This baked catfish has a crispy cornmeal coating with a hint of spice from Cajun seasoning, while the interior stays flaky and moist. Serve with tartar sauce, lemon wedges or your favorite hot sauce and a green salad on the side.

EatingWell.com, November 2020; updated October 2022

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Credit: Alexandra Shytsman

Recipe Summary

active:
10 mins
total:
25 mins
Servings:
4
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How to Make Crispy Baked Catfish

Baked catfish is easy to make and you can achieve a crispy outer crust, similar to what you would get from frying, straight from your oven. Here are a few tips for perfect results:

Prepare Your Baking Sheet

Perfectly baked catfish is all about getting a crispy, golden crust. To do this, we prepare our baking sheet with a layer of foil and place a wire rack on top of the prepared pan. This allows air to flow under the catfish fillets while they are baking and prevents them from getting soggy. The foil liner underneath catches crumbs and helps keep the baking sheet clean.

Get Your Dredge Ready

In order for the outer coating to stick to the catfish, we pat the fillets dry with a paper towel, then dip them in a lightly beaten egg. The egg acts like a glue for the coating mixture which is combined in a separate shallow dish. It's flavored with Cajun seasoning and includes cornmeal for crunch. Cajun-Creole seasoning blends can be high in sodium, so if you want to limit your sodium intake look for salt-free Cajun seasoning. For the coating, we find fine cornmeal works best. It offers good crunch and adheres nicely to the fillets.

Don't Forget the Cooking Spray

Cooking spray is key for perfect baked catfish. We spray it on the wire rack first to prevent the fish from sticking when it's turned, then we spray it on top of the fish itself. The light coating of oil gently fries the outer coating of the fillets in the hot oven. We want both sides of the catfish to be crispy—we don't call it "crispy" for nothing!—so we flip the fillets halfway through cooking. Don't forget to spray the other side of the fillets for a nice, even crust.

What to Serve with Crispy Baked Catfish

Catfish has a mild flavor that pairs well with just about anything. Tartar sauce and a squeeze of lemon is all you really need to brighten up this easy dish, but you can serve it with a spicy hot sauce-based dip if you want to turn up the heat. A simple green salad is a perfect accompaniment, but a creamy coleslaw that offers good crunch will work well too.

Additional reporting by Hilary Meyer 

Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and top with a wire rack. Coat the rack with cooking spray.

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  • Stir cornmeal, flour and Cajun-Creole seasoning blend together in a large shallow dish. Whisk egg in a separate shallow dish.

  • Pat fillets dry with a paper towel and sprinkle evenly with salt. Working with 1 fillet at a time, dip in the egg to coat, letting excess egg drip back into the dish. Then dredge in the cornmeal mixture, turning to coat both sides. Transfer to the prepared rack on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining fillets. Coat the tops of the fillets with cooking spray.

  • Bake until crispy and golden, 15 to 20 minutes, turning the fillets over and coating with cooking spray halfway through. If desired, serve with tartar sauce and lemon wedges.

Nutrition Facts

1 fillet
232 calories; fat 7g; cholesterol 122mg; sodium 374mg; carbohydrates 11g; dietary fiber 1g; protein 30g; niacin equivalents 4mg; saturated fat 2g; vitamin a iu 140IU.
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