It doesn’t get better than tender, flaky, and extra flavorful fried catfish fillets with crispy golden cornmeal breading. Marinated in buttermilk and seasoned well with a variety of spices; this fried catfish is best served alongside hush puppies and coleslaw for the ultimate Southern fish fry! So comforting and delicious!

fried catfish with hush puppies on blue platter

Oooeee are y’all ready to talk about this fried catfish tho? Listen, I am so excited to finally share this one as it’s been in the works for some time. There is truly nothing like a good ole Southern and proper fish fry. It’s comforting and just down right delicious. I don’t fry fish on the regular, it’s more of a special kind of treat. Also, fried catfish is one of my mom’s favorite things in the whole wide world. I made her a special little fish fry a couple of weeks ago and she ate every bite with a quickness, ha! I knew I had to share with you.

What is a fish fry? In the South, a fish fry is usually a seasonal event (typically in the summertime) that involves a community of folks getting together for certain events. This can be for birthdays, reunions, or some other kind of celebration. No matter the size of the gathering, the fried fish is abundant and the side dishes are plenty too. These days with the state of the world right now, being in community is challenging but for a good reason. Whether it’s just you or your immediate crew at home, I hope you enjoy this recipe!

piece of fried catfish with lemon slice

Fried Catfish Ingredients

(Note: the full ingredients list, including measurements, is provided in the recipe card directly below.)

  • Catfish fillets: You’ll want to buy them fresh, never frozen, for best results. In my grocery store, the fishmonger will have them already skinned with the bones removed- be sure to buy them like this to prevent any additional work for yourself. Although, most catfish in stores is sold this way.
  • Buttermilk: Used to marinate the catfish fillets along with spices. Buttermilk further tenderizes the catfish and provides more moisture for the cornmeal breading to bind to.
  • Ranch seasoning: Love this for added flavor and taste! This is a typical and commonly found ingredient within the spice/salad dressing aisle of your grocery store.
  • Spices: Pantry staples you will need salt, garlic powder, ground white pepper, and smoked paprika.
  • Hot sauce: Listen, this is a must, ha! And spring for Louisiana hot sauce too, mmkay.
  • Oil: I recommend *peanut oil* for flavor but you can use vegetable or canola oil as well.

How To Make Fried Catfish

Okay so, despite any apprehensions you may have making fried catfish is actually so very easy, my friends. If you can marinate the fish, coat the fish, and then fry said fish, you are golden boo. Not to mention that catfish is a very delicate and light type of fish already which means it cooks within minutes!

Equipment Needed For Fried Catfish

  1. Heavy-bottomed dutch oven OR deep cast-iron skillet– these types of cookware are essential vessels to have on hand when deep frying. They’re big and roomy and provide the needed spacing.
  2. Deep fry thermometer– I cannot recommend this tool enough to have among your kitchen gadgets. It tells you the precise and exact temperature of your cooking oil at all times so that you’re not guessing.
black hand squeezing lemon over fried catfish

What To Pair With This Fried Catfish?

A great fish fry is accompanied by a nice set of the most scrumptious and fitting side dishes!

How To Discard/Store The Used Oil

  1. Save the actual container/vessel that your oil came in.
  2. Allow the used oil to cool down completely.
  3. Using a funnel, empty the used oil back into the oil container.
  4. Depending on the state of your oil (not too much debris or browning) it can be used again.
  5. Store container away for future uses- do not reuse the oil for frying anything other than fish!
  6. If you choose not to store the oil, simply discard it .

More Southern-Inspired Recipes To Try

fried catfish with hush puppies on blue platter

Preparing Your Catfish

Most catfish fillets will come in a larger pieces but you can cut them in half to make smaller fillets if you prefer. Cutting them down in size will also reduce the frying time on them as well, around 3-4 minutes.

