8 Easy Tips for Cooking Catfish on a Griddle Like a Chef

Once a staple of the poor, Catfish Is now a regular feature on menus up and down the country, serving as a delicious (not to mention cheap) source of healthy omega-3s and essential protein.

With chefs continuing to find new and exciting ways to cook and serve the tasty fish, more and more people are getting turned on to the sweet, flakey goodness of catfish. Whether it’s dredged in cornmeal and served fried atop a bowl of hushpuppies and coleslaw, or simply grilled and served with a wedge of lemon and a dusting of black pepper, catfish makes a great, nutritious meal.

How Long Should Catfish Be Cooked?

As with any fish, it’s important to cook catfish for just the right amount of time. Overcook it and you risk turning out a plate of dry, inedible dust. Undercook it and you’ll not only have an unpalatable dish, but you’ll also risk a whole heap of undesirable consequences (more on which coming up).

The right cooking time will depend largely on the temperature you’re using and the size of the fish itself. Most catfish found in supermarkets and fishmongers are farmed, rather than wild. Farmed fish tend to be harvested when they reach around 1.5 lbs., which makes for fillets weighing between eight and twelve ounces.

Thinner fillets of catfish (i.e. ones with an average thickness of 1 inch or less) cook quickly and are suited to a quick cook on a high temperature. Larger fillets (with a thickness of more than 1 inch at their densest point) benefit from longer cooking at a lower temperature to ensure even cooking all the way through.

As a rule, you should allow 5- 7 minutes of total cooking time per 1 inch of thickness when using a medium high heat of around 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Key Takeaway: Judge cooking times by thickness. Larger, thicker fillets may require a few minutes more cooking than their smaller, thinner counterparts.

How Do You Know When Catfish Is Done?

When properly cooked, catfish will have a moist, delicate flake and a white, opaque appearance. Unfortunately, a few minutes over or under can make all the difference between a dish that wouldn’t be out of place at the finest restaurant to one even your dog would turn their nose up at in disgust. Knowing when catfish (or indeed, any fish) is done can sometimes feel a case of trial and error, but with a few simple hints and tips, you’ll have no problem in judging the best time to turn off the heat. For the perfect catfish, follow these 5 easy steps.

  • Step 1 - Choose your preferred recipe (see below for some excellent ones to get you started) and prepare the catfish for cooking as per the instructions.
  • Step 2 - Add your catfish to the heat and stand over it as it cooks. As it cooks, keep a close eye on how the color changes from pearly to white, and from translucent to opaque. This will give you a good indication of when it’s almost done (although bear in mind this only applies to plain fillets- if you’re cooking breaded fillets, the color test won’t apply).
  • ​Step 3 - Once the fish turns opaque, press on its surface gently with a fingertip. As with all proteins, catfish will “toughen up” as it cooks. If it still feels soft and yielding, it’ll need a few more minutes on the heat. As with everything, practice makes perfect, and after a few try’s, you’ll soon get to know how differently a “done” catfish feels to an “underdone” one.
  • Step 4 - If you sense the catfish is ready, grab a fork and gently flake a portion of its flesh at the thickest point. The flake should be at the cusp of turning from translucent to opaque. If it’s still completely translucent, leave to cook for a minute or so longer before testing again. Be wary of leaving it for too long- catfish will retain enough heat to cook for a few minutes more after it’s been plated, so don’t be tempted to leave it on the heat for longer than strictly necessary,or you’ll lose all that lovely moist succulence.
  • ​Step 5 - If you’re not quite sure whether the catfish is done, a meat thermometer is your guarantee to success. Pop the thermometer into the thickest part of the fish (bearing in mind this part takes the longest to cook) and wait for the temperature reading to stabilize: the perfect temperature to indicate “doneness” is 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

Key Takeaway: Catfish is cooked once it turns white and opaque and has an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

Can You Eat Undercooked Catfish?

Overcooked catfish may be a difficult mouthful to swallow, but undercooked catfish can introduce you to a lot more problems than just an overly dry texture. Parasites and toxins are a common (and serious) concern of undercooked fish, especially if you tend to buy farmed fish. The crowed tanks and pools of fish farms are the perfect breeding ground for a host of parasitic diseases, including the very nasty anisakiasis, cryptosporidiosis, and giardiasis, all of which are spread by contaminated water. The toxins in fish are hidden menaces: don’t expect to know their presence by sight, smell or taste. To avoid any undesirable consequences, make sure you only buy fish from reputable suppliers and practice safe food handling techniques at all times (including ensuring adequate and correct cooking). Unless you want to come down with a dose of scombroid or ciguatera fish poisoning, follow the steps outlined above to ensure your catfish is properly cooked.

Key Takeaway: Undercooked catfish make you vulnerable to a range of serious diseases. Play it safe and stick to well-cooked fish.

The Benefits of Cooking Catfish on a Griddle

As you’re probably aware, catfish can be cooked in several different ways using any number of different cooking appliances. If you’re new to griddling and need some convincing of its merits, read on to discover why griddling is the best way of guaranteeing a delicious fish dish.

  • Succulent– unlike other methods of cooking which can result in a dry, rubbery texture, griddling locks in the juices of the fish, resulting in a juicy, moist texture that’s full of flavor.
  • Quick- wave goodbye to lengthy cooking times: with a griddle, your meal can be ready in less than 20 minutes.
  • Consistent – a griddle ensures an even distribution of heat, meaning you won’t be left with a fish dish that’s one-half burnt and one-half raw.
  • Seared– what could be more delicious than a piece of fish with a perfectly seared crust? Unlike the flabby, insipid results you get with certain other cooking methods, griddling catfish guarantees the perfect combination of flavorsome crust and moist inner layers.

