This easy recipe for baked catfish is ready in about 30 minutes, making it ideal for a weeknight dinner.
Baking is so much easier than deep-frying, and the result is crispy and delicious.
Whenever I visit the American South, I enjoy lots of fried catfish. I love this fish's delicate, white flesh. But at home, I actually prefer to bake it. It's so much easier for me as a cook to bake than to deep-fry.
I love baking - it's an easy hands-off cooking method. While frying forces you to stand right next to the skillet and keep a constant eye on the food, baking allows you a bit more freedom.
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 if that's all you have. You can also use the same amount of breadcrumbs (regular or gluten-free) if you prefer.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use, or the dish could end up too salty.
Spices: Garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, dried thyme, dried oregano, and cayenne pepper. Please make sure your spices are fresh. A stale spice can easily ruin a dish. Speaking from experience!
Butter: I use it for dipping the fish fillets prior to coating them in the almond meal. I love using creamy European butter. But any butter will be great.
Catfish fillets: I use skinless filets. Try to get similar-sized fish pieces if you can. The fillets I got were very different in thickness, so I ended up slicing one of them.
Avocado oil spray: This oil has a neutral flavor and a high smoke point, making it an ideal cooking oil.
Baking catfish in the oven is easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
Your first step is to mix together the almond meal, salt, pepper, and spices in a shallow dish.
In another shallow dish, melt the butter.
Now, dip each fish fillet in the melted butter, then dredge it in the almond meal mixture.
Place the coated fish fillets on a greased roasting rack. Spray them with oil.
Bake the fish for about 15 minutes in a 450°F oven, until crisp and golden on the outside and tender and opaque inside.
Frequently asked questions
It's 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.
As you can see in the video, the bag I got had two fillets - one thin, the other very thick. This is such a pet peeve of mine. How can they expect us to cook these very different fillets? I solved the problem by slicing the thick fillet into two thinner ones.
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.
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 300F oven, although microwaving them gently works too.
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30-Minute Baked Catfish
- 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 degrees F. Prepare a roasting pan by lining the bottom with foil and spraying the roasting rack with oil.
- Mix together the almond meal, the salt &pepper, and the 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 make sure 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.