Here's another delicious Cajun/Creole recipe to try at home. This fried catfish fillets recipe is so delicious! The catfish fillets are perfectly seasoned and cooked to perfection with a crispy outside yet tender inside.
This fried catfish fillet recipe is one of my favorite Southern foods to make for a crowd. The fish fillets are fried to a golden crisp, for that sought-after crispy and satisfying meal.
Anyone can follow the easy steps to make them, and the ingredients can be found at the local grocery stores.
Fried Catfish Fillets
One of the best things about this recipe is that you can make it a healthier dish by cooking the fried catfish fillets in an air fryer.
I've done this recipe using my air fryer many times and the results were quite similar to the traditional deep frying method.
For those interested in knowing how to air fry catfish fillets, just keep reading. I will show you how to cook the catfish fillets in an air fryer and on the stove below.
What to Serve with Fried Catfish Fillets
You can serve these fried catfish fillets with your favorite Southern side dishes (rice, cornbread, french fries, mac n cheese) plus lemon, remoulade sauce, or hot sauce on the side.
Alternatively, you can make a Louisiana Catfish Po-Boy sandwich by serving the fish fillets on French rolls with sweet and tangy coleslaw, or shredded iceberg lettuce and remoulade as a topping.
Ingredients for Fried Catfish Fillets
To make these fried catfish fillets you'll need catfish fillets, buttermilk, hot sauce, old bay seasoning, flour, egg, panko breadcrumbs, cornmeal, garlic powder, and onion powder.
Catfish Fillets. You can use fresh or frozen catfish that have been thawed. Catfish is available at any seafood market or grocery store.
Buttermilk. It is a Southern staple, a secret to many great recipes from bread, bakes, and cakes to fried foods. I use buttermilk to marinate the catfish. Buttermilk helps tenderize and also adds delicate flavors to foods.
Old Bay Seasoning. This unique blend of herbs and spices adds a wonderful flavor kick to seafood. You can find Old Bay Seasoning at any grocery market for about $3.69 per 6 oz jar.
Cornmeal. It's commonly used in cornbread and is the secret ingredient to any good Southern fish fry.
Panko breadcrumb: Panko breadcrumb may not be the most authentic ingredient in Southern food. I used panko breadcrumbs to bring out an awesome taste and texture. If it's not available in your pantry, feel free to skip it and use only cornmeal.
How to Make Fried Catfish Fillets
This fried catfish fillets recipe starts with marinating the fish in a buttermilk mixture for 30 minutes. It is optional and you can skip this step if you'd like.
After you marinate the fish, you are going to bread the fillets using traditional breading steps. Dredge the fish in flour, then egg, and finally coat them with the breadcrumbs mixture.
So here are some steps to follow.
Step 1. Marinate the Catfish
- In a large bowl, coat the catfish fillets with buttermilk, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder mixture.
- Cover the bowl and marinate for 15 - 30 minutes.
Step 2. Set Up a Breading Station
- Fill a large bowl with flour.
- Fill another large bowl with beaten eggs.
- Fill a large pie plate or large bowl with cornmeal, panko breadcrumbs, flour, and old bay seasoning.
Step 3. Bread Fish
- Dip the catfish fillets in the flour then shake off any excess.
- Dip them in the egg and again shake off any excess.
- Coat the catfish fillets with breadcrumb mixture then gently shake off excess.
Once coated, you have the option to either deep fry the fish fillets or fry the catfish fillets in an air fryer.
How to Deep Fry Catfish Fillets in a Pan
- In a large heavy-bottomed pan or pot, heat about 3 inches of oil over moderately high heat to 350°F.
- Gently drop the fish fillets in the hot oil and cook for about 3-4 minutes or until fully cooked, turning once.
- Drain the cooked fish fillets on a paper towel-lined plate.
How to Air Fry Catfish Fillets
- Preheat the air fryer to 400°F.
- Brush the fish fillets with oil then place them in one layer in an air fryer basket or rack.
