Fried Smelt Recipe

Smelt are a small fish that are rich in protein and omega-3s, and a favorite in Mediterranean kitchens. Quick to cook, they're ready in minutes whether you bake, broil, fry or grill them. We love this easy fried smelt recipe which leaves them golden and crispy and ready to dunk into tartare sauce, or simply sprinkle with lemon and herbs.


  • Vegetable or olive oil for frying
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound smelt
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh herbs like parsley, thyme or rosemary, chopped
  • 1 lemon, halved, to serve
  • Mayonnaise or tartare sauce, to serve


  1. In a large pan, add oil to reach ½ inch up the sides of the pan. Heat the oil until 350°F or when you drop a pinch of flour into the oil it begins to bubble and lightly brown.
  2. In a wide, shallow bowl, mix together the flour, garlic powder and salt. Dredge smelt in the flour mixture and gently slide into the hot oil. Cook for 2 minutes on each side. Do not overcrowd the pan.
  3. Remove smelt from the oil and drain on a wire rack. Season with salt and pepper while hot. Scatter with herbs and serve hot with lemon wedges and mayonnaise or tartare sauce.