Southern Fried Catfish

Who’s up for a fish fry??

Now, you know me — I’m a Southern California girl, born and raised — but Dustin spent many of his formative years in Dallas, Texas.  To say this Texas upbringing formed his appetite for Southern food would be an understatement.  The man certainly enjoys his fried okra, beef brisket, chicken fried chicken, banana pudding and Dr. Pepper (oh, how he loves his Dr. Pepper!).

And then there’s his love for fried catfish.

Well, as you can probably imagine, I tend to get Dustin’s input for what recipes I should try out for my blog.  For probably the past six months or so, one of Dustin’s usual suggestions has included fried catfish.  He just loves the stuff.

I finally decided to take him up on his suggestion and try my hand at it.  Not being a Southern girl, I had to do some research.

It seemed to me that, to make some good ‘ol Southern Fried Catfish, you need to soak the catfish fillets in buttermilk, add some heat with cayenne pepper and other spices and then coat the fish with a mixture of cornmeal and flour.

And, of course, fry it.  ‘Cuz that’s what you do in the South.  Sounded easy enough to me.

And it was!  The fish turned out great.  Light and crispy.  Moist and delicate.  The heat and flavors in the cornmeal coating were just the right amount to also let you appreciate the subtle flavor of the fresh catfish.  I added a generous twist of fresh lemon to my fish, but Dustin enjoyed his plain.  This will definitely be a meal we will rely on in the future.

But, more importantly, I made my hubby happy.

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If you give this recipe a try, let me know what you think by leaving a comment and rating it. And don’t forget to take a picture and tag it #asweetpeachef on Instagram! I LOVE seeing what you come up with. Enjoy!

5 from 4 votes
Southern Fried Catfish Square Recipe Preview Image
Southern Fried Catfish
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
30 mins
Here's a recipe for some Good Ol' Southern Fried Catfish using a cornmeal coating and some subtle, yet vibrant flavors.
Categories: Easy Dinner
Difficulty: Easy
Keyword: fried catfish, fried catfish recipe, fried catfish recipes
Servings: 4
Calories: 189 kcal
Author: Lacey Baier of A Sweet Pea Chef
  • 4 catfish fillets about 1 pound
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt to coat fillets
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper to coat fillets
  • 3/4 cup course cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • optional: lemon wedges for garnish
  1. Rinse catfish fillets and pat dry with a paper towel. If you prefer to have smaller pieces, you can cut the catfish into strips. Season generously with sea salt and ground black pepper. Let sit for 10-15 minutes, flipping and seasoning the other side after 5-8 minutes.

  2. Combine cornmeal, chickpea flour, garlic powder and cayenne pepper in another shallow dish.

  3. In a large skillet, add oil over almost-high heat. You will know when the oil is ready when a very, very small amount of water tossed into the pan sizzles and dances.

  4. Using a fork, tongs or your hands, take one fillet transfer fillet to the cornmeal mixture and coat thoroughly. Shake off excess cornmeal mixture and carefully place fish into the hot pan. Saute until golden brown, about 3-6 minutes per side, depending on the size of fillet or strip. Careful not to crowd the fish in the pan. Once golden-brown on each side, carefully remove and place on a plate lined with paper towels and drain. Take care to handle the fish tenderly, as the fish will be very tender and may try to fall apart and/or separate from the fried cornmeal coating. I found it best to use a slotted spatula at this point to keep the fish from tearing. Season with salt or pepper as needed.

  5. Serve with a lemon wedge as desired.
Nutrition Facts
Southern Fried Catfish
Amount Per Serving (3 oz)
Calories 189 Calories from Fat 69
% Daily Value*
Fat 7.7g12%
Saturated Fat 1.8g9%
Cholesterol 63.6mg21%
Sodium 425.4mg18%
Carbohydrates 31.9g11%
Fiber 1.7g7%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 21.4g43%
Vitamin A 50IU1%
Vitamin C 0.8mg1%
Calcium 50mg5%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Lacey Baier

Hey there! I’m Lacey Baier and I’d like to welcome you! I’m a healthy lifestyle influencer and the creator of this clean-eating blog and YouTube channel, as well as cleanish, my clean-eating supplement brand. My recipes have been published on Food Network, Good Morning America, FoxNews, Tastemade, Fitness Magazine, and much more. I live in Austin, Texas with my husband and four kiddos. Let’s get started!

6 thoughts on “Southern Fried Catfish

  1. 5 stars
    This is such a good Deep South recipe. We are having our annual Christmas Eve catfish fry tonight and this will surely stand out ! I have one small suggestion from Grandmother! Never put any fried food in contact with paper towels. Place the paper towels under wire racks and let drain. Paper towels will continue to steam the fish/chicken and make less crisp. I have been doing this now for over 30 years just like Grandmother told me to do! ha ha. It sure works.

    1. 5 stars
      The fish fry was a monster hit. Thanks for the recipe. Ran out of catfish so we doubled down on Ocean Perch. O.P. is a good choice and was $2.00 a lbs cheaper than C.F. and a bit milder than C.F.

  2. That looks awesome for you first time making fried catfish. Then again, all your food looks delicious! I currently live right next to the catfish capital of Texas, but this is not where I’ve had the best catfish. The best catfish I ever had was in Oklahoma and it was made with honey and lemon in the batter so that you didn’t even need to squeeze lemon juice on it. It was delicious!

  3. As a fellow West Coaster, I wonder how fried catfish compares to the many delicious fish we have available here, like fried halibut or cod. I’ve never tried fried catfish, mostly from the standpoint that if I’m going to eat fried fish it’s going to be one of the above-mentioned species.

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