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Crispy Air Fryer Catfish

The kids have been eating dinner with Nanny on Mondays so Mike and I have been having “Adult Dinner Night” where we eat “adult foods” that the kids don’t like. Our first adult dinner was Crispy Air Fryer Catfish with Air Fryer French Fries. SO GOOD!

Our second adult dinner was also Crispy Air Fryer Catfish with Air Fryer French Fries. Haha.

When you find a meal as good as this, you’ll want it again and again.

Disclosure – I may get a small commission for purchases made through affiliate links in this post.

Cornmeal Breaded Catfish Fillets

The first time I made catfish in the Air Fryer, I used Louisiana Fish Fry Mix for the breading.

It was great but I wanted something with a lighter coating.

The second time, we tried a cornmeal coating and it was perfect.

I started with 5 thawed catfish fillets.

I have a large capacity Cozyna Air Fryer and this amount of fish fit perfectly into the basket.

Don’t forget to check out the 5 best non-toxic air fryers that don’t cause cancer.

Tip! To quickly defrost frozen catfish, place the frozen fillets into a zip-top bag and submerge the bag in cold water for an hour or until thawed.

Air Fried Catfish

Trim the thawed catfish fillets and cut into nugget-sized pieces if desired.

You can leave the fillets whole if you’d prefer.

I cