I compared fish sandwiches from 4 major fast-food chains, and all of them were terrible except one

Jeff J Mitchell / Getty ImagesIf fish isn’t done right, it’s downright offensive.
  • Fish isn’t usually people’s first-choice protein when eating at fast-food restaurants.
  • But with Lent on the horizon and with pescatarians in mind, we tried all of the fast-food fish sandwiches we could get our hands on to find the very best one.
  • Out of Arby’s, Dairy Queen, McDonald’s, and Burger King, we found that Burger King had the only fish sandwich that we kind of enjoyed.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Let’s be real – fish isn’t usually the first choice of protein at a fast-food restaurant.

It’s kind of hard to screw up beef. Even overcooked, from-frozen beef is acceptable. But if fish isn’t done just right, it’s downright offensive. Imagine paying four to six bucks for a sandwich and biting into a tough, rancid fillet that stains your mouth with its fishy odor.

Luckily for you, you don’t have to do that – because I already did.

For Lent, when Catholics abstain from eating meat on Fridays, and for our perennial pescatarians, I ate all the fast-food fish sandwiches available to filter out the very worst ones. After putting my stomach and taste buds through some mild suffering, I found my answer.


I started at Arby’s, where I ordered the crispy fish sandwich ($US3.79).

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

It featured an outsized triangular slab of fish slapped between two rather impressive sesame seed buns.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

But balance is the key to a good sandwich, and this one was short on lettuce and sauce.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The fish itself tasted gritty and pungent. White fish shouldn’t taste very fishy, but this did. Hard pass.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Next, I went to Dairy Queen, where I ordered the crispy fish sandwich ($US6.39).

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The bun was small and plain, the fish fillet also triangular for some reason.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

This sandwich’s combination of lettuce, tartar sauce, and crispy, inoffensive fish was, at first bite, much better than Arby’s.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

But then I made the mistake of tasting each component individually. Turns out tartar sauce is an effective cover-up for other not-so-fresh flavours.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Next, I tried the original fast-food fish sandwich: McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish ($US4.59).

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

It was much smaller and much plainer than the other two sandwiches.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The fish was crispy outside with the same frozen gritty texture inside. But thankfully, it had no fishy flavour whatsoever. In fact, it had very little flavour at all.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The tartar sauce does most of the heavy lifting in that department. For McDonald’s, that’s pretty par for the course.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

My last port of call was Burger King, where I ordered the Big Fish sandwich ($US6.49).

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Out of all the sandwiches, this was the most sophisticated. It had pickles and a sweet brioche bun.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The fillet had the thickest batter of all, but the fish inside was just fine.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The crunch of the pickle, crispy fish, and tartar sauce all worked together for the most flavorful — albeit salty — bite of the day.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Overall, it was clear that Burger King was the Popeyes of the fish sandwich, not least because of its pickles and sweet brioche bun. It had by far the most interesting flavours and the crispiest fish. I’d keep a cup of water handy, though.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

For those with less adventurous palettes, the Filet-O-Fish remains a solid if uninspiring choice for the fast-food-loving fish eater.

Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Note: At the time this taste test was conducted, Chick-fil-A’s and Wendy’s fish sandwiches were not yet available.

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