How To Store Fried Catfish Leftovers

Now I’m going to be real with you…fried catfish is at its very best when fresh and hot outta the oil #ijs. However, if you have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container and refrigerate them for no more than three days for optimal freshness. Then reheat via the oven at 350°F, same goes for the hush puppies as well.

The Best Fish Fry

There you have it folks, this is the best fried catfish recipe that is perfect for your next fish fry! Delicate, flavorful, and crispy fried catfish that is so amazing. The recipe card includes a recipe for BOTH fried catfish and hush puppies. All you need to do is gather some coleslaw and any other fixin’s that your heart desires. And don’t forget the tartar sauce, hot sauce, and some lemon wedges too! Hope y’all enjoy!

fried catfish with coleslaw and collard greens




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fried catfish with hush puppies on blue platter

The Best Fried Catfish (Fish Fry 101)

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  • Author: Quin Liburd
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Deep Frying
  • Cuisine: Southern
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It doesn’t get better than tender, flaky, and extra flavorful fried catfish fillets with crispy golden cornmeal breading. Marinated in buttermilk and seasoned well with a variety of spices.



For the catfish:

  • 1 1/2 lbs fresh catfish fillets
  • 1 cup whole buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons ranch seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce
  • 1 quart peanut oil, for frying- vegetable, canola oil as alternate

Catfish flour dredge:

  • 1 cup fine yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

For the hush puppies:

  • 1 cup fine yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup whole buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce
  • 1 (8.75oz) canned whole kernel corn, drained


For the catfish:

  1. Marinate the catfish: In a large bowl, combine the catfish fillets, buttermilk, ranch seasoning, salt, garlic powder, white pepper, paprika, and hot sauce together. Use your hands (with disposable gloves, if desired) to mix everything together to fully combine. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and transfer it into the refrigerator to marinate for at least one hour.
  2. Prepare the catfish flour dredge: In a shallow pie plate, combine the cornmeal, flour, salt, minced onion, garlic powder, white pepper, and paprika together. Use a fork to mix everything together until well combined. Then set the flour dredge aside.

For the hush puppies:

  1. Mix dry ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, minced onion, salt, sugar, white pepper, baking powder, and baking soda together. Use a whisk or a fork to mix all of the dry ingredients together until fully combined.
  2. Add in the wet ingredients: Add in the egg, buttermilk, and hot sauce. Mix everything together again until just combined.  Carefully fold in the corn until fully incorporated in the batter.

Frying the catfish and/or the hush puppies:

  1. Fill a large heavy bottomed dutch oven or deep cast iron skillet with oil over medium high heat. Use a deep fry thermometer to monitor the temperature of the oil until it reaches at least 350°F.
  2. Frying the hush puppies: Take a spoonful of the hush puppie batter and use another spoon to scrape off the batter directly into the hot oil. Repeat the process until you get as many dollops of batter into the pot without any overcrowding (fry them in batches if you need to). Fry the hush puppies until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes on each side. Use a slotted spoon to take them out. Then set the hush puppies aside onto a plate/baking sheet lined with paper towel.
  3. Frying the catfish: Make sure the oil is at least 350°F. One by one, take each of the marinated catfish fillets and dredge them into the cornmeal mixture until coated on all sides, shaking off any excess flour. Carefully place the catfish fillets (fry in batches to avoid overcrowding) into the hot oil and fry them until golden brown and crispy, about 4-5 minutes. Note: if you prefer your catfish fried hard then fry them until your desired consistency is reached. Use tongs or a fish spatula to carefully take the catfish out and place the fried catfish fillets onto a baking sheet fitted with a wire rack to allow excess oil to drip off. Repeat the process until all of the catfish is fried.
  4. Enjoy the catfish warm alongside hush puppies and side items such as coleslaw, collard greens, and macaroni and cheese. Also serve with condiments like tartar sauce and hot sauce, if desired.


  1. Storing: Fried catfish/hush puppies will keep when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
  2. Please read the blog post in its entirety for more tips + tricks.