3 Ways to Fry Catfish

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3 Ways to Fry Catfish
3 Ways to Fry Catfish

While not one of the cutest animals in the world, the long-moustached catfish is absolutely delicious when fried. If properly prepared, the fish has a light nutty flavor and a very attractive crunchy texture. Best of all, this meal is quick and easy to prepare and inexpensive, making it perfect for a family gathering.


Crispy breaded catfish

  • 8 catfish fillets;
  • 1 1/2 cup of buttermilk;
  • 1 tablespoon of your favorite hot sauce;
  • 1 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal;
  • 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour;
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder;
  • ½ teaspoon of garlic powder;
  • Salt and black pepper to taste.

Cajun-style blackened catfish

  • 6 catfish fillets;
  • 1 cup unsalted butter;
  • 2 tablespoons of paprika;
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon pepper;
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder;
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried basil;
  • 1 tsp onion powder;
  • 1 teaspoon of thyme;
  • Salt and black pepper to taste.


Method 1 of 3: Making crispy breaded catfish

Fry Catfish Step 1

Step 1. Marinate the catfish in the buttermilk

Sometimes this fish tastes a little “slushy” if not prepared correctly. Fortunately, putting it in a good marinade helps solve this problem. Remove the fillets from their packaging, wash each one with water and pat them dry with a paper towel. Place the catfish in a cooking utensil, sealed plastic container, or resealable bag. Top with buttermilk, hot sauce and a few generous sprinklings of salt and pepper. Mix well and let the fish marinate in the refrigerator.

The exact marinating time varies from recipe to recipe. Most recommend at least an hour or two. Some even recommend 24 hours or more

Fry Catfish Step 2

Step 2. Cover the fillets with the dry mix

Mix cornmeal, all-purpose flour, onion powder and garlic powder in a large bowl. Remove the fish from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for approximately ten minutes. Shake the fillets to remove excess moisture, sprinkle them with a pinch of salt and cover each one with the mixture on all sides. Place each flour-coated fillet on a clean plate.

Fry Catfish Step 3

Step 3. Heat the oil in a large skillet

Place a thick skillet with steep edges over medium or high heat. Iron ones are the best option, but any one that is very firm will do. Add oil to a depth of 3 cm. When it reaches a temperature of 180 °C, or a slight smoke starts to form, it is ready to cook.

For best results, use an oil with a high smoke point, such as peanut, canola, or vegetable oil. Low point oils, such as olive oil, will start to smoke at lower temperatures and will produce much more smoke overall

Fry Catfish Step 4

Step 4. Fry fillets for three to five minutes on each side

Add them to the hot oil carefully with a tongs. It may be necessary to wear a kitchen glove – the oil may burst and sizzle unexpectedly. Place the fish away from you (never towards you) to minimize oil spills on your body.

  • Turn them over when they turn a golden color at the bottom, which usually takes three to five minutes.
  • Cook in batches, leaving a small space between each one. Overfilling the pan will not allow for even cooking.
Fry Catfish Step 5

Step 5. Allow to drain and cool

When the catfish is well fried, it will be completely opaque on the inside. There should be no translucent or gel-textured parts in the middle. When you finish cooking each fillet, transfer it to a rack over a layer of paper towel, which allows the oil to drain and the fish to cool. Add new fillets to the skillet when the first batch is finished.

If you can help it, try not to pile the fish on a plate with a paper towel, as if it were bacon. Moisture and steam from stacked fillets can ruin the delicious crunchy texture, resulting in a soggy, shriveled product

Method 2 of 3: Preparing Blackened Catfish Cajun Style

Fry Catfish Step 6

Step 1. Mix the dry ingredients to make a seasoning

In a small bowl, mix together paprika, lemon pepper, garlic powder, dried basil, onion powder and thyme. Add salt and pepper for good flavor – a teaspoon or two will do.

Fry Catfish Step 7

Step 2. Dip fillets in melted butter

In a microwave or pan, melt the butter until completely liquid. Let the ingredient sit until it is still liquid but cool enough to be handled with care. Carefully dip each fillet into the melted butter and let the excess drip. Then transfer them to a clean plate.

Fry Catfish Step 8

Step 3. Cover the fish with the dry mix

Cover each with a tablespoon of the mixture per fillet. Apply generously – if left over, sprinkle over remaining fish.

Fry Catfish Step 9

Step 4. Heat the skillet over high heat

This method of frying uses no fat other than the little butter used in the catfish. This leaves the fillets with a different texture than when breaded with oil – it will have a thin, flavorful and almost “burnt” exterior. For this reason, you should heat the skillet on the stove without oil for almost ten minutes.

  • The utensil will be very hot, so be very careful. If you have a metal handle, use a towel or kitchen glove to handle it.
  • An iron skillet is the best choice due to its ability to retain heat, but any thick one will do.
Fry Catfish Step 10

Step 5. Quickly brown over high heat, turning after a few minutes

As soon as you add the fish, the pan will start to sizzle immediately. The heat can make the meat stick, but that's okay. The filet will cook quickly and after two or three minutes it will become flaky. Turn it over, scraping the dark material from the bottom of the pan, and cook the other side until it looks like the first.

  • Drizzle the top side of each fillet with a little butter when it's being fried. This procedure will provide a little lubrication when turning the meat, preventing it from sticking too much.
  • It's okay if the fish sticks a little in the pan. Scratch from the bottom and continue. The resulting blackish texture is exactly what you're looking for with this recipe.
Fry Catfish Step 11

Step 6. Serve straight from the pan when finished

When the meat is all opaque and flakes easily, it is ready to be eaten. Transfer the fillets straight from the skillet to each plate and serve immediately.

The secret here is to cook the meat quickly over high heat. The time should be enough to turn the seasoning into a delicious blackened crust, but cooking too long will result in a dry, tasteless piece of fish. It takes a lot of practice to master this method

Method 3 of 3: Suggested Follow-Ups

Fry Catfish Step 12

Step 1. Pair with cornmeal dumplings to make a classic Southern US meal

These dumplings are pieces of fried dough (like savory donuts) and, when paired with fried catfish, form a classic example of the “comfort food” of the southern United States. The meal is extremely satisfying, but be careful - it's quite hearty.

Fry Catfish Step 13

Step 2. Experiment with baião-de-two

If you want a dish with more nutritional value, try this delicious combination. Baião-de-two rice is a very satisfying meal on its own, but you can add other ingredients such as sausage, vegetables and others to "spice things up".

Fry Catfish Step 14

Step 3. Try making a remoulade sauce

Turn fried fish into a perfect snack with this Cajun condiment. The remoulade sauce is a spicy, salty mayonnaise. Not only is it a great choice with catfish – it's also a good substitute for tartar sauce.

Fry Catfish Step 15

Step 4. Eat with okra and corn

Looking for something a little healthier to eat with catfish? These vegetables make great accompaniments to any fried fish. Try serving them straight or in a maque choux (a type of spicy casserole that also contains sausage).


  • If you're looking for a cheap fish alternative, try making tilapia, which also contains omega 3 in common with catfish.
  • If cooking indoors, turn on the exhaust fan or leave a window open as catfish tends to smoke easily.

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