Southern Catfish Recipe for a Delectable Dinner Delight

Greetings, fellow food enthusiasts! Today, I’m excited to share with you my take on a classic southern dish – Southern Fried Catfish. As a chef specializing in southern-style cuisine, I’ve always loved how catfish can embody the essence of the south. However, not all catfish dishes are created equal – that’s why I’m thrilled to offer you my own recipe for this soul food favorite.

This recipe will take your taste buds on a journey through the flavors of the south, bringing together savory ingredients like paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper to create a crispy and delicious coating for your catfish. One bite of this crispy fried catfish and you’ll feel like you’re in the heart of Mississippi.

Part of what makes catfish such a special ingredient is its unique muddy flavor which gives it character and depth that is unlike any other seafood out there. In this recipe, we make sure to highlight the natural flavors of catfish while also giving it some extra southern flair.

If you’re new to catfish or have never tried southern-style cooking before, I highly recommend giving this recipe a try. Not only is it easy to make, but it’s also an excellent opportunity to introduce yourself and your taste buds to some classic southern flare.

So grab your aprons, fire up those stoves and get ready to indulge in some quality fried catfish that would impress even the most discerning of restaurant-goers.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

My Version of Southern Catfish
My Version of Southern Catfish

Looking for the perfect Southern catfish recipe? Look no further! My version of Southern fried catfish is guaranteed to satisfy your cravings and leave you with a happy, full belly.

Picture it: crispy, golden-brown catfish fillets, perfectly seasoned with a combination of salt, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. The cornmeal coating provides just the right amount of crunch, while the juicy catfish inside is perfectly seasoned and cooked just right.

This classic Southern dish will transport you to a whole new world of soul food goodness. Whether you’re serving up a whole catfish dinner or wanting some crispy fried catfish as an appetizer or main course, this recipe is a winner every time.

Not only is this recipe easy to prepare, but it also uses simple ingredients that can be found at any local grocery store. It’s perfect for those nights when you want something delicious but don’t have a lot of time or energy to spend in the kitchen.

But don’t just take my word for it – try this recipe out for yourself and see why it’s a favorite in many Southern households. Your taste buds will thank you!

Ingredient List

“Crispy and golden brown, just like grandma used to make”

Gather Your Ingredients!

Before we jump into this classic southern dish, let us gather all the ingredients first. This restaurant quality fried catfish recipe will require the following:

  • Catfish filets (6 pieces)
  • Buttermilk (1 and 1/2 cups)
  • Cornmeal (1 cup)
  • All-purpose flour (2 cups)
  • Kosher salt (1 teaspoon)
  • Black pepper (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Paprika (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Garlic powder (1 and 1/2 teaspoons)
  • Onion powder (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Cayenne pepper (1/4 teaspoon)

Most ingredients are readily available in your kitchen pantry, so all you need to do is grab some fresh catfish fillets from the store or market.

The Recipe How-To

“A taste of the south in every bite”

Now, let’s get to the main event- cooking southern fried catfish! Here is the recipe how-to that will yield crispy and flavor-packed catfish in no time:

Ingredient Preparation

First, preheat your oven to 200 degrees F (93 degrees C).

Next, rinse six catfish fillets under cool water until they are thoroughly cleaned. Pat them dry with paper towels.

In a shallow dish, pour 2 cups of buttermilk to create the catfish milk. Then, add 1/3 cup of hot sauce and whisk together.

Cornmeal Flour Mixture

In another bowl, combine 1 cup of cornmeal, 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, and seasonings including 1 teaspoon each of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, and a quarter teaspoon of black pepper. Mix it thoroughly to make sure all ingredients are evenly blended.

Soak and Coat Catfish Fillets

Dunk each catfish fillet into the buttermilk mixture until it is coated well. Soak the fish for at least 20 minutes or leave it overnight in the refrigerator if you prefer richer flavor.

After soaking, use tongs to remove the fish from the buttermilk mixture and place them into the cornmeal flour mixture dish one by one. Press gently to make sure every inch is covered in bread crumbs.

Cooking Method

You have several options for cooking your catfish filets: deep frying, pan frying on a stovetop, or using an air fryer. The classic southern method would be deep frying as it yields that restaurant-quality fried bird we all know and love.

If you choose to deep-fry your fish fillets, heat 2.5 inches (6 cm) of vegetable oil in a heavy bottom pot over high heat until it is about 350 degrees F (177 degrees C).

Once the oil is ready, use tongs to gently drop the fish fillets into the hot oil. You may cook them in batches of 2 or 3 depending on the size of your pot. Fry for about 6 to 7 minutes or until crispy and golden brown.


After frying, place fillets onto a paper towel-lined plate to soak up excess oil before serving. And voilà- you have yourself a whole catfish dinner! Alternatively, you could cut your catfish into smaller pieces prior to breading if you’re making appetizer portions such as baked catfish nuggets.

