Christmas Eve Pan Fried Smelts

Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Christmas Eve is celebrated with 7 fishes in our home.

Fried smelts is just one of the many fish we cook.

There are seven Traditional fried, baked, and raw fish we eat as a family.

Born and raised in America, my parents continued the Rome and Bari traditions every Christmas Eve.

For our traditional Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we have no meat until the morning baby Jesus was born.

Also, smelt is usually fried whole, but last time I fried them there was something in the heads that seemed quite gritty, so I decided to cut the heads off this time.

Scroll down to the printable recipe card for the recipe on how to prepare and cook fried smelts.

these are small fish floured and fried called smelts

Seasoned Flour is Key

I included additional spices added if you would like to try my version but that's just optional.

Christmas eve always consisted of 7 fishes. We would have calamari stuffed, crab legs, lobster, shrimp, scallops mostly fried.

Baccala is salted codfish.

We also had shrimp cocktail, fried haddock and clams casino and of course fried smelts.

Smelts are small fish that cook quickly and you eat the whole thing.

You can adapt the recipe for a cajun or spicier flavor by adding cayenne pepper to the flour also.

The flour seasoning fry to a golden delicious crunchy on the outside with just the right amount of flavor.

Ingredients You Will Need for Smelts

  • flour
  • granulated garlic
  • black pepper
  • salt
  • paprika
  • oil for frying either canola or vegetable 

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Christmas Eve Pan Fried Smelts

Christmas Eve Pan Fried Smelts

Yield: 8
Author: Claudia Lamascolo
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 11 MinTotal time: 21 Min
Smelts are one of the 7 fishes many Italian prepare on Christmas Eve. These fish a floured and fried.


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 pounds cleaned smelts
  • 1 cup of vegetable oil
  • Other Optional seasonings: 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon each dried oregano, basil, parsley, dill, added to the flour
  • Tool: plastic bag, frying pan


  1. Heat oil on medium heat.
  2. Rinse the smelts in cold water and pat dry. In the plastic bag add all the dry ingredients then shake to blend.
  3. Fry in the heated oil on both sides till browned. This usually takes around 3 to 4 minutes, they are very small and cook fast.
  4. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.



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smelts fried, Christmas Eve 7 Fishes melts recipe, fried smelts, fish recipes
holiday fish recipes, seafood recipes, fried fish recipes
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  1. A seafood meal to celebrate X'mas sounds perfect to me. This looks so delicious!

  2. My version of the smelts is the same way you do it but I wash then dry the smelts then add to the flower in a bag salt , pepper , paprika, and some garlic powder, coat the fish then dip in an egg wash then dip in a blend of Italian seasoned breadcrumbs and some seasoned Panko bread crumbs. I pan fry them in a mix of veg. And olive oil on a med high setting using an electric fry pan to allow the oil temperature to get to the med high setting. They can be reheated in a warm oven but I avoid the microwave . Buon Natale


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