Parmesan Fish Nuggets — Lightly crisped on the outside and tender on the inside, these EASY fish nuggets are picky-eater approved and they’re baked not fried! Made with a combination of Parmesan cheese, panko breadcrumbs, plus there’s homemade tartar sauce for dipping!
Crispy Baked Fish Nuggets Recipe
I have childhood memories of eating fish practically every Friday during Lent. Sometimes we’d go to a fish fry and other times my mom would make fish at home.
Tilapia was always a popular option and that’s what fish I used in these Parmesan fish nuggets.
Nugget-sized pieces of tilapia are breaded with a mixture of Parmesan cheese and panko breadcrumbs before baking them.
The fish nuggets get perfectly crisp in the oven even without frying them yet retain a moist interior.
I always have to have a dipping sauce if I am eating nuggets. I made a quick whisk-together homemade tartar sauce which comes together in seconds. You can buy your tartar sauce of course, or simply omit it too.
Even picky eaters will partake in these fast and easy fish nuggets that bake up in just about 10 minutes making them a great weeknight dinner option.
Ingredients in Fish Nuggets
For these kid-approved crispy baked tilapia nuggets, you’ll need the following common and easy to find ingredients including:
- All-purpose flour
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Dried parsley
- Tilapia filets
To make the dipping sauce for the fish nuggets, you’ll just need these five ingredients:
- Sour cream
- Pickle relish
- Dijon mustard
How to Make Fish Nuggets
To make Parmesan fish nuggets, follow these easy and straightforward steps:
- In small bowl, combine together the flour, salt, and pepper.
- In a separate bowl, add and lightly beat together the eggs.
- In another medium bowl, stir together the Parmesan, panko, and parsley.
- Cut the tilapia into nuggets or strips.
- Dredge each piece of fish through the flour, then the egg, then the Parmesan-panko mixture. Repeat with all the fish.
- Bake for about 10 minutes.
Tip: While your fish nuggets are baking, whip up the tartar sauce so it’s ready to go.
How to Make a Dipping Sauce for Fish Nuggets
Having the perfect sauce to dip any kind of nuggets in is essential. For me, there’s nothing better than tartar sauce when it comes to crispy fish like this.
Making tartar sauce at home is a snap!
Simply whisk together mayo, sour cream, ketchup, pick relish, and Dijon mustard.
What Type of Fish Is Best for Fish Nuggets?
For these crispy baked fish nuggets, I used tilapia. It’s a very neutral, mild-tasting fish that’s also easy to find and budget-friendly. You can also use bass or grouper since they’re also quite mild.
Theoretically you can use a bolder fish such as salmon, but if your goal is to serve these to kids or anyone who doesn’t love fish the milder the better in my opinion.
This is such a quick, simple, and flavorful tilapia fillet recipe!
Can I Make Fish Sticks Rather than Fish Nuggets?
Yes, you can make Parmesan fish sticks rather than nuggets by simply cutting the fish into strips rather than nuggets or wedge shapes.
Should I Bake or Fry Parmesan Fish Nuggets?
I bake my Parmesan fish nuggets in the oven. Thankfully due to the panko breadcrumbs along with the Parmesan cheese, the fish nuggets crisp up very nicely in the oven.
You can fry the nuggets on the stove, too. However for me personally, the smell of fried food, and especially fried fish, just lingers for days in my house and I avoid frying at all costs!
Can I Make Air Fryer Fish Nuggets?
If you have an air fryer, this would be a great time to use it!
Spray the breaded nuggets with cooking spray, fry for 8 minutes, flip, spray again, and fry for an additional 4 minutes. Check out my Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets for a frame of reference.
Serving and Storage Suggestions
Fish nuggets or fish sticks are the type of food they are definitely best eaten hot and fresh right out of the oven.
However, extra baked fish nuggets will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 4 days, noting they will not retain their crispiness as time passes.
Extra dipping sauce will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Tips for the Best Baked Fish Nuggets
In order to have the best-tasting fish nuggets, I have a few tips.
Breadcrumbs: You need to use panko or Japanese-style bread crumbs. Do not use regular or traditional bread crumbs as they won’t crisp up.
Parmesan: This isn’t the time to get el cheapo with the cheese. Use real, finely shredded Parmesan cheese and nothing from a green can.
Fish nuggets vs fish sticks: As I mentioned previously, you can make fish sticks rather than fish nuggets by slicing the fish into strips rather than nugget shapes.
Dipping sauce ingredients: I know some people get a freaky about mayonnaise but you do need to use it if you want your tartar sauce to taste like tartar sauce. The same goes for the sour cream.
I haven’t tried to substitute for either the mayo or sour cream in the recipe with lite products of vegan alternatives so I can’t speak to the final result.
Tilapia bones: Inherent with fish means there are bones. Always use a bit of caution when eating fish for that reason. As you’re battering and breading the nuggets, you’ll be handling it in your hands a fair amount and can feel for them as well as visually inspect for bones.
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- 1/3 cup all -purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup grated parmesan
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
- 1.25 to 1.50 pounds tilapia filets (about 4 large filets)
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons dill pickle relish
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Preheat oven to 400F, optionally line a baking sheet with foil, and the spray the foil or the baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray; set aside.
- To a medium bowl, add the flour, salt, pepper, and stir to combine; set aside.
- To a separate small bowl, add the eggs and lightly beat; set aside.
- To a separate medium bowl, add the Parmesan, panko breadcrumbs, parsley, and stir to combine; set aside.
- Cut the fish into bite-sized nugget shapes or strips/sticks.
- Dredge each piece through the flour, then the egg, and then the panko mixture.
- Place breaded and battered fish on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until done* (See Notes). While fish bakes, make the tartar sauce.
- To a medium bowl, add all the ingredients, and whisk to combine; set aside until ready to use.
- Serve fish nuggets immediately with tartar sauce, as desired.
Air fryer instructions: Spray the breaded nuggets with cooking spray, fry for 8 minutes, flip, spray again, and fry for an additional 4 minutes. (Check out my Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets for a frame of reference.)
Storage: Nuggets are best warm and fresh but will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 4 days noting that the nuggets will not stay crispy. Tartar sauce will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 706Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 230mgSodium: 1400mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 60g
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