Seafood, Southern

Fried Catfish with Tartar Sauce

AB from Smokin and Grillin wit AB here, and today I’ve got a recipe that’ll transport you straight to the heart of the South – Fried Catfish with Tartar Sauce. Picture this: golden-brown crispy catfish fillets, seasoned to perfection, paired with a tangy homemade tartar sauce. It’s a symphony of flavors that’ll make your taste buds do a happy dance. So, buckle up for a journey through my kitchen as we dive into this Southern delight!

Now, I know there are plenty of fish in the sea, but there’s something special about catfish. Its tender, mild flavor makes it the perfect canvas for a crispy cornmeal coating. Add in the zingy kick of homemade tartar sauce, and you’ve got a match made in culinary heaven. This dish is a celebration of Southern roots, a comforting meal that brings families together, and, quite frankly, it’s downright delicious. So, whether you’re a catfish connoisseur or a seafood skeptic, this recipe is a must-try.


  • Catfish fillets
  • Buttermilk
  • Cornmeal
  • AB’s A Rub
  • Creole Kick
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooking oil (for frying)

Tartar Sauce:

  • Mayonnaise (olive oil version)
  • Garlic and onion, minced
  • Dill
  • Sweet relish
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt

Step-by-Step Guide:

  • Pour a generous amount of buttermilk over your catfish fillets.
  • Let them soak in the buttermilk bath for a Southern-style tenderizing effect, about 15-20 minutes.
  • In a bowl, mix together mayonnaise, minced garlic, minced onion, dill, sweet relish, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
  • Add a pinch of salt, adjusting to your taste preferences.
  • Set the tartar sauce aside.
  • In another bowl, combine cornmeal, salt, pepper, and any additional seasoning of your choice.
  • Remove the catfish fillets from the buttermilk, letting any excess liquid drain off.
  • Coat each fillet evenly with the seasoned cornmeal mixture, ensuring a crispy exterior.
  • Heat cooking oil in a pan to 350-370°F, using a thermometer for accuracy.
  • Carefully place the coated catfish fillets into the hot oil, frying for about 4 minutes per side until they achieve a gorgeous golden-brown color.
  • Use a splatter guard to minimize any oil splattering.
  • Transfer the fried catfish to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess oil.
  • Garnish with lemon wedges and serve hot alongside the prepared tartar sauce.

Expert Tips and Tricks:

  • To achieve an even coating, use your hands to gently press the cornmeal mixture onto the catfish fillets.
  • Allow the catfish to marinate in the buttermilk for a Southern-style tenderness.
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure the oil reaches the optimal frying temperature.


  1. Cajun Kick: Add Cajun seasoning to the cornmeal mixture for a spicy twist.
  2. Lemon Pepper Love: Incorporate lemon pepper seasoning for a citrusy zing.
  3. Garlic Parmesan: Mix grated Parmesan cheese and garlic powder into the cornmeal for extra flavor.

What to Serve It With:

  1. Southern-style coleslaw
  2. Hushpuppies
  3. Creamy macaroni and cheese
  4. Collard greens
  5. Cornbread
  6. Cajun rice
  7. Fried okra
  8. Sweet potato fries
  9. Red beans and rice
  10. Buttery corn on the cob

Recipe Card

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Fried Catfish with Tartar Sauce


For Tartar Sauce:


  1. Pour buttermilk over catfish fillets and let them soak for about 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the tartar sauce.

  2. In a bowl, mix mayonnaise (olive oil version), minced garlic, minced onion, dill, sweet relish, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Add a pinch of salt and mix well. Adjust ingredients to taste.

  3. In a separate bowl, combine cornmeal, salt, and pepper. You can also add your preferred seasoning (e.g., Creole seasoning) for extra flavor.

  4. After marinating, remove catfish from buttermilk. Coat each fillet evenly with the cornmeal mixture.

  5. Heat cooking oil in a pan to around 350-370°F (use a thermometer). Gently place the coated catfish fillets into the hot oil. Fry until the fillets are golden brown, approximately 4 minutes per side. Use a splatter guard if needed to reduce oil splattering.

  6. Once fried, transfer the catfish to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess oil. Serve the fried catfish hot with the prepared tartar sauce on the side.

  7. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve with your favorite sides. Enjoy your crispy and flavorful fried catfish!


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Hey family,

My name is Aaron Brown. You can call me “A.B.”

My mission is to help you level up the process of making your favorite mealswith my video tutorials and recipe guides,plus my tried-and-true spices, cookware, and more that make every meal special.

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