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Few food items can be relied on as much as fish sticks. Combining crunchiness, softness, carbohydrates, and protein, these freezer staples began life in the United States as part of a line of products from General Foods that debuted in 1953, which also included veal and eggplant sticks. Fish sticks soon took on a life of their own, and, thanks to their convenience and ability to be frozen for long periods, fish sticks produced by other food companies began to appear.
Before long, there were dozens of options to choose from, and that remains the case today. Because of the sheer selection on offer, however, it can be difficult to discern which ones are good and which ones are bad, particularly considering that fish sticks are such simple food items. In reality, though, a good fish stick is a thing of beauty, whereas a bad one can be mushy, chewy, and watery -- and it's important to know which ones you should definitely be buying, which ones you shouldn't, and which are somewhere in the middle.
To figure this out, we turned to the customers of these items. We determined our ranking based primarily on customer reviews, including the average overall scores awarded to certain items. We looked for items that embodied the spirit of a "classic" fish stick, with a crunchy bread coating, a mild yet satisfying fish flavor, and a reasonable price point.
Fremont Fish Market Wild Caught Breaded Fish Sticks
Like any self-respecting supermarket, Aldi has its own fish sticks on offer, via its Fremont Fish Market range. However, while the budget store excels in a lot of staples, it's not quite as successful with these freezer items. The Fremont Fish Market Wild Caught Breaded Fish Sticks come last in our ranking due to their inability to deliver consistent quality. Some customers are fans, noting that they have a mild fish flavor and pair particularly well with Aldi's tartar sauce. Other customers, on the other hand, have found that these fish sticks are overly soggy, with an inability to keep their breading adhered to the fish properly.
What's particularly distressing is that some customers have reported that they've found black meat inside of their Special Buy Fremont Fish Market Fish Sticks. Now, we're not experts, but we know enough to know that fish sticks should be white throughout, with no significant discoloration. As well as this, the customers who were disappointed by these fish sticks state that the flavor isn't quite there, with the unusual combination of water and burnt chicken. It's probably best to leave these fish sticks in the freezer section.
Dr. Praeger's Lightly Breaded Fish Sticks
Food manufacturer Dr. Praeger's may focus on offering frozen plant-based foods to the masses, but it also has a seafood line. Dr. Praeger's Lightly Breaded Fish Sticks sit within this line, and while they're not our top choice by any means, they do have some advantages that customers have noticed. People who have bought these fish sticks have noted their good fish-to-breading ratio, whereas others have praised their crunchy coating, likely thanks to the Panko breadcrumb topping used.
Unfortunately, though, there are a few too many negatives for this product to be ranked higher on our list. Taste-wise (arguably the most important thing to consider when it comes to fish sticks), they're not quite there, with customers pointing out that they taste a bit too fishy. This is slightly strange considering the mildness of pollock, the fish used to make these fish sticks. Furthermore, Dr. Praeger's Lightly Breaded Fish Sticks are far from generous, with people complaining that they're a little on the small side. This is all the more disappointing considering that these fish sticks are more expensive than other, easier-to-find options, which also taste way better.
Ian's Gluten Free Fish Sticks
We're huge fans of any company that offers gluten-free versions of a beloved food item -- but if they're going to do that, they have to nail it. While Ian's Foods haven't done a terrible job, they haven't totally stuck the landing. Ian's Gluten Free Fish Sticks have one of the lowest overall customer ratings of all the options in our ranking, with a fairly large proportion of poor reviews. The people who weren't fans of these fish sticks were quick to point out the curious texture of them. The fish inside has a rubbery, overly chewy texture, and what's more, there isn't that much fish in the first place. Those filets aren't the only thing that's rubbery, either. The breading, made primarily from corn flour, is also pretty dense.
Having said this, the flavor of Ian's Gluten-Free Frozen Fish Sticks does win it some points and save it from being at the bottom of the pile. Customers have pointed out that these fish sticks aren't too salty, which can make a nice change from other sodium-packed options on the market. When you consider the poor texture of them, though, and the fact that they're pretty expensive for what you get, it's difficult to rank them higher.
Pacific Sustainable Seafood Gluten Free Fish Sticks
Pacific Sustainable Seafood has a range of gluten-free breaded fish products out there, and its fish sticks are particularly prominent in its output. Unlike some other gluten-free fish sticks out there, these ones appear to be the real deal. Eaters of these fish sticks have praised their juiciness and their sheer size, with these fishy morsels being way bigger than some other options out there. Additionally, the Pacific Sustainable Seafood Gluten Free Fish Sticks have a versatility to them that's hard to beat.
