Oven-Fried Catfish

If you want the crunchy goodness of fried catfish but are trying to be healthier, then this baked catfish recipe is perfect for you. Oven-fried foods use far less oil than traditional frying techniques, and this method allows you to find a happy medium between the two. Using the same flavors as traditionally fried catfish, these baked catfish fillets are great for a family get-together.

The best time to catch catfish varies by species and location, so you can enjoy your fresh catch during any season. You can even use this recipe on farm-raised catfish, depending on your personal preferences. The taste of fresh catfish may be strong for some diners, but farm-raised varieties typically have a sweeter and milder taste. Whatever your catfish preference, baked catfish is one delicious way to prepare this American classic.

The Recipe

Oven frying your catfish is a healthier alternative to the traditional fried catfish. This simple recipe is easy to modify with more spices that can make this dish a little different each time you make it.

20m
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds catfish fillets

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • 1 cup cornmeal

  • 1 tablespoon Creole or Cajun seasoning

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Cut the catfish fillets into smaller 3- to 4-inch portions and set aside.

  3. In a shallow bowl, beat together the eggs with salt and pepper to taste. In another mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal and Creole or Cajun seasoning. Coat each of the catfish fillets in the egg mixture, and then the cornmeal mixture. Be sure to coat all the sides of the fillet.

  4. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and brush evenly with the olive oil. Place each one of the breaded catfish pieces onto the baking sheet.

  5. Bake the catfish fillets for 7 minutes. After that, flip the catfish fillets over and cook them for another 7 minutes. Once the fillets are ready, they can be served with fresh lemon slices and a little parsley for additional garnish. Traditionally, this dish is served with coleslaw, hush puppies, and corn on the cob.

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Like deep-fried catfish, oven-fried catfish is a little difficult to check for doneness. The full coverage of the cornmeal crust does not allow you to really see the flakiness of the flesh or the opaque white color. Overdone catfish fillets may be disappointing, but the ease of this recipe allows you to try again if you aren’t happy with your first results.

When cooking baked catfish fillets with a heavier breading, try pressing your finger into the fillet and testing the firmness of the flesh. Underdone catfish will be soft and mushy, but easily flaking catfish means it may be overdone. Cooked catfish fillets should be firm, but the best way to test for doneness is to get an instant thermometer and see if the fish is 145 degrees Fahrenheit on the inside.

If you don’t mind having a less than perfect presentation, you can check the inside of your oven-fried catfish with a small knife tip or a fork. Gently cut into the thickest part of the fillet, down to the center of the flesh. If the meat is mostly solid white with a little strip of translucent flesh, your catfish is done.

If you’ve hooked your own catch in preparation for a delectable oven-fried catfish recipe, there are a few tips you must know before eating this feisty river dweller:

  • Catfish don’t have scales, so you don’t need to complete this particular step when cleaning your fish.
  • Catfish skin is tough, but you can keep the skin on until you are ready to prepare your fillets. If you choose to leave the skin on, many fishermen recommend scoring the skin with diagonal cuts to prevent it from curling. We don’t recommend eating the skin!
  • You may have trouble filleting your catfish due to its rib cage, so once you remove the fillets from the carcass, use a filleting knife to cut off these parts.

Don’t let this recipe be the end of your adventures in cooking catfish! You can play with the spices in your recipes to adjust it to your preferred heat level or add in other seasonings for a meal rich in complex flavors.

You can also make a spicy mayonnaise-based dipping sauce for your oven-fried catfish meal, or you can put your catfish fillets on a bun with coleslaw or sauce for a Sunday afternoon fish fry sandwich. Download our fish recipe guide to get more ideas for delicious fish meals.