Classic Fried Catfish

Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas; Styling: Missie Neville Crawford

For an extra-crispy crust, use stone-ground yellow cornmeal, if available. Serve with lemon slices and your favorite tartar sauce. The secret to this recipe is maintaining an oil temperature of 360° to ensure a crispy, golden crust.

Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings
Recipe from Southern Living

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Recipe Time

Total: 8 Hours, 20 Minutes


  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 6 (4- to 6-oz.) catfish fillets
  • 1/3 cup plain yellow cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup masa harina (corn flour)*
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Peanut oil


  1. 1. Whisk together buttermilk and hot sauce.
  2. 2. Place catfish in a single layer in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish; pour buttermilk mixture over fish. Cover and chill 8 hours, turning once.
  3. 3. Combine cornmeal and next 6 ingredients in a shallow dish.
  4. 4. Let fish stand at room temperature 10 minutes. Remove from buttermilk mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Dredge fish in cornmeal mixture, shaking off excess.
  5. 5. Pour oil to depth of 2 inches into a large, deep cast-iron or heavy-duty skillet; heat to 360°.
  6. 6. Fry fish, in batches, 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack on a paper towel-lined jelly-roll pan. Keep warm in a 225° oven until ready to serve.
  7. *All-purpose flour or plain yellow cornmeal may be substituted.
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