Air Fryer Catfish (Frozen or Fresh Catfish Fillets Recipe)


How long does catfish go in the air fryer? You can air fry catfish in only 9-12 minutes with this easy recipe! Air frying is the best way to cook catfish when you want a crispy, crunchy coating without lots of added oil. Get the best catfish breading recipe (it’s only 3 ingredients!), air fryer catfish temperature, and more! You’re going to love how easy this air fryer catfish recipe is!

catfish air fryer

Is catfish good in the air fryer? Yes! Air fried catfish tastes absolutely amazing, and cooks up in about the time it takes to preheat the oven. It’s so quick and delicious!

Catfish has a mild taste and a dense, meaty texture. These air fryer fried catfish steaks would be perfect on Fish Fridays. They also fit well alongside other southern comfort foods when you’re feeling like an indulgent meal.

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🐟 How Long to Cook Catfish in Air Fryer

How long to air fry catfish? What’s the air fryer cat fish temperature? Air fry catfish for a total of 9-12 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200C).

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This is for making fresh air fryer catfish fillets. Get instructions for how to cook catfish fillets from frozen below.

Air Fryer Catfish Ingredients

Here’s your shopping list for cat fish in the air fryer:

air fryer catfish ingredients

Specific quantities of ingredients are located in the recipe card at the bottom of the post!

Your best bet for cheap catfish is to get a deal with a local fisherman or find it at Walmart. Amazon also carries fresh catfish, but it can be very expensive.

Use catfish for this recipe that is skinless, boneless, and as uniformly thick as possible. The fillets I used were ¼-½ inch thick (0.6-1.3 cm) and 5-6 ounces (142-170g) each. If your fish is very thin on the edges, the edges may overcook before the middle of the fish is done.

This is air fryer catfish cornmeal breading, but you can use a fish fry mix if you’d prefer. Try air fryer catfish with Louisiana Fish Fry or air fryer catfish with Zatarain’s Fish Fry. You can substitute these 1:1 with the catfish breading mixture I’m using here.

No cooking spray is needed for this recipe because we’re drizzling the fish with oil.

I tested this recipe with a 10-Quart Kalorik Digital Air Fryer Oven and an Okaysou Air Fryer. You can make air fryer catfish in a Ninja Foodi, Philips, Nuwave, Pampered Chef, Actifry, Instant Pot Vortex, Cosori, Breville, or another air fryer too.

Cooking times will need to be adjusted depending on the air fryer you use. Always check the food early the first time you try any new air fryer recipe. You should also have an instant read thermometer on hand to check the catfish for doneness.

Catfish Air Fryer Recipe

how to make air fryer catfish

Here are the step-by-step directions for making catfish in the air fryer:

  1. Put the buttermilk in a medium bowl. Mix the cornmeal, flour, and Cajun seasoning together and put it on a plate. (The first ingredient in many Cajun seasonings is salt, so you shouldn’t need more.)
  1. Dip a piece of fish in the buttermilk, and flip to coat both sides. Some like to soak catfish for a long time in buttermilk before cooking to remove any “muddy” flavor. However, I don’t find this necessary if you use small catfish, since they don’t tend to have the stronger flavor larger catfish do.
  1. Dredge each piece of catfish in the cornmeal mixture. Make sure the breading covers all sides of each piece of fish.
  1. Place the catfish in a non-touching single layer in your air fryer basket or air fryer tray. You may only be able to cook 1-2 pieces of white fish at a time.
  1. Drizzle the top of each piece of fish with 2 teaspoons of olive oil.
  1. Air fry for 7 minutes at 400F (200C), no preheating required. Use the top rack position if you have an air fryer oven. Then carefully flip the fish and air fry 2-5 minutes more. (My small air fryer only took 2 minutes; my air fryer oven took 5.)
  1. Check to make sure the fish reached a safe minimum temp of 145F (63C) with a meat thermometer. Add additional cooking time if needed.
  1. Serve the fish with tartar sauce, lemon wedges, and hot sauce.

