Southern Fried Catfish Recipe

| September 6, 2020 | 7 Comments

Southern Fried Catfish

Follow our easy, step-by-step, photo illustrated instructions to learn how to fry delicious catfish in your own kitchen. Printable recipe included.


Fried Catfish, enjoy!
Whether you catch them yourself, or buy some farm raised, Catfish is a real Southern favorite. Lightly fried, served with Cole slaw, potatoes and hushpuppies, and you’ve got a real meal.


Fried Catfish, slider.

I was in my later years when I truly discovered a love for fishing. There were many weeks that I went fishing every day but Sunday. I never fished on Sundays. I don’t fault anyone that does, but Daddy never did, so I followed in his footsteps in that respect.

I fished some with my Dad and my family when I was a kid. My brother talks now about there were times when we didn’t have any type of meat to cook, so we’d go down to a nearby pond to “catch a mess of fish,” for supper. If we were lucky enough to find them biting that is. Smile.

While I truly love the taste of fried catfish, I never did like to catch them. Reeling them in when they took your bait was always fun because they put up a good fight. But, I just didn’t want to take them off my hook. Catfish can “sting” you if you handle them incorrectly.

So, when I caught one at the local lake I spent many afternoons at with my fishing buddies, I’d just ask anyone on The Pier if they would like to have my catfish. All they had to do was remove it from my line and it was theirs. Don’t judge me. I’ve heard too many stories about how painful a catfish sting can be. I didn’t want any part of it.

I much prefer getting my catfish filet’s from my local fish market. That works just fine for me, and that’s where the one’s I’m preparing today were sourced from.

I’m sure I’ll get some Comments about not using corn meal to bread my catfish with. It’s good that way too. But, my brother owned a seafood restaurant for several years and I was the kitchen manager for it when it first opened. We fried all our fish and seafood in what is known in my area as Calabash Style. That just means it’s lightly battered and lightly fried.

Just keeping it simple.

Ready to give our recipe a try? Alright then, let’s head on out to the kitchen, and… Let’s Get Cooking!


Fried Catfish, ingredients.
Southern Fried Catfish – You’ll need these ingredients.

You’ll also need some cooking oil for frying, but it just wasn’t up to having it’s photo made today. Smile.


Fried Catfish, add salt.
Rinse fish under cold running water, then pat filets dry with paper towels. Next, sprinkle on a bit of salt.


Fried Catfish, add black pepper.
Then sprinkle on a little bit of black pepper, according to your taste preference. You can probably see some small traces of the skin on this side of the filet.

FLIP the filet over and repeat the process of salt and pepper on the other side as well.


Fried Catfish, flour.
Place a cup or more of flour in a dish large enough to dredge the fish in.


Fried Catfish, heat the oil.
And now is a good time to start heating up the oil. I like to use my cast iron skillet for this. I’ve added about one inch of canola cooking oil to the skillet and set the heat to Medium. The oil will need to heat up to about 350F degrees for frying. Just be careful, take your time, and all should go well.

When you can drop a pinch of flour into the oil and see it sizzle, it should be hot enough to fry the fish.


Fried Catfish, dredge the fish.
Lay the filet in the flour and coat both sides with flour.


Fried Catfish, flour both sides.
You only want a light coating of the flour, but be sure to coat both sides well. Shake off any excess flour before placing the fish in the skillet.


Fried Catfish, place fish in oil.
Gently lower the fish filet into the hot oil. I like to start with the skin side up.


Fried Catfish, fry,
Just leave it alone and let it fry for about 3-4 minutes on this one side, until the bottom of the fish turns lightly brown.


Fried Catfish, turn as needed.
Turn the filet over and brown the second side. You’ll also notice that the oil bubbles will slow down a bit when the fish is done.


Fried Catfish, remove and drain.
Place the cooked filet on a piece of parchment after removing it from the skillet. I don’t like to use paper towels, but you can if you have them. We always placed cooked fish in a large pan that had a wire rack in it so the fish would stay crispy during the restaurant days.


Fried Catfish, enjoy!.

Serve it up hot with some homemade Cole slaw, maybe some fries or a baked potato, and with a few hushpuppies on the side. I’m hungry already, how about you?


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Fried Catfish, printbox.

Southern Fried Catfish Recipe

  • Author: Steve Gordon
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 minutes
  • Total Time: 23 minutes
  • Yield: Varies
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: American, Southern


Fried catfish is a real Southern favorite. Whether you catch your own, or buy them farm raised, they taste amazing.



1 lb. Catfish filets
1 cup Self-Rising Flour
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cooking oil for frying. Canola or Peanut oil are best.


Add cooking oil to about one inch depth in a cast iron skillet.
Place skillet over Medium heat, bring oil to 350F degrees for frying.
Rinse filets under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels.
Sprinkle salt on both sides.
Sprinkle black pepper on both sides.
Place the filet in flour and fully coat both sides. Shake off any excess.
Carefully lower the filet into the hot oil.
Cook for about 3-4 minutes or until bottom side is golden brown.
Flip filet over and cook another 3-4 minutes until golden brown.
Remove from oil. Place on wire rack to drain.


Works well with most fish. Flounder, whiting, etc.

Keywords: southern, fried, catfish, flour, calabash style, lightly battered, lightly fried


Your Comments:

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You might also like: Carolina Crawfish Boil

Or, maybe this one?  Southern Fried Chicken

How about this? Pan Fried Bluefish Recipe


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Category: Fish-Seafood, Main Dishes, Uncategorized

About the Author ()

Award Winning Food Preservationist, Fisherman, Author of three cookbooks. "From Mama's Big Oval Table, From Mama's Big Oval Table - BOOK TWO and Carolina Christmas Sweets and Appetizers." Online Contributor to Our State Magazine Newsletter.

Comments (7)

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  1. BRIAN says:

    As a kid I used to go catfish fishing in Massachusetts and New Hampshire all summer. We called them horned pout – and still do up here. They aren’t as big as what you catch down south but we’d haul in buckets full almost any night, if you knew the best places to go!! If you know how to grab ahold of them, you can pretty much guarantee you won’t get “stung” by one of those fins. Notice I said “pretty much guarantee”. I got my share of those stings and they hurt for quite a while.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi Brian, I’ve always heard they do sting you badly. Thankfully, I’ve never had that to happen. They do grow some large cats around here. Biggest one I’ve ever personally seen weighed in a 63 pounds. The guy that caught it said he fought it for 30 minutes before getting it into his boat. He held it up and it was almost as big as he was. I appreciate your visits. Stop by to see us again… real soon. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  2. Marilyn Allison says:

    Good afternoon Steve,

    I love fried fish. Calabash, NC has a great seafood restaurant near the causeway bridge that is SO good. Won’t mention the name, but they had a fire a few years ago and has rebuilt. Have not been to the beach in a while, but we always left going through Calabash for a meal before heading home. I love the lightly battered taste. Your restaurant must have been really good. I would also love to have your hush puppy recipe. Have a great week and thanks for all you do to inspire good cooking.

  3. cj thomas says:

    Just how I like it.
    Now, for your hush puppy recipe please???
    We had a stinky old leather glove for de-hooking, it was the skinning part I hated.

    • Steve Gordon says:

      Hi CJ, I hear you on the hushpuppies. Coming up soon, I promise. I did use a glove sometimes as well. I have never tried to clean one though. Just call me lazy. Be Blessed!!! -Steve

  4. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for even posting a picture of fried catfish – one of my all time favorites! A must have at any restaurant here in FL along the east coast. Agree – simple is the best.

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