A fried fish sandwich

A fried fish sandwich (Photo by Foodio on Shutterstock)

If you are hungry while on the go, fast food is an easy, affordable choice. But if you aren’t in the mood for a burger and fries, what should you eat? A fast-food fish sandwich is a tasty option to consider that’s often overlooked but is featured on so many different menus. The best fast food fish sandwiches come breaded or fried and always packed with flavor.

Fast-food fish filets are typically made from white fish, such as cod, haddock, pollock, or Alaskan Pollock. These types of fish are popular because they have a mild flavor and a firm, flaky texture that holds up well to frying and processing. Fast-food chains often use these kinds of fish because they are relatively inexpensive and widely available.

The fish is usually breaded or battered and then deep-fried, which gives it a crispy exterior. It’s often served in a sandwich with toppings like tartar sauce and lettuce, or as part of a meal with sides like fries and coleslaw. The exact type of fish used can vary depending on the restaurant and its supply chain. Some fast-food chains might also use a blend of different types of white fish for their filets.

The fast-food fish sandwich swims against the tide of culinary expectations, effortlessly flipping the notion that fast-food can’t deliver a mouthwatering seafood experience. With a delicate balance of flavors, the crispy breaded fish patty takes center stage, perfectly complemented by a symphony of tangy tartar sauce, crisp lettuce, and a toasted bun that offers a satisfying crunch. Every bite is an oceanic adventure, transporting your taste buds to coastal shores. So whether you’re a landlocked epicurean or a seafood aficionado craving convenience, the fast food fish sandwich proves that sometimes, the most unexpected catch can be the most delightful.

Ready for your next fast food run? StudyFinds is here to help you prep for it. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the top five best fast food fish sandwiches from ten expert websites to find the most recommended delicacies on menus today. As always, we’d like to see your own recommendations in the comments below!

A person holding a bag of McDonald's food
A person holding a bag of McDonald’s food (Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels)

The List: Best Fast Food Fish Sandwiches, According to Foodies

1. Culver’s North Atlantic Cod Filet Sandwich

This hand cut, hand battered Midwestern delight is a top choice among reviewers. Why? “Culver’s cranks out a fish sandwich that’s tender, flaky, and downright buttery in a way that hearkens back to the crispy batter you’d see at a bona fide fish fry,” according to The Takeout.

Thrillist points out, it’s a “sizable piece of fresh, crispy, light cod you’d never mistake for a fast food-style fish patty. It’s dressed with tartar sauce that has actual flavor beyond boring old dill (capers! olives!), and a hint of creaminess courtesy of its shredded cheese.”

Available year-round, it’s served on a hoagie roll instead of a traditional bun. “The fish sits atop a bed of shredded lettuce, Wisconsin cheese, and a nice amount of tartar sauce you’ll love,” suggests Tasting Table.

2. Arby’s Crispy Fish Sandwich

Arby’s is well-known for its meats and curly fries. However, its Crispy Fish Sandwich doesn’t disappoint. “You’re getting a large piece of fish on a decent sandwich. The large fish filet is really good and is actually filling. There’s a good flake and seasoning,” according to UPROXX.

The fish is surrounded by a toasted sesame bun. Taste of Home points out, “the lettuce added a pleasant crunch and the tartar sauce was well distributed.” There’s also a spicy variety of this sandwich available. 

Eat This, Not That! adds, “it has low calories for a big slab of fish, plus, the minimal amount of topping allows for a lower intake of fat and sugars.” Just note, Arby’s Crispy Fish Sandwich is an occasional menu item, so keep an eye out to find it seasonally.

3. Wendy’s Crispy Panko Fish Sandwich

Another seasonal fish sandwich worth trying is this offering from Wendy’s. Allrecipes notes, “the fish is perfectly crispy and the pickle adds an extra crunch in contrast to the fluffy bun.”

If your taste buds crave a little kick, Wendy’s also makes this sandwich in a spicy version. “The Spicy Panko Fish Sandwich swaps out the tartar sauce for Wendy’s spicy sauce and also includes a melty blend of cheddar and Monterey jack cheese slices,” according to The Daily Meal.

Made of Alaskan pollock, “you can feel a little better knowing your fish comes from a certified sustainable fishery,” points out The Takeout.

4. White Castle Panko Breaded Fish Slider

Surprise! In addition to burgers, White Castle also makes a tasty fish slider. UPROXX adds, it’s “basic but delivers a decent fish patty with a small flake, good seasoning, and a nice crispy outer coating. The cheese moistens it along with the soft bun to create a good textural experience.”

Taste of Home notes, White Castle includes “the tartar sauce (a must when it comes to fish sandwich toppings) as a packet on the side. This was nice because we could then add as much or as little as we wanted to the sandwich, rather than it arriving in one big glob inside the bun.”

Available during the Lenten season, you can also get the fish slider without cheese, too. Although Eat This, Not That! points out, “it comes with quite a lot of calories, as well as sodium, for such a tiny breaded fish patty. If you’re the type of person that orders a few of White Castle’s mini sliders, for the sake of your body and overall health, try not to overindulge in too many of the seafood ones (if possible).”

5. McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish Sandwich

Rounding out the top five, is my personal favorite. McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish Sandwich has been a year-round menu staple since the 1960s. “The Filet-O-Fish doesn’t hope to compete with the artisanal-sounding ingredients found at other chains, and it never forgets who it is: A taste of mild, crispy fried fish, topped with a quart of tartar sauce and served on an angel’s kiss of a steamed bun,” according to Mashed

Restaurant Clicks notes, the fish is “covered in crispy breadcrumbs, then topped with cheese and tartar sauce, all in a steamed, white bun. It is simple, but delicious, and always a reliable choice if you want a good fish sandwich.”