🥶 Frozen Catfish in Air Fryer Directions

Frozen catfish can be thawed in the fridge for 24-48 hours. If there’s no time to defrost it, you can air fry frozen catfish. It only takes a few extra minutes!

Place the frozen catfish fillet (unseasoned) on an air fryer oven tray and air fry for 4 minutes at 350F (177C) on the top rack. Then carefully flip the fish and air fry for 2 minutes more at 350F (177C). This partially defrosts the fish, so you can then treat it like fresh catfish in the recipe above.

If you’re using a smaller air fryer, you may need to knock a few minutes off the defrost time.

catfish in air fryer

⭐ Air Fryer Catfish (No Breading)

To make catfish in air fryer no breading, swap the sea bass for catfish in my air fryer sea bass recipe. Make sure the fish fillets are about ¼-inch thick (0.6 cm), and the cooking time should be similar.

⏲️ Air Fryer Catfish Nuggets

You can cut thicker pieces of catfish into catfish nuggets and bread and air fry them using this recipe. Please note that you may need to double or triple the breading to cover all the nuggets. Also, the air frying time will be less since the fish pieces are smaller.

How long to air fry catfish strips? You can make air fryer catfish strips using the recipe below if you’d prefer. You may need to knock 1-3 minutes off the total air frying time (i.e., total cook time of 6-9 minutes).

🔥 Air Fryer Catfish Keto Directions

Make low carb and keto air fryer catfish using pork panko in place of the cornmeal breading mixture. Since pork rind crumbs are high in fat, you shouldn’t need to drizzle the fish with oil before air frying.

❓️ What is the safe internal temperature for catfish?

The minimum safe internal temp for catfish is 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63C). Catfish that is fully cooked is opaque and flakes with a fork.

🌡️ How to Reheat Catfish in Air Fryer

You can reheat catfish in an air fryer set to 400F (200C) for 2-3 minutes. Cooked catfish can be kept in a covered airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1-2 days. However, air fried catfish is best prepared and enjoyed fresh.

🥗 What goes with catfish?

Catfish is terrific with homemade tartar sauce, lemon wedges, and hot sauce. Here are some side dishes for catfish:

You could also cut the fish into strips for air fryer catfish tacos! Why not?

📋Air Fried Catfish Nutrition

One serving of air fryer catfish has the following nutritional benefits:

  • Calories: 253
  • Total fat: 13.3g
  • Saturated fat: 2.1g
  • Cholesterol: 74.4g
  • Sodium: 620.2mg
  • Total carbohydrates: 14g
  • Fiber: 0.8g
  • Net carbs: 13.2g
  • Protein: 20.7g
  • Calcium: 5.8% DV
  • Iron: 1.3% DV
  • Potassium: 41.1mg
  • Vitamin A: 0.2% DV
  • Vitamin C: 0.4% DV

💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian

This is a level 2 recipe (transition or weight maintenance). Is air fried catfish healthy? It all depends on what your needs are, and how it’s prepared.

Catfish is a white fish, which means that it is a lean protein. The advantage of white fish is that they are lower in calories and fat than oily fish (such as salmon). The disadvantage is that white fish also tends to be lower in the healthy omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.

Some types of catfish are sustainable choices and others are not. It depends on how the catfish is farmed or harvested. If you are interested in sustainability, use the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch List to make sustainable seafood choices.

Catfish is among the best choices for fish that are low mercury (FDA). This fish is also heart healthy, particularly because we’re using less oil by air frying. The added oil here is olive oil, an added fat that’s lower in saturated fat than butter.

To make your air fryer southern fried catfish meal lower in calories, consider making your catfish no breading. I have tips in the article to make flavorful catfish without breading, using Cajun seasoning.

FAQs

How to make blackened catfish in air fryer?

To make air fryer Cajun catfish, sprinkle the fish with blackening seasoning, then cook like in my air fryer sea bass recipe. Use ¼-inch thick (0.6 cm) fish fillets so the cooking time won’t need changing.

Can you air fry whole catfish?

Yes, you can make a whole air fryer catfish without cornmeal! Here is an easy air fryer recipe for air fryer whole fish that you can use.

