Crunchy Almond-Crusted Fish Recipe

Whip up a no-fry fish dinner at home and celebrate National Almond Day in one meal—plus more recipe ideas
Crunchy Almond-Crusted Fish on a Bed of French Lentils

Photo Terry Brennan, Food Styling Lara Miklasevics

It’s the season for the fish fry with specials at restaurants and your local church basement. (Check out Jason DeRusha’s Fish-Fry Favorites for 2024.) When you want to make dinner at home—and skip the “fry” part of that equation, turn to a healthier take on preparing fish and bake it—but also add crunch with a coating of nuts.

In this recipe by Twin Cities chef and cookbook author Robin Asbell, which she created for Real Food, you can use tilapia, which is an inexpensive yet tasty fish, cod, halibut, or chicken breast when you’re in the mood. Instead of the usual bread crumb coating, you’ll make a crunchy crust out of almonds, which adds an extra pop of protein—plus, celebrate the healthy nuts since Feb. 16 is National Almond Day. French lentils, sometimes called Beluga or Le Puy lentils, are a small, dark green or black lentil that doesn’t fall apart as easily as the standard green lentil, making them perfect for warm salads like this, says Asbell.

Then, scroll down to link to more fish recipe ideas and a creative way to use almonds.

Crunchy Almond-Crusted Fish on a Bed of French Lentils

Makes 6 Servings | Recipe by Robin Asbell

For the Lentils
1 cup dried French lentils, uncooked (makes about 3 cups cooked)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon fresh (or dried) thyme
4 cups fresh spinach

For the Fish
1 cup slivered almonds
16 ounces tilapia or boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 large egg whites
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon canola oil, for pan

  1. In a medium pot, combine the French lentils and 4 cups water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to low and stir occasionally. Cook for about 25 minutes, then test a lentil for doneness. You want the lentils to be tender but not falling apart.
  2. When cooked, drain excess liquid in a wire strainer. Rinse the pot you cooked the lentils in, then place on the stove over medium heat and add the olive oil. Let warm for a few seconds, then add the garlic and dried thyme and stir for a few seconds, until fragrant. Add the spinach and salt and stir and turn until just wilted. Add the warm lentils back to the pan and stir gently to mix in the spinach.
  3. Heat the oven to 400°F. Spray a large sheet pan with olive oil spray and set aside. Place the almond slices in the food processor bowl and pulse until the almonds are coarsely ground, but still chunky. (If you don’t have a food processor, place the nuts on a cutting board and chop finely with a chef’s knife.) Transfer to a medium bowl. Optionally, slice the chicken breast or fish fillet across the grain into ½-inch thick strips, and reserve.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites and salt. Dip the fish or chicken into the egg white mixture, then dredge in the almonds, placing each strip on the prepared sheet pan, making sure they are not touching. Bake for about 7 minutes, depending on the thickness, then take out and turn with a spatula, and bake for 7 minutes longer. Cool on a rack.
  5. Serve about ½ cup of the lentil mixture on a plate, and top with one-sixth of the fish or chicken.

Nutrition (using tilapia): Calories: 400, Fat: 22g (Sat: 2.5g), Cholesterol: 40mg, Sodium: 460mg, Carb: 25g, Fiber: 6g, Sugar: 2g, Protein: 29g

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Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.