Crispy Delight: Fried Catfish Recipe You’ll Love!

Welcome, my fellow foodies, to my southern-style fried catfish recipe! As a chef specializing in southern-style cuisine, I can guarantee that this recipe will transport your taste buds straight to the heart of the South with its crispy and flavorful coating encasing flaky fish fillets. This classic southern dish holds a special place in my heart and is beloved by many for its simplicity and deliciousness.

Fried catfish has been enjoyed by generations of southerners and now it’s time for you to experience it too. It’s a dish that is perfect for weeknight dinners or any casual gathering where good food and good company come together. And as an added bonus, you’ll feel a sense of pride knowing that you’ve made something that would make any southern grandmother proud.

We’ll be taking the traditional approach to making southern fried catfish with a seasoned cornmeal coating, but this recipe also includes some personal touches that I’ve learned over the years to make this dish truly shine. So let’s start cooking and get ready to enjoy some restaurant-quality crispy fried catfish in the comfort of your own home!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Southern Style Fried Catfish
Southern Style Fried Catfish

Are you in the mood for some crispy, southern fried catfish? Look no further because this recipe is sure to satisfy! Not only is it simple and straightforward, but it’s also highly customizable and can result in restaurant-quality fried catfish.

This catfish recipe is perfect for those who love a little kick in their meal. With cayenne pepper and hot sauce as ingredients, this dish is sure to give you a spicy punch that will tantalize your taste buds. The combination of yellow cornmeal, onion powder, garlic powder, and kosher salt will add a depth of flavor to the dish that will elevate it from your typical fish fry.

Not only does this recipe turn out delicious fried catfish, but it also uses few ingredients that you might already have in your pantry. This means less hassle in going to the grocery store! You’ll only need a deep fryer, some oil, and 2 lbs of fresh catfish filets to get started.

Aside from its convenience and flavor, this recipe can be highly customizable according to your preference. Whether you prefer whole catfish dinner or air fryer catfish nuggets, this recipe has got you covered. Plus, if you’re feeling adventurous with your flavor choices, substitutions and variations are available!

In conclusion, if you want a fine balance between simplicity and quality fried catfish, then this recipe should not be missed! So why settle for bland fish fillet when you could be enjoying crispy fried goodness right at home? Give this Southern Style Fried Catfish Recipe a try today!

Ingredient List

“Golden and crispy, Southern fried catfish is the ultimate comfort food.”

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to prepare this delicious Southern-style fried catfish recipe:

For the Catfish:

  • 2 lbs. fresh catfish fillets (6 catfish filets)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. seasoned salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt or table salt

For the Catfish Milk:

  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce

For the Seasoned Cornmeal:

  • 1 1/2 cups fine white cornmeal (you can also use yellow cornmeal)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or table salt
  • 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning (optional)

For Frying:

  • Oil for frying (vegetable, canola, or peanut oil)

Make sure to get quality ingredients that are fresh and highly recommended by your local market to elevate this dish to a restaurant-quality fried catfish meal.

The Recipe How-To

“This delicious dish that will take you back to lazy summer days spent fishing with friends.”

Let’s get cooking! Now that you have all the ingredients, it’s time to turn them into a crispy, flavorful fried catfish. Follow these steps for restaurant-quality Southern Fried Catfish.

Step 1: Soak the Catfish in Milk

Before frying, soak the catfish fillets in a bowl of 2 cups of buttermilk and 2 teaspoons of yellow mustard for at least 30 minutes. This will give the fish a tangy flavor and help it stay moist while frying.

Step 2: Prepare the Breading

In another medium-sized bowl, mix together 1 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 cup of yellow cornmeal, and the following spices: 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, 1 teaspoon of seasoned salt, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, and a pinch (about ½ teaspoon) of cayenne pepper. Set aside.

Step 3: Create the Catfish Milk

In a separate bowl, mix together ½ cup of buttermilk, 1 tsp. of hot sauce, and 2 tsp. yellow mustard to make the ‘catfish milk’.

Step 4: Coat The Fish In Flour And Cornmeal Mixture

Remove the soaked fillets from the buttermilk mixture and coat them with the breading mixture until fully coated. Place each fillet on a wire rack and let it sit for at least five minutes to set.

Step 5: Start Frying!

Preheat your deep fryer or a large cast-iron skillet with at least two inches of oil to around 375°F. Once hot, carefully drop the coated fillets into the oil one by one, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Cook for around seven to ten minutes or until the fish is a golden brown color and crispy. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined plate.

