homemade fish fillet sandwich recipe
A fried fish fillet sandwich can truly be a thing of beauty, upgraded in all the right places. (Photo: Paul Harrison.)

There are some things in life that just sound like they wouldn’t work. One of those things is McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish, a breaded, fried fish “square” topped with American cheese and tartar sauce on a standard squishy white bun. Doesn’t sound great, does it? But that’s where you’re wrong! This little sammy is actually a delicious piece of nostalgia from my childhood, and it’s surprisingly good.

Now, that is not to say that this formula can’t be improved. It can be, and that’s what we’re going to do here today. Still, there are only a few ingredients, so only a couple of changes need to be made to take this to a serious next level. Here’s how McDonald’s does it vs. how I’m telling you to do it. Follow these instructions to fried fish sandwich bliss.

Processed square fish stick patty vs. fresh cod or haddock fillets with double-dredged spicy breading

Top-quality fish = top-quality sandwich. We’re also going to double dredge it for some extra crunch. And spicy breading because I like spicy things.

American cheese vs. smoked Gouda

Cheese and fish is tricky — a lot of people won’t even go down that road. But the American cheese works on the original, so we’re keeping some cheese here. I went with smoked Gouda to give it a more complex flavor and just a little bit of smokiness. American cheese swaps in nicely for the smoked Gouda — feel free to use either.

Tartar sauce vs. spicy tartar sauce

Tartar sauce belongs on this sandwich, but why not make it spicy so it can keep up with the spicy breading? Why not, indeed.

Standard bun vs. standard bun

No change necessary on this one. Sometimes a plain white bun is just right.