I Tried the Viral TikTok Hack for Cooking Fish with Zero Smell and I’m Kinda Shocked It Worked So Well

published Sep 26, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image

It’s an age-old conundrum: How exactly do you cook fish on the stovetop without leaving a strong seafood scent lingering long after you’ve enjoyed your salmon fillet? Whether you’re an occasional fish fryer or an avid at-home seafood “sauté-er,” we all know how hard it can be to prevent your home from smelling like a bustling fish market.

So when I caught a glimpse of a new TikTok video from creator Bigg Mama — also known as @citygrilthe3rd — sharing that the secret to scent-free seafood cooking is boiling cinnamon while you fry, I knew I had to test it out.

How to Fry Fish Without Your Kitchen Smelling

Here are the steps to recreate her trick.

1. Gather your spices: Bigg Mama recommends using cinnamon and vanilla extract. I reached for a few cinnamon sticks in addition to ground cinnamon for good measure. One commenter suggested adding in a lemon or lemon juice to the mix, so I grabbed one as well. 

Credit: Sarah Beling

2. Combine and boil: Fill a small saucepan halfway with water. Be careful not to overfill your pot, or you will run the risk of having your cinnamon mixture boil over. Add a generous amount of ground cinnamon (or cinnamon sticks if you have them), a tablespoon of vanilla extract, and the juice of one lemon, and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. 

Credit: Sarah Beling

3. Fry your fish: Heat a stainless steel or nonstick skillet with a high-smoke-point oil like canola or sunflower seed oil. Once hot, add your fish to the pan. While you are frying, make sure to stir your cinnamon mixture so that it does not boil over. The cinnamon scent should largely cover the smell of seafood both during cooking and after you’re done.

My Review of This TikTok Trick

Boiling cinnamon while frying my fish worked well — especially in preventing any remaining scent in my kitchen after cooking. There are a couple of caveats, however. You will still smell a bit of the oil and fish while cooking — which, in conjunction with the cinnamon mixture, can be a jarring scent combination. Additionally, stirring the boiling cinnamon mixture enough to prevent it from boiling over while properly frying your fish does require extra supervision. I found it difficult to handle both without letting my fish burn or my cinnamon mixture boil over.

I’d recommend making sure not to overfill your pot to make the process a bit easier. Another potential solution? Boil your cinnamon mixture after cooking for a more streamlined process. I would also recommend, if possible, turning on your vent fan and/or opening your windows while cooking to get a good flow of air through your space. But in the end, I’d still recommend this trick — days later, my kitchen smells delightfully of cinnamon, not seafood.