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Crispy golden air fryer southern style catfish.

Air Fryer Southern Fried Catfish

Classic southern-style fried catfish in the air fryer!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Cajun, Southern
Keyword air fryer catfish, fried catfish, southern fried catfish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 222kcal


  • 2 (6-8 ounce) catfish fillets about 1 pound
  • ½ cup buttermilk, shaken
  • Few dashes hot sauce
  • ½ cup yellow cornmeal fine grind for breading
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning preferably unsalted blend
  • ½ teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil spray comes in a spray can
  • Tartar sauce, hot sauce, lemon wedges for serving


  • Place buttermilk in large shallow dish or pie plate, add a few shakes of hot sauce and mix to combine. Add catfish fillets and turn to coat. Let soak for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make seasoned dredge. In another large tray or pie plate, add the cornmeal, flour and seasonings, a few grinds of black pepper and combine well with a fork or whisk.
  • Remove catfish from buttermilk to a plate, shaking off excess. Lightly pat dry and season with a sprinkle of salt. Place catfish one at a time in seasoned cornmeal mixture and coat well on both sides. Shake off excess and place on a plate.
  • Preheat air fryer at 400º.
  • Open and spray basket evenly with olive oil spray. Lay catfish fillets in basket, one or two depending on size, spritz catfish evenly on top with olive oil spray. Close basket and air fry at 400º for 8 minutes.
  • Open basket and carefully flip fish over with spatula, air fry for another 8 minutes.
  • Open basket and carefully flip fish one more time. Air fry another 2 to 4 minutes until crispy and golden brown.
  • Serve immediately with tartar sauce, hot sauce and lemon wedges.


  • This makes enough seasoned cornmeal dredge for more catfish, up to at least 4 fillets.
  • Use your judgement on how much catfish fits in the basket without crowding. Keep cooked catfish warm in a 180º – 200º oven.
  • You can cut large fillets in half into portions, if desired.
  • If you spray the air fryer basket first and top of the catfish, you should be good but if you feel the need for another spritz after flipping, go for it!
  • Fried catfish is delicious with homemade tartar sauce, hot sauce and/or malt vinegar!


Calories: 222kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 66mg | Potassium: 250mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 595IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 77mg | Iron: 2mg