Best Easy Whole Fried Catfish Recipe

Title: Best Easy Whole Fried Catfish Recipe: A Southern Delight


Fried catfish is a beloved dish in southern cuisine, and for good reason. With its crispy exterior and tender, flaky meat, it’s a true delight for seafood lovers. If you’re looking to try your hand at making this classic dish, we have the perfect recipe for you. This easy whole fried catfish recipe will have you savoring a piece of the South in no time.


– 2 whole catfish, cleaned and scaled
– 1 cup buttermilk
– 1 cup cornmeal
– 1 teaspoon paprika
– 1 teaspoon garlic powder
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
– Vegetable oil (for frying)
– Lemon wedges (for serving)


1. Begin by rinsing the catfish under cold water and patting them dry with paper towels. This step is crucial to ensure the fish is clean and ready for frying.

2. In a shallow dish, pour the buttermilk and place the catfish in it, making sure they are fully submerged. Allow the fish to soak in the buttermilk for about 30 minutes. This will help tenderize the meat and enhance the flavor.

3. While the catfish is marinating, prepare the cornmeal coating. In a separate bowl, combine the cornmeal, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Mix well to ensure all the spices are evenly distributed throughout the cornmeal mixture.

4. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet or deep fryer. You’ll need enough oil to fully submerge the catfish. Heat the oil to around 350°F (175°C).

5. Carefully remove the catfish from the buttermilk, allowing any excess liquid to drip off. Dredge each fish in the cornmeal mixture, making sure to coat both sides evenly.

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6. Gently place the coated catfish into the hot oil, being cautious not to overcrowd the skillet. Fry the fish for about 6-8 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy. Remember to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the frying process to ensure even cooking.

7. Once fried, transfer the catfish to a paper towel-lined plate to drain any excess oil.

8. Serve the whole fried catfish hot, accompanied by lemon wedges for a tangy burst of flavor. This dish pairs perfectly with coleslaw, hush puppies, or a side of cornbread.

Question and Answer:

1. Can I use a different type of fish for this recipe?
Yes, you can use other types of fish with firm meat, such as tilapia or trout, as a substitute for catfish.

2. Can I make this recipe without buttermilk?
Yes, you can use regular milk or even a mixture of milk and plain yogurt as a substitute for buttermilk.

3. Can I bake the catfish instead of frying it?
While frying gives the catfish its signature crispy texture, you can bake it at 400°F (200°C) for approximately 20-25 minutes if you prefer a healthier alternative.

4. How do I know when the catfish is cooked through?
The fish is cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) and the flesh is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.

5. Can I freeze the fried catfish for later use?
Yes, you can freeze any leftovers by placing them in an airtight container or freezer bag. Reheat in the oven or air fryer for the best texture.

6. What can I serve with fried catfish?
Popular sides include tartar sauce, hot sauce, mashed potatoes, collard greens, or macaroni and cheese.

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7. Can I use a different coating instead of cornmeal?
Yes, you can experiment with using flour, bread crumbs, or a combination of both to achieve different textures and flavors.


With this easy whole fried catfish recipe, you can bring the taste of the South right into your kitchen. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a beginner, this dish is sure to impress with its crispy exterior and succulent meat. So grab some catfish, follow the recipe, and enjoy a truly authentic southern seafood experience.

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