This easy recipe for baked catfish is ready in about 30 minutes, making it ideal for a weeknight dinner.
I love this recipe because baking is much easier than deep-frying, and the result is crispy and delicious.
I recently moved to Memphis, Tennessee. It's an interesting place that slowly grows on you. Marc Cohn was correct when he wrote in his song Walking in Memphis, "They've got catfish on the table." They sure do.
When I eat out, I enjoy fried catfish. I love this fish's delicate, white flesh. But at home, I prefer to bake this fish. It's so much easier for me as a cook to bake than to deep-fry.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this baked catfish recipe. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Almond meal: Blanched almond flour works too. You can also use the same amount of breadcrumbs (regular or gluten-free) if you prefer and don't mind the carbs.
- To season: I use kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, dried thyme, dried oregano, and cayenne pepper.
- Butter: I use it for dipping the fish fillets before coating them in the almond meal. I love using creamy European butter, but any butter will be great.
- Avocado oil spray: This oil has a neutral flavor and a high smoke point, making it an ideal cooking oil.
- Catfish fillets: I use skinless filets. Try to get similar-sized fish pieces if you can.
- As mentioned above, you can dredge the fish in almond flour, breadcrumbs, or gluten-free breadcrumbs (if you don't mind the carbs). The advantage of breadcrumbs is that the fish turns out more crispy if you use them.
- You can beat an egg and dip the fish pieces in the egg mixture instead of butter. Personally, after trying both, I like the flavor that butter adds.
- Try different spices. I sometimes use smoked paprika or chili powder instead of regular paprika.
- It's fine to use blue catfish in this recipe instead of white catfish. Blue catfish have firmer flesh and a milder flavor compared to white catfish.
Baked Catfish Instructions
Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps for making this recipe:
- Your first step is to mix the almond meal, salt, pepper, and spices in a shallow dish.
- In another shallow dish, melt the butter.
- Now, dip each catfish fillet in the melted butter, then dredge it in the almond meal mixture. (Photos 1-3).
- Place the coated fillets on a greased roasting rack. Spray them with oil. (Photo 4).
- Bake the fish for about 15 minutes in a 450°F oven, until crisp and golden on the outside and tender and opaque inside. (Photos 5-6).
As you can see in the video, the bag of catfish I got had two fillets - one thin, the other very thick.
I solved the problem by slicing the thick fillet into two thinner ones. So if this happens to you, you know what to do!
Catfish is a white-fleshed fish. Its flavor is mild and slightly sweet, and its texture is firm yet moist. It somewhat resembles codfish, although they are completely different species of fish.
I buy frozen fillets at Whole Foods and thaw them overnight in the fridge. You can also order them at Wild Fork Foods.
No. You'll need to defrost them before using them. The coating won't adhere to frozen fish, and the whole thing will come out soggy rather than crispy.
To check for doneness, gently twist a fork on the top of the fish. If the flesh flakes easily and is opaque rather than translucent, the fish is done. If the flesh resists flaking, it needs more time in the oven.
Yes! While the classic preparation calls for deep-frying, high-heat baking achieves very similar results with much less work and much less mess to clean up.
Since I bake the fish in a 450°F oven, I like to serve it with side dishes that I can cook in the same oven. So I often serve it with any of the following:
- Roasted okra
- Roasted green beans
- Eggplant chips
- Roasted broccoli
- Buffalo cauliflower wings
- Roasted peppers
- Carrot chips
You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 3-4 days. They won't be as good as the freshly baked dish - the coating will lose its crispiness.
It's best to reheat the leftovers in a 300°F oven, although microwaving them gently works too.
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Baked Catfish Recipe
- Avocado oil spray
- ½ cup almond meal (or breadcrumbs, regular or gluten-free)
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 (6 oz) catfish fillets
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Prepare a roasting pan by lining the bottom with foil and spraying the roasting rack with oil.
- Mix the almond meal, salt &pepper, and spices in a shallow dish (such as a square 8-inch baking dish).
- In another shallow microwave-safe dish, melt the butter in the microwave.
- Dip each catfish fillet in the melted butter, then dredge in the almond meal mixture, pressing to ensure the coating adheres.
- Place the coated fish fillets on the prepared roasting rack.
- Spray the fillets with oil. Bake them for 15 minutes, until crisp and golden on the outside and tender and opaque inside. Serve immediately.