Parmesan-Garlic Tilapia Sticks

I’ve never been a fan of traditional fish sticks — you know, the ones you pull out of the freezer and throw in the oven? Even as a kid I ate them reluctantly, and slathered in ketchup.

I wanted to make fish one night and tried to think of a way to prepare it so my picky 3-year-old would eat it. (My younger one has no problem with fish, or any kind of meat for that matter.) Sophie tends to like things in stick-form, so fish sticks were the answer.

I had to make sure they had a lot of flavor because tilapia, if not properly seasoned, can be very bland. On the up side, it absorbs whatever flavors you put on it and it’s a versatile, clean slate to work with. I minced up a bunch of fresh garlic and added it to a beaten egg and a splash of buttermilk. Then I grated some fresh Parmesan cheese and added it to some flaky panko bread crumbs. After breading the sticks and baking them in the oven for a few minutes, we dipped them in warm marinara sauce.

There wasn’t a single stick left. I’ve made these multiple times and get the same result — happily eating children with no table-side negotiating. I love those nights!

P.S. Mom & Dad liked them, too. :)


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Parmesan-Garlic Tilapia Sticks


1 lb tilapia or any other firm, white fish such as cod
1 egg
1/4 cup buttermilk
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
A couple big pinches of salt and pepper
Marinara sauce for dipping


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Cut fish into 1/2-inch strips and sprinkle a little salt on both sides.

In a small shallow bowl whisk together the egg, buttermilk and pressed garlic. In another shallow bowl combine the bread crumbs, cheese, and a big pinch of salt and pepper.

Dip the fish sticks into the wet mixture, letting excess liquid drip off, then coat in bread crumb mixture. Lay on a baking sheet and repeat with remaining fish sticks. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. If you want them golden brown, broil them for the last minute of baking time.

Serve with warm marinara sauce.

Makes 3-4 servings.

from Perry's Plate

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15 Responses to “Parmesan-Garlic Tilapia Sticks”

  1. #
    Jodi — October 6, 2010 @ 2:33 pm

    These look awesome! My kids eat any kind of fish and have never even had those gross box-kind of fish sticks. I'm going to try this tonight!


  2. #
    Lisa — October 6, 2010 @ 3:59 pm

    Love the coating on those fish sticks. These definitely look more appetizing than those frozen fish sticks at the store.


  3. #
    Joanne — October 7, 2010 @ 1:05 am

    Kid-tested, mother approved! you should market these babies. I think they'd do really well! :P


  4. #
    Lauren — October 7, 2010 @ 3:43 am

    I love all your healthy recipes on here! And congratulations to your husband for finishing up school! Scary but exciting time.


  5. #
    danasfoodforthought — October 7, 2010 @ 1:07 pm

    I'm really not a big fan of fish, although I wish I was, because it is so good for you! I bet these would make great chicken fingers as well. Thanks for sharing!


  6. #
    Bonnie — October 24, 2010 @ 11:02 pm

    I stumbled upon your blog and this recipe and decided to give it a try! I don't have kids, but my husband and I loved them! You're right- lots of flavor but light and delicious. Thanks for sharing!


  7. #
    Hello, My Name Is Prom! — October 26, 2010 @ 10:31 pm

    Will these hold up as leftovers? If so, do you have any tips? Thanks!

    I'm a college student, and I love when a meal can also be my lunch for the next three days. I've already bought the ingredients for these, though, so I'm making them no matter what. :)


  8. #
    Natalie @ Perrys' Plate — October 26, 2010 @ 10:43 pm

    Prom – They sure do! Although I'd strongly recommend reheating them in the oven or in a toaster oven. Microwaving them will make them mushy and probably make the fish rubbery. Good luck!


  9. #
    Kristi — December 15, 2010 @ 9:38 pm

    Hi Natalie! I made these for my husband and children on a night when I was going to be gone (Bunko baby!)they all raved and raved about how awesome they were once I got home, unfortunately I will never know since they were all long gone by the time I got home : )

    Any other great recipes to use the rest of my panko?



  10. #
    Natalie @ Perrys' Plate — December 18, 2010 @ 4:03 pm

    Kristi –

    I'm glad your family enjoyed them! Hopefully you'll be able to snag a few next time. :)

    You can use panko bread crumbs just like regular bread crumbs in breading and in things like meatballs. These three recipes come to mind, though…


  11. #
    Erin — April 10, 2012 @ 4:57 pm

    Making your mini skillet meatloaves tonight and I would like to make these later in the week. Have you ever tried to freeze these after they are baked? I would love to be able to make a big batch ahead of time and then pull them out and stick in the oven for a quick dinner. Any thoughts?


    • Natalie replied: — April 11th, 2012 @ 8:28 am

      Hi Erin! I’ve never frozen those fish sticks before. If it were me, I think I’d do a little experiment and freeze half after you cook them and the other half before you cook them to see which I like better. I’m not a fan of warmed-up fish as it tends to be rubbery, but the coating might stick better if they’re cooked beforehand. So… I don’t really know! :) If you do try it, I’d love to hear how it turns out!

  12. #
    Erin @ Texanerin Baking — May 8, 2012 @ 12:21 pm

    Oh yummy! I want to try these with wild salmon. The fresh wild salmon I can get here is ridiculously expensive. So I have to buy the frozen stuff, and no matter where I go, the type of fish is chum salmon. I’ve done some reading up on it and it’s also called dog salmon, because it’s what is (or was) fed to sled dogs in Alaska. Then I read some more about how some people wouldn’t even bother feeding it to their dogs because it’s so bad. But that’s all that we have available here in Germany so it’s what I have to eat. The texture is terrible and the taste is not very pleasant and spices alone can’t help it. I’ll let you know how this works out with “dog salmon!”


  13. #
    Erin @ Texanerin Baking — May 12, 2012 @ 1:48 pm

    We enjoyed these a lot. They made that salmon with the disgusting texture edible! They were also super quick and easy. Thanks for sharing this recipe! I’ll definitely use it again in the future. :)


  14. #
    Glenda — April 25, 2013 @ 8:11 pm

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