Pan Fried Perch

by Jason

Growing up in Wisconsin a meal of fresh pan fried perch was always a special treat.  I am lucky enough today to have access to fresh, never frozen, perch filets at my local butcher shop.  These are simple enough to prepare and fry and make a great lunch or dinner that’s hard to beat!

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I like to use my cast iron pans for pan frying fish fillets.  Of course any pan will work but cast iron imparts that crispy pan fried crust and flavor just a bit better and feels more like camping and shore lunch!  I was able to acquire fresh perch filets however you may only have access to frozen.  If that’s the case just be sure to thaw well per instructions on packaging.  Make sure your perch filets are flexible and not hard in the center after thawing.  Hard centers indicate they are still frozen in the center and they won’t cook through this way.

To Start

Grab a medium size bowl and add the flour, cayenne, salt and pepper.  Mix well with a fork to blend the spices.  Add the butter to your pan and get it warmed up on medium – medium high heat.  Once the butter begins to bubble simply dip your perch filets in the flour spice mixture and shake off excess.

Pan Fried Perch

Place the perch filets in the cast iron pan in a sequence, like going around the clock face for example.  You do this to help keep track of how long the perch filets have been in the pan.  After about two minutes you’ll want to start checking the first filet you placed in the pan.  Once browned go ahead and flip. Work your way around the pan following the order you put the filets into the pan.  Keep flipping once browned until all the perch filets have been flipped.  Now, about two minutes after the first filet was flipped you’ll want to check it again.  Once well browned on the second side you should be able to remove it from the pan.  Be careful as they are fragile at this point.  I recommend using tongs like these to avoid breaking the filets! Other signs that the filet is done is the filet will firm up and the flesh will be flaky.

The Finish

Now that all filets have been browned and flipped,  Work your way around the pan again removing the filets when done.  When removing the finished perch filets it helps to place them on a platter with a paper towel or two underneath to absorb some of the butter and liquids from the pan, keeping the fish crispier prior to serving!

For another quick pan-fried meal be sure to check out my Pan-fried Chicken Tenders!

Pan Fried Perch Filets

Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: 198 calories 7.1 fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )


  • 1 pound fresh perch filets
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh grind black pepper
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • lemon juice or one fresh lemon


  1. Place flour, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.  You want to make sure the spices are well distributed throughout the flour.
  2. Heat the butter in a large skillet on medium - medium high heat.
  3. Once the butter is melted and starts to bubble dip the perch filets one at a time in the flour mixture.  Coat well and shake off excess, you want a thin coating.
  4. Lay the filets in the pan and keep track of where you started, laying filets from left to right or in another sequence you can remember.  This will help you know which perch filets are likely next to be browned up and ready to flip.
  5. Let cook for 2-3 minutes checking the first couple perch filets you placed in the pan to see if they're well browned on the bottom starting around the 2 minute mark.
  6. Once the perch filet you put in the pan first is browned nicely, go ahead and flip it over slowly work your way around the cast iron pan again checking for good browning and proceed to flip until all filets are turned.
  7. Once it's been about 2 minutes from when you flipped the filets, start checking them again for good brown color on the bottom.  Also pay attention to the firmness, when they are done they will firm up.  They will also get flaky and might break open a bit.  Firm and flaky is done.
  8. Once done take the filets out of the pan being careful not to break them, they are delicate.  A tongs works well.  Place filets on a serving platter and serve them up hot!
  9. Note: We enjoy these with a dash of fresh lemon juice right before diving in with a fork!


Serve with your favorite sides! When I cooked up these perch I had the oven on 'warm' (170F) and placed the platter of cooked perch in the warm oven while I tossed a handful of fresh asparagus back into the hot pan until browned up nicely for my side. Classic sides for this meal include coleslaw, buttered dinner rolls, white clam soup, and baked potatoes!

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1 comment

Mary Jacobs August 16, 2022 - 1:03 pm

I had to try these simply because the pictures made my mouth water! I left out the cayenne pepper, cuz I don’t like hot stuff. These were absolutely delicious!


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