Say hello to the absolute best fried walleye! This Honey Mustard Pan Fried Walleye recipe is perfect for a quick and easy dinner. Its flavor is sweet and tangy and the texture is crispy and flaky, so it’s got all the makings of an amazing meal!
Why this recipe is awesome
- Incredible flavor combination: Walleye is the perfect freshwater fish to eat because its got a very mild flavor and doesn’t taste fishy at all. The marriage of honey and mustard creates a perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess that complements the mild, tender walleye. All fish lovers will wonder why they haven't tried this delectable combo sooner!
- Easy to make: This honey mustard pan-fried walleye recipe is a breeze to whip up, even for those who aren't regular cooks. With just a few simple steps, you'll have a restaurant-quality dish ready to enjoy!
- Healthy & nutritious: Walleye is an excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins, making this dish not only tasty but good for you too! Feel good about serving up one of the best fish that's both flavorful and nutritious.
- Perfect for any occasion: Whether it's a weeknight family dinner or a fish fry for a special celebration, this walleye is sure to impress your family and friends. The pan fried fish is versatile and pairs well with so many different side dishes!
Ingredients and Substitutions
All substitutions are 1:1 substitutes unless otherwise noted.
Walleye: For this recipe, we used fresh walleye fillets from the grocery store.
Substitutions: You can use frozen walleye, just be sure to thaw it first. Or, even better, you can go out and catch your own walleye! If this fish isn’t available, you can use a different type of white fish such as cod, tilapia, and catfish, to name a few.
Honey mustard: We use just basic honey mustard from the grocery store.
Substitutions: You can substitute a variety of mustards as long as they’re fairly liquid. We tested this recipe with Dijon mustard and it was great (more about that later). Course ground mustard won’t work well because it won’t coat the fish as well as a more liquid mustard.
Panko Breadcrumbs: We use breadcrumbs that come in a box and are nice and dry and crumbly. They’re the perfect breading to make this fried fish nice and crispy!
Substitutions: Some substitutes for store-bought panko breadcrumbs include crushing up some of the following things: cracker crumbs, croutons, pretzels, saltine crackers, and tortilla chips.
Flour: This helps create the breading that makes this pan fried walleye so great! It binds with the egg and bread crumbs to make sure everything sticks together while frying.
Substitutions: We use all-purpose flour. We haven’t tested this recipe with other flours but 1:1 gluten-free should work just fine.
Vegetable Oil: Vegetable oil is great because it has a smoke point that’s ideal for frying and it's cheaper than other oils which is ideal when you are using the larger quantities required for frying.
Substitutions: Other oils ideal for frying include canola oil, peanut oil, and sunflower oil. These all have smoke points around 400 degrees F. Avocado oil and extra-virgin olive oil have smoke points closer to 375 degrees F, so they may begin to smoke when frying.
Salt and black pepper: Just the basic spices to accompany this honey mustard flavor!
Substitutions: Sorry, no substitute for these.
Recipe Testing Notes
Throughout our testing of this pan-fried walleye, we learned some key things that worked and didn't work. Here are the key takeaways!
Panko Breadcrumbs vs. Flour: During the first run-through of this recipe, I tested some fillets with only panko breadcrumbs, and others with only flour.
We found that the panko breadcrumbs creased a more crispy exterior, but didn’t coat the whole fillet as easily as the flour did. That’s why we decided to use both and get the best of both worlds!
Amount of oil: We tried pan-searing the walleye fillets in just a small amount of oil. Unfortunately, this resulted in a pretty dry fish and just wasn’t what we were looking for. That’s why we use enough oil in the pan to cover up between ¼-½ the fillet.
Types of sauces: We tried a few different sauces when testing this recipe, including Dijon mustard and ranch dressing. We even added ranch seasoning to the flour for the ranch dressing test. This resulted in a bold ranch-flavored fish!
All these sauces we tested tasted pretty good! However, the honey mustard was the best-tasting sauce and a clear winner for us.
How to Make Pan Fried Walleye
Step one: Heat the oil
Pour oil into a large skillet and heat on the stovetop on medium-high heat. Oil should reach a temp of 350 degrees F for cooking the walleye. Note: you only need enough oil to cover half the fillets.
Step two: Prepare the fillets
Cut skin off of walleye fillets (if necessary) using a filet knife or other sharp knife. Then, pat both sides dry with a couple of paper towels. Patting the fish dry will help the batter stick to it.
Step three: Prepare the coating
Pour honey mustard into a shallow bowl. Pour bread crumbs, flour, salt, and pepper into another shallow dish and mix.
