Catfish is one of the most delicious, and yet delicate pieces of seafood to cook. Grilling this Southern favorite can be a nightmare if you’re not prepared or you aren’t experienced on the grill.
Not to worry, though!
With this guide and my three recipes, you’ll be cooking up the best grilled catfish of your life in no time at all.
Three Kickass Ways To Grill The Best Damn Catfish Ever
Grilled fish, in general, is a delicious and easy meal… when it doesn’t stick on the grill and fall apart, that is. Cooking a nice white flakey barbecued catfish on the grill can be tricky if you’re only used to the usual meat-heavy barbecues.
Don’t beat yourself up about it though—fish almost always sticks on the grill.
It’s not you, it’s the fish!
But of course, we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeve to help you get the most out of your grilled catfish. Here are a few hacks and recipes you can try for your next summer barbecue.
Grilling Catfish 101: If You’re Grilling A Whole Catfish…
Pro Tip: Try grilling your catfish inside a grilling basket.
Grill baskets were made to keep fish from sticking to the grates of your grill. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than seasoning the perfect fish, and then having it stick and fall apart on your grill before you can enjoy it.
To make sure your fish cooks perfectly without sticking, grease the inside of your grill basket thoroughly. Another pro tip is to pat your fish dry before placing it inside the grill basket. If you want an extra crispy skin, swipe on some oil before grilling.
Amp up the flavor of your grilled catfish by adding seasonings not just on the surface, but into the cavity as well.
#1. The Squirrel, Catfish For A Crowd:
Grilled Whole Catfish with Lemon and Butter
Serves 6-10 people
- 6 whole catfish, cleaned
Basting Sauce Ingredients:
- 1 stick butter, melted
- ⅔ cup lemon juice
- 1 whole lemon, sliced
- 1 teaspoon honey mustard
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
- A dash of Tabasco sauce (optional)
- In a bowl, whisk together your sauce ingredients.
- Slice open each catfish lengthwise and stuff in 2-3 lemon slices.
- Place your catfish on a well-oiled grilling basket over medium heat.
- Grill while basting frequently for about 20 minutes on one side. Turn and continue to grill for 15 more minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork or skewer.
- Take off the heat, and serve with fruit salsa. Might we suggest a delicious pineapple salsa? Yum!
Try Grilling Catfish On Wood Planks
Cooking your fish on soaked wooden grilling planks ensures a moist and succulent piece of seafood with a mildly smoky flavor. Prior to grilling, you’ll need to soak the plank in water for a few hours or even a day.
Once it’s time to grill your catfish, simply place the plank on the grill, and place the fish on top.
Grilling planks are a great technique for grilling delicate pieces of fish. The plank supports the fish so it doesn’t stick to the grill, and adds some smokiness as well.
For the best smokey flavors to compliment your catfish’s seasoning, go for the ‘ol reliable cedar or oak wood planks. If you’re the type to experiment though, you can give either apple, cherry, or maple wood planks a go!
#2. The Squirrel’s Smokey Whole Catfish:
Cedar Plank Grilled Blackened Cajun Catfish
Serves 4-6 people
- 4 whole catfish, cleaned
- ¼ cup Cajun seasoning
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 large Cedar wood planks, delicately soaked for a whole day in water or white wine
- Before grilling, make sure to soak your wood planks in wine or water for a whole day or at the very least, 5 hours.
- Turn up your grill to medium heat and place wood planks on top.
- Rub catfish with a little oil and season generously with Cajun seasoning. Let sit for about 3 minutes to allow fish to soak up all the flavors.
- As soon as wood planks start to dry up and smoke a little bit, swipe on a little oil then add your catfish on top. Let it smoke with the lid on for about 10 minutes.
- Baste your catfish with lemon juice, then flip. Grill with the lid on and let it smoke for another 10 minutes.
- Take fish off the heat and serve. Best eaten with grilled garlicky asparagus and iced sweet tea!
If You’re Grilling Catfish Fillets…
Pro Tip: Try grilling your catfish on a bed of sliced citrus.
Slice up your favorite citrus fruits into discs and lay them on your grill with just a large enough space for your catfish to rest on. This not only helps infuse your catfish with flavor, but it also stops the fish from sticking to the grill thanks to the indirect method of cooking.
You can try different kinds of citrus when grilling your catfish, such as lemon, lime, orange, or a combination of all three.
You don’t even have to limit yourself with just citrus, you can even add on some fresh herbs like basil or cilantro. Just add them right on top of your citrus, top on your fish, and grill!
Once you’ve got your citrus, herbs, and fish on the grill, cook it covered for about 10-20 minutes, depending on the size. Grilling catfish on citrus is one of the easiest, fool-proof ways to end up with a flavorful, moist grilled fish.
Not to mention, it’s perfect for summers!
#3. The Squirrel’s Famous Catfish Tacos:
Grilled Catfish Fillet Tacos With Spicy Slaw
Serves 4 people
- 1 pound catfish fillets
- 2 whole lemons, sliced into discs
- ½ lime, freshly squeezed
- 1 teaspoon avocado oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 8 corn tortillas
- 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons Sriracha or hot sauce of choice
- ½ lime, freshly squeezed
- 2 cups shredded purple cabbage
- In a bowl, whisk together Greek yogurt, mayo, Sriracha or hot sauce, and half of your lime juice. Add cabbage and toss well to coat. Set aside in the refrigerator to soften the cabbage.
- Slice lemons into discs, about 1 cm wide and set aside.
- Wrap corn tortillas in foil and place in a warm oven, about 300F.
- Heat grill to medium-high heat and lay out lemon slices on cooking surface.
- Drizzle catfish fillets with oil, your other half of lime juice, and season with salt and pepper.
- Place catfish fillets on the grill, on top of the lemon slices. Cook for 10-12 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of fillet until completely cooked through.
- Transfer catfish to a plate and let it cool for about 10 minutes. Use a fork to flake fillets.
- Take tortillas out of the oven and slaw out of the refrigerator. Serve your grilled catfish fillet flakes in a warm corn tortilla, topped off with slaw and a squeeze of grilled lemon. Enjoy!
A grill can be an intimidating piece of equipment, and it doesn’t help either when you’re trying to cook with something so delicate as a catfish. These recipes prove that a delicious grilled catfish made by a beginner is totally possible. We hope you give some of these recipes the good ‘ol college try. Good luck!