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The humble fish gets a makeover with the world-famous Schnitzel recipe from Germany. 


Schnitzel (pronounced SH-nit-sel) is a native German dish that has managed to woo food lovers all around the world. In its most basic form, schnitzel is a thin slice of meat coated in breadcrumbs and fried in fat. In all naivety, it looks like a cutlet, but there is a lot more to this seemingly simple dish than you can imagine. 


Schnitzel is tenderized meat coated in breadcrumbs and fried to golden perfection. Most commonly, schnitzel is made out of veal, pork, beef, or chicken. Whatever be the meat used, it is characterized by its ultra-thin dimension achieved by hammering. The most popular version of schnitzel is the Wiener-Schnitzel or Jäger-Schnitzel.


As you might know by now, not just the food but the stories associated with a particular food enchant me. While researching the origin of schnitzel, I was enamored by the mindblowing tales associated with it. 

The name Wiener-Schnitzel is derived from the word Wiener (pronounced VIEN-er) which means from Vienna in Austria. Therefore as the name suggests it was first made by the Austrians. However, the concept of hammering meat to tenderize it dates back to the 7th century!

The legend goes that in the late 800 AD, Kaiser Basileios-I was obsessed with gold so much so that he wanted his meat to be covered in sheets of gold. Gradually this practice of gold-coating became popular amongst the wealthy people nevertheless, gold was expensive, so, an alternate yellow gold had to be created. Soon the cheap breadcrumbs fried to a beautiful golden hue replaced the sheets of gold! Since then, using breadcrumbs to coat meat started gaining popularity.

In the year 1862, an Austrian general chanced upon breadcrumb coated veal cutlets in Milan. He went on to popularize the idea in Austria, and it was finally in Vienna that the dish was perfected and named the Wiener Schnitzel.


This recipe is a tribute to the much loved Schnitzel but with a twist. Schnitzel is prepared with different varieties of meat but I decided to give the humble fish a new identity with the recipe of schnitzel. The recipe is as you can imagine pretty basic. 




You will need the following ingredients to prepare the Fish Schnitzel:

  1. Fillet of any white fish washed and patted dry. I have used Basa here.
  2. The marinade is as easy as it can get consisting of lemon juice, salt, lemon zest, and freshly crushed black pepper.
  3. Mayonnaise for coating the fish fillet.
  4. Paprika, herb mix, and breadcrumb for breading the fillet.
  5. Oil and butter for frying.


Traditionally the Wiener Schnitzel is made with veal meat. However, many German restaurants now offer the following variations:

  • Schweine-Schnitzel: This is breaded pork meat, fried to perfection. It is also known as Scaloppini. 
  • Puten-Schnitzel: This uses breaded turkey meat. It is milder in taste and lower in fat than its veal and pork counterparts.  
  • Hänchen-Schnitzel: This uses breaded, boneless, skinless breast of chicken. It is milder in taste and lower in fat than its veal and pork counterparts.


Can I use homemade breadcrumb?              

Both homemade and store-bought breadcrumb is fine as long as it is fresh and unseasoned. You can easily make bread crumbs at home. Lightly toast the bread and cut into pieces. Put the pieces in a food processor to finely grate into breadcrumbs.

What can I use instead of breadcrumbs?

You can grind the basic cornflakes in the grinder and use the cornflakes crumbs instead of breadcrumbs.

What can I use instead of mayonnaise?

You can use a batter formed of egg, milk, and all-purpose flour instead of mayonnaise.

Shouldn't I hammer the fish fillet as is required in schnitzel?

Schnitzel originally uses meat. The idea of hammering is to tenderize the meat. Since you are using fish and it is naturally tender and cooks fast, you do not need to hammer the fish fillet.

Can I use just oil to fry the schnitzel?

A combination of butter and oil when used to fry the Schnitzel, results in a crispy and beautiful golden hue. However, you can avoid the butter if you are not comfortable.

Can I prepare the schnitzels ahead of frying?

It is best to fry the Schnitzel immediately after it has been coated with bread crumbs because letting it rest before frying causes the coating to stick to the skin of the fish. This may not result in a perfectly crispy outcome, but that should not stop you from preparing ahead of time. A little less crispy would still taste very good.


You can serve Fish schnitzel with just a basic green salad and lemon wedges. You can also serve it alongside mashed potatoes, grilled corn, and steamed or stir-fried veggies. I served it with the iconic German Red Cabbage dish, Rotkohl.



Yield: 4
Author: The GradChef
Prep time: 5 MCook time: 15 MTotal time: 20 M
The humble fish gets a makeover with the world-famous Schnitzel recipe from Germany. Pair this crispy, flavorful fried fish with Rotkohl or the German Red Cabbage.


  • 2 fish fillet washed and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp mixed herbs
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp crushed black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • lemon for serving


  1. Marinate fish with salt, black pepper, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Let it rest.
  2. In a plate combine breadcrumbs, herb mix, and paprika.
  3. Coat each fillet of fish with mayonnaise. Press lightly into the breadcrumb mixture to bread the fillet.
  4. In a large frying pan, heat oil on high. Melt the butter in the hot oil. Fry fish fillet for 3 minutes each side until golden and cooked through. Drain on a paper towel.
  5. Serve fish schnitzel with salad and lemon rings.


  • You can use any flesh and firm white fish for this recipe.
  • Substitute breadcrumbs with cornflakes crumbs or panko if you prefer.
  • You can use any one particular herb instead of the herb mix.
  • The mixture of oil and butter results in a beautiful color and texture.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Fish, dinner, lunch, german, Seafood dish, Less than 30 minutes, Quick & Easy
Appetizer, main course
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  • The Wiener Schnitzel is the national dish of Austria.
  • The name Wiener Schnitzel is trademarked aby Austrian laws which require that for a dish to be called schnitzel it has to be made of veal.
  • September 9th is National Wiener Schnitzel Day.
  • Wienerschnitzel is an American fast-food chain founded in 1961 specializing in hot dogs.




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