Step four: Dip and fry
Dip fillets into the honey mustard first and flip on both sides to get completely coated. Then, dip into the flour mixture on both sides to coat thoroughly. Finally, place coated fish fillets into the pan of hot oil.
Step five: Fry and remove
Cook walleye for 2-3 minutes on both sides until golden brown. Remove and place on a paper towel-lined plate to soak up excess oil. Repeat for all fillets. Top with lemon juice or more honey mustard and enjoy this delicious fish!
Watch How to Make This - Step by Step
Invest in a frying splatter screen: If you pan fry things often, or even cook bacon on the stovetop then I highly recommend a splatter screen. This help keep oil and grease from making a mess all over your stovetop by containing the splatter. They’ll even help keep you from getting an oil burn!
Yes, we highly recommend removing the skin before pan frying your fish. This is because the fish is coated in a batter that’s supposed to stick to it. It’s much easier for the batter to stick to the flesh of the fish than it is the skin!
The easiest way to flip fish when pan frying is to use two spatulas. Use the first spatula to get under the fish and pick it up. Then, place the second spatula over the fish, flip it, and place it back on the pan. This method will also make sure oil doesn’t spray up!
Patting fish dry is a critical step in the pan frying process. By patting the fish dry with a paper towel before dipping it in the batter, you assure that the batter will stick to the flesh of the fish. If the fish is dry, the batter will stick to it nice and result in a crispy fried fish!
The amount of oil you need will depend on the size of the pan you’re using. You should have however much oil it takes to cover about ⅓ the thickness of the fish. For a 10” skillet this is approximately one cup of oil.
This pan-fried walleye is a great dish to eat on its own. However, if you want to switch it up you can try these recipe variations:
- Honey Mustard Fish Sandwich: Grab your favorite style of bun or sandwich bread and line both sides with honey mustard. Then top with a fish filet and your favorite toppings. We recommend lettuce, coleslaw, and pickles!
- Fried Fish Tacos: This one is for all the taco lovers out there! To make these tacos simply break apart small pieces of fish and add them to a tortilla. Then, top with cabbage, lettuce, onions, and salsa.
Want to Save this Pan Fried Walleye for Later? Here's How!
Although we recommend eating this walleye right away, it can be saved and enjoyed the later with some simple tricks.
To store pan-fried walleye in the fridge:
- Allow the fish to cool to room temperature.
- Place the fish in an airtight container or ziplock bag.
- Refrigerate the fish for up to 3-4 days.
To reheat pan-fried walleye from the fridge:
Oven: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the fish on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until heated through.
Microwave: Microwave for one minute on high. If you want your fish to be crispy then we recommend reheating in the oven as opposed to the microwave.
To store pan-fried walleye in the freezer:
- Allow the fish to cool completely to room temperature.
- Place the fish in an airtight container or ziplock bag.
- Freeze the fish for up to 1 month.
To reheat pan-fried walleye from the freezer:
Remove the fish from the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge overnight.
Oven: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the fish on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until heated through.
Microwave: Microwave for 90 seconds on high. If you want your fish to be crispy then we recommend reheating in the oven as opposed to the microwave.
Note: When reheating the fish, do not overcook it, as this can make it dry and tough.
Enjoy your leftover pan-fried walleye!
According to some, mustard is the first condiment that humans ever ate with their food. Romans ground the seeds and mixed the paste with a liquid such as wine and vinegar. Also, Roman doctors treated toothaches using mustard seeds. Too bad our dentists today don’t use mustard, that would be tasty! (source)
Wonderful Walleye Partners
Looking for some side dishes to serve with your walleye? Try any of these tasty recipes!
Did you try this and love it? Leave us a review, we would love to hear from you!
- 2 walleye fillets thawed
- ½ cup honey mustard
- ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- Pour oil into a pan and heat on stovetop on medium high heat. Oil should reach a temp of 350 degrees for cooking the walleye. Note: you only need enough oil to cover ⅓ of the fillets.
- Cut skin off of walleye fillets (if necessary) using a filet knife or other sharp knife. Then, pat both sides dry with a paper towel.
- Pour honey mustard into a shallow dish. Pour bread crumbs, flour, salt and pepper into another shallow dish and mix.
- Dip walleye fillets into the honey mustard first and flip on both sides to get completely coated. Then, dip into the flour and breadcrumb mixture on both sides to coat thoroughly. Finally, place coated fillet into the pan of hot oil.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes on both sides. Remove and place on a plate of paper towels to soak up excess oil. Repeat for all fillets and then enjoy!