Simple is best, and this Southern Fried Catfish is no exception. The easy dinner recipe only requires a handful of pantry staples and it's ready in less than 20 minutes!!!
This is seafood at its best, y'all! A golden and super-crispy exterior, with a delicate, tender and flaky inside.
Join me for a Fish Fry, will you? This Southern Pan Fried Catfish is on the menu!
Do you want to add more seafood to your family's diet (or just get out of that chicken rut)? For those of us who live in the middle of nowhere, it can be challenging to find tasty, easily-accessible fish. We don't even have a seafood counter at our local grocery store!
I try to take advantage of my trips into Charlottesville by stopping at Costco and stocking up on salmon, but otherwise I'm left with the basic staples in Walmart's freezer aisle. That usually means that I'm choosing between catfish, tilapia, or shrimp!
Is Catfish Good to Eat?
Catfish is a popular source of protein that's low in fat and low in calories.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, catfish is one of the five most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury and high in Omega-3 fatty acids.
Farmed catfish is a sustainable, clean and safe seafood option (source).
How to Make Fried Catfish Fillets:
Not only is it easily accessible, but it's also affordable and quick-cooking. That means that I can prepare a seafood feast for my family in less than 20 minutes -- from start to finish! And yes -- frozen catfish (thawed in the refrigerator overnight) works beautifully for this recipe. No big, fancy, suburban seafood counters necessary!????
You'll need the following ingredients:
- Catfish fillets
- Seasoned salt, pepper and garlic powder
- Vegetable oil
What do you soak catfish in before frying?
- Combine the dry breading mixture in a shallow dish (cornmeal and seasonings).
- Pour milk in a separate dish.
- Soak the catfish in the milk. Simply dip the fish in the milk to get it wet, and then shake off any excess.
- Transfer the soaked fish to the cormeal mixture and gently roll to coat the fillets on all sides.
- Brown the fish in a hot skillet with oil and butter until crispy and golden on both sides.
How long does it take Catfish to fry?
The catfish is thin, so it cooks through in the time that it takes the exterior to become a beautiful, crispy golden brown. You don't have to burn the exterior in order to finish the inside, and you don't have to transfer the skillet to the oven to finish baking.
The fish will take about 5-7 minutes per side.
When is Fried Catfish done?
You know that the fish is done when it becomes opaque and flakes easily with a fork.
How to keep Fried Catfish warm:
If you are cooking your fish in batches and you want to keep it warm while you finish the rest of the fillets, do NOT cover the cooked fish with foil or wrap it up. The exterior will not stay crispy if you do so.
Instead, heat the oven to 200 degrees F. Place a wire rack over a baking sheet. Place the cooked fried fish on the wire rack and place it in the warm oven for up to 30 minutes until you're ready to serve the meal.
Can you freeze Fried Catfish?
The cooked fish will keep in the refrigerator for about 2 days. If you need to store the fried fish longer, you can freeze the leftovers for up to 1 month.
How to reheat Fried Catfish:
The oven is the best way to reheat your fried catfish in order to keep that crispy exterior. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Allow the fish to come to room temperature on the counter while the oven heats.
Place the fish fillets on a baking sheet and warm in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or just until heated through.
What sides go with Fried Catfish?
For the perfect Fried Catfish Dinner, I recommend serving your fish with:
- a lemon wedge on the side;
- tartar sauce for dipping;
- hush puppies, French fries, 3-Ingredient Buttermilk Biscuits, or Virginia Plantation Spoon Bread;
- Southern Collard Greens; and/or
Cook's Tips and Recipe Variations:
- Serving dinner in a rush? Prep the fried catfish recipe ahead of time and reheat it in the oven when you need it, according to the instructions above.
- Cooking just for two? Cut the ingredients in half. The rest of the instructions remain the same.
- Make fried fish sandwiches by serving the fillets on hoagie rolls with lettuce, tomato and tartar sauce.
- Serve fried catfish tacos by serving the fillets in taco shells or tortillas with fresh salsa, guacamole and all of your favorite Mexican-inspired toppings!
Other easy fish recipes that you might enjoy:
- Sheet Pan Dinner: Maple-Glazed Salmon with Sweet Potatoes
- 5-Minute, 5-Ingredient Garlic Lemon Cod
- Easy Salmon Patties
- Dump-and-Bake Italian Fish with Broccoli and Rice
Crispy Southern Fried Catfish
- 4 catfish fillets (about 3-4 ounces each)
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon seasoned salt (I use Lawry's brand)
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Parsley for garnish
- Lemon slices for garnish
- Combine cornmeal, seasoned salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a shallow dish.
- Pour milk into a separate dish.
- Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Dip a catfish fillet in the milk, and shake off any excess.
- Transfer milk-soaked fish to the cornmeal mixture and gently roll to coat on both sides.
- Repeat with remaining fillets.
- Place fish in the hot skillet and cook until golden brown on each side (about 5-7 minutes per side). The fish will flake easily with a fork when it’s done.
- Depending on the size of your skillet, you may need to cook the fish in batches. Don't overcrowd the skillet! Feel free to wipe out the pan and use additional butter/oil, as necessary, for subsequent batches.
- Drain fish on paper towels.
- Serve warm, garnished with chopped fresh parsley and a lemon wedge, if desired.