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Square overhead image of southern fried catfish in a skillet
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4.88 from 16 votes

Crispy Southern Fried Catfish

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 about 20 minutes!!!
Course Dinner
Cuisine Southern
Keyword fish recipe, fried catfish, fried fish, pan fried catfish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 222kcal
Author Blair Lonergan




  • 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.
    Dredging catfish in cornmeal
  • 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.
    Process shot showing how to fry catfish
  • 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.
    Overhead shot of crispy fried catfish with a side of cornbread and collard greens.



  • Shake off the excess milk and cornmeal each time you dredge the fish to make sure that you just have a light coating on each piece.
  • Depending on the size of your skillet, you may need to fry the fish in batches so that you don't overcrowd the pan. This will keep the oil at a steady temperature and will ensure crispy (rather than soggy) fish fillets.
  • Serve the fried catfish with lemon wedges and a fresh parsley garnish for a bright finishing touch.
  • Season the catfish with additional kosher salt and ground black pepper, if desired, while the fish is still warm.
  • Cooking just for two? Cut the ingredients in half. The rest of the instructions remain the same.
  • Substitute buttermilk for the milk. It will add a rich, tangy flavor.
  • This is a mild fish. If you prefer some heat, you can add a dash of cayenne to the breading, or add hot sauce to the milk.
  • Mix additional herbs and seasonings into the cornmeal breading. Try thyme, rosemary, chives, or parsley. You might like some paprika or onion powder, Old Bay seasoning, lemon pepper seasoning, or Creole or Cajun seasoning.
  • 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!


Serving: 1(4 ounce) fillet | Calories: 222kcal | Carbohydrates: 5.9g | Protein: 14.7g | Fat: 15.8g | Saturated Fat: 4.1g | Cholesterol: 36.7mg | Sodium: 659.3mg | Fiber: 0.6g | Sugar: 0.1g