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Air Fried Catfish

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Crispy and packed with flavor, this air fried catfish is a dinner you really don’t want to miss out on. Make it tonight and you’ll be in love!

A basket of air fried catfish is lined with brown parchment paper.

Catfish isn’t a fish that’s used in a lot of kitchens, and I think that’s an outright crime. When prepared correctly, catfish is really one of my favorite fishes to eat!

Made with ingredients like cayenne powder, paprika, and panko, this catfish is too good to ignore.

The crunchy, air fried exterior is incredible to sink your teeth into! I also love how the air fryer cooks the fish to perfection – it’s juicy, tender, and not dried out at all.

If you like seafood, you’ll love this recipe. Honestly, even if you don’t love seafood you’ll love this recipe! Air fried catfish has the perfect combination of crunchy texture and bold flavors that have made it a staple dinner in my house.

Four pieces of catfish are in the air fryer basket.

Ingredients for air fried catfish

  • Catfish filets – you can use fresh or frozen.
  • Milk – you can use buttermilk if you prefer.
  • Lemon juice – this will help the milk turn to buttermilk, so if you choose to use buttermilk, omit this.
  • Mustard – you can use regular or dijon. This adds so much delicious flavor and helps the coating stay on, so slather it on good!
  • Panko – helps the catfish have a nice crunch.
  • Cornmeal – catfish isn’t catfish without cornmeal, right?
  • Seasoning salt
  • Black pepper
  • Cayenne – this adds some heat!
  • Paprika – it adds a little heat, but mostly flavor.
  • Parsley – gives it a fresh flavor and color.
  • Lemon – delish bright flavor when squeezed on the fish.
  • Non stick cooking spray – you will need to spray the fish before putting it in the air fryer and also when you flip it over.
Lemon slices sit in the basket of catfish.

What should I serve with air fried catfish?

Of course you’re going to need a cup of homemade tartar sauce on the side when you serve this catfish! It’s the perfect condiment for this flavorful fish.

The lemon wedges add a mouthwatering tanginess to the catfish that’s out of this world delicious. Do NOT forget to add the lemons to everyone’s plate!

Besides the tartar sauce, I usually toss together a quick basic chopped salad as a side dish for this entree. It’s truly the perfect summertime meal!

Two white plates contain servings of catfish and side salad.

How long will air fried catfish stay fresh?

In an airtight container in the fridge, this air fried catfish will stay fresh for about 3-4 days.

When reheating, I highly advise against using the microwave! As delicious as this fish really is, the microwave will both dry it out AND make the house smell like fish. You know that coworker at the office that reheats their fish lunch in the break room? Yeah – no on likes that guy.

Instead, just reheat the leftover air fried catfish right back in the air fryer! It should only need to reheat for about 5 minutes at 400°F. If it’s still cold in the center after 5 minutes, continue air frying in 2 minute increments. It’ll be good as new!

A piece of catfish is dipped into tartar sauce.

Here fishy fishy… Enjoy summertime with more fish recipes!

Ginger Soy Sesame Fish in a Pouch

Crispy Baked Haddock

Miso Butter Cod Foil Packets

Poached Cod with Fennel, Tomatoes, and Olives

White Fish with Tomatoes and Beans

Air Fried Catfish

Tender, crispy catfish have all the flavor without the guilt (and mess) of fried food!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Julie Chiou
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  • 24 ounces catfish filets
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • cup mustard
  • ½ cup panko
  • ½ cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 1 lemon, cut in wedges

The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.


  • Mix the milk and lemon juice and let sit for 1 minute. Pour into a flat container and add the catfish, turn to coat. Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
  • In a bowl, combine the panko, cornmeal, seasoning salt, black pepper, cayenne, paprika and parsley. Place in a shallow, wide dish for dipping.
  • Remove the catfish from the milk and place on a plate. Brush mustard over one side of the catfish.
  • Place the fish, mustard side down in the panko. Brush the other side, then flip it over, pressing gently to help the panko adhere to the fish.
  • Place fish in the air fryer basket and repeat. Make sure not to overcrowd the basket.
  • Spray all the fish with oil or non stick cooking spray.
  • Place in the air fryer and set for 400 °F for 7 minutes. When time is finished, flip the fish and spray the fish with nonstick cooking spray. Return to the air fryer and cook for an additional 6 minutes.
  • Remove and serve with tartar sauce and lemon wedges.


Serving: 1 serving | Calories: 329 kcal | Carbohydrates: 27 g | Protein: 34 g | Fat: 9 g | Saturated Fat: 3 g | Trans Fat: 1 g | Cholesterol: 105 mg | Sodium: 973 mg | Potassium: 853 mg | Fiber: 4 g | Sugar: 5 g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: air fryer, catfish
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