10 Fast Food Fish Sandwiches Doing It Right This Year

In a sea of Lenten options, which fast food fish sandwiches will get you closer to God?

Lent is traditionally a time of abstinence, penitence, and restriction. It's a time to sit back and reflect on what a naughty, naughty little cretin you've been. But while Lent may be a time to give up your vices, it also coincides with the annual bacchanal that is Fish Sandwich Season.

Here at The Takeout, we take fast fish very seriously. We're of the belief that not every fast food fish sandwich is worth your time. There simply aren't enough hours in the day to waste on lackluster fish sandwiches; that's time you could use to, ahem, pray and stuff. Fortunately, our extensive seafood research will help you separate the golden, buttery, flaky sandwiches from the lackluster fish patties. Amen to that.

Culver’s North Atlantic Cod Sandwich

Year after year, Culver's reigns supreme. Culver's North Atlantic Cod sandwich took gold in our 2021 fish sandwich ranking, and we're sticking with that assessment this year. The cod fillet is thick, measuring a whopping two inches at the fillet's thickest point. It's also hand-battered in "a signature recipe of herbs and spices" which can only be described as "heavenly." Finally, the sandwich is topped with just enough tangy tartar sauce, accented with olives, capers, and sweet relish. There's even a little Wisconsin cheddar in there as a treat.


How does Culver's pull this off? Why is the North Atlantic Cod sandwich so far beyond the rest of the competition? It we had to guess, it has something to do with the fact that the sandwich is available year-round—unlike Culver's seasonal Northwoods Walleye sandwich. Like the cod, the walleye is also cooked to order and sandwiched in a buttery roll, but its flavor is milder—frankly, a little more boring—than the cod sandwich. The North Atlantic Cod sticks around all year, giving the chain time to perfect the product.

Why it's worth your time: Culver's cranks out a fish sandwich that's tender, flaky, and downright buttery in a way that hearkens back to the crispy batter you'd see at a bona fide fish fry. Plus, it's available year-round. The fishy fun never has to end!


Cons: Culver's has a limited reach. You won't be able to find this one unless you're in one of the chain's service areas. (Sorry, Californians and New Yorkers.)

Arby’s King’s Hawaiian Fish Deluxe

Arby's King's Hawaiian Fish Deluxe is a close second in this year's fast fish assessment. The sandwich is served on a fluffy King's Hawaiian bun, which pairs fabulously with the crispy Alaskan pollock. The fish patty is generously breaded and big, sticking out of the bun for several inches on each side. The only downside: the sandwich is, as you can see in the photo above, kind of sloppy. It's packing a slice of cheese, tomato, tons of tartar sauce on both buns, and an ungodly amount of shredded lettuce. Still, the flavor is excellent.


Why it's worth your time: All sandwiches should be served on a King's Hawaiian bun. It's God's truth!

Cons: Arby's quality tends to vary widely depending on your location.

Arby’s Spicy Fish Sandwich

She's not much of a looker, but Arby's new Spicy Fish Sandwich shines if you're looking for an extra kick with your sandwich. The sandwich features a very crispy seasoned fish fillet topped with diced fire-roasted jalapeños. The sharp, acrid spice of a jalapeño pairs great with the fish; our only complaint is the off-putting appearance of the pepper bits atop the sandwich. A jalapeño-infused tartar sauce may have been a better choice for more even spice distribution.


Why it's worth your time: The crispy breading on the fish fillet, along with the unusual spice source, makes this one of the more creative fish sandwiches on today's market.

Cons: The diced fire-roasted jalapeños look kind of creepy and don't lend themselves to even spice distribution.

Popeyes Spicy Flounder Fish Sandwich

Well done, Popeyes! The brand scrapped its Cajun Flounder Sandwich (check out our full review of that sandwich here), opting for "spicy flounder" instead. The new sandwich seems to lean into the brand's now-iconic chicken sandwich, with the same toasted brioche bun and barrel-cured pickles that you'd find on the chicken sandwich.


