Southern Pan Fried Catfish is flaky and juicy with a golden, crispy cornmeal crust, pan fried to perfection. Serve with fresh creamy coleslaw for the perfect meal.
Southern Pan Fried Catfish
My love of fried catfish is rather recent. I actually don't remember eating it at all before I was married. But with a lot of Southern blood in my hubby's family and moving to a small river-town, I was quickly introduced to this yummy classic, and thankfully so.
TRUE Southern fried catfish recipe is coated in cornmeal and pan-fried to perfection. AND it's super easy to make.
This southern pan fried catfish is flaky and juicy with a crispy, golden cornmeal crust. This recipe does not use any flour dredging because I've found it's really messy and completely unnecessary. In fact, this recipe makes a way crispier crust than any I've tried that include flour.
I do love this beer battered catfish, but it takes a little longer and you have to bread out the deep fryer. So most of the time I opt for the way easier, and also delicious, pan-fried version.
What Kind of Oil Should I Use for Frying?
Because this catfish is pan-fried instead of deep fried, I recommend using butter. It adds a delicious, creamy flavor and it's easy to work with.
Other healthy alternatives are olive oil or coconut oil.
What Sides Go with Southern Pan Fried Catfish?
It's a well known fact that you can't have fried catfish without Southern creamy coleslaw. Fresh, crisp, creamy, and tangy, it just complements the warm, rich catfish perfectly.
Be sure to make some homemade tartar sauce (because it's THE BEST) for dipping.
More Southern Catfish Recipes You'll Love
- Baked Catfish Nuggets - simple baked cornmeal coated catfish nuggets.
- Lemon Pepper Baked Catfish - cornmeal coated catfish seasoned with lemon pepper and baked to golden perfection.
- Fried Catfish Nuggets - these catfish nuggets are battered and fried for extra crispiness.
- Beer Battered Catfish - catfish coated in crispy beer batter and deep fried.
- Southern Oven Fried Chicken - the BEST UN-fried chicken you'll ever have. Juicy, crispy, and DELICIOUS.
Southern Pan Fried Catfish
- 6 catfish filets
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1½ tablespoons Cajun seasoning
- 1½ teaspoons garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 6 tablespoons butter
- In a flat dish (Like a baking dish or cake pan), combine cornmeal, Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Whisk together to combine.
- Coat catfish in cornmeal mixture. Remove to a large plate or tray.
- Heat half of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- When butter is hot, fry 2-3 fillets at a time for about 3 minutes on each side, or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
- Repeat with remaining butter and catfish.
- Serve immediately.
- This recipe is gluten free.
- To get rid of the "muddy" catfish flavor, you can soak fillets in buttermilk for an hour.
- Fry the catfish in batches, and do NOT overcrowd the pan. Overcrowding your cast iron will lower the oil’s temperature, which will result in soggy fish. Stick with a few pieces at a time.
- Substitute other oils for butter to make dairy free. Alternatives include coconut oil, olive oil, vegetable oil, or canola oil.
- Dip your delicious catfish in the best sauce! Try my favorite homemade tartar sauce.
- Freezer Directions: To freeze, prepare catfish according to recipe. Allow to cool completely. Transfer to a freezer bag. Freeze for up 3 months. To use, bake in a single layer on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven for about 10-15 minutes, until heated through.
UPDATE INFO: This recipe was originally published in August 2015. It was updated with new images, more detailed instructions and tips, and a video in March 2021.
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