Crispy Southern-Fried Catfish

Crispy Southern-Fried Catfish: A Taste of Southern Comfort

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Indulge in the irresistible flavors of the South with this mouthwatering recipe for Crispy Southern-Fried Catfish. With its golden, crunchy coating and tender, flaky fish inside, this dish is a true Southern classic that’s sure to satisfy your cravings for comfort food. Whether you’re hosting a summer cookout, planning a cozy family dinner, or simply craving a taste of the South, this recipe is guaranteed to hit the spot. Let’s dive into the details and learn how to create the perfect batch of crispy fried catfish!


  • Oil for frying
  • 1 ½ cups cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups buttermilk
  • Four 6-ounce catfish fillets


  1. Heat the Oil:
    • Pour enough oil into a large skillet or Dutch oven to come about 1 inch up the sides. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 350°F (175°C).
  2. Prepare the Coating:
    • In a shallow dish, combine the cornmeal, garlic powder, salt, onion powder, sweet paprika, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Mix well to combine.
  3. Dip in Buttermilk:
    • Pour the buttermilk into another shallow dish. Dip each catfish fillet into the buttermilk, coating both sides evenly.
  4. Coat with Cornmeal Mixture:
    • Remove the catfish fillets from the buttermilk and dredge them in the cornmeal mixture, pressing gently to adhere the coating to the fish.
  5. Fry the Catfish:
    • Carefully place the coated catfish fillets into the hot oil, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until the coating is golden brown and the fish is cooked through.
  6. Drain and Serve:
    • Once cooked, remove the catfish fillets from the oil and place them on a wire rack or paper towels to drain any excess oil.
    • Serve the crispy Southern-fried catfish hot, garnished with lemon wedges and tartar sauce or hot sauce on the side.

Cook Notes and Variations:

  • Maintain the Oil Temperature: It’s important to keep the oil at a steady temperature throughout the frying process. Use a deep-fry thermometer to monitor the temperature and adjust the heat as needed to keep it between 350°F to 375°F (175°C to 190°C).
  • Serve with Southern Sides: Pair your crispy catfish with classic Southern sides such as coleslaw, hushpuppies, collard greens, or macaroni and cheese for a complete Southern feast.
  • Make It Spicy: Add extra cayenne pepper or hot sauce to the cornmeal mixture for an extra kick of heat.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q: Can I use a different type of fish for this recipe? A: While catfish is traditional for Southern-fried catfish, you can use other firm-fleshed fish such as tilapia, trout, or cod as a substitute.

Q: Can I bake the catfish instead of frying it? A: While frying yields the crispiest results, you can bake the catfish in a preheated oven at 400°F (200°C) for about 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through and crispy.

Q: How do I store leftover fried catfish? A: Leftover fried catfish can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. To reheat, place the catfish on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for 10-15 minutes, or until heated through.

Q: Can I freeze fried catfish? A: Yes, you can freeze fried catfish for up to 2 months. Allow the catfish to cool completely, then place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until firm. Once frozen, transfer the catfish to a freezer-safe bag or container and store them in the freezer.

Q: How do I prevent the coating from falling off the catfish during frying? A: Make sure to press the cornmeal mixture firmly onto the catfish fillets to ensure it adheres well. Additionally, letting the coated catfish rest for a few minutes before frying can help the coating set.

Keto and Low-Carb Versions:

For those following a keto or low-carb lifestyle, here’s how you can adapt this recipe:

  • Keto Version: Replace the cornmeal with almond flour or crushed pork rinds for a low-carb coating. Use a keto-friendly milk substitute such as almond milk or heavy cream instead of buttermilk. Fry the catfish in avocado oil or coconut oil for a keto-friendly frying option.
  • Low-Carb Version: Reduce the amount of cornmeal used in the coating or omit it altogether for a lower-carb version. Serve the fried catfish with a side of mixed greens or sautéed vegetables instead of traditional carb-heavy sides.

Get ready to savor the flavors of the South with this Crispy Southern-Fried Catfish recipe. With its crunchy coating and tender, flaky fish, it’s a dish that’s sure to please even the pickiest eaters. Whether you’re cooking for a crowd or simply treating yourself to a taste of Southern comfort, this recipe is a winner every time. So grab your apron, heat up that oil, and get ready to fry up a batch of crispy catfish that’s sure to become a family favorite!

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