Healthy, crispy, and delicious Air Fryer catfish cooked quickly and conveniently. Seasoned with flavorful cajun spice and coated with a golden cornmeal crust. An easy 30-minute meal!
I grew up eating a lot of catfish and really enjoy how it’s so hearty and tasty. There are so many ways to cook catfish, but one of my favorites is a simple batter and fry with a nice golden crust.
To avoid all that oil and fishy smell in the house, opting for air fryer catfish is the perfect solution. It “frys” to a crispy, flavorful crust, with a meaty, soft texture. Air frying is much healthier and allows for quick and easy cleanup. If you love seafood, try out my healthy air fryer salmon with crispy skin recipe!
Ingredients & Notes
Air Fryer - I have a Philips XXL Premium which has a 3 lb basket capacity. This basket can fit 3 fillets (1.25 lbs) with a little bit of overlap. If you have a much smaller air fryer, you may need to cook in batches.
Catfish fillets - Have the butcher clean, skin and debone it. The fillets in this recipe are on the thinner side (pictured above).
Milk and lemon mixture - or substitute for 1 cup buttermilk.
Yellow corn meal and flour mix - Provides a golden, crispy crust.
Louisiana cajun seasoning - I use the one pictured below.
1). Catfish prep: A soak in buttermilk will make the catfish taste “cleaner”.
2). Seasoning: Season the catfish first before coating it with the corn meal and flour mix. This ensures full and even flavor.
3). Dredging: After coating the fillets with the corn meal mix, let it sit for 10 minutes while the air fryer is preheating. This will help the crust stay on better.
4). Preheat & Air fry: Important step, make sure the air fryer is preheated to 400 degrees Farenheit for at least 10 minutes and is HOT before putting the catfish fillets in.
Lightly spray the top of the fillets with olive oil. I use a Misto sprayer. Then place it facedown into the basket. Air fry for approximately 10 minutes. If you have thicker fillets, more cooking time may be needed. When done, use a spatula to carefully remove the catfish fillets.
Serve with tartar sauce and a squeeze of lemon.
- Air fried catfish keeps well overnight in an airtight container. To heat up, preheat the air fryer to 400 Fahrenheit for 10 minutes and air fry for 5-6 minutes. You’ll achieve a crispy crust!
- I found that there is no need to flip the catfish.
- Make sure your air fryer basket, tray and pan are clean, residual oils and crumbs may smoke up the air fryer.
- Air fried catfish also goes well with side dishes such as coleslaw, french fries, corn, rice, potato salad...the list is endless!
- Cooking time will vary based on the thickness of the fillets as well as different air fryer models and sizes. Adjust cooking time accordingly.
More Air Fryer recipes to enjoy!
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Crispy Air Fryer Catfish
- Oil sprayer
- 3 fillets catfish about 1.25 lbs, cleaned, skinned and deboned
- 1 cup milk or substitute with buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice omit if you have buttermilk
- ½ cup yellow corn meal
- ¼ cup flour
- 1.5 tablespoon Louisiana Cajun Seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- In a large shallow container, combine milk and lemon (or buttermilk). Add catfish fillets making sure it is submerged in the milk mixture. Let it soak for 5 minutes.
- In a large plate, add cornmeal, flour, and pepper. Combine well.
- When fish is done soaking, shake off excess milk coating then season each side evenly with cajun seasoning.
- Dredge each fillet into the cornmeal mixture, making sure to coat each side evenly. Place coated fillets on a plate and let it sit for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the air fryer at 400 degrees fahrenheit for 10 minutes.
- When the air fryer is HOT, spray the top side of the fillets with oil. Place the fillets face down into the air fryer basket. Make sure the fillets are in a single layer, a little overlap is okay. Cook in batches as needed.
- Airfry for 10 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- After 10 minutes, check if the coating is crispy to your liking or if your fillets are thicker, add 5-10 minutes more. Remove filets carefully with a spatula when done.
- Keeps well overnight in an airtight container. To heat up, preheat the air fryer to 400 Farenheit for 10 minutes and air fry for 5-6 minutes. You’ll achieve a crispy crust!
- I found that there is no need to flip the catfish when air frying.
- Make sure your air fryer basket, tray, and pan are clean, residual oils and crumbs may smoke up the air fryer.
- Cooking time will vary based on the thickness of your fillets as well as different air fryer models and sizes. Adjust cooking time accordingly.