This easy Southern Fried Catfish recipe is one of our go-to meals when those seafood cravings hit hard!
Dredged in buttermilk and a perfectly seasoned cornmeal mixture, these fillets are fried for a crispy golden outside with a tender and delicious inside.
Skip the trip to Cracker Barrel, our homemade recipe is the best!
Why You’ll LOVE Our Fried Catfish Recipe
- Flavorful Crust: The blend of fine cornmeal, flour, and a mouthwatering mix of spices creates a crust that’s both crispy and packed with flavor.
- Quick and Easy: With just 10 minutes of prep time and 10 minutes of cooking, you’ll have an amazing meal ready to savor. Perfect for busy weeknights or relaxed weekends!
- Versatility: Fried catfish goes with a number of different sides, so you can have a little different experience each time. We’ll give you plenty of serving suggestions later in the post.
- Family Friendly: Even your pickiest eaters will chow down happily.
- Southern Charm: This recipe captures the authentic taste of the South. Each bite will transport you to a warm and cozy southern kitchen, where food is prepared with love and tradition.
What’s the Best Pan for Frying Catfish
If you have a deep fryer, that’s ideal for frying catfish, or just about anything. That being said, it’s probably not something most home cooks have on hand.
We do our frying in an electric skillet. It’s perfect because it maintains precise temperature control, without having to make manual adjustments.
Our third choice is a cast iron skillet. Heat over medium high heat and use an instant read thermometer to measure temperature.
Tips for the BEST Southern Fried Catfish
- Choose Fresh Catfish: Opt for fresh catfish fillets for the most tender and flavorful result.
- Be Generous with Seasonings: Soul food is meant to be flavorful, so no skimping on the seasonings.
- Use the Right Oil: A neutral oil like canola or vegetable oil is best for frying, as it won’t overpower the taste of the catfish.
- Maintain the Correct Temperature: Keeping the oil at a steady 350°F ensures a crispy, golden-brown exterior without overcooking the inside. If you don’t have an electric skillet, use a thermometer for precise control.
- Don’t Overcrowd the Pan: Fry the fillets in batches, ensuring that they are not touching in the pan. This allows the oil to circulate freely and cooks the fish evenly.
- Drain Properly: Once fried, drain the catfish on a wire rack or paper towels to remove excess oil. This helps maintain the crunch!
- Serve Immediately: Fried catfish is best enjoyed hot and fresh.
- Catfish fillets – The star of the dish, provides a tender and flaky texture.
- Wet dredging mixture – Buttermilk and hot sauce (we use Crystal).
- Dry dredging mixture – Fine cornmeal, flour, salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper and garlic powder.
- Oil – For frying.
Easy Fried Catfish Recipe
This Southern classic comes together in 3 quick and easy steps!
1. Prep dredging stations: In a shallow bowl, whisk together buttermilk and hot sauce. In another, combine dry ingredients.
2. Prep the catfish fillets: Season the catfish fillets with salt and pepper. Working in batches (you will probably only be able to fit two fillets in the skillet at a time) dredge catfish first in the buttermilk mixture, followed by the cornmeal mixture.
3. Fry the catfish: Heat about 1/2 inch oil to 350°F in a cast iron skillet or electric skillet. Fry dredged catfish for 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack or paper towel lined plate to drain.
What to Serve with Fried Catfish
Fried catfish is a culinary marvel in itself, but it does demand two things: lemon wedges for squeezing and a great dipping sauce. Tartar Sauce is most traditional, but Remoulade Sauce also goes great.
Our personal favorite side dish for fried catfish is Cheese Grits. It’s a match made in heaven.
For more ideas, check out our post for the best Sides for Fried Fish.
Leftovers and Storage
Like any fried food, this is best eaten fresh, when it’s still nice and crispy. If you do have leftovers, let cool completely, then store in an airtight container and refrigerate for 1-2 days.
To reheat, place the leftover fried catfish on a wire rack set over a baking sheet, and heat in an oven preheated to 375°F until warmed through.
More Great Seafood Recipes
- Baked Sockeye Salmon
- Baja Fish Tacos
- Thai Shrimp Curry
- New Orleans BBQ Shrimp
- Clam Linguine
- Firecracker Salmon
- Mediterranean Fish
- Oyster Stew
Whether you’re looking to recreate a childhood favorite, or a beginner wondering how to cook catfish, our easy Fried Catfish recipe is guaranteed to please.
Make sure to save or pin this Southern classic so you always know where to find it. And don’t forget to subscribe to GypsyPlate, we’re always cooking up new recipes for you!
Southern Fried Catfish, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 4 catfish fillets
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 Tbsp hot sauce
- 1¼ cup fine cornmeal
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- oil, for frying
- Prepare your dredging stations. In a shallow bowl, whisk together buttermilk and hot sauce. In another mix together cornmeal, flour, salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne and garlic powder.
- Preheat about 1/2 inch oil to 350°F in a cast iron skillet or electric skillet.
- Season the catfish fillets with salt and pepper. Working in batches (you will probably only be able to fit two fillets in the skillet at a time) dredge catfish first in the buttermilk mixture, followed by the cornmeal mixture.
- Fry dredged catfish for 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown.
- Remove to a wire rack or paper towel lined plate to drain.
- Serve with tartar sauce or remoulade sauce, along with lemon wedges.
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