Pan Fried Catfish


Pan fried catfish is a quick, easy, and delicious fish dish you can make in just minutes and pair with almost anything. Catfish fillets and three simple seasonings are all it takes to make a delicious, healthy fish recipe in no time flat.

Closeup shot of two pan fried catfish filets stacked atop one another on plate.

Catfish is one of my all-time favorite white fish. It's just as firm and flaky as other white fish like cod, but it's a fraction of the price. It also has a classic flavor I grew up on. While I love it fried the traditional way, I try to keep things a little healthier, so I made this pan fried lemon pepper version. We love it, and I think you well, too!

Why You'll Love This Recipe

  • Quick and Easy: This recipe only takes a few minutes to make, so it's perfect for even busy weeknights.
  • Healthy: This recipe just uses a bit of oil to keep the fish from sticking and it has no batter.
  • Versatile: This pan fried lemon pepper catfish pairs well with a wide variety of sides.
  • Kid-Friendly: There are no fancy ingredients in this recipe, so even kids love it.

Top Tip

Only flip your catfish one time. This allows it to get a nicely browned sear and keeps it from falling apart due to excess handling.

Overhead shot of pan fried catfish filet on plate.


This recipe only takes four ingredients to make and three of them are seasonings. You can find everything you need in your kitchen and at your local grocery store. In fact, it's highly likely the only thing you'll have to shop for is the catfish.

The ingredients are listed here, but you'll find their exact amounts in the recipe card at the end of the post.

  • Catfish Fillets: Catfish has a fresh flavor and a firm texture that makes it perfect for pan frying or searing.
  • Salt and Pepper: The classic seasoning pairing, salt accentuates the other flavors in the dish, while pepper adds a very subtle heat and earthiness.
  • Lemon Pepper Seasoning: Lemon pepper seasoning gives the catfish that signature lemon pepper flavor we all love.
Overhead shot of individual ingredients for pan fried catfish in bowls.


Making this catfish only takes a few minutes from start to finish. The entire recipe is simply seasoning the catfish and then cooking it until flaky and golden.

The recipe highlights are listed here, but you'll find the exact instructions in the recipe card at the end of the post.

1: Season catfish fillets with salt, pepper, and lemon pepper seasoning.

Overhead shot of seasoned catfish filets in skillet.

2: Cook the fillets until golden brown on both sides and easily flaked.

Overhead shot of cooked catfish filets in skillet.

Substitutions and Variations

  • Use your favorite white fish. Any mild white fish will work for this cooking method.
  • Use your favorite seasonings. Use your favorite seasonings and seasoning blends to create your perfect catfish recipe.
  • Make it spicy. Try sprinkling the fish with red pepper flakes for a kick of heat.


  • Measuring spoons
  • Skillet
  • Spatula
Closeup shot of pan fried catfish filets stacked atop one another on plate with top filet cut in half.


Refrigerate your catfish fillets as soon as they've cooled for maximum freshness and flavor. They can also be frozen for longer storage.

How long does pan fried catfish last in the fridge?

Pan fried catfish will last for up to 3 days in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

Can I freeze pan fried catfish fillets?

These pan fried catfish fillets can be frozen for up to 3 months in an air-tight, freezer-safe container or heavy-duty freezer bag. Wrap the fillets tightly with plastic wrap, then place them in your container and freeze.

What to Serve with Pan Fried Catfish Fillets

This catfish recipe is as versatile as it is easy. You can serve it with a wide variety of sides. Some of my favorites include:

  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Roasted vegetables
  • Hush puppies
  • Coleslaw
  • Side salad

Tips for Making the Best Pan Fried Catfish Fillets

  • Cook your fish on medium-high heat to get a golden crust.
  • Flip your fish one time to get the best color and crust and to keep the fish from falling apart.
  • Pat your fish dry before seasoning so the fillets are nicely coated.
Overhead shot of pan fried catfish fillet on plate


What does catfish taste like?

Catfish has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and a firm, flaky texture.

Is catfish healthy?

Catfish is a healthy source of lean protein and omega fatty acids.

How do you keep fish from sticking to the pan?

Be sure you add enough oil to the pan to create a barrier between the pan and the fish. In addition, be sure the pan has preheated so it begins to cook the fish immediately. Finally, only flip your fish once. The fish might stick to the pan initially, but as it crisps and browns, it will pull away. THAT'S when you flip your fish.

More Catfish Recipes

Yield: 2 servings

Pan Fried Catfish

Pan Fried Catfish

Pan fried catfish is seasoned simply with salt, pepper, and lemon and pan fried until golden and flaky. It's easy, delicious, and versatile.

Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes


  • 2 catfish filets
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper seasoning


  1. Season catfish filets with salt, pepper, and lemon pepper seasoning.
  2. Place seasoned filets in a medium greased skillet over medium heat.
  3. Cook for 4 minutes on each side or until fish begins to turn golden brown on the outside and can be flaked apart with a fork on the inside.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 209Total Fat 10gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 94mgSodium 1201mgCarbohydrates 1gFiber 0gSugar 0gProtein 26g

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