Fried Catfish

There’s nothing better than a fish fry. Grilling hot dogs, hamburgers, and a good steak are perfectly fine, but a fish fry is guaranteed fun! Of course catching and cleaning your own fish is the best way to get the freshest fish but buying fresh catfish fillets is a close second. Don’t be confused if you’re thinking of the catfish bottom dwellers. Catfish sold in seafood markets are farm raised with a milder more delicate taste. Another advantage to catfish fillets, no bones!

  • 6-8 fresh catfish filets
  • Salt
  • 3 cups cornmeal
  • Peanut oil for frying

Cut catfish filets in half or thirds if desired. Salt each side of the fish well. Place cornmeal in a brown paper grocery bag then add the catfish. Fold down the top of the bag and shake to coat the catfish with the cornmeal.

Fill a cast iron skillet about half full with peanut oil. Using a frying/candy thermometer, heat the oil until it reaches 350 degrees.

Shake off excess cornmeal and place the fish in the hot oil careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry 4 minutes for each inch of the filet’s thickness, until golden brown. Turn the fish half way through the cooking process. The fish is done when its thickest part registers 135 degrees internal temperature on an instant read thermometer.

Remove cooked fish and drain on a paper towel.


  • Normally I cook my catfish outside on the burner built in next to my grill. If you have a turkey fryer, you can use that. Cooking outside is easy with less clean up, but you can certainly fry your fish inside too.
  • A cast iron skillet is a must; it promotes even heating and doesn’t cool down too quickly when the cold fish is added to the hot oil. If you have questions about seasoning and cleaning your cast iron skillet, you’ll find lots of information online.
  • Use a clip on frying/candy thermometer that will clip in the side of the skillet. It’s the best way to know you are cooking at the correct temperature.
  • I like using peanut oil because it fries really well at a high heat. It also adds a bit of flavor to your fish.
  • When I say salt your fish well, I mean just that. Fish need salt for flavor and fish that isn’t salted enough will be too bland.
  • When you go to the grocery store to shop for all your ingredients remember to ask for a paper bag. I like using a paper bag to bread the fish but you can also use a plastic bag.
  • When I place my fish in the hot skillet I pretend my pan is a clock and start at twelve o’clock working around clockwise. That way when it’s time to turn the fish, I’ll know to turn the first piece of fish that started cooking.
  • Be careful not to splatter the hot oil. It will burn you. Instead of dropping battered fish in the oil, you can use a spatula to assist you in placing the fish in the hot oil.
  • You may have to cook in batches depending on the size or your skillet.
  • Do not crowd the skillet with the fish. This could lower the frying temperature.
  • Cook your hushpuppies in the same oil after you’ve fried your fish. That way you’ll get some of the flavor from the fish in your hush puppies.
  • Don’t wear flip flops when frying fish. I’ve learned the hard way that tiny grease splatters will land on your feet. Ouch!