Ranking Fast Food Fish Sandwiches From Hit To Skip

When a McDonald's restaurant in Cincinnati introduced a fish sandwich to its menu in 1962, McDonald's founder Ray Kroc was sure it would be a flop. Boy, was he wrong. People immediately took to the crispy, fried fish filet on a soft steamed bun. Today, nearly every fast food restaurant chain has a fish sandwich on the menu. Some are available year-round, while others are on offer for limited times only, mainly around Lent. But which fish sandwiches are worth a trip to the drive-through?

Fast food fish sandwiches typically consist of a piece of white fish like Alaskan pollock or cod, deep-fried until golden and crispy and served on a bun that may or may not be toasted. Many fast food joints add tartar sauce to their fish sandwiches, and some add extras like lettuce and tomato. Then of course, there is the controversial element — cheese. While some people swear seafood and cheese are meant to be together, others think it's sacrilege.

Whatever your personal preferences are, there is a fish sandwich out there for you. To help you determine which fast food spots to hit up for your fish sandwich fix, we scoured the internet for consumer reviews. Based on what diners are saying, we bring you the best and worst fast food fish sandwiches ranked from hit to skip. We'll go more in-depth about our methodology at the end of the article.

Popeye's Flounder Fish Sandwich

Popeye's may be best known for its legendary chicken sandwich that went viral, but whenever they bring out the Flounder Fish Sandwich, diners line up for it as well. The sandwich typically comes out around Lent, when many Catholics refrain from eating meat. It consists of a flounder filet marinated in Popeye's signature cajun spice mix, breaded, and deep-fried until crispy. It's served with crunchy pickles on a brioche bun. There are two versions on offer: the classic with tartar sauce and the spicy version, which comes with spicy mayo.

When Popeye debuted its Flounder Fish Sandwich in 2021, it was a huge hit. Reviewer Shaena Montanari wrote for the Arizona Times, "This fast food fish sandwich is surprisingly flavorful and much more substantial when compared with its Filet-O-Fish cousin." It's clear she wasn't the only fan, as the sandwich has made a comeback every year since. On a recent Popeye's Facebook post announcing the return of the Flounder Fish Sandwich, one commenter said, "That flounder sandwich needs to be a permanent item on the menu, not just for Lent. Favorite fish sandwich of em' all." Another said, "Welp, I guess I'm going to be living on nothing but fish sandwiches for the next couple of months."

Culver's North Atlantic Cod Sandwich

The North Atlantic Cod Sandwich from Culver's is a strong contender for one of the best fast food fish sandwiches out there. The company was born in Wisconsin, and they took inspiration from the state's fish fry traditions to create this crave-worthy sandwich. According to Culver's website, "Inspired by the way a good fish fry could bring friends and neighbors together, Craig carried the tradition forward. We still batter each filet by hand and cook it to order, only after you order." The cod is served on a toasted hoagie roll with lettuce, house tartar sauce, and Wisconsin cheddar. If you want to jazz it up, ask for some of Culver's first ever signature sauce.

The sandwich is so good that it has even won over people who don't typically like fish. One TripAdvisor reviewer said, "My mother is 97 years old and has never liked fish. But she'll make an exception for a North Atlantic cod sandwich from Culver's. As part of my more fish/less meat diet, I second her motion that Culver's North Atlantic cod sandwich is as good as it gets, better than any other fish sandwich you'll find in the fast-food market ..." Another reviewer on the same thread said, "I love the cod fish sandwich at Culver's. It is now my favorite sandwich even though I don't like fish. Weird I know but true."

Wendy's Crispy Panko Fish Sandwich

It may not be available year-round, but when the Crispy Panko Fish Sandwich is on offer at Wendy's (usually around Lent), it draws in fans. The sandwich features a wild-caught Alaskan pollock filet dredged in panko breading and fried until golden. Accoutrements include lettuce, pickles, dill tartar sauce, and a slice of American cheese. It's all pillowed within a buttery bun. At about $6 for just the sandwich, it's a bit pricer than some other chains, but diners don't seem to mind.

Overall, the sandwich gets positive reviews from diners who comment on the decent crunch, the tangy pickles, and the toasted bun. When TikTok user nikmetcalf reviewed Wendy's Crispy Panko Fish Sandwich, he said, "I'm not going to lie, I was not expecting a lot from a fish sandwich from Wendy's, but this panko makes it." One commenter on the video said, "I got this because of your video and OMG it was amazing." Another commenter said, "Wendy's is the best of the big three for sure."

McDonald's Filet-O-Fish

You can't have a fast food fish filet showdown without mentioning McDonald's. The Filet-O-Fish is the OG of fast food fish sandwiches. In 1962, McDonald's franchise owner Lou Groen created the sandwich for his Catholic customers who abstained from eating meat on Fridays during Lent. It quickly became a mainstay on the McDonald's menu. To this day, the Filet-O-Fish still has a huge fan base. Fans love the simple, but tasty combo of the crispy Alaskan pollock patty, tartar sauce, and American cheese on a steamed bun.

There are several reasons Filet-O-Fish lovers order the sandwich time after time. As one Quora user said, "I love McDonald's Filet-O-Fish because it is warm, crispy, a little gooey and melts in your mouth. It is the same as I remember it when I was a kid. It has sentimental value. The fish filet does not have an unpleasant fishy taste which some other fish sandwiches have. The bun is soft, warm, and seems fresh." The only complaint some fans have is that the sandwich is a bit small. However, you can work around that by doubling up on the patty. Other Filet-O-Fish Hacks include swapping tartar sauce for Big Mac sauce, adding lettuce, and adding fries to make a fish n' chips burger.

Captain D's Giant Fish Sandwich

If you're a fish sandwich fan who believes in going big or going home, Captain D's Giant Fish Sandwich is for you. This hefty sandwich features not one, but two battered and deep-fried fish filets topped with shredded lettuce and tartar sauce on a toasted bun. And for those who like their fish more on the fiery side, they also have a Spicy Giant Fish Sandwich. One thing is for sure — you're highly unlikely to be hungry after devouring one of these bad boys.

According to diners, Captain D's Giant Fish Sandwich lives up to its name. TikTok user orlandoqueen said of the Spicy Giant Fish Sandwich, "I've never seen so much fish on a fish sandwich. This is proper fish filets ... and it's delicious." YouTuber Joe is Hungry said, "For value I give them 10 out of 10 ... For five or six bucks, it will get me a drink and one of these sandwiches. You certainly don't need french fries or hush puppies with it. I'm totally full now and that was just one sandwich."

Burger King Fiery Big Fish

When Burger King rolled out its Fiery Big Fish sandwich, diners took to the internet to voice their praise. One Reddit user said, "This was definitely the best fast food fish sandwich I have had in a while. Definitely a nice mix up from all those whoppers." A user on the same thread commented, "Ordered this a few days ago after being very disappointed with Arby's. I rarely ever order fish sandwiches, I thought it was great. Great crust on the fish."

Like many fast food chains, Burger King uses Alaskan pollock for their fish sandwiches. The Fiery Big Fish filet is coated with a crispy panko breading, deep-fried, and glazed with a spicy sauce made from three different peppers. For added flavor, the sandwich is also topped with tartar sauce, lettuce, and pickles. A toasted potato bun holds it all together. It gives a whole lot of flavor, but some might find the sauces and toppings overwhelm the taste of the fish. 

Whataburger Whatacatch Sandwich

Like many other fast food chains, Whataburger rolls out a fish sandwich just for Lent. Fun fact: fish is not considered meat during Lent because it is a cold-blooded animal that does not live on land. The aquatic offering at Whataburger is called the Whatacatch sandwich, and it consists of an Alaskan pollock filet breaded with panko crumbs and served on a soft bun with lettuce, tomato, and tartar sauce. You can customize the sandwich with options like cheese, avocado, or creamy pepper sauce.

Overall, the Whatacatch sandwich gets decent reviews from diners. On a Facebook video that Whataburger posted advertising the return of the sandwich, one commenter said, "My husband and I have eaten Whatacatch everyday since they brought them back!!! Why don't you leave them in stores year round?" Another commenter said, "Won't ya keep it forever? I took it for granted while it was on the forever menu. I'm grateful it's brought back for Lent. Sad it has to say goodbye at Easter."

Arby's King's Hawaiian Fish Deluxe

In 2020, Arby's sparked what many have called the "fish sandwich war." According to USA Today, in February of 2020, Arby's started a smear campaign against the McDonald's Filet-O-Fish, claiming their fish sandwiches were better. One of those sandwiches was the King's Hawaiian Fish Deluxe featuring a crispy fish filet with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cheddar, and tartar sauce on a sweet, fluffy King's Hawaiian roll. The limited-edition sandwich typically rolls out around Lent, along with the Crispy Fish Sandwich and the Fish n' Cheddar Sandwich.

Arby's was thinking outside of the box when they decided to use the King's Hawaiian rolls that so many people adore. However, the King's Hawaiian Fish Deluxe gets mixed reviews. While some diners like the ample size of the sandwich, others find the tartar sauce is a bit much. Fast food reviewer Wayne Dang said in his YouTube review of the sandwich, "If I get a fish sandwich, I want the fish to shine and showcase all of its flavors. But the tartar sauce just overpowers everything."

Carl's Jr/Hardee's Panko Breaded Fish Sandwich

Joint companies Carl's Jr. and Hardee's released their Panko Breaded Fish Sandwich in 2022, and it's returned for Lent every year since. The sandwich is pretty standard with a breaded and fried pollock filet complemented by lettuce and tartar sauce on a toasted bun. According to Fast Food Secrets, the burger on its own costs $3.29, while a combo with a drink and fries goes for $6.39. Both Hardee's and Carl's Jr. also have specials where you can get two Panko Breaded Fish Sandwiches for $6.

Diners are divided when it comes to the chains' fish sandwiches. For example, when Carl's Jr. made a post on Facebook about the sandwich, one commenter said, "Carl's should have fish sands year-round, they're good." Another commenter echoed the sentiment, saying, "Make it permanent." However, another person said, "Way too much sauce and the lettuce is yellowing." Yet another commenter added, "The amount of sauce on that has told me nope."

Jack in the Box Fish Sandwich

Jack in the Box is another chain that doesn't offer a fish sandwich year-round. Instead, they roll out their fish dishes for a limited time, and again, this is usually around Lent. The Fish Sandwich is nothing fancy — just an Alaskan pollock filet breaded with panko and served with lettuce and tartar sauce on a bun. They also have fish wraps, both classic and spicy for those who prefer a bit of heat. The sandwich costs $3.29, which is not bad compared to some other fast food fish sandwiches.

Despite using a pretty tried-and-true formula, Jack's doesn't get great reviews for their fish sandwich. A diner on Reddit commented, "I was honestly pretty disappointed with it compared to the fish sandwich they had years ago. It was one piece instead of two since they aren't doing fish and chips like before. The batter was more bread-y and wasn't that great. The tartar sauce was terrible IMO and way too sweet and looked more like salad dressing than actual tartar sauce. Sad to say I'd prefer a Filet-O-Fish from McDonald's than eat another one of Jack in the Box fish sandwiches."

Dairy Queen Wild Alaskan Fish Sandwich

Fish may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Dairy Queen. After all, the chain is renowned for its ice cream and unforgettable fast food milkshakes. Swing by during Lent though and you might find the Wild Alaskan Fish Sandwich on the menu. The sandwich features a wild-caught Alaskan pollock patty fried until crispy, and served with lettuce and tartar sauce on a toasted white bun. It's only available at some restaurants and only for a limited time.

