Kibbeling (Fried Cod Cheeks)

Kibbeling is one of the most popular Dutch fish snacks. The name has been derived from kabeljauwwang (cod cheek), although nowadays a lot of kibbeling is no longer made from actual cod cheeks but from other pieces of cod, hake, or haddock. When I saw cod cheeks at the fish monger, it was easy to decide that I would make kibbeling at home.

The cod cheeks are first seasoned with a spice mix, allowed to marinate, then battered and deep fried, and finally served with a remoulade or similar sauce. The spice mix reminds me a bit of cajun cuisine.

The spice mix gives the fish a lot of flavor, while the batter keeps the fish moist. It is not surprising kibbeling is so popular! Here’s how to make your own (based on  this recipe (in Dutch)). And don’t worry if you can’t get cod cheeks, other pieces of white fish will also do.


For 6 servings (I only made 2)

1 kg (2.2 lbs) cod cheeks (or pieces of white fish such as cod, hake or haddock)

500 grams (3 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour + more for dusting

2 eggs, beaten

1 litre (4 cups) milk

For the spice mix (makes about 3 Tbsp)

2 1/2 tsp celery salt (or 2 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp dried celery)

1 1/2 tsp ground mustard

1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 1/2 tsp ground bay leaf

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

2 litres (2 quarts) of vegetable oil for deep frying


Combine the spices in a bowl…

…and stir to combine. Store in an airtight container if not using all of the spice mix at once.

Rinse the fish with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Combine the fish and the spice mix in a bowl…

…and toss to coat the fish evenly with the spice mix. Refrigerate for a couple of hours to marinate.

Sift the flour for the batter.

Add the eggs…

…and the milk…

…and whisk until smooth. To prevent lumps, it helps to add only half of the milk first and then slowly add more milk while you are whisking. The batter will be quite similar to that of Dutch pancakes.

Heat the oil to 180ºC/350ºF. Toss the pieces of fish with flour…

…until they are covered on all sides.

Wait until the oil is the right temperature (180ºC/350ºF).

Dip each piece of fish in the batter, shaking off any excess…

…and gently lower into the hot oil.

Do not overcrowd the oil and watch the oil temperature, which should not drop by too much.

Fry the fish until it is golden brown and crispy, then lift it from the oil using a strainer…

…and allow to drain on paper towels.

Serve the kibbeling hot with remoulade or a similar sauce.

Wine pairing

When served with remoulade sauce, kibbeling is outstanding with Muscadet sur Lie.


There are a lot of debates between cooks about the best techniques. Should risotto be stirred or not, et cetera. I like to put such beliefs to the test in a side-by-side comparison, as I did with rendering fat from duck breast over low heat versus high heat. Click here to find out the results.

6 thoughts on “Kibbeling (Fried Cod Cheeks)

  1. Ling cod cheeks are my favorite! (Although we usually have to catch the fish ourselves to get them, I’ve never seen them sold in the stores around here but I am sure they are available at the coast.) Very tasty recipe for them, I’ll keep this in mind next fishing season, thanks!


  2. Yum, these fritters look fabulous! Like mini “fish” from “fish and chips”, but with added flavor from all those great spices you use. Deelicious!


  3. Though I’ve see a few “cheeK” recipes, I’ve yet to see them at any of the fishmongers. Never though much of them until I saw these that you made. Yours look so very addictive, Stefan. Easy to see why they’re so popular. I have to ask around and see if I can order some.


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