Some more upsides? “A low price and consistent preparation make the Filet-O-Fish a failproof, no-frills option,” suggests The Takeout. However, if you are looking for knock your socks off flavor, skip this choice.

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links. 

About Melissa Kraus

Melissa is a freelance writer, based out of New Jersey. She has over two-decades of writing, editing, and producing experience for Radio, TV, and Digital Media.

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StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

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  1. Ted Voight says:

    I need to try the Culver’s cod sandwich. It looks awesome. I haven’t had a real good fish sandwich since Burger King discontinued the original Whaler fish sandwich many moons ago. BK, bring back the Whaler as it was so I can say:
    ” YOU RULE !! “

    1. No thanks says:

      It’s not good. I had it a few weeks ago and I was surprised it was at the top of this list. Just in case you decide to do it download a bogo coupon on Culver’s website if it’s your first time going. Neither the fish sandwich nor the other burger made me want to go back to the restaurant.

    2. Bonnie Kirk says:

      Culver’s cod sandwich is very good, but their seasonally available walleye sandwich is AMAZING. The fish melts in your mouth. They should be >both #1 and & #2!

    3. Joe Castillo says:

      I had one the other day. It had to much tarter sauce. It fell apart before I finished it. It had a bland taste. No flavor at all. McDonald’s is better.

  2. Cathy Snyder says:

    How in the world did McDonald’s fish sandwich beat out Captain D’s fish sandwich? That don’t make no sense.

  3. Katrina Miller says:

    Frischs has the Best fish sandwich!🤗

  4. Mark Taylor says:

    Popeyes regular or spicy fish sandwich is best

  5. Rudy says:

    McDonald’s is a terrible sandwich, even BK does it better. Popeyes has a much better one.

    1. Frank says:

      I agree I think everything at McDonald’s is awful especially their burgers Donkey meat I love Burger King I can’t believe these people have the gall to put Mcshit n Wendy’s a head of Burger King their Fish sandwich should be at least top 3. But we have stupid people doing these rating’s.Just don’t know good fast food The king is above all especially Burgers and fries Flame broiled like on the Bbq always wins over greasy fried burgers McDonald’s n Wendy’s suck

  6. Mike Meredith says:

    I am from the Pacific Northwest and have eaten more fish sandwiches in my 75 years then all of your tasters combined. I had a Culver’s about a month ago. It was terrible just like the others mentioned.

    1. No thanks says:

      I completely agree with you. I had hopes for Culver’s and had the same disappointment a couple weeks ago myself. None of those sandwiches mentioned are good at all!

  7. Lora says:

    Culvers is the best. Searched all for one that actually taste like something other than the container it’s stored in! This is the only place I buy one now! Reminds me of childhood fish fry after grampa was out on lake all day!

  8. Koaideman says:

    McDonald’s filet o fish must of been used as a filler. That thing has lost its luster through the years. The jack in the box fish sandwich on the other hand is much better. Has a crispy crust and not overwhelmed with tartar sauce like the filet o fish. Unfortunately I think it only comes around during lent. So if you must try, it won’t be until March 2024. 😔

  9. Diana R Sell says:

    Burger King’s fish sandwich is very tasty!! Breading just right!

  10. Jerry Forton says:

    Popeyes Flounder sandwich is #1

    1. Sidney C. says:

      Agreed! Popeyes Flounder is amazing. It has supplanted Wendy’s Cod as my favorite. The only problem with both 9f these sandwiches is that you have to go inside and specify that you’ll wait while they cook a fresh piece of fish for you. Neither is good if the fish has been kept in a warmer for goodness knows how long. And, at least where I live, ordering from the drive thru is always a gamble…

  11. Harvey says:

    You should give the address or a link to Culver’s. It’s not a chain like the others. Doh!

  12. Hannah says:

    Give me my filet o’fish, give me that fish 🐠🐟🐠🐟 🐠🐟🐠🐟🐠🐟🐠🐟🐠🐟🐠🐟

  13. Lester says:

    Dairy Queen has an Alaskan fish sandwich that surpasses any McD’s filet-O-fish I’ve ever tasted.

  14. Natasha D Butler says:

    Popeyes fish sandwiches (both regular and spicy) should have been included on this list. I’m not a huge fan of their chicken but they’re sandwiches are crunchy and flavorful…all on a soft bun.

  15. Peter W. Kocsis says:

    Have to go with McDonalds. Just something about it! 👍

    1. Frankie says:

      Something about eating Horse crap I guess You couldn’t pay me to eat anything from there they totally sux slop Burger King rules but you wouldn’t know to busy eating donkey meat

  16. William Cooke says:

    Alaskan Pollack may be “certified sustainable”, but that is not the case. The ByCatch of this fishery is killing millions of Chinook Salmon and Halibut. The Chinese influence is being overcome, and look for big restrictions in the very near future.

  17. PatEm says:

    Why, oh why does every fast food place put cheese on their fish? I want to taste the fish, not the cheese! While I always order my fish sandwiches without cheese, and it usually insures a nice, fresh, hot sandwich, I’ll never understand why anyone would put cheese on their fish in the first place. You get enough fat and calories from the fish, bun, and sauce. Why add more and make it worse!

    1. Brent says:

      I like it.

  18. Rose Marie Stark says:

    Dairy Queen has a good fish sandwich without the lettuce. As for McDonald’s fish sandwich, l hear from a former employee not to eat it. He was a neighbor’s boyfriend from Norway.

  19. Joe Morris says:

    Checkers’ Deep Sea Double fish sandwich is DELICIOUS!

  20. A says:

    Popeyes fish Sandwich was awesome!