Diners are split on whether the DQ Wild Alaskan Fish Sandwich is worth going back for. Mike Thayer of Bachelor on the Cheap said, "Sigh ... What a let down. The pollock filet was only crunchy on the edges, the breading got soft in the middle." YouTuber Joe is Hungry says, "It's definitely a plain Jane sandwich. Cod has a little bit of a fish flavor, but like most Alaskan pollock, it doesn't have a lot of flavor ... For a fast-food, drop-in-the-grease, pre-breaded patty, it's actually not bad."

Long John Silver's Fish Sandwich

Seeing as how Long John Silver's is all about seafood, it should come as no surprise that they have a fish sandwich on their menu. Their version features a strip of Alaskan pollock lightly battered, deep-fried, and served on a roll with tartar sauce and pickles. It's typically served as a combo with a drink and your choice of side like coleslaw, fries, or hush puppies. The oblong fish filet is a nice departure from the square patties you get at some other chains, but some diners believe that may be its downfall.

Sean of Food Supremacy said in his review, "I just feel that Long John's fish is really greasy, obviously like all fish, but it's not great. It's better as a standalone, not on a fish sandwich. It needs to be bigger, crunchier, better to be on a fish sandwich." A diner on TripAdvisor had a similar experience. He said, "When I bit in, grease oozed out of the heavily breaded slab of pressed fish. What just happened? This couldn't be true. $6 for pressed fish? Soaking in grease? Dark brown? I went inside to get my money back."

White Castle Panko Fish Slider

White Castle is best known for their crave-worthy sliders. The hamburger sliders have been on the menu since the first restaurant opened in 1921, which was 19 years before the McDonald brothers opened their first restaurant. It wasn't until 2020 though that White Castle added a fish slider to the menu. At first, the sandwich was just a seasonal offering, but now it's available year-round. What you get when you order a White Castle fish slider is a handheld sandwich featuring a panko-breaded Alaskan pollock filet simply topped with a slice of cheese and served on a soft bun.

At just $2.89, White Castle's Panko Fish Slider is a good deal. But even with its affordable price, the fish slider doesn't rank highly with diners. Some reviewers like the flavor, but find that the sandwich can be dry thanks to the lack of any type of sauce. Wayne Algenio says in his YouTube review of the slider, "This definitely needs the tartar sauce. It was actually kind of dry. Pretty dry ... I don't feel like there's enough fish. I'm mostly eating breading." If you need to add condiments and extra ingredients to your fast food fish sandwich, you may as well just make a better fried fish sandwich at home.

Sonic Fish Sandwich

If you're searching for a fish sandwich at Sonic, you may or may not find one. Not all the branches have it on the menu, and those that do typically serve it as a seasonal special during Lent. If you do come across it, the sandwich is pretty uninspiring. They use the same formula as many other fast food joints: An Alaskan pollock filet breaded with panko, deep-fried, topped with lettuce, pickles, and tartar sauce, and served on a white bun. However, many reviewers say Sonic gets a lot wrong with the execution.

Tony Thomas of Old Nerd Reviews said of Sonic's fish sandwich, "There is lacking of fish flavor coming out of this sandwich ... I just give it a 'meh.' It's just really weird. I expected a fish sandwich. I got some sort of sandwich that I can't figure out ... It's not that it's un-edible or icky or anything. It just doesn't taste like a fish sandwich should." Another YouTube reviewer named 2¢ Chick said, "I mean I can eat everything but the fish. The fish isn't good ... No, I would not get it again. I could eat the bun and the pickles, but not the fish."


To rank the best and worst fast food fish sandwiches, we looked at what diners were saying. We read through customer reviews on platforms like Reddit and Yelp, as well as foodie blogs. In addition, we watched reviews on YouTube and TikTok to see people's reactions when they tried different fish sandwiches and hear their opinions. According to diners, these are the highest and lowest quality fish sandwiches from popular fast food chains.