Oven Fried or Pan Fried Catfish

If you prefer not to deep fry, you can achieve similar crispiness with two other cooking methods: oven fried and pan-fried catfish.

For oven-fried catfish, place each coated fish fillet on a greased baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees F (220

Substitutions and Variations

“Perfectly seasoned and fried to perfection”

If you want to put your own spin on southern fried catfish, here are some substitutions and variations for you to try.

1. Cooking Method: While the classic southern dish is often deep-fried, there are some alternative cooking methods that you can use like pan-frying, oven-frying, or air frying if you want to cut down on the oil factor.

2. Different flavors: You can add a bit of cajun seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder or a pinch of cayenne pepper to increase the flavor profile of the catfish.

3. Flour alternatives: Rather than using all-purpose flour, consider swapping it out for self-rising flour or whole wheat flour.

4. Milk alternatives: Instead of using regular milk, try using non-dairy milk like almond or soy milk, for a healthier option.

5. Breading alternatives: For a gluten-free version of this recipe, replace flour with rice flour and traditional cornmeal with gluten-free cornmeal.

6. Catfish alternatives: If you don’t have access to catfish where you live, don’t worry – this recipe also works well with other fish such as tilapia, cod or catfish nuggets.

7. Serving suggestions: Serve the crispy southern fried catfish with hot sauce and tartar sauce and pair it up with sides like French fries, coleslaw or hushpuppies for a complete whole catfish dinner.

The variations and substitutions allow you to create your twist on the classic recipe while maintaining quality fried catfish ingredients that will give your recipe character and a muddy flavor that represents authentic soul food cuisine.

Serving and Pairing

“Get ready to roll up your sleeves and dig in”

This crispy southern fried catfish is a classic southern dish that is perfect to serve for a hearty and satisfying meal. When you take the catfish fillets out of the pan, they will be golden brown and beautifully crisp on the outside, while tender and flaky on the inside.

To make this dish even more delicious, serve it hot, right out of the pan, with some classic southern sides like mashed potatoes, coleslaw, or collard greens. The creamy mashed potatoes pair perfectly with the crispy fried catfish fillets, while the fresh and tangy coleslaw provides a refreshing contrast to the rich and hearty flavors of the fish.

If you’re looking for a lighter option, you can also try pairing this dish with a fresh green salad or some steamed vegetables. The lightness of the salad or veggies will complement the heartiness of the catfish perfectly and make it feel like a whole meal.

For an added kick of flavor, don’t forget to add a few dashes of hot sauce over your catfish filets. It will give this already delicious dish an extra bit of kick that will keep you coming back for more.

Regardless of how you serve it, this southern fried catfish recipe is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Whether you’re cooking it up as a whole catfish dinner or serving up some baked catfish nuggets as an appetizer, this dish is perfect for any occasion – from family gatherings to special events.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

“A classic southern dish with a modern twist”

One of the best things about my version of the Southern Catfish Recipe is that you can easily make it ahead of time so you can have a delicious meal anytime you want. Simply store your fried catfish in an airtight container and refrigerate. It should last for up to 2-3 days.

But if you plan to store your fried catfish for a longer period, say a week or more, then it’s best to freeze them. Place them in freezer bags and seal tightly to make sure that they stay fresh. When you’re ready to reheat, take out the bag from the freezer and allow the fried catfish to thaw in the refrigerator for several hours before heating.

If you want to reheat your fried catfish properly, don’t use a microwave as that will make them soggy. The best way to reheat your Southern Catfish is through an oven or toaster oven. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place your fried catfish on a baking sheet or tray. Bake for 10-12 minutes until they’re heated through and crispy once again.

If you’re looking for alternative cooking methods aside from pan-frying or deep-frying, you can also try baking them in the oven or air fryer. Baked catfish nuggets are an excellent option for those who prefer not to fry their food.

In summary, storing and reheating your Southern Catfish Recipe is quick and easy if done correctly. By following these steps, you’ll be able to enjoy restaurant-quality fried catfish any time of the day without compromising its crispy and crunchy texture!

Tips for Perfect Results

“The ultimate comfort food for any occasion”

In order to achieve a crispy and flavorful southern fried catfish, there are some tips and tricks you should keep in mind. Here are some of my tried and true tips for perfect results:

Firstly, it’s important to soak your catfish fillets in milk prior to coating them in the cornmeal mixture. The lactic acid in the milk helps to neutralize any “muddy” flavor that can be present in catfish. If you don’t have any milk on hand, you can use buttermilk or even hot sauce as a substitute.

Another important factor is the seasoning. Make sure to season both the milk soak and the cornmeal mixture generously with salt, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper. I recommend using kosher salt for maximum flavor absorption.

When it comes to coating the fish, make sure to dredge both sides of each fillet thoroughly in the cornmeal mixture. You can also add some cajun seasoning or onion powder to the cornmeal mixture for an extra kick of flavor.

