Fried Smelt is an easy Spring dinner for any night of the week! They literally take 5 minutes to cook, so dinner is on the table in less than 30 minutes!

close up of smelt on parchment paper

Every springtime around the Great Lakes in the United States and southern Canada, the yearly smelts run happens. Fishermen can be seen, at night, with lanterns and nets, in the streams and river tributaries of the lakes, as the smelts go upstream to breed; smelt dipping, as it’s called.

You are watching: How To Cook Smelts Fried

smelt with chive garnish

Smelt are also sold commercially, if you live close enough to one of the Great Lakes or some of the coastal lands of the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Different species of smelts are found in Europe, and northern Asia, and also in Australia! Our local smelts range from about 7″ to 9″. Learn more at Wikipedia

fried smelt on white wooden board

We used to stay up until the sun came up and drive an hour south of us to a stream where you were guaranteed to get the best haul of smelts, if you stayed up most of the night. Then we would spend the next way cleaning the smelts.

Smelt on pewter dish with sweet potato fries

How to Clean Fresh Smelts

  • Cut off their heads, just past the gills. (very small smelts can be cooked with their heads attached.)
  • Slit the belly to the anal fin.
  • Remove entrails.
  • Wash cavity thoroughly.
smelt with condiment tray

Freezing Smelts

  • Once smelts are cleaned, place in salted water for approximately 1 hour.
  • Drain
  • Freeze in plastic freezer bags or vacuum sealed bag.
  • Adding 1/2 cup of water to the bag will prolong the freezing time.
  • Can be frozen for up to 6 months.

How to Cook Fried Smelt

  1. Measure about 1 cup of flour into a covered bowl or plastic food storage bag. Add Lemon Pepper and Celery Salt. Mix well.
  2. Add. fish and shake to coat.
Breaded smelt in cast iron pan.

See more: What To Serve With Blintzes | Coral's Blog – Food Blog – Cooking Guide

Cook smelt in shallow oil in a heavy bottom pan, until crispy on first side. Flip with tongs or spatula when browne, and brown second side.

Crispy smelt cooking in cast iron pan.

What to serve with smelt

Serve smelt with lots of different sides. Some good ones include;

  • Sweet potato fries
  • Fries or chips
  • coleslaw
  • side salad
  • cottage cheese
  • mashed potatoes
smelt with sweet potatoes on pewter bowl

Other Delicious Fish Recipes on Binky’s Culinary Carnival

  • Pan Fried Bullhead
  • Northern Pike
  • Stuffed Rainbow Trout
  • Grilled Salmon
  • Lobster Stuffed Grouper
  • Fried Perch
crispy fried smelt on wood slab

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Sauces That are Great to Serve with Smelt

  • Cocktail Sauce
  • Thousand Island Dressing
  • Fermented Hot Sauce (or Tabasco, Sriracha)
  • Tartar Sauce
  • Ketchup
smelt on tree round with rings

Read more: How To Make Twice Baked Potatoes Ahead Of Time | Coral's Blog – Food Blog – Cooking Guide

That’s how easy it is to make Fried Smelt. Thanks for stopping by today!

Enjoy! And have fun cooking!


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Tools I Use to Make Fried Smelt

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  • cast iron frying pan
  • spatula
  • bowls
fried smelt6

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click the link and purchase something, at no additional cost to you. See FTC Disclosure, here.

See more: How to Peel, Cut & Cook Whole Kabocha Squash aka Japanese Pumpkin (w/Photo Guide)


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