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Classic Spicy Pan Fried Catfish
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5 from 1 vote

Spicy Classic Pan Fried Catfish

This spicy classic pan fried catfish has a great "kick" of flavor especially paired with the spicy tartar sauce. Serve as an entrée or appetizer!
If you don't have catfish or don't like catfish, use this same breading with any fish, fresh or frozen, for a delicious meal!
Serves 4 as an entrée and 8 - 10 as an appetizer.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time15 mins
marinating time30 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: fried catfish
Servings: 4 people
Author: Kyle



  • 4 6-7 ounces each fresh catfish fillets
  • ¾ cup buttermilk, see Gr8 Tips for a substitute
  • 1 Tablespoon hot sauce, I like Frank's RedHot Sauce
  • ½ cup yellow cornmeal
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Cajun Seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • frying oil, I use peanut oil

Tartar Sauce

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 Tablespoons dill or sweet pickle relish
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 1 Tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Cajun seasoning



  • If you are making the catfish for an appetizer or just want to serve it in smaller pieces, cut the fillets into strips or bite sized pieces.
  • In a small bowl mix the buttermilk and hot sauce.
  • Lay the catfish in a 9 x 13 baking dish and pour the buttermilk mixture over the fish. Turn the fish over so that all sides are covered with the buttermilk. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes while you make the coating and the tarter sauce.
  • In a medium bowl combine the cornmeal, flour, Cajun seasoning, paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir to completely combine the ingredients. 
  • Take the fish out of the refrigerator about 10 minutes before starting to cook it.
  • Heat about ½-inch of oil in a large cast iron skillet over a medium flame to about 350℉.
  • Dip each piece of the fish from the buttermilk mixture into the dry mixture until coated on all sides.
  • Carefully place several pieces into the oil. Cook on each side until golden brown about 6 - 8 minutes total. Repeat with remaining fish.
  • Remove from oil and place on paper towels or brown paper bag to absorb the excess oil.
  • Serve warm with any of your favorite additions like tartar sauce (yummy recipe below), malt vinegar, hot sauce, and or lemon slices.

Tartar Sauce

  • In a medium bowl, stir together all the tartar sauce ingredients listed above until completely combined. Taste and add any extra of any of the ingredients you may like.


Gr8 Tips:
  • The tartar sauce can be made up to two days in advance and kept in the refrigerator. 
  • The sauce can be served with other fish of your choice.
  • If you don't have buttermilk on hand, just put one Tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice into a liquid measuring cup and add milk until it measures one cup. Stir it up and let it rest for 5 minutes. You can also use a non-dairy milk the same way.
  • And, if you have leftover buttermilk, here is Anna's recipe for delicious and simple buttermilk pie!
Tried this recipe?Mention @Great8Friends or tag #gr8food!