For those who prefer a lighter coating or want a healthier cooking method, pan frying or oven-frying can also provide delicious results.

If deep frying is your preferred cooking method, make sure to use a thermometer to monitor the oil temperature. It should be heated to 350-375°F and maintained at a consistent temperature throughout frying.

Finally, when serving your crispy southern fried catfish, try pairing it with classic southern sides like collard greens, macaroni and cheese, or hush puppies for a full soul food experience.

By following these tips and tricks for perfect results, you’ll be able to enjoy restaurant-quality fried catfish right from your own kitchen.


Now that you have all the necessary information for making my version of the southern catfish recipe, you might have some questions or doubts. In this section, I’ve compiled some frequently asked questions along with detailed answers to ensure your success in making this delicious crispy fried catfish meal. So, let’s explore them through the following FAQs.

What is the best cooking method for catfish?

When it comes to cooking catfish, deep-frying is the go-to method for most people. However, this versatile fish can be cooked in many ways, including grilling, baking, and pan-frying. Unlike other whitefish, catfish has a nice mild and sweet taste, with a dense texture that makes it perfect for experimenting with different cooking styles. In fact, you can even enjoy it raw when marinated in brine.

What do you soak catfish in before cooking?

To reduce the unpleasant taste that wild caught catfish or even some farm raised catfish may carry, it’s advisable to soak it in buttermilk prior to frying. This method helps eliminate any undesirable flavors that may be present in the fish, providing a delicious and fresher taste.

Why do you soak catfish in milk before frying?

To achieve a flavorful yet mild-tasting fried catfish, I recommend soaking the fillets in milk for an hour prior to frying. This will help eliminate any lingering fishiness. A crispy and light texture is achieved by coating the catfish in cornmeal before deep-frying. A helpful tip I learned from a fellow chef is to wait until the bubbling nearly ceases and the fillets begin to rise to the surface to indicate they are done.

Is it better to soak catfish in milk or buttermilk?

Before frying the catfish, it’s essential to soak it in buttermilk to enhance its flavor, remove any unpleasant smells, and keep it moist throughout. In the same way as with fried chicken, marinating the catfish in buttermilk will ensure a delectable dining experience.

Should I soak catfish in milk before baking?

Before cooking the fillets, it’s recommended to soak them in buttermilk or whole milk. This will enhance the overall taste of the fish, especially if you’re using freshwater fish which can sometimes have a murky flavor. Milk can effectively eliminate or reduce this unpleasant aftertaste.

Why is my catfish not crispy?

There’s nothing worse than biting into a piece of fried catfish only to find it mushy and unappetizing. To prevent this culinary catastrophe, make sure your oil is heated to the right temperature before frying the catfish. Overcrowding the pan with fillets can also cool the oil down, resulting in lackluster fish. If your catfish does turn out mushy, try popping it in the oven or air fryer to achieve the perfect crispiness.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, my version of Southern catfish recipe is a perfect choice for those who appreciate quality, flavor, and soulful cooking. The recipe incorporates classic Southern flavors such as cornmeal, buttermilk, and cajun seasoning that contribute to the richness of the dish. Whether you prefer it pan-fried, oven-fried, or deep-fried, this recipe will guarantee restaurant-quality crispy fried catfish fillets that are sure to impress your friends and family.

With a few basic ingredients and simple preparation steps, you can have a whole catfish dinner ready in no time. If you’re not a fan of deep-frying, you can also try the baked catfish nuggets variation for a healthier option that doesn’t lack flavor.

Overall, my Southern catfish recipe will ensure that you enjoy the full-bodied flavor with every bite. Don’t forget to pair it with your favorite hot sauce for an extra kick of heat. So what are you waiting for? Give this recipe a try and explore the wonder of traditional Southern cuisine today!

My Version of Southern Catfish

My Version of Southern Catfish Recipe

I had never had or made catfish before this. But my whole family liked it and I will be making it again soon. I always think of catfish as being blackened or fried, so I did a combo of the two. The amounts are all a guess, I just eyeballed everything.. so adjust them to your taste! We ate it with tartar sauce and red beans and rice.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Southern American
Calories 412.9 kcal


  • 1 -2 lb catfish
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons cajun seasoning (or blackened seasoning)
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons butter (or oil)


  • mix milk and hot sauce.
  • mix cornmeal with all of the spices.
  • dip catfish in the milk mix.
  • dip in the cornmeal mix, coat fish well.
  • heat butter or oil in a large heavy skillet over med-high heat.
  • cook fish a few minutes on each side until flaky.
  • serve with tartar sauce.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 219gCalories: 412.9kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 27gFat: 25.4gSaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 107.2mgSodium: 825.6mgFiber: 2gSugar: 0.6g
Keyword < 30 Mins, Beginner Cook, Easy, Egg-free, Free Of...
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