Pan Fried Catfish Recipe

In Grill Grate and Camp Stove Recipes

Having a good pan fried catfish recipe in your war chest and a little preparation before your next fishing trip will make cooking your catch right on the river bank quick and easy.

This recipe can almost be done without putting your beer down.

Pan Fried Catfish Recipe

  • Prep Time:  10 Minutes
  • Cook Time:  15 Minutes
  • Serves:  4 people


  • 4 catfish fillets
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1-2 cups vegetable oil (enough to fill pan to 1/4″ – 1/2″)
  • 2 tbs. Creole Seasoning (use our seasoning recipe below or a store bought seasoning such as Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning)
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tbs. dried parsley
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
Creole Seasoning

Equipment Needed at the Campsite:

  • Cast iron skillet (12″) and hot pads for moving it around
  • Nylon tipped spatula (I also use a pair of tongs to help flip the catfish)
  • Additional plate and papertowels for draining
  • Large resealable bag for soaking fish
  • Large bowl for dredging the catfish in your cornmeal/flour mix

Before You Leave Home

Before you hit the road for your trip, mix your creole seasoning, parsley, cornmeal and flour and toss into a plastic container or resealable bag.

Cornmeal mix for fried catfish recipe

When you mix your ingredients, be sure to break up any lumps of flour.

Lastly, find an empty spot in your beer cooler and stash your buttermilk in there.

The Pan Fried Catfish Recipe at the Campsite

Once you’re ready to get cooking at your campsite, start with tossing your catfish fillets in your large resealable bag along with a couple of cups of buttermilk.

Fried Catfish Recipe

You don’t necessarily have to use buttermilk to marinade the fish, but using milk is important. Substitute regular milk if you don’t want to mess with the buttermilk. The casein in the milk helps kill the “fishy” flavor of the fish. (learn more)

Once you have your catfish soaking, add about a quarter inch of vegetable oil to your frying pan and turn your camp stove to medium high heat (if the oil is too cold it’ll make your fish soggy).

You can also go ahead and dump your cornmeal mix into a large bowl to get ready for dredging.

Test to see if your oil is hot enough by flicking a bit of your cornmeal mix into it. If it immediately starts sizzling, it should be ready.

Once your oil is hot, take a catfish fillet out of your resealable bag and dredge in your cornmeal mix. Be sure to get your fillets fully coated, including all of the cracks in the fillets.

Dredge your catfish in your cornmeal mix.

Shake off the excess and gently lay your catfish fillet into your hot oil.

Frying Catfish FilletCook each side for 3-5 minutes, until golden brown.

Be careful when flipping your catfish (and when removing from the pan) that you don’t accidentally scrape off your breading. It can be especially easy to scrape it off when it isn’t fully cooked yet.

Once golden brown on both sides, remove from your pan to a paper towel lined plate to drain and you’re all done.

Fried Catfish Fillets

Serve with lemon wedges and tartar sauce. I like to serve mine up with some homemade pinto beans and coleslaw on the side.

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Pan Fried Catfish Recipe
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
25 mins

Course: Main Dish
Servings: 4 people
  • 4 catfish fillets
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1-2 cups vegetable oil - enough to fill pan to 1/4 to 1/2"
  • 2 tbs. Creole Seasoning
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tbs. dried parsley
  • 1 lemon - cut into wedges
Additional Equipment Needed
  • 12" cast iron skillet and hot pads
  • nylon tipped spatula and tongs
  • additional plat and paper towels
  • large resealable bag
  • large bowl
Before You Leave Home
  1. Mix Creole Seasoning, parsley, cornmeal and flour. Put into resealable plastic bag or container.

Cooking at the Campsite
  1. Put catfish fillets and buttermilk into a large resealable bag.

  2. Add a quarter inch of vegetable oil to skillet and heat on medium high.

  3. Dump cornmeal mix into large bowl.

  4. Test if oil is hot enough by flicking dry cornmeal mix into pan. If it immediately sizzles, then you are ready to start cooking.

  5. Dredge catfish fillets in cornmeal mix, ensuring that all surfaces are fully coated.

  6. Shake off excess breading mix and gently lay fillets into hot oil.

  7. Cook each side of the fillets until golden brown. 3-5 minutes.

  8. Remove from pan and drain on paper towel lined plate.

  9. Serve with lemon wedges.



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