So why aren't they ranked any higher? The sheer fact of the matter is that not enough people have been able to give them a thumbs-up. These fish sticks have an impressive customer rating of 4.8 out of 5 on Amazon, but this is only aggregated from three individual scores available at the time of writing. As such, there's not enough reliable data to bump them up the list, but folks who are looking for a good gluten-free fish stick may be up for taking the plunge and reporting back to us.
Kidfresh Frozen Fish Sticks
As fish sticks are a staple item for kids' dinners, it's no surprise that child-focused food manufacturers have started to create their own versions. Kidfresh is one such company, with its Frozen Fish Sticks. This product is made with a unique whole-grain chickpea breading (although it should be pointed out that this doesn't make them gluten-free, as the recipe still contains wheat flour). This breading choice makes these fish sticks stand out, and they're definitely a hit with customers in some respects. The main positive is that they are indeed appealing to kids, with multiple customers praising their child-friendly nature, and pointing out how much their little ones enjoy them.
Although this is a winning trait for a child's food item, it's not the kids who are buying them -- and adults should be prepared to spend big. These fish sticks are much pricier than some other choices out there, likely due to their distinctive breading, which has cost them a higher place on our list. It's also useful to note that while most customers seem to be happy with this product, despite its higher price, it doesn't have the highest overall customer rating out of our selection, with a few disgruntled customers rating it just one or two stars.
Gardein Plant-Based F'sh Filets
Plant-based fish sticks are a must for folks who don't eat fish but still want to enjoy the simplicity and nostalgia of the food item. Plant-based food producer Gardein delivers the goods sufficiently well with its Gardein Plant-Based F'sh Filets, and it's fair to say that these are a hit with customers. Boasting a highly impressive 4.6 out of 5 rating on Amazon out of almost 5,000 individual scores, purchasers are most impressed with how seamlessly these can be swapped out with actual fish, with no hugely discernible difference. They're not too fishy, have a realistic flaky texture, and have a crispy, light breading, all of which cause people to buy them again and again.
With such rave reviews, you might be wondering why these aren't higher on our list — and unfortunately, it all comes down to shape. Although these fishless filets are frequently swapped out for fish sticks by customers, the fact remains that they are not, in the strictest sense, fish sticks. Instead, they have a triangular shape, which may interfere with some people's all-important sense of nostalgia. Aside from that, it also may make them trickier to fit into sandwiches. These are all minor points, of course, and if you don't care about the shape of your fish sticks, these are an awesome choice. For some folks, though, dimensions are everything.
Good Catch Plant-Based Breaded Fish Sticks
If you want a quality, plant-based fish stick that looks exactly like the real thing, Good Catch has you covered. The company specializes in making plant-based versions of your favorite seafood products, and it's done a tremendous job with its fish sticks, with customers enjoying their nostalgia factor and their taste, which some people have said is pretty much identical to the real thing. People also enjoy how well they crisp up in the air fryer.
However, while these are likely the best classic plant-based fish sticks out there at the moment, you should be prepared for your fish sensitivity to be tested. Customers are in two minds about how fishy these fish sticks actually are. While some say that they're mild, others have noted that they have an overly fishy scent, which is pretty strange considering that they're plant-based. Additionally, keep in mind that they may not get as crispy with other cooking methods than an air fryer, as some customers have reported issues with achieving maximum crunch. Having said this, these are a very solid option for a plant-based fish stick.
Starfish Gluten Free Panko Breaded Fish Sticks
One of the most frequently found complaints when it comes to fish sticks is concerning their size, with people often finding that the brand they're buying is way too small. This isn't an issue with Starfish Gluten Free Panko Breaded Fish Sticks, however. These fish sticks, which are coated with Panko breadcrumbs made from corn flour, are routinely praised by customers for their impressive dimensions, with their bumper size making them incredibly filling. As well as this, the fish sticks are also beloved for their ability to become crispy despite being gluten-free, and their delectable taste.
It has to be pointed out, though, that the larger size of these fish sticks isn't universally loved. Some folks take issue with the fact that there are only five to seven fish sticks per box, and as they're a specialty product that avoids using wheat flour, they are slightly on the pricier side. It's these slight downsides that arguably contribute to its slightly lower overall rating on Amazon — although at 4.3 out of 5, aggregated from over 1,700 customers, it's hardly a terrible score. Despite this, these fish sticks are by far the best gluten-free option out there today and are sure to satisfy.
Trident Seafoods The Ultimate Fish Stick
Leave it to Trident to make a reliable fish stick that pleases time and time again. The massive seafood company has been fishing off the shores of Alaska for almost half a century, and so it's had plenty of time to perfect Trident Seafoods' The Ultimate Fish Stick, which is abundant in wild Alaska pollock. These fish sticks are a solid choice for folks who are looking for a classic fish stick with a crispy coating and a gentle taste, with customers praising their flavor and the lightness of their batter. People are also huge fans of the fact that they're made with sustainable seafood, something which contributes to their higher rating on our list.
