Southern Fried Catfish and Hushpuppies!

My husband loves to fish.  That is actually probably an understatement.  You know the song by Brad Paisley, "I'm Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin' Song), well that is my husband exactly.  Starting in late March through early October, he fishes almost one day a week at least and he's pretty good at it after all of these years.  So, we have a freezer full of fish all year round.  We give  away a lot of it, because there is only so much fish you can eat.  If you have priced catfish fillets lately, in the stores, they are outrageous, so I don't complain about the fishing so much anymore.

 I have experimented with cooking it different ways, but I must say the absolutely best way to eat fresh water fish is fried and especially catfish.  My husband fillets them and then cuts them in smaller pieces and even people who say they don't like catfish end up loving this fish.  Add the homemade hushpuppies, coleslaw, onion slices and iced tea and it is a southern meal you won't forget.

There are several methods and recipes for frying fish in the south.  Some people pan fry, some deep fry, some use flour and cornmeal mixed, some use just cornmeal, some dip in egg and milk first and on and on.   It's up to the individual tastes and probably how you were raised eating it.  Personally, I soak my fish in buttermilk first and I only batter with cornmeal and seasonings.  If you dip the fish in an egg dip and batter with flour and cornmeal mixed, it gives it a heavier batter.

I prefer a lighter, crispier coating that just the cornmeal alone gives.  I also like to deep fry instead of pan frying.  Deep frying cooks the fish quickly and they don't absorb much of the grease at all.  If you pan fry, they lay in the grease longer and to me, seem greasier.  I don't do greasy when it comes to fried food and especially fish. 

Here is what  you will need:

Cornmeal ( I prefer White Lily), buttermilk, Tabasco sauce, Cajun seasoning, Old Bay seasoning, black pepper, salt, and about 2 lbs. catfish fillets.

Place the catfish fillets in a mixing bowl and cover with buttermilk.  Put several dashes of Tabasco sauce in this and mix around.  This is optional and the heat cooks out.  It just gives it a good flavor, but not heat. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour. This catfish has no fishy flavor really at all but even if it did, the buttermilk neutralizes it completely.

In a Ziplock bag or a bowl with a tight fitting lid, mix 2 cups cornmeal with 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. black pepper, 1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning, and 1 tsp. Cajun seasoning (I use Tony Chachere's).  Shake it up to mix all of it good.  While mixing this, start heating your oil.  If you are using a deep fryer with a temperature control, heat to 375 degrees.  I use my Fry Daddy and it stays right around that temperature.  Be sure the oil is good and hot.  If it is not at the right temperature, the fish will absorb  the oil too much and be greasy, if it is too hot, it will brown on the outside too fast and not cook on the inside.
Place 5 or 6 of the fish pieces in the bowl or bag and seal.  Shake around to coat well on all sides.  Drop carefully in the oil.  I use canola oil, but you can use vegetable oil or peanut oil also...whatever you prefer.

Turn the fish over about once to be sure to brown on both sides.  Don't turn  too much  because it will knock your batter off.   This cornmeal batter stays on the fish better than a  heavier batter though.  When it's brown on both sides, remove to paper towel lined platter to drain.  Repeat until all of the fish is fried. 


2lbs. catfish fillets
2 cups cornmeal (might need more, if the meal mixture becomes wet just add a cup more into the bag)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
dash of Tabasco sauce
oil for frying


No southern fish fry is complete without hushpuppies.  This is a simple, but really good recipe for hush puppies.


1/2 cup self rising flour
1 1/2 cup self rising corn meal
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
dash of Old Bay seasoning (optional)
1 Tbs. grated sweet onion
1 egg

Mix all together and drop by teaspoon full into the same oil you cooked fish in . When they are brown on one side, carefully roll them over and brown on the other side.  Remove to the paper towel lined platter around the fish. 

Southern Fried Catfish and Hushpuppies!


  1. Seems we are on the same page here... only it's my brother that goes fishing :-) On my way to his house to pickup a mess a catfish now!!!
    From one southern belle to another... love your site!
    Lynn @ Southern With A Twist

  2. Thanks for stopping in and commenting, Lynn. I hope you enjoy your fish! :)

  3. Mmmm! I Loooove fried catfish & hushpuppies! You just can't get the "real deal" in California. :-(
    Thanks for the recipes!

    1. In far Norther California we can't even get catfish, much less hushpuppies. Have missed them ever since we moved back here from Kansas 12 years ago. Will certainly save and use this recipe!

  4. You are welcome, hope you enjoy them!

  5. I love coming and reading your recipes..Each and everyone reminds me of home. I am going to try your recipe for fish! I gotta feeling this is the winner!

    Thanks so much!

  6. This is home. I do love fried Catfish and are not complete without the Hushpuppies.

    If you do not want pockets of cooking oil under the batter, watch for the fish to pop to the top. That means they are cooked. Pierce each piece with a long handled fork. They will drop below the surface again. When they pop up the second time, take them out and drain on a paper towel. They are sooooo free of fat they are good even when eaten cold.

  8. once your hushpuppy mix rises do not stir it they will be fluffier

  9. I love all Southern Cooking !!! And catfish and hushpuppies are the absolute bestest !!! Will for sure try these recipes, they have a little different twist than mine !!!

  10. Sounds wonderful, except I like a skillet of pan fried potatoes, all set to go now. Love your recipes.

  11. Actually, I was taught a trick about deep fat frying catfish from a Cajun friend which NEVER makes greasy fish. When you drop the battered fish into the rolling oil, the fish will drop to the bottom. When they float back up, pierce them with a long pronged fork. They will drop to the bottom again but when they pop back up, they will be perfect. Pat them gently and let them set for two or three minutes. Never greasy even when eaten cold.

  12. I have also always soaked catfish in buttermilk, but without the hot sauce. I use white self-rising cornmeal mix, garlic salt, pepper & paprica for the dredge. Love my "Fry Daddy" to cook them in as it causes a less greasy taste. *buttermilk soak for chicken is also great!

  13. just wondering what that bowl of interesting is to the side of the fish and pups ! Please ! Thanks !

  14. If you are cooking a lot of fish outdoors and you want to make sure your oil is hot enough to start cooking, just float a wooden match in the oil. When the match ignites, the oil is ready!

  15. Sound just right for southern fried catfish and hush puppies. The only thing wrong with this picture is it looks like a salad served with it. A true southerner would serve slaw, preferably sweet vinegar slaw, but she can get by with a little mayonnaise.

  16. This recipe was a bit confusing to me. You say in your recipe that you don't use a flour/cornmeal combination to dredge the fish and there is no flour on the List of Ingredients, only cornmeal...but you are using a cornmeal mix that contains flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar.?

    1. The cornmeal mix has very little flour in it. I am speaking of using a dredge of about 1/2 flour and 1/2 cornmeal, which some do. I don't like heavy crust it gives the fish.



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