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What Does Catfish Taste Like?

Ever wonder what catfish tastes like? If you’re not from the South, you might not be familiar with the dish.

This odd-looking but delicious fish is served deep-fried or pan-fried but can also be grilled or even served raw.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to expand your palate with an exotic dish, you will enjoy the unique flavor of catfish!

Fried Catfish With Lemons and Hushpuppies

What is Catfish?

Catfish are most recognizable by their sideburns, which look a lot like a cat’s whiskers! They’re ray-finned fishes and can live in saltwater, fresh water, or brackish water.

Some even thrive in the strong currents of rivers and streams. Similar to tilapia or flounder, catfish is considered a white fish.

Catfish have actually been consumed for centuries all around the world.

In the US, it is a staple in Southern cuisine and a must-try if you ever find yourself in the South.

Not only is this dish extremely tasty, but it’s also known to be a rich source of Vitamin B12, which is excellent for nerve and blood health!

What Does Catfish Taste Like? 

Catfish is a unique dish with a unique taste, and there are two distinct types.

Farm-raised and wild catfish taste very different from each other.

While most wild fish taste better than their farm-raised counterparts, most catfish lovers will tell you that farmed tastes better than wild!

This is because wild catfish found in rivers or ponds are bottom-dwellers. Living down in the dark, these catfish have very poor eyesight and aren’t very picky eaters.

They’ll even eat mud, which is why they can taste muddy!

Farmed catfish, on the other hand, will swim in clearer waters and are grain-fed, giving them a cleaner and more consistent flavor.

They taste mild and sweet with a moist but firm texture that’s less flaky than other white fish.

Fried Catfish With Fries and Hushpuppies

Why Does My Catfish Taste Muddy?

If it’s your first time eating catfish and you find that it tastes muddy, it might be wild catfish! 

Unlike farm-raised catfish, which are grain-fed and grow in clean, pristine waters, wild catfish who live in rivers or ponds are bottom-dwellers whose diets are inconsistent and can even include mud.

When cutting open a wild catfish, you’ll see that their bellies have a lot of mud in them! This is why they can taste muddy and extra fishy, with only a very slight sweetness.

If you don’t like the muddy taste, follow these tips when preparing your catfish.

  • Once the fish is filleted, you might notice some darker areas, usually along the middle of the fillet. These dark areas will have a stronger muddy or fishy flavor, so make sure to take them out.
  • Blood also adds to the muddy or fishy taste, so make sure to clean it out properly. To thoroughly drain out all the mud, you can soak your catfish fillets in a bowl of salted water or ginger ale overnight.
  • If your catfish is freshly caught, make sure to cut off the tail fins and hang the fish to give it time to bleed out.

How to Cook Catfish

Catfish can be baked, grilled, or broiled, but the most popular way to enjoy catfish is deep-fried! It may be a unique dish, but it’s actually quite easy to make.

You’ll need some milk, seasoned flour or cornmeal, and a flavorless oil like vegetable, peanut, or canola oil.

Soak your fillets in a bowl of milk for at least one hour. While they’re soaking, you can prepare your batter.

Cornmeal with seasonings like salt, pepper, paprika, or cajun seasoning are quite popular and go perfectly with catfish!

Once your fillets have been soaked in the milk, give them a good coating of your very own batter. Deep fry until the flesh becomes opaque.

You can also double check if your catfish is ready by checking the temperature. The center of the fish should be 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

Easy, right? Make this deep-fried catfish at home, and you might just discover a new Southern comfort food!

You can even try different flavors for its crispy coat. Cajun is most popular but garlic, basil, oregano, thyme, and parsley all make catfish taste even better!

Fried Catfish

What to Serve With Catfish

Deep-fried catfish needs the perfect pairing. Enjoy your tasty seafood dish with these delicious side dishes that are sure to complement the unique flavor of catfish!

  • Hush puppies – A simple but extremely addictive Southern side! You’ll love the extra crunch with your moist, tender, and succulent catfish.
  • Mac and cheese – Try pairing your uniquely flavored catfish with some creamy, gooey mac and cheese. You can’t go wrong with this one!
  • Rice – Feeling extra hungry? Some steamed white rice will go perfectly with catfish. You can also try adding in some chopped cilantro and a small squeeze of lemon juice for extra flavor!
  • Cornbread – This sweet Southern staple is the perfect addition to catfish!
  • Coleslaw – A great way to add veggies to your meal! Shred some cabbage and carrots, add in your mayo, vinegar, and salt and pepper, and you’ll have creamy, tangy coleslaw!
  • Salt and pepper chips – Fish and chips, anyone? Catfish may taste a bit different from other white fish, but it still goes perfectly with lightly salted and peppered chips or fries!

What Does Catfish Taste Like?


  • Catfish


  • Farm-raised catfish has a mild and sweet flavor. It’s moist, tender, and firm. It’s less flaky compared to other white fish.
  • Some wild catfish will have a subtle muddy taste.
  • Enjoy your catfish!
What Does Catfish Taste Like

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Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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