Follow this quick and easy recipe for fresh Baked Catfish fillets topped with herbs, butter, and lemon. A perfect weeknight dinner that the whole family will love ready in under 30 minutes!
Here in the south, one thing we love is fresh catfish! And while my first instinct may be to fry it, baking catfish is really just as delicious.
I’m just going to say this: I love fried food. There. I’ve said it and I meant it, too. There’s just not much better in this world to me than a perfectly cooked piece of fried chicken. Or country fried steak. Or catfish. I could go on and on.
That having been said, I also know that deep frying isn’t the most healthful way to cook. Which really stinks because it tastes so good!
I realize that part of my love of fried food is cultural. When I was growing up, an everyday meal consisted of some kind of meat, more often than not fried, accompanied by two or three vegetables and bread. The proverbial “meat and three” that I see so often referenced these days.
My daddy loved (believe it or not!) a fried t-bone steak. Mama would salt and pepper a t-bone, dredge it in flour, and ease it down into hot oil in a black iron skillet to cook.
It came out golden brown and slightly crispy on the outside and juicy and moist on the inside. Hmmm…I hadn’t thought of that in years until I started writing this.
🍳 Less Frying, More Baking and Roasting
Of course, we all learned that there were more healthful ways to eat, and gradually our diet changed. Fewer fried foods, more baked or roasted meats.
This baked catfish recipe is my way of continuing to eat a fish I enjoy while being a bit more health conscious. But I still sometimes crave that good old fried food.
All those years ago frying was an inexpensive and easy way to prepare the main meat course so that’s what was done. I mean, for goodness sakes, people back then were busy!
We just think we’re busy these days. Laboring in the field from sunup to sundown or taking care of children and running a household a few decades in the past was a much more taxing existence than it is today.
But back then people could handle a more calorie-laden diet because of all the manual labor they did. Today, not so much.
So, even though I still love my fried foods and greatly enjoy them on occasion, I do look for ways to cook that are somewhat more healthful.
In this recipe for Baked Catfish, the fish is coated with a delicious blend of herbs and spices, then drizzled with butter and lemon juice and baked.
What a great change of pace from the usual fried catfish recipes! We really enjoy this method, and I’m happy to share it with you, too.
💗 Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Baked catfish is not only delicious, it’s healthy.
- The herb seasoning gives the fish a vibrant flavor
- It can be made from start to finish in 25 minutes!
🥘 Ingredients You’ll Need
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- Catfish fillets (Either farm-raised or wild caught)
- Lemon, butter, salt, pepper
- Herbs (Thyme, oregano, basil, parsley, paprika, garlic powder)
You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.
One of the other great things about this recipe is that you don’t have to dirty many dishes. You can even line the baking pan with aluminum foil so no scrubbing up after you cook!
You just need two small bowls to mix the seasonings and butter as well as a baking sheet. I bet you have most of these ingredients in your pantry right now, so not a lot of shopping to do, either!
🦈 How to Make Baked Catfish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the parsley, salt, paprika, thyme, oregano, basil and pepper in a small bowl to make the seasoning blend.
Sprinkle the spice-herb seasoning mixture over both sides of the catfish fillets. Place the fillets on a baking pan that has been coated with non-stick cooking spray. I line my pan with foil first because it makes it so much easier to clean.
Add the melted butter, lemon juice, and garlic powder to a small bowl. Mix well to combine.
Drizzle the butter-lemon-garlic mixture over the fillets. Transfer the pan with the fillets to the oven.
Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until the fish flakes easily.
🍽 Serving Suggestions
So, you can go two ways with sides. Option A is keeping the healthy low-carb theme going with roasted asparagus or leeks and a side salad with a classic vinaigrette. For dessert, try a crisp, refreshing watermelon and mint salad that will have your palette singing!
- To make a Cajun catfish version, add two teaspoon of Cajun seasoning to the herbs and spice mixture.
- Easily turn this into a catfish nugget recipe by cutting the fillets into 2 to 3-inch pieces before coating and baking them.
❓ Questions About Baked Catfish
Sure! If using frozen fillets, let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator, pat dry, and then proceed with the recipe.
Catfish is done when it’s opaque and easily flakes when tested with a fork. If it doesn’t flake easily then it needs a little more time.
I haven’t tested this recipe in an air fryer, but I feel pretty sure it would work. However, I don’t have cooking times or temperature for that method.
Many people do soak catfish in milk or buttermilk before cooking it to remove any strong “fishy” taste. I think it depends on how fishy it smells. Farm raised catfish (which is what you’ll get from your local grocery store) tends to have far less fish odor than wild caught. It’s up to you whether or not to do that extra step.
🧾 More Fish and Seafood Recipes
- Pan Fried Fish with Red Pepper Sauce
- Simple Grilled Fish
- Seafood Stew
- Cilantro Lime Shrimp
- Shrimp and Grits
- Salmon Croquettes
Have you tried this recipe? I’d really appreciate you giving it a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card or in the comments section.
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Baked Catfish with Herbs
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 24 ounces catfish fillets (4 fillets, approx. 6 ounces each)
- Juice of one lemon
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Non-stick cooking spray
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine the parsley, salt, paprika, thyme, oregano, basil and pepper in a small bowl.
- Sprinkle over both sides of catfish fillets.
- Place the fillets on a baking pan that has been coated with non-stick cooking spray.
- Add the melted butter, lemon juice and garlic powder to a small bowl. Mix well to combine.
- Drizzle the butter-lemon-garlic mixture over the fillets.
- Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until the fish flakes easily.
- Catfish is done when it’s opaque and easily flakes when tested with a fork. If it doesn’t flake easily then it needs a little more time.
Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.
— This post was originally published on January 21, 2011. It has been updated with new photos and additional information.