- Cook for about 12 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking.
Deep Frying Tips:
- Temperature. It's important to maintain the proper oil temperature during deep frying, usually between 350°F to 375°F to prevent greasy (too low) or burnt food (too high).
- Oil. Choose the oil that has a high smoke point, such as vegetable oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, grapseed oil, avocado oil, and canola oil.
- Quantity. Do not overcrowd the pan. Fry in batches to prevent the oil temperature from dropping too low, which can lead to greasy food.
- Cooking Time. It may vary depending on the thickness of the fish. Use a meat thermometer, if available. Per USDA guidelines, the safe internal temperature for cooked fish is 145°F, or until the fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.
FAQ and Cooking Tips
Allow the leftover fried catfish fillets to cool completely but do not leave them at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. Transfer the leftover to an airtight container. Properly stored, it can last up to 3 days in the fridge or up to 2 months in the freezer.
Place the leftover fried catfish fillets on a baking sheet. Reheat the leftover in the oven at 350°F (refrigerated) for 10 minutes or 425°F (frozen) for about 15-20 minutes or until heated through and the internal temperature until the internal temperature reaches 145°F.
Preheat the air fryer to 400°F. Place the leftover fried catfish fillets in one later in an air fryer basket or rack. Heat the leftover battered fish for 4 minutes (refrigerated) or 8 minutes (frozen) or until the internal temperature reaches 145°F, flipping halfway through cooking.
Check Out More Delicious Recipes
- Homemade Cajun Seasoning
- Cajun Chicken Pasta Alfredo
- Spicy Cajun Roasted Corn Salad
- Crawfish Etouffee
- Shrimp Po'Boy
- Blackening Seasoning Mix
Fried Catfish Fillets
- 1½ pounds catfish fillets, (cut into 6-8 pieces)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon Louisiana Hot Sauce
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, (divided)
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup cornmeal
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs , (finely crushed)
- 2 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
- Canola, Vegetable, Grapeseed, or Sunflower oil
- In a large bowl, coat the catfish fillets with buttermilk, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder mixture. Cover the bowl and marinate for 15 - 30 minutes.
- Fill a large bowl with ¾ cup of flour. Fill another large bowl with beaten eggs. Fill a large pie plate or large bowl with cornmeal, panko breadcrumbs, ¼ cup of flour, and old bay seasoning.
- Dip the catfish fillets in the flour then shake off any excess. Dip them in the egg and again shake off any excess. Coat the catfish fillets with breadcrumb mixture then gently shake off excess.
- In a large heavy-bottomed pan or pot, heat 3 inches of oil over moderately high heat to 350°F. Gently drop the fish fillets in the hot oil and cook for 3-4 minutes or until fully cooked, turning once. Drain the cooked fish fillets on a paper towel-lined plate. Serve with remoulade sauce.
- Cut the fish fillets into 4 pieces (about 6 oz each) then follow steps #1, #2, #3
- Preheat the air fryer to 400°F. Lightly grease the basket with oil.
- Brush the fish fillets with oil then place them in one layer in an air fryer basket or rack. Do not overcrowd the pan, work in batches if necessary.
- Cook for about 12 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking. Check the doneness of the fish fillets and cook for an additional 3 minutes or longer until they are fully cooked and crispy.
These look so yummy! Thank you for the useful storage and reheating tips!
So easy and crunchy! My whole family loved the flavours in this recipe.
I am glad that you and your family loved the flavors, Louise.
I made these fried catfish fillet recipe over the weekend and it was a hit with the family! Can't wait to make it again and thanks for the recipe!
Thanks for sharing your feedback, Ana!
Loved this! Panko and cornmeal make the exterior so crispy... The best coating ever! Will definitely make again!
Thanks, Ieva. I am glad that you liked it.
I love air frying fish. So tasty and tender on the inside and crispy on the outside.
I think it's the best and healthiest way to fry fish too, Beth!