The Spicy Flounder sandwich has a decently thick flounder patty, but the real star of the show is the breading, which is seasoned inside and out. The spicy sauce is also generously applied to both the top and bottom buns, making this option the hottest on today's fast fish market. (If you can't take the heat, you can order the non-spicy Popeyes Classic Flounder Fish Sandwich.)

Why it's worth your time: The spice level here is higher (read: more exciting!!!) than any other fish sandwich on the market. Plus, that buttery bun is really something.

Cons: There's not much relief here—it would be great to see some pickled onions or cooling slaw to balance the heat.

White Castle Panko Breaded Fish Slider

White Castle's Panko Breaded Fish Sliders are teeny little guys, served in the chain's signature slider boxes with a slice of American cheese and crispy panko breading. This is a no-fuss sandwich, but the breading is solid, the cheese is a nice touch, and the thing's just so dang cute.


Why it's worth your time: The sandwich is tiny, which is great if you'd rather not commit to an immense fish fillet like those served at Arby's or Culver's.

Cons: Once again, the sandwich is tiny, so you'll need to order several if you're starving.

McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish

What can we say about the Filet-O-Fish that hasn't been said? It's a classic for a reason. Is it the most exciting fish sandwich out there? No, but you know what you're getting every single time.

Why it's worth your time: A low price and consistent preparation make the Filet-O-Fish a failproof, no-frills option. Also, it's a classic. You gotta try it at least once.


Cons: It's probably not going to blow your mind flavor-wise.

Wendy’s Crispy Panko Fish Sandwich

The Wendy's Crispy Panko Fish Sandwich lingered near the bottom of our 2021 fish sandwich rankings, but it does have one really good thing going for it: it's made with wild Alaskan pollock from a certified sustainable fishery. Obviously, a fast food chain isn't going to be your first choice if you're focused on sustainable seafood—but it's nice to see they're trying.


Why it's worth your time: You can feel a little better knowing your fish comes from a certified sustainable fishery.

Cons: The texture and sauce ratio on this sandwich leave something to be desired. Plus, it's perfectly square. (That could also be a pro, depending on your preference.)

Captain D’s Giant Fish Sandwich

The Captain D's Giant Fish Sandwich really is giant. It contains two hefty pieces of batter-dipped fish. These aren't fish fillets, nor are they wimpy fish patties. No, Captain D's said "to hell with it" and just slapped two huge pieces of fish in a toasted bun. And this fish is transcendently good. It's generously coated in the kind of crispy batter you'll find at Culver's, offering bite after bite of chunky, flaky goodness.


Why it's worth your time: The heaping portion of fish on this sandwich will keep you full for days. Plus, the batter can't be beat.

Cons: Like Culver's, this one may be a bit tricky to find because Captain D's exists solely in the south and certain parts of the Midwest. Also, don't try to eat this thing while driving. This is a two-hander.

Long John Silver’s Wild Alaska Pollock Sandwich

This is a pickle lover's sandwich, plain and simple. The Alaskan pollock used in the Long John Silver's Wild Alaska Pollock Sandwich is battered similarly to the fish used in the Captain D's sandwich; while the actual flavor of the fish doesn't hit quite as well as Captain D's, the pickle quantity—we counted six the last time we checked—is enough to ensure you get a pleasant crunch with every bite.


Why it's worth your time: If you're looking for a pickle party, this is it.

Cons: Without the pickles, this sandwich doesn't have much to offer in the way of flavor.

Or, make your own

If you'd rather have a DIY fish sandwich experience, we've got options. You can fire up your air fryer and test our recipe for Baltimore Coddies here; you can also treat yourself to some dainty shrimp toasts. Both options are easier than an old-fashioned fish fry.


Why it's worth your time: No need to hit the drive-thru line; plus, impress your friends and enemies.

Cons: You'll spend time cooking when you could be focusing on your Lenten penitence. Consider purchasing a very scratchy oven mitt to even things out.