How to make air fryer catfish gluten free?

To make gluten free air fryer catfish, substitute the flour in this recipe for your favorite gluten-free flour. You’ll also want to check to make sure the cornmeal and Cajun seasoning you use are gluten free.

What’s the best deep fried catfish recipe?

This deep-fried catfish from Food Network has the best catfish batter recipe I’ve found. It has a beer batter that is amazingly tasty, and the recipe is highly rated. It’s my top pick when you want some real deal fried catfish.

👨🏾‍🍳‍ More Seafood Air Fryer Recipes

Enjoyed the air fryer fish recipe ideas and want more? Here are some other seafood recipes for the air fryer:

You might also want to check out our entire collection of Air Fryer Recipes while you’re here!

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The Disclaimer…

All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.

The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don’t sweat the numbers too much.

For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats no sugar post. Let’s get cooking!

📖 Recipe

Like this recipe?Leave a rating by clicking the ⭐ below!

air fryer catfish

Air Fryer Catfish (Frozen or Fresh Catfish Fillets Recipe)

Summer Yule

How long does catfish go in the air fryer? You can air fry catfish in only 9-12 minutes with this easy recipe!

Prep Time 5 mins

Cook Time 10 mins

Total Time 15 mins

Course Dinner

Cuisine American

Servings 3

Calories 253 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. catfish fillets 454 grams (about 3 skinless, boneless, ¼-½ inch thick fillets)
  • cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)

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Instructions

To Air Fry Frozen Catfish:

  • Place the frozen catfish fillets in a single layer on an air fryer oven tray and air fry for 4 minutes at 350°F (177°C) on the top rack. Then carefully flip the fish and air fry for 2 minutes more at 350°F (177°C). If you’re using a smaller air fryer, you may need to knock a few minutes off the defrost time. 

  • The catfish should now be partially defrosted, so you can treat it like fresh catfish in the recipe below.

To Air Fry Fresh Catfish:

  • Put the buttermilk in a medium bowl. Mix the cornmeal, flour, and Cajun seasoning together and put it on a plate.

  • Dip a piece of catfish in the buttermilk, and flip to coat both sides.

  • Dredge each piece of catfish in the cornmeal mixture. Make sure the breading covers all sides of each piece of fish. 

  • Place the catfish in a non-touching single layer in your air fryer basket or air fryer tray. You may only be able to cook 1-2 pieces of fish at a time. 

  • Drizzle the top of each piece of fish with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. 

  • Air fry for 7 minutes at 400°F (200°C). Use the top rack position if you have an air fryer oven. Then carefully flip the fish and air fry 2-5 minutes more. (My small air fryer only took 2 minutes; my air fryer oven took 5.) 

  • Check to make sure the fish reached a safe minimum temp of 145°F (63°C) with a meat thermometer. Add additional cooking time if needed, or serve if it’s at a safe temp.

Notes

This is a level 2 recipe (transition or weight maintenance). Is air fried catfish healthy? It all depends on what your needs are, and how it’s prepared.
Catfish is a white fish, which means that it is a lean protein. The advantage of white fish is that they are lower in calories and fat than oily fish (such as salmon). The disadvantage is that white fish also tends to be lower in the healthy omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA.
Some types of catfish are sustainable choices and others are not. It depends on how the catfish is farmed or harvested. If you are interested in sustainability, use the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch List to make sustainable seafood choices.
Catfish is among the best choices for fish that are low mercury (FDA). This fish is also heart healthy, particularly because we’re using less oil by air frying. The added oil here is olive oil, an added fat that’s lower in saturated fat than butter.
To make your catfish meal lower in calories, consider making your catfish no breading. I have tips in the article to make flavorful catfish without breading, using Cajun seasoning.
 
Nutrition information is for one serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 253kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 20.7gFat: 13.3gSaturated Fat: 2.1gSodium: 620.2mgPotassium: 41.1mgFiber: 0.8gVitamin A: 0.2% DVVitamin C: 0.4% DVCalcium: 5.8% DVIron: 1.3% DV

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air fryer catfish





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