Another key positive of Trident Seafoods' The Ultimate Fish Stick for customers is the product's versatility. Customers have pointed out that these fish sticks fit perfectly into fish tacos, slot nicely alongside a portion of rice and tzatziki, and can be more simply enjoyed with some good old french fries. Kids also love these fish sticks, and they win extra points for being microwaveable, a rarity with a food item that's more traditionally baked or deep-fried. All in all, Trident's offering is a choice that likely won't let you down.
Van De Kamp's Fish Sticks
What sets a good fish stick apart from a great one? In our opinion, it's all in the contrast. Fish sticks excel when they have moist, subtle-tasting fish enclosed in a super-crispy coating, but way too many brands simply don't put enough attention into their batter. This isn't the case with Van de Kamp's Fish Sticks, which are adored by customers for their crunch. Van de Kamp's entry to the market employs a generous wheat coating, which packs each fish stick with a crispiness that gives way to tender, wild-caught fish.
Aesthetically, Van de Kamp's Fish Sticks are also very pleasing. People who bought this product are keen to point out the even golden-brownness of the fish sticks, meaning they avoid the grayish tinge that some lesser products fall prey to. These fish sticks are also packed generously, coming in packs of 18, 44, or 60. While the fact that they're made from minced fish as opposed to whole fillet pieces costs them a higher place on our list, it's hard to go wrong with them. "These Fish Sticks are an absolute treat. When I ordered them for my husband, his eyes lit up with the fond memories of his childhood. The taste is consistent, the quality is top-notch, and the golden crispy crust paired with tender fish inside is just as he remembered," says one customer via Amazon, which sums them up pretty much perfectly.
Gorton's Crunchy Breaded Fish Sticks
Gorton's is a heavy hitter in the seafood space, and as you might expect from such a prominent brand, its Crunchy Breaded Fish Sticks hit the spot. These fish sticks strike a particularly good balance of quality and price, with customers stating that they're affordable while remaining tasty and delicious. Particularly of note in these fish sticks is the succulence of the meat inside; while lesser options tend to have fish that's mealy, dry, or chalky, Gorton's fish sticks are juicy and full of flavor.
In addition to this, Gorton's Crunchy Breaded Fish Sticks are seasoned generously, giving them both great flavor and preventing the need to make any additions or alterations. Gorton's fish sticks work with pretty much any side you'd care to name, and people who buy the product state that their kids love them, even when they're slightly selective eaters. All of these positives contribute to a 4.5 out of 5 buyer score on Walmart, and an impressively high ranking on our list.
Mrs. Paul's Crunchy Breaded Fish Sticks
Runner up in our list is a fish stick that, according to customers, is a pure hit of nostalgia. Mrs. Paul's Crunchy Breaded Fish Sticks are a classic, classy option, which tastes just as good as when you were a kid. Each fish stick is well-coated in batter that doesn't turn into crumbs in the box and cooks up in no time to produce a next-level crunch. As much as you'll love these little morsels of food, too, we're pretty sure that your kids will love them even more: Of the dozens of positive reviews out there, a large proportion of them mention how suitable they are for children.
The fish itself is mild-tasting and doesn't have too strong of a smell, adding to these fish sticks' broad appeal. Why they've edged to nearly the top of our list, though, is thanks to their affordability. For the sheer quality of these fish sticks, they remain super-reasonable in terms of price, and although prices can fluctuate, you're rarely likely to pay above the odds with them. Considering that lesser fish sticks cost even more, it's hard to go wrong with Mrs. Paul's.
365 By Whole Foods Market Breaded Fish Sticks
We have our winner, folks! The top pick out there by customers for fish sticks isn't some high-priced gourmet option that's impossible to find, but an everyday purchase that's both cheap and utterly delicious. The 365 by Whole Foods Market Breaded Fish Sticks are the favorite amongst purchasers by a considerable margin, with a 4.5 out of 5 rating on Amazon achieved from well over 2,400 reviews, and five-star ratings making up the vast majority of those.
It's hard to know where to start with the positives of these fish sticks, but trust us when we say they're the real deal. Time and time again, customers point out their excellent flavor, their genuinely fish-like taste, the crispiness of their breading, and the fact that they please the pickiest of eaters. These fish sticks are easy to cook, versatile, and great any time of the day. Where they really move to the top of the pack, though, is in their brilliant price point and the generosity of what you get for your money. In each bumper bag of 365 Everyday Value Fish Sticks, there are dozens of individual pieces, preventing you from having to go to the store every time you need a fish stick fix.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.