Homemade Pan-fried Perch

Pan-fried perch are the darling of the Wisconsin fish fry.  Did you know they are easy to prepare at home with some simple instructions?  Pan-fried perch are perfect for fish fries, lent or anytime!I love eating out.  But it’s not always the right move.

Like when the CSA veggies are piling up.  Or I am having a bad weight week.  And if I’ve had a couple bad restaurant meals in a row, well…  

Pan-fried perch are the darling of the Wisconsin fish fry.  And they are easy to prepare at home with some simple instructions.

Pan-fried Perch Closeup

Recently, my husband and I tried  out a new restaurant–and got a terrible fish fry. This made me wonder…  How hard would it be to make pan-fried perch at home?

Perch are the darlings of the Wisconsin fish fry.  Small, tender and flavorful, they go for a premium price—and are well worth it!  The only trick is not to overwhelm their delicate flavor with thick breading or heavy oil.  

Pan-fried perch are the darling of the Wisconsin fish fry.  And they are easy to prepare at home with some simple instructions.


The Pan-fried Perch Experiment

To investigate this question, I bought a pound of perch–then decided to go the “America’s Test Kitchen” route.  I tried four different oils for frying: butter, sustainable palm oil, coconut oil, and olive oil.  

flour the perch

Egg and flour breading

For the breading, I tried: flour alone; flour, egg, flour; flour, egg, breadcrumbs; and egg, flour.

We fried one fillet at a time, in all the different combinations.  And it was fun almost burning our fingers and tongues as the latest came out of the pan!  

The Results

In the end, the breading we liked best was egg followed by flour.  This produced a light coating that added flavor without smothering the fish.  For the frying oil, palm and coconut oil were clearly the losers–and we were surprised when olive oil edged out butter.  Sautéing in healthy olive oil–another reason to eat at home!  

frying perch


I served it with coleslaw (to kill a couple CSA veggies) and rye bread for a lighter presentation.  And of course a nice beer–those saved calories have to go somewhere…

a bite of fried perch

A bite of perch

Now you may be wondering if this recipe can be used for other types of fish.  I hadn’t considered it, but before I knew it, my daughter was using it to make pan fried cod.  Now cod is a much different fish, thicker and meatier, but still delicious lightly floured.  And before you knew it we had done fried rockfish and pollack.  Yum. And yum!

Pan-fried Perch

Pan-fried perch are the darling of the Great Lakes fish fry.  Did you know they are easy to prepare at home with some simple instructions.
Author: Inger
4.67 from 12 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 383 kcal


  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 T milk or water
  • 1 1/2 lbs lake perch fillets
  • olive oil for frying


  • Combine flour, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl and mix well.
  • In a second bowl, beat eggs with milk or water.
  • Dip perch fillets in the egg mixture, then the flour. Set aside while you do the remaining fish.
  • Heat oil until hot but not smoking. Fry fish fillets a couple minutes per side or until golden and cooked through.


Calories: 383kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 49gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 289mgSodium: 441mgFiber: 1g
I am not a health professional and nutrition data is calculated programatically. Accuracy may vary with product selection, calculator accuracy, etc. Consult a professional for the best information.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

20 thoughts on “Homemade Pan-fried Perch

  1. Juliet

    5 stars
    I have been making Lake Perch in Northern Michigan for years, and I have tried it with panko, drakes and beer batter, crushed crackers, all kinds of spices, you name it. The last time we were up there I tried this recipe. So simple. But I was tired and I didn’t want to do all the stuff I usually do. And guess what? Everyone said “this is the best perch you have ever made.” Look no further. The beauty of perch is the delicate flavor, and I spent years killing that. Plus the olive oil was a great suggestion (not EVOO, Olive Oil it has a higher smoke point). Thank you!

    1. Inger Post author

      I am so happy to hear this Juliet! And I agree about the flavor of the perch coming through. Isn’t it wonderful when the easy option turns out best!

  2. Cheryl

    5 stars
    I tried this recipe for dinner today. My husband and I loved the perch. I followed your recipe and we are so impressed. I will use this recipe going forward. Thank you for recipe.

  3. Kathleen

    Thanks for doing all the testing for me, I was dubious about using Olive oil but they turned out so light, crispy and just plain ol’ delicious! I might have served ours with some crispy “chips” to round out the meal!

    1. Inger Post author

      The testing was fun Kathleen! And chips are wonderful–we even dip in tartar sauce when we have fish!

  4. Dave Wenzel

    In upper Michigan we have perch in many lakes. I use Drakes as the flour and mix a little beer in with the egg and then roll the fillet in crushed Ritz crackers. I’ve tried many different ways but always come back to this which works great for walleye and gills also. I usually use melted canned Crisco for the oil.

    1. Inger Post author

      I usually really like a hard oil (my first choice is home-rendered lard) for frying. Yes, using my lard or leftovers from bacon or broth totally fixed any problems with fried potatoes not crisping, which is why I was so surprised at my trial here. I don’t think there’s an upper-Midwesterner who doesn’t love a Perch fry–surely one of the great bennies of living here! (Though we had fried lawyers last night!)

  5. Rich

    Tonight I tried 50/50 of flour and cornstarch on Lake Erie Yellow Perch. The taste was great but I had to over cook them to get browning, I did not use any egg. Used peanut oil at about 350. Suggestions appreciated.

    1. Inger Post author

      How sad to have to overcook some lovely perch :(. Cornstarch is supposed to help things crisp so I don’t think that is the problem. I am thinking you may not have had enough flour mixture stick to be good for the browning–I had some of that problem when I tested a coating of just flour. So first I would suggest dipping in egg first, then flour, like my recipe. If you can’t do the cholesterol, just use the whites since it is more for adhering the flour than flavor. It’s possible, though I think less likely that you oil temperature dropped too much, in which case you might try frying in smaller batches. Good luck!

  6. Carole Baker

    I like to pan-fry using only salt and cornstarch. It makes for a very light healthy coating and does not cover up the fish flavor at all.

    1. Inger Post author

      I’ve heard cornstarch is very good for frying–will have to try that. Thanks Carole!

  7. David

    We used to get perch in our lake in Vermont. My poor mother had to gut and clean them! But they were so tasty! I love your experimentation with the frying, too!

    1. Inger Post author

      The things our mother’s did! I remember my mother filleting smelt which are even smaller (and everyone else eats the bones). I am sure I’d lose half the fish, so glad someone did it for me!

  8. cheri

    What a fun “test” to do at home, I love eating out as well but anymore it depends where and how they prepare the food. Perch sounds wonderful, love how you prepared it.

    1. Inger Post author

      I think think this would be good with any delicate fish you were worried about overwhelming. And yes, it was fun! Thanks!

  9. Jean Wilde

    Love that you tried all the different breading methods. I usually use flour, milk, breadcrumbs, but I’m going to try this method next!

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