Here's What You Can Substitute For Beer In Fish Batter

From the Midwest weekly fish fry to the iconic fish and chips, many people consider fried fish a classic comfort food. Upon first bite, the perfectly fried batter reveals the deliciously tender fish inside. While beer is often a common ingredient in a fish batter, it isn't the only thing that can be used to make light, crunchy fried fish. Even though many pub menus tout beer battered fish, some iconic restaurant fried fish recipes skip the beer entirely. Next time you're frying up some fish, instead of popping open a can of that classic lager, why not open a bottle of club soda?

Cooks Illustrated explored the reasoning behind why beer, or other carbonated beverages like club soda, are so important to a tasty fish batter. The concept is based on two ideas: First, the carbonation in the beverage creates a "lift." In other words, the batter has a lighter texture because of the bubbles present — as the batter cooks, the bubbles escape. Second, carbonation can impact the acidity of your batter. Having the right acid levels helps to avoid a tough, glutenous batter. As anyone who has enjoyed a perfectly crispy piece of fried fish can attest, a light, fluffy batter is better than a tough, dense one. With one key bubbly ingredient, that fried fish recipe is set on the path for success.

Convenience of cooking with club soda

Whether you prefer to avoid beer or just do not have a bottle on hand, club soda is a great substitute for your fish batter. Since (as stated by Cooks Illustrated) the crispy texture comes from carbonation, not alcohol, club soda is an easy swap. The carbonation and the acidity help to create the lighter, crispier battered crust you're expecting when you bite into a piece of fried fish. As seen in this recipe from, using club soda in your batter can create tasty results.

While club soda is a prefect substitute for beer in fish batter recipes, the soda itself must be used correctly to achieve optimal results. The Chicago Tribune says that there are two very important things to remember when making batter with carbonated beverages. One is that cold temperatures help liquids maintain their carbonation, which we know is key to keeping fish batter light. The other important factor is to always open a new bottle of club soda at the start of making fried fish. Just like taking a drink of a disappointing soda that has been open for too long, an already open bottle of club soda can cause fried fish to fall flat.

When that yearning for a delicious plate of homemade fried fish hits and there is no beer around, do not fret! Club soda is an easy substitute for your needs. All those bubbles will help you create a tasty, crisp fish batter to satisfy that craving.