Beer Marinated Crappie Tostada Recipe

You’ve done it. You’ve caught a beautiful, feisty crappie larger than the size limit, and you’re taking it home.

You’ve stored it on ice and you can’t wait to try it. After all, both black and white crappie are extremely tasty. They’ve got a mild flavor and excellent nutritional value. Also, they aren’t too greasy.

But what’s the best way to cook them?

Pan-frying crappie is arguably one of the best and most traditional preparation methods. We’re going to give you a modern twist on a classic with this recipe.

The flavors in this dish pop and are sure to add a unique flair to your meal. If you’re looking to impress some dinner guests, crappie tostada is the way to go.

The Recipe

You can prepare your crappie whole or as fillets depending on your preference. Fortunately, crappie cleaning is relatively simple. You may need to modify the amount of your ingredients depending on how many crappies you’ve caught. We promise the recipe will be just as good. The black bean dip is the perfect topper, the lemon and beer add a nice tang and the spices add a great kick!

Serves 3


  • 6 fillets or whole cuts of crappie

  • 8 corn or flour tortillas, depending on your preference

  • 1 can of black beans, drained

  • 1 bottle of dark beer

  • 2 cups of your favorite shredded cheese

  • 2 lemons

  • 1 lime

  • 4 cloves of garlic

  • 1 onion, sliced

  • 1 cup of chili salsa

  • 2 cups of shredded lettuce

  • 1/2 cup of corn

  • 1/4 cup of sour cream

  • 4 tbsp Cajun spice blend

  • 4 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 bunch of cilantro

  • Salt, to taste

  • Pepper, to taste


  1. Clean and gut the fish, then cut it into fillets. If you are worried about the meat becoming mushy, soak the fillets overnight in salt water.

  2. Mix together the marinade of your favorite dark beer, fresh lemon juice, two cloves of minced garlic, onion and olive oil. Let the fillets soak in the marinade for at least 30 minutes.

  3. While you marinate your fish, prepare your black bean dip. Blend two cloves of garlic, one can of black beans, two tablespoons of olive oil, cilantro, sour cream and lime for two minutes or until thoroughly mixed.

  4. Heat a frying pan and add cooking oil.

  5. Gently place your fillets in the frying pan and cook on medium to high heat. When the fish begins to flake, add spices. You may use a traditional Cajun spice for tostadas, or create your own mix of garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder and cumin.

  6. As soon as the fish is thoroughly cooked, take it out of the frying pan. Use the remaining oil to sauté corn and onions for a delicious topping.

  7. Build your tortillas by adding the sautéed corn and onions, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, black bean dip, avocado slices, your favorite shredded cheese and your crappie fillets. If you’re cooking for more than two people, you may want to slice your fillets into bite-sized pieces, so that they can easily be added to a tortilla.

  8. Add salt, pepper and lime juice to taste.

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While we recommend fillets for tostadas, that shouldn’t stop you from preparing your fish any way you like. You may try creating a deconstructed tostada dish instead by using the whole fish and letting the toppings act as sides.

To prepare the crappie whole, you’ll need to remove the head, entrails and ribs. Leave the tail on if you’re craving a tasty crunch.

If this is your first time cooking crappie, don’t worry. Stick to your basic cooking skills, and you should be fine! Just remember these key tips for maintaining that nice, flaky crappie texture:

  1. Cook your fish as soon as you get home. We can’t stress enough how much difference a fresh fish makes. Once you freeze and thaw crappie, it may become mushy.
  2. Try to keep your pan at a high cooking temperature. If you try to cook it on low heat over a longer period of time, you might end up with a mushy fish. If you’re worried about the fish sticking to the pan, use more oil and get a non-stick pan or iron skillet.
  3. Be careful not to leave your fish in the pan for too long. Overcooking these fish can mask the delicate flavor and ruin your seasoning. Remember that crappies only need about three to five minutes in the skillet.

If you’re looking for some other recipes, we highly recommend breading or battering your fish. Beer batter makes an excellent pairing with the delicate crappie flavor. For more of a kick, add paprika and chili powder to your flour before mixing in the beer.

Some other tasty breaded recipes include classic fried crappie with buttermilk and cornmeal or crappie patties with mustard and Worchester sauce. Just remember that fresh fish is still the way to go for patties and cakes. There’s nothing worse than pan-fried mush.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you might even try a chowder. This may be an excellent way of using the leftovers of crappie and other panfish. The best chowders usually involve bacon, potatoes, fresh celery, carrots and sour cream.

Want a healthier option? Try some baked crappie recipes using parchment paper, foil or a glass dish.  Regardless of your baking method, you can craft a delicious meal out of these classic ingredients: lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. Even these simple crappie recipes for healthy eaters are sure to satisfy your flavor cravings.

You may also consider some grilled crappie recipes if you’re looking for a healthier preparation method but still want a strong flavor. Grilled crappie is excellent with teriyaki seasoning or a simple combination of butter, lemon juice, oil and seasoning.

If you’re grilling, make sure your fillets are evenly cut and covered in oil. You don’t want your crappie sticking to the grill and creating a mess. Even worse, the grill flavor may overwhelm the dish. As an extra precaution, oil your grate as well.

Adding seasonings such as basil, rosemary, parsley, sage or thyme is an excellent way to give your dish some dimension. (Just make sure that the spices you use go well together.) Also, you don’t have to stick to lemon juice. Try using lime, orange or grapefruit juice instead!

Now it’s time to talk about sides. If you’re veering away from the tostada route, crappie is also delicious over a bed of rice or quinoa. In addition, you may try serving it over pasta with a light sauce made from olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and pepper flakes.

Finally, if you want to stick to the classics, you can’t go wrong with freshly baked baby potatoes and rosemary. Experiment with your recipes and find the crappie dish that works best for your tastebuds!