Crappie is a delicious freshwater fish that’s best deep-fried or pan-fried. As it can be bland for some, deep frying will help add flavor. Some of the best crappie recipes also include grilling or baking a crappie fillet.
Before we look further into the best way to cook crappie, let’s first discuss.
How to Prepare Crappie
There are those that prefer cooking crappie whole. There are also those that like them chunked or filleted.
Filleting crappie requires a more complicated procedure, but as soon as you learn it, you can easily apply the process to other species.
Before you start filleting, we would recommend you get a sharp knife and a cutting board. Take note: if you will be storing the crappie fillet for weeks or months, it’s best to freeze them immediately.
How to Gut the Fish
This is an important step for preparing crappie. Yes, regardless of whether or not you’ll fillet the fish.
To gut crappie, do the following:
Step 1: Insert a sharp knife between the fish’s pectoral fins. The fins are near the throat and above the belly of the fish.
Step 2: Run your knife towards the vent.
Step 3: Remove the guts when you’ve opened the body cavity.
Step 4: Discard the fish’s guts. You can also save the guts for chum.
There are a lot of ways to cook crappie. If you don’t want crappie fillet as you want it whole, you can also remove the fish’s gills.
How to Fillet Crappie
You can then proceed to the filleting process once you’re done gutting the fish.
Step 1: Make a cut under the gill plate using a sharpened fillet knife. Then, cut down through your crappie until you’ve hit the spine.
Step 2: Slightly turn your knife to a 90-degree angle so it’s parallel to your cutting board.
Step 3: Start cutting along the spine until you reach the tail.
Step 4: Try to retain as much meat as you’re cutting on the cut’s fillet side.
Step 5: Stop before you reach the tail as you shouldn’t cut through the fish’s tail section.
Step 6: Flip the crappie fillet over so its meat side faces towards the ceiling.
Step 7: With a regular fillet, you’ll have to cut the scales and skin off. Starting at the tail, put the knife between your fillet and the skin of the fish. Then, start sliding the knife towards the end of the fillet. This is usually the trickiest part. You’ll get a much better result if you bend the blade slightly as you’re cutting through the fillet. Continue cutting across your fillet until the skin is completely off it.
Step 8: Wash the fillet to get any residue or excess scales off it. It’s best to use cold water so you don’t cook the fillet in the cleaning process.
Best Crappie Recipes
The best crappie recipes aren’t just delicious, they’re also recommended by the (AHA) American Heart Association.
Fish, including freshwater crappie, is a good source of omega-3 acids and protein. If you have crappie ready for you to cook right now, then give these tasty dishes a go!
Pan-frying a freshly caught crappie with crappie spinning reels is perhaps the most common way of cooking the fish. The breading that’s used in pan-frying will add a bit of flavor to the meat without overpowering the fish’s already delicious taste.
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tbsp paprika
- To taste, salt and pepper
- Mix flour, salt, pepper, and paprika in a dish or shallow pan.
- Add egg and water in a separate dish, then beat together.
- Heat up a pan or skillet and put oil in it.
- Dip each crappie fillet in your egg mixture. Then, dredge it in your flour mixture.
- Pan-fry the fillet while making sure it’s cooked until golden (on both sides).
Don’t forget to drain your pan-fried fish on a paper towel. Serve it with any of your favorite side dishes and voila! You have made one of the best crappie recipes!
Cheese-y Crappie Fillet Sandwich
Crappie makes for an excellent sandwich, too!
- 1 and ½ lbs crappie fillet
- 1 cup bread crumbs (seasoned)
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese or Parmigiano Reggiano (grated)
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp lemon pepper
- ¼ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
- 4 eggs
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- For frying, canola oil
- Italian sandwich bread (sliced)
- Lettuce leaves
- Tartare sauce
- Tomato slices
- Preheat oil in a pan to 375 degrees.
- Combine bread crumbs, grated cheese, lemon pepper, black pepper, and salt in a dish or shallow bowl.
- Whisk the eggs in another clean bowl with the onion and garlic powders.
- Dip the fillets in the egg mixture, then coat with the crumb mixture.
- Fry in any large pan or skillet.
- Fry until the fish flakes with a fork.
- Butter the sliced bread and brown on a grill or under a broiler. Don’t forget to add a touch of any leftover garlic powder.
- Dress your sandwich with tartar sauce, tomato, and lettuce.
Crappie recipes not fried but grilled are also popular among health-conscious anglers!
Here’s a best grilled crappie recipe:
- 1 lb crappie fillet
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp lemon pepper
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- Sprinkle a mix of the dry ingredients on your crappie after coating it lightly with olive oil.
- Cover and let it sit inside the fridge as you’re firing up the grill.
- Coat the grill lightly with canola or olive oil to prevent the fillet from sticking on the metal bars.
- Grill each side of the fillet for approx. 2 minutes or up until it begins to flake with a fork.
With the same recipe for grilling, you can also bake your crappie fillets as it’s a great way to perverse the fish’s nutrients. There are so many crappie recipes that it’ll take days for them to compile them all!
The ones we gave you are the top three that even the most finicky of eaters will love from their flavor. Give them a try and let us know if you enjoyed it as much as we did!