Many people can confirm the deliciousness of fish sticks or fish fingers. You can fry them, boil them, and put them in a stew, just like potatoes. However, most people prefer them baked, grilled, or fried.
However, if you’re short on time and what your lunch is in a few minutes, can you microwave fish sticks instead? Keep on reading to find out. Most people have concerns regarding whether or not fish sticks could be cooked in a microwave or if you should instead have an oven or a stovetop.
Further reading: 35 Simple Microwave Recipes You Can Try at Home (Ultimate Guide)
Will they become inedible when half-cooked in the microwave? Should you not bother?
Can You Microwave Fish Sticks?
Before buying a 6-pack of beer and/or 44-pack of fish sticks to cook with the microwave, ask yourself first, “Is this okay?” Can you “nuke” these fish sticks and come up with something edible? The short answer to that is, “Yeah.” The long answer to that is, “Yep, but it’s better fried”.
They won’t turn out inedible, don’t get us wrong. However, they were made to be fried. They’re only okay and slightly crispy when microwaved. They’re golden delicious crispy and juicy when fried. You won’t get the crispy coating from regular frying, baking, or grilling.
Like When Toasting Bread
When toasting bread, the microwave cannot get the toasted or browned look you can achieve from a toaster oven. In turn, you also cannot use the microwave to get that golden brown crispness of fried fish sticks. You just can’t. It’s just a little crispy and dry at best.
Depending on the power level of your microwave—on average, it is 1 kilowatt at maximum power—you can have your fish sticks ready in 1 minute and 30 seconds or up to 3 minutes (650-watt to 700-watt microwaves) when cooked on high.
Microwaved vs. Pan-Fried Fish Sticks
Microwaved fish sticks require you to limit the amount of fish sticks cooked at a time to about 4 sticks per serving or per bowl to get the best results. You can get more pan-fried fish sticks cooked depending on the largeness of the pan and the stove.
Maybe if you have a convection microwave you could bake your fish sticks to golden perfection. However, at that point, you’re not using a microwave. You’re using a convection oven or at least the convection mode of your microwave that acts like a conventional oven.
If the fish sticks package has directions for microwaving then follow them to the letter because they—the manufacturers—know best when it comes to getting the best cooking results out of their products.
How to Microwave Fish Sticks in General
You’ll find microwaving fish sticks as remarkably easy and quick. Just make sure to follow the steps to get the best possible results given the circumstances.
Every fish stick brand has its own unique recipe. Therefore, while some brands you can get away with microwaving, the vast majority end up worse after microwaving so it’s better to just fry them on the stovetop or bake them in a conventional oven.
- Put your frozen fish sticks on a microwave-safe dish.
- Arrange hem around the outside portion of the dish.
- Don’t place them in the middle because those sticks cook faster than the rest, thus risking overcooking.
- Cook about 4 fish sticks or up to 8 of them depending on the size of your dish and the capacity of the microwave.
- Put your microwave at the highest level and heat on high for a minute. Turn the sticks then heat for another 30 seconds.
- Check the sticks. If undercook, cook it for 30 seconds more.
- Remove the fish sticks once cooked and serve immediately for quick eats.
How to Microwave Different Fish Stick Brands
Let’s now cover the brand advice in regards to whether or not a given fish stick product is microwaveable or not. It depends on the brand, of course. It differs on a case-by-case basis.
- Paul’s Fish Sticks: Microwaving isn’t recommended.
- Great Value Fish Sticks: Microwaving isn’t recommended.
- Van De Kamp Fish Sticks: Microwaving isn’t recommended.
- 365 Everyday Value Fish Sticks: Microwaving isn’t recommended.
- Praeger’s Fish Sticks: Fry or bake only. Absolutely don’t microwave please.
- Trident Fish Sticks: Cook 3 fish sticks at high power for 1 minute and 30 seconds to 3 minutes tops.
- Gorton’s Fish Sticks: Cook 4 sticks in one go for a minute, flip them over, then cook for 30 seconds.
While most of these fish stick brands don’t recommend microwaving, many of them could get cooked in the microwave just fine with serviceable results but less delicious compared to frying. With Dr. Praeger’s, we absolutely don’t recommend microwaving because it’s not precooked.
Tips When Cooking Fish Sticks
If you have a lower-wattage light-duty microwave that’s under a kilowatt of power, increase cooking times thusly. Heat the sticks by 30-second increments to be sure. Moreover, make sure the sticks get heated from the inside to the outside.
Use a food thermometer to ensure that the internal stick temperature ends up at 165°F at the very least.
Pros and Cons when Microwaving Fish Sticks
You can get certain advantages and disadvantages when cooking fish sticks using the microwave oven route.
- Less fatty when compared to frying with butter or oil.
- It’s faster so use the microwave when time isn’t on your side!
- Cleanup is literally a breeze when microwaving fish sticks instead of a messy pan.
- The results aren’t as satisfying as pan cooking.
- You can easily accidentally overcook the fish sticks.
- You’ll get soft and soggy instead of nice and crunchy fish sticks.
- You won’t get that crunchy coating when you’re done microwaving.
Factors for Consideration
The manufacturers of fish sticks made them for frying. Maybe even barbecuing or at least grilling as well as baking. So maybe you should stick to that, no pun intended. However, in case the microwave remains your best and only course of action, you can use it as well.
Stick to the stove if you wish to get the crispy coating that fish sticks are renowned for. If you wish for a quick snack like a microwaved pizza roll or two, you can heat up the fish sticks in the microwave oven for 1½ minutes to 3 minutes.
- Nate Teague, “Can You Microwave Fish Sticks?“, CuisineVault.com, Retrieved October 4, 2021