Cooking Catfish on a Blackstone Griddle

Cooking on a Blackstone griddle is the perfect way of introducing a flavorsome sear to any meat or seafood dish. Unlike other cooking methods that can dry up the fish and make for a rubbery result, griddles lock in the natural juices, guaranteeing juicy, crispy, flavorsome dishes every time. While cooking catfish on a Blackstone Griddle is a sure-fire way of creating the best fish you’ll likely taste outside (or even inside) a restaurant, there are some key pointers to remember if you want to guarantee success.

  • 1. Catfish (and indeed, all other types of fish), benefit from a careful hand when it comes to seasoning. While meat has a bold enough flavor to hold its own against most varieties and quantities of additional flavorings, fish is an although more delicate proposition. Don’t overdo the seasoning, and don’t be tempted to think you can combine too many flavorings without overpowering the fish.
  • 2. If you want to infuse your fish with a Mediterranean vibe, coat your griddle in olive oil. If you’d rather not taste the oil at all, go for a neutral flavored one such as canola.
  • ​3. Catfish will contract when it meets the heat of the griddle- to avoid a curled effect, press down on its edges with a spatula.
  • ​4. Catfish is delicate- when you flip it midway through cooking, use a careful hand to avoid breaking the fillet apart.
  • 5. Allow some resting time after you remove the catfish from the griddle to allow it to finish cooking.

Best Griddle Catfish Recipes Ever

Catfish can be cooked in a number of ways, from baking to steaming, to frying to barbequing. One of the quickest, easiest and tastiest ways of cooking it is on the griddle. If you’ve never griddled catfish before, these no-mess, no hassle recipes are sure to convert you!

The Simple Recipe

If you’re new to cooking catfish (either entirely or just on the griddle), this simple recipe is the ideal way to get you started. Using a bare minimum of ingredients (other than the catfish, all you’ll need is a sprinkling of salt and pepper, a dash of oil, a pat of butter and little lemon juice), this will serve up a tasty plateful of catfish with no fuss and in very little time. If you want to get fancy, a sprinkling of chopped herbs (parsley works particularly well) over the finished dish will add some added flavor and a splash of color.

Griddled Catfish with Lemon

Serves 2

Cooking Time: < 20 minutes


  • 2 catfish fillets
  • Salt
  • ​Freshly ground black pepper
  • ​1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ​1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice


  • Heat the butter and oil in a griddle over a medium high heat.
  • Season both sides of the catfish with salt and pepper and lay on the griddle. Each side will require around 5-7 minutes (although use the steps outlined above to judge the proper “doneness”).
  • ​After the first side is cooked, flip the fish and drench it with the lemon juice.
  • Once the 2nd side has finished cooking, remove from the heat and allow to rest for a few minutes before tucking in.

Key Takeaway: You don’t have to get complicated to enjoy catfish. A simple dish of tasty fish with a squeeze of lemon juice is as fit for kings as it is for paupers.

The Traditional Recipe

Catfish has been a staple in the south for centuries, with every good southern home having its own take on the best way to prepare it. This next recipe takes the basics of these tried and tested methods to come up with a dish that’s as simple as it is tasty. Once you’ve tried it a few times, feel free to adjust the seasonings to your own preferred tastes: you can alter the quantities, omit some entirely, or even add some new additions. Provided you keep the overall quantities of wet to dry ingredients the same, you can personalize the dish to your heart’s content.

Griddled Catfish with a Spicy Crust

Serves 4

Cooking time: < 25 minutes


  • ¼ butter
  • 4 6-ounce catfish fillets
  • ​¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ​¼ cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ​½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ​½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • ​¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper


  • Mix the dry ingredients in a large reasonable bag.
  • Drop the catfish fillets into the bag one at a time, given the bag a good shake after each addition to ensure an even coating. Unless you’re in a hurry, pop the bag in the refrigerator for a few hours to allow the fish to take on the full flavoring of the seasoning.
  • ​Heat the griddle to a medium high heat and add the butter.
  • Once the butter has melted, add the catfish and cook for 5-7 minutes on each side, or until cooked.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to rest for a minute or so before enjoying.

Key takeaway: if you’re adding a spicy layer to the catfish, allow it to “marinate” in the seasoning for a few hours before you start to cook. This will allow the fish to take on the full flavor of the spices and give added “oomph” to the finished dish.

The Best Blackened Catfish on a Griddle Recipe

What could be nicer than a plate of gorgeous blackened catfish, fresh and smoky from the griddle and served with a delicious pat of tangy cilantro-lime butter? Answers on a postcard, please…

Blackened Catfish with a Cilantro Lime Butter

Serves 2

Cooking time: < 20 minutes


  • 2 6-8-ounce catfish filets
  • 4 teaspoons of Old Bay seasoning (although any blackening seasoning will do)
  • ​2 tablespoons softened butter
  • ​1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced cilantro
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 lime


  • Prepare the cilantro lime butter: mash the garlic, juice from half the lime, and 1 tablespoon of cilantro into the butter until well incorporated. Shape the butter into a log, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  • Heat the griddle to a medium high heat.
  • ​Coat the catfish fillets liberally with blacking seasoning (about 1 teaspoon per side is sufficient but feel free to adjust to suit your personal taste).
  • Brush the griddle with oil, and once heated, add the seasoned fillets.
  • ​Cook for around 5-7 minutes per side, or until cooked all the way through.
  • Remove from the heat and serve with a round of cilantro lime butter on top (the heat from the fish will make it melt into the flesh – delicious!) along with a sprinkling of cilantro and a wedge of fresh lime.

Key Takeaway: A flavored butter can go a long way in transforming a plate of simple fish into something heavenly. Feel free to add your favorite combination of flavors and spices to the butter to create your own personal take on the recipe.

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