reheat Fried Fish [Tested Methods]
- 1 portion fried fish
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Put a wire rack on top of a baking sheet and place the fish on the wire rack. If you don’t have a wire rack, place the fish directly on the baking sheet and turn it over after 5 minutes.
- Heat the fried fish in the oven for approximately 10 minutes.