Congratulations! You’ve mastered the art of Southern Fried Catfish. Serve with your choice of sides, such as corn on the cob or coleslaw, and enjoy your delicious meal.

Substitutions and Variations

“Catfish is inexpensive and easy to cook, making it a great choice for a quick and satisfying dinner.”

Southern-style fried catfish is a classic dish and can be enjoyed in different ways by tweaking some of the ingredients in the recipe. Here are some substitutions and variations that you might want to try:

– Spicy Fried Catfish: If you love heat, you can add more cayenne pepper or hot sauce to the recipe to give it a little kick. You can also use Cajun seasoning or smoked paprika for an added depth of flavor.

– Air Fryer Catfish Nuggets: Instead of frying your catfish fillets, you can cut them into smaller pieces and coat them in seasoned cornmeal. Air fry them at 400°F for about 10-12 minutes or until they’re crispy and golden brown. This method is perfect if you’re looking for a healthier option.

– Buttermilk Fried Whole Catfish Dinner: For a whole catfish dinner, soak a whole catfish in buttermilk for an hour before seasoning it with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Coat it with seasoned cornmeal and fry it in hot oil till it’s crisp and cooked through.

– Cornmeal Crusted Catfish: Instead of using all-purpose flour, replace it with fine-white cornmeal or yellow cornmeal in equal amounts. This will give your catfish a crispy texture and enhance its flavor.

– Seasoned Fish Fillet: If you do not have catfish available or just want a different twist on this classic dish, swap the catfish filets for another type of fish, like tilapia or cod. You can also add other seasonings like onion powder, seasoned salt, or paprika for added flavor.

Remember that these variations will affect the taste and texture of your dish, so feel free to experiment with different ingredients to find what works best for you. Any way you choose to prepare it, crispy southern fried catfish is always a crowd favorite!

Serving and Pairing

“Whether you’re a born-and-raised Southerner or just love Southern cuisine, this recipe is sure to become a favorite.”

Now that your crispy Southern fried catfish is ready, it’s time to enjoy your delicious fish! There are many serving and pairing options to choose from, depending on your preferences.

For a classic Southern style meal, serve fried catfish with coleslaw, hush puppies, and a side of fries or potato salad. You can also pair it with some homemade tartar sauce for extra freshness.

If you’re looking for healthier sides, try serving your fish with a side of steamed vegetables, green salad or quinoa.

For those who like it spicy, pair your fried catfish with hot sauce or cajun seasoning for an extra kick.

Another great option is to serve the fried catfish as part of a sandwich or burger with lettuce, tomato and tartar sauce.

To elevate the dish even further, consider serving it with a refreshing glass of sweet iced tea or a cold beer.

No matter how you decide to serve and pair this restaurant-quality fried catfish, one thing is for sure – you will not be disappointed!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

“The secret to perfectly cooked catfish is to get your oil hot and maintain a steady temperature throughout the frying process.”

Once you have cooked up a batch of crispy southern fried catfish, you’ll want to make sure to store any leftover portions appropriately to keep them fresh and ready-to-eat whenever a craving strikes.

To make-ahead, you can prepare the seasoned cornmeal mixture and store it in a ziplock bag or airtight container until you’re ready to use it. Simply add the liquid ingredients such as buttermilk, eggs, hot sauce, garlic powder, mustard to the dry ingredients when ready to make the batter.

If you have any leftover fried catfish portions or batches, wrap them individually with plastic wrap or store them in an airtight container. For optimal flavor, reheat your catfish in the oven at 350°F for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown and heated through. Alternatively, you can reheat them in a toaster oven or air fryer for that extra crunch.

For those who prefer eating their spicy fried catfish cold or room temperature, there’s no need for reheating. Simply store them in a cool and dry space at room temperature for no more than two hours after frying before refrigerating.

Remember that quality fried catfish is best consumed immediately after cooking. But if stored properly with care, it can make for a delicious mealtime snack or addition to your favorite dish.

Tips for Perfect Results

“The crispy, cornmeal crust adds a delightful crunch

If you’re looking for restaurant-quality fried catfish, pay attention to these easy-to-follow tips for perfect results.

First and foremost, make sure your oil is hot enough before dropping in the catfish fillets. The ideal temperature should be around 350-375°F to ensure the fish cooks evenly and crisps up perfectly without absorbing too much oil. If the oil is not hot enough, the catfish will come out soggy and greasy. Test the oil with a small drop of water – if it sizzles vigorously, that means it’s ready.

Another important tip is to season your cornmeal batter well for added flavor. A mixture of yellow cornmeal, all-purpose flour, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and salt makes for a great combination. You can also add some finely grated parmesan cheese or smoked paprika for an extra kick of umami flavor.

When dredging your catfish fillets in the seasoned cornmeal mix, be sure to coat them evenly on both sides. Use your fingers to press the breading firmly onto the fish so that it adheres properly.

For a healthier option, try air frying or broiling instead of deep frying. This method produces crispy fried catfish without using as much oil as traditional deep frying. If you don’t have an air fryer, use a wire rack set over a baking sheet and spray both sides of the fish with cooking spray before baking.

If you’re making a large batch of fried catfish, consider keeping cooked fillets in a low-temperature oven (around 200°F) while you finish cooking the rest. This will keep them warm and crispy until serving time.

Finally, serve your southern-style fried catfish with classic sides like hushpuppies or coleslaw for an authentic southern experience. Don’t forget to provide some hot sauce or tartar sauce for dipping into – it’s the best way to enjoy this delicious fish.


As an experienced chef, I have heard so many questions about different recipes that I have been preparing. Some of the queries are common and some are unique. To help you make the most of your Southern Style Fried Catfish recipe, I have put together a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) that will provide you with in-depth answers to any questions you may have about this particular recipe. Whether you are new to cooking or a seasoned chef, these FAQs will help you achieve perfect results every time!

Why do you soak catfish in milk before frying?

One way to eliminate the fishy taste when frying catfish is to soak it in milk for an hour beforehand. The perfect balance of light and crispy texture can be achieved by using a cornmeal crust. To determine if the catfish fillets are done, wait for most of the bubbling to stop and for them to begin to float, according to Jack’s advice.

How do you keep fried catfish crispy?

When it comes to removing excess oil from your fried seafood, there is a smart technique that ensures the perfect crispy texture. Using a cooling rack (typically used for cooling baked goods) placed over a cookie sheet allows the oil to drip off, leaving your fish crispy and guests satisfied.

What do you soak catfish in before cooking?

To mitigate the unpleasant taste that wild caught catfish and occasionally farm raised catfish can have, it is advisable to soak them in buttermilk prior to cooking. This technique can help to eliminate any muddy or off-flavors that may be present in the fish.

Is it better to soak catfish in milk or buttermilk?

Before frying the catfish, it’s best to marinate it in buttermilk first. This will infuse the fish with a rich flavor, eliminate any undesirable tastes or odors, and ensure that it remains moist and tender when fried.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this southern fried catfish recipe is a must-try for any seafood lover. With its crispy outer layer and tender inside, it’s bound to leave you craving for more. This recipe is easy to make with simple ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. By following the detailed steps and tips provided, you too can enjoy a restaurant-quality fried catfish right at home.

Whether you’re looking for a quick weeknight dinner or hosting a weekend gathering, this southern-style fried catfish recipe is sure to impress. Don’t forget to pair it with your favorite hot sauce and sides like coleslaw or hush puppies for a complete Southern meal.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab some fresh catfish fillets and get ready to fry up some deliciousness! Trust me, once you take your first bite, you won’t be able to resist this irresistible dish.

Southern Style Fried Catfish

Southern Style Fried Catfish Recipe

This is an easy and tasty way to make catfish. The mustard adds a nice tang but doesn't overwhelm the other flavors. It also helps to seal in the juices. I would serve this along with some hushpuppies.
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Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Calories 328.5 kcal


  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 catfish fillets
  • yellow mustard
  • vegetable oil


  • Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet to 350 degrees. About 1 1/2 inches depth.
  • Combine cornmeal, flour, salt, cayenne pepper and garlic powder.
  • Coat fish with thin layer of mustard on both sides.
  • Dredge catfish in cornmeal mixture.
  • Fry fish for about 5-6 minutes.
  • Remember don't overcrowd your pan or it won't be as crispy. I usually fry 1-2 fillets at a time.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 193gCalories: 328.5kcalCarbohydrates: 24.1gProtein: 27.5gFat: 13.1gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 74.7mgSodium: 1255.4mgFiber: 2gSugar: 0.3g
Keyword < 15 Mins, Catfish
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