5 Walleye Recipes That Don’t Involve Frying

Put down the crackers and the frying oil. These recipes will take your walleye cooking to the next level

Angler holding up a walleye fish.
Across the upper midwest, walleye is regarded as the best eating fish around.Jamie Carlson

I live in Minnesota, and around here and across much of the upper Midwest, the walleye is king. Many people believe it’s the all-around greatest fish that has ever been. And while I enjoy it, I’m not sure it’s the best we have to offer.

My biggest criticism of walleye is as table fare. Many people claim they are the best-tasting fish ever. I personally feel as though there are better fish out there. On its own, walleye is a very mild flaky white fish with no real distinct flavor. Those words might get me in a lot of trouble in some circles—as will some of the ways I like to prepare walleye.

There are some purists who believe that frying is the only way to cook walleye and the only argument to have is whether you use Ritz crackers or Saltines as your breading. I have eaten my fair share of walleye breaded with both, but I like to try new things, too. With walleye being a fairly neutral-flavored fish it is a great vessel for other flavors to ride on. If you are willing to break free from the crowd and are interested in trying something different, here are five ways to cook walleye that don’t involve frying.

1. Pan-Seared Walleye With a Sorrel Cream Sauce

Pan-Seared Walleye with a Sorrel Cream Sauce
A cream sauce is a perfect complement to a white and flakey walleye fillet. Jamie Carlson
  • 1 lb. walleye fillets
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced
  • 1 cup sorrel leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup sweet vermouth

Season the walleye fillets with salt and pepper and let stand for about 15 minutes before cooking. Melt one tablespoon of butter in a nonstick pan with one tablespoon of oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, gently lay the fish in the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes per side depending on how big the fillets are. When the fish is done cooking, remove from the pan and set aside on a warm plate.

For the cream sauce

Add the other tablespoon of butter to the pan and melt it over medium heat. Add the shallots and stir for one minute. Add in the sorrel leaves and cook until all the sorrel has wilted. Pour in the vermouth and continue cooking until most of the vermouth has evaporated. Pour in the heavy cream and bring to a boil stirring constantly. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.

To serve, pour the sauce onto a plate and lay a walleye fillet on top.

2. Butter Basted Walleye with Kale and Black-eyed Pea Salad

Butter Basted Walleye with Kale and Black-eyed Pea Salad
While this recipe may look complicated it's just as easy as breading and frying a walleye fillet. Jamie Carlson
  • 2 walleye fillets
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3-4 sprigs of thyme
  • All-purpose flour for dusting
  • Salt
  • Pepper

This recipe is very simple. Just melt some butter and a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat and toss in the garlic cloves and thyme sprigs. Then, season your walleye fillets with salt and pepper and give them a dusting with flour before laying them in the pan. While the fillets are cooking, tilt the pan to one side so the oil and butter pool on the edge, and spoon the hot butter over the fillet. Cook it like this on one side for 4-5 minutes, basting the fillet with butter. This is a really great method for cooking a thinner fillet because you don’t have to flip it over and risk it falling apart. It also allows it to get a nice crust on one side without overcooking.

For the salad

  • 4 cups of kale torn into bite-sized pieces with stems and veins removed
  • 1 can Black-eyed peas
  • 1 medium shallot, finely diced
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl, add the shallots, vinegar, mustard, and maple syrup. Whisk the ingredients together and continue whisking as you pour in the olive oil. Taste the vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper. In another large bowl, toss the kale and peas together with the maple-mustard vinaigrette.

3. Sous Vide Walleye with a Parmesan Crust

Sous Vide Walleye with a Parmesan Crust
Sous vide is a method of cooking where you vacuum-seal the ingredients and then cook them in a water bath set to a specific temperature. Jamie Carlson
  • 2 walleye fillets
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 slices of lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • ¼ cup unseasoned bread crumbs

Season the fillets with salt and pepper. Arrange one bay leaf, one slice of lemon, and one tablespoon of butter on each fillet. Place the fillets inside a vacuum bag and seal according to the instructions. Preheat your sous vide to 125 degrees and place the bag in the water bath. Cook for 30 minutes and then remove the fillets from the bath.

Walleye fillets in a vacuum bag, ready to sous vide.
Walleye fillets in a vacuum bag, ready to sous vide.Jamie Carlson

Preheat the broiler on your oven to high. Cut the vacuum bag open and pour the liquid into a container. You will use 2 tablespoons of the melted butter from the bag to make the parmesan crust. Slide the fillets out of the bag onto a baking sheet. Combine the bread crumbs and parmesan with the melted butter and pour over and completely cover the walleye fillets. Place under the broiler for 3-4 minutes watching carefully so you don’t burn the crust. Remove from the oven and serve.

4. Jalapeno and Lime Walleye Cakes

Jalapeno and Lime Walleye Cakes
Jalapeno and lime walleye cakes with tartar sauce. Jamie Carlson

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Season the walleye fillets with salt and pepper, place on a baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the fillets and allow them to cool. Using your hands, break apart the fillets into small pieces and place in a bowl. In a small sauté pan over medium-high heat melt one tablespoon of butter and add the green onion, jalapeno, and garlic. Cook for two minutes until the green onions are soft. Add the mixture to the bowl with the fillets and mix in the remaining ingredients.

Form the mixture into patties and cook in a pan until golden on both sides—about 3 minutes per side over medium heat. Serve with your favorite tartar sauce.

5. Grilled Tequila Lime Walleye Tacos

Grilled Tequila Lime Walleye Tacos.
Walleye takes the marinade in this recipe very well. Jamie Carlson
  • 1 lbs. walleye fillets

For the Marinade

Combine the ingredients for the marinade, place the walleye fillets in the marinade, and refrigerate for one hour. Prepare your grill and cook the walleye fillets for about 3 minutes per side over high heat or about 10 minutes on a pellet grill set to 400 degrees. Remove the fillets and chop into bite-sized pieces. Serve with corn tortillas and whatever taco fixings you like. I prefer Pico del Gallo, avocado, lime wedges and plenty of cilantro.