Grown-up Fish Sticks

This recipe started as me planning to make a rendition of Pinch of Yum’s Almond Crusted Tilapia, and then ended with me being lazy.


Baby is as big as a bell pepper on this day.

I’m in my second trimester (when I wrote this), but still have days where I am just SO exhausted and the last thing I want to do is follow a bunch of steps to complete dinner. I try very hard to plan healthy meals and shop ahead of time though, so I hate wasting ingredients and whining “let’s just do pizza” from my sprawled position on the couch. Very often…

To be fair, this recipe does not have “a bunch of steps”, but it had one more than I was willing to complete. I didn’t feel like dirtying my food processor just to grind up the almonds I had. So I chose to skip it. Almonds are healthy and will still get eaten. Whole.

So my adaptation became to just use breadcrumbs. And in this process, I realized this was not a new or special recipe. I was just making fish sticks. But ADULT version, since the fish was still in fillets and not questionable finger-sized strips, with more questionable ingredients used to hold them in such a shape.

After this epiphane, it was easy for me to say “Okay! Bring on the ketchup” and go with it.


First, I preheated the oven to 375 degrees.

I started by making a pile of Panko on a plate and salt and peppered the Tilapia fillets. Then I used the back of a spoon to spread about ½ T of mustard on one side of the fish before plopping it in the pile of breadcrumbs. While there, I repeated with the other side before flipping it over.


I set each fillet aside to work on the next, refilling the pile of Panko as needed. This process took a little longer than I had anticipated… but I probably could have used a bigger working surface and shaved time off doing multiple fillets at a time.


Finished fillets. We had a couple Tilapia and a few Cod. Both tasted equally great, but the Cod needed more cooking time, so we’ll focus on the Tilapia in this rendition.

Once finished breading, I heated an oven-safe pan over medium-high with a plop of butter and a spray of non-stick spray.

Fish went in the pan for about a minute a side, just to brown the breading. Then the whole pan went into the oven for about 4-5 minutes.


A squeeze of lemon on all and we were ready to serve. The result was super flaky and fell apart into natural fish sticks!

Personally, I really do like it with ketchup, but Court prefers Tartar sauce, and honestly these are really good just on their own with that hint of mustard and lemon.



Grown-Up Fish Sticks

Serves 4-6

Tilapia, 4-6 6oz fillets
Salt and Pepper, to taste
½ C Panko
¼ C Dijon Mustard
1T Butter
Non-Stick Spray
Lemon Juice

Optional Sides:
Parmesan Cheese
Ketchup/Tartar Sauce/Etc
Sides for serving – We went with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Pour Panko onto a flat surface.

Salt and Pepper one side of Tilapia fillets, then spread ~½ T Dijon mustard on same side. Flip fillet into Panko so that it will stick to the mustard. Salt, Pepper and Mustard other side before flipping. Set aside and repeat with all fillets.

Heat oven-safe pan to medium-high heat. Melt butter and spray pan before flash-browning one side of fish for ~1 minute. Then flip fish and brown other side for ~1 minute.

Place whole pan into oven for ~4-5 minutes, until fish flakes easily.

Squeeze lemon juice over all fillets and serve!


I’d love to hear what you think about this as is or your suggestions for improvement!

This recipe brought me back to those frozen meals I used to eat ALL THE TIME as a kid. Any other favorite childhood recipes that I should try a new, adult-ier rendition of?

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