New This Month

How to Host a Fish Fry

  • Photos by Ryan Liebe
  • Recipes by Sarah Carey

This freshly caught meal is a Friday-night tradition in certain parts of the country, and we're taking it national. Prepare to get hooked.

In certain pockets of the country, Friday nights are all about good friends and the freshest catch. Depending on where you live or grew up, you know this ritual either well...or not at all. Hugely popular in the Midwest, but also in parts of the North and Southeast, the fish fry originated as an end-of-week tradition for Roman Catholics. But it proved too good not to share, and now it happens in restaurants year-round, with a menu that typically goes something like this: crispy fried fillets, coleslaw, tartar sauce, rye bread, and some sort of potato, all washed down with an icy beer. We’ve ad-libbed a bit to freshen up the sides for summer and delight dinner guests of all ages (here’s looking at you, cherry limeade). Make this spectacular meal into a regular thing and you’ll have a whole new reason to start counting down to the weekend.

Sparkling Cherry Limeade + Aged-Cheddar and Beer Dip

Welcome friends with a sweet, fizzy drink and the cheese dip to end all cheese dips. (Serve it in a slow cooker to keep it warm and perfectly gooey, or just eat it fast!) When it comes to customary fish-fry libations, who are we to swim against the tide? Our shopping tip: Pick any cold, smooth brew -- lager, Pilsner, IPA, you name it -- that makes you happy when you crack it open. Pabst Blue Ribbon is our hands-down pick.

Central Casting

Get the details right, and you’ll soon be hooked on the Friday-night fish-fry tradition. First, buy locally caught fish -- perch or trout if you’re lakeside, ocean trout or snapper if you’re by the ocean. Throw in some shrimp -- local or not -- for a twist.

Fried Fish

Everything in this meal can be made ahead of time except the fish, which will go from sensational to soggy if it sits for too long. Fry it in batches in your kitchen, and keep the pieces in the oven till you’re finished, or do it all outside in an actual outdoor fish fryer (they start at about $60 on Amazon).

Make-Ahead Sides

Colorful, crunchy, light -- these garden-fresh dishes are a welcome foil to fried fish. But dog-ear the recipes for the rest of the summer, too -- they’ll round out anything you’ve thrown on the grill. Like the fish, all three sides can be made ahead (and should be, in the case of the coleslaw) to let the flavors meld.

Get the Succotash Salad Recipe

Get the Dilled Cabbage-and-Cucumber Slaw Recipe

Get the Potato and Pickled-Beet Salad Recipe

Fried Fish Sandwich, Anyone?

A plate of fried fish and summer salads is fantastic, but a sandwich is also sublime. The combo we’ve fallen for hook, line, and sinker: dill-y cole slaw, a dollop of spicy tartar sauce, crispy fish, a slice of ripe tomato, and -- not pictured, but totally legit -- a few kettle-style potato chips secretly stuffed inside. Pile everything on a soft potato roll, and let your cares wash away.

Blondie Ice Cream Cake

Everyone will say they’re stuffed to the gills -- until they see this ice cream cake, which is made from rich, buttery blondie; vanilla ice cream (studded with more blondie); and a soft, chewy, totally insane chocolate-caramel topping. It’s easy to make but takes time to build. Be patient, like any good angler, and then reel in the compliments.