This Beer Battered Catfish is perfectly tender on the inside and light and crispy on the outside. It's dipped in seasoned beer batter and deep-fried to golden perfection.
Beer Battered Catfish
Of all the ways to cook catfish, this is probably my favorite. The golden, crispy, perfectly seasoned coating around warm, tender catfish just can't be beat.
In this recipe, catfish filets are dipped into seasoned beer batter and deep-fried until golden, leaving you with a crispy, savory coating surrounding perfectly tender catfish.
This recipe is great for freshly-caught catfish, if you're into fishing, and of course fresh or frozen catfish from the seafood counter at the grocery will also work if you'd rather leave the fishing to the fishermen.
What Does Beer Do for Fish Batter?
Beer-batter is arguably the best batter for frying (or at least my personal favorite). Beer adds several elements to the batter that make it outstanding.
- Carbonation - The carbonation in beer produces bubbles that escape while it cooks. This leads to a light and crispy finished product. This can also be replicated with other neutral flavored carbonated beverages, such as soda water.
- Ph - Beer is slightly more acidic than water which limits how much gluten can form in the batter. This ensures that the breading stays tender, and prevents it from getting too tough.
- Flavor - The beer will impart some extra flavor to the batter and the fish. Depending on the type of beer, the flavor may be stronger, lighter, or more or less hoppy.
What Kind of Beer Should I Use?
You can use any kind of beer you want! Here are some things to keep in mind, though.
All beer will add the agents necessary for that light, crispy texture you're looking for. However, some beers will add more color or flavor than others. A dark lager will add a deeper color and a richer flavor than a pale macro-beer, which will add great texture with very little color or flavor.
A pale macro-brew, such as Pabst or Coors is a great place to start if you're unsure about the flavor. Since catfish is a milder flavor, the mild beer will work great and is not too overpowering.
Can I Use Other Fish?
Yes, the batter will work for most fish including cod, walleye, perch, or grouper. Just be sure to watch the cook time as it may vary slightly based on the size and type of fish.
Catfish is considered a white, lean, and firm fish. Other fish with a similar profile to catfish are pollock, cod, grouper, haddock, or halibut.
What to Serve with Beer Battered Catfish
We like to serve classics like creamy coleslaw, fries, and homemade tartar sauce. You can also make these simple hush puppies in the air fryer.
Other serving ideas include:
- Fried foods such as onion rings, fries, hush puppies, or corn fritters
- Salads such as a fresh green salad, coleslaw, or potato salad
- Something starchy like baked beans or baked potato
- On a bun as a sandwich with tartar sauce
- On flour or corn tortillas as a taco
- Veggies like steamed broccoli or corn on the cob
More Seafood Recipes You'll Love
- Fried Catfish Nuggets - a classic recipe for deep frying catfish nuggets with a crispy, savory coating.
- Southern Pan Fried Catfish - catfish the southern way, pan-fried with a cornmeal coating.
- Cajun Baked Catfish - a quick and simple baked catfish with cornmeal coating that's so good you won't even miss the frying oil
- Parmesan Garlic Salmon - savory, tender, and flaky this salmon is loaded up with garlic, herbs, and parmesan and baked to perfection
- Salmon Croquettes - a simple salmon recipe that's quick, cheap, and easy to make, not to mention delicious!
Beer Battered Catfish Video
Beer Battered Catfish
- 1 to 1½ pounds catfish or substitute fish
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Cajun Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- ¾ cup beer room-temperature
- vegetable oil for frying
- In a medium bowl, mix together your flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and all your spices. Add your beer and egg, and mix well, until everything is incorporated. Refrigerate for at least 30 min to help everything set.
- When ready to cook, pour vegetable oil in a fryer or deep skillet to a depth of at least 3 inches, and heat to 350°F.
- Stir batter, and fold in catfish.
- Lift fish strips with tongs, draining excess batter and making sure the whole fish is covered, and place in the oil, being careful not to over-crowd the fryer. (I only do a maximum of 2 at a time)
- Fry until browned, about 3-4 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- Remove to paper towels to drain excess oil, and repeat with remaining fish.
- To check for whether oil is hot enough without using a thermometer, throw some flour into the hot oil. If it sizzles, it's ready.
- To keep warm while you fry the rest of the fish, place on a baking sheet and keep in a low, warmed oven (150°-200°)
- Storage: This catfish is best eaten right away. Leftovers can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Heat leftovers in an air fryer or convection oven until heated through.
UPDATE INFO: This recipe was originally published in August 2014. It was updated with new pictures, tips, and video and republished in August 2022.
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Mrs. C says
This recipe looks easy and delicious.
We do not use alcohol. Do you have an alternative to the beer?
There are quite a few non-alcoholic beers you could use. Beck's is probably the most widely known. But usually when I sub alcohol out of recipes, I use chicken broth, so you could go that route too.
Stan Smith says
You can substitute seltzer water or club soda for beer, I've also used diet sprite or 7up
Russell from Chasing Delicious says
Loving the idea of changing it up with a beer batter. Yum!
Gina Abernathy says
We have a catfish pond right out our back door. Great recipe and will make again.
I love this approach to catfish! I've only ever done beer-battered cod or haddock, so this was nice and different. Will definitely make it again!
Beer batter sounds like a great idea. This fish will be great, served with fries and a salad.
I’ve never had catfish before but the beer batter was spot on!
This was hands-down the best fish ever! I can't wait to make it again!
oooh, this catfish has such a great, crispy texture! I love all the flavor packed into that batter. So easy too!
Yes please! I'd eat anything fried in beer batter, and this looks amazing.
Oh yum! You had me at golden, crispy, perfectly seasoned coating. This beer battered catfish looks absolutely fantastic.
This is such a great way to enjoy catfish!
Dana Sandonato says
Absolutely love the beer batter on this. It's like in a good pub, but better because it felt less greasy, having been able to pop it onto some paper towels after frying it to soak up excess grease. Seriously good!
If I could give this fish a 10 out of 10 I would. I had the best flavor and was so light and flaky.
Mandy Applegate says
I was really impressed with how easy it was to make and how delicious it turned out. The fish was nice and crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The flavor was perfect. I will definitely be making this again!
I love how crispy these are! I've made battered fish before but it didn't have the crisp. It never occurred to me that the secret is in the bubbles. Thanks for sharing!
Oh how delicious! I also want to try those hush puppies. I used to love them at Long John Silvers, but those restaurants are hard to find near me now, so I'm eager to make my own!
The beer batter in this fried fish recipe is the key to making sure it's super crispy but tender and flaky on the inside.
Emily Flint says
CAtfish is one of my favorites and for some reason I don't make it enough. Now that I have this recipe I will be making it all the time!
This recipe is perfect for these busy fall days. Fast, flavorful and the whole family loves it!
Diana Reis says
Perfectly crisp. We loved this dish so much, and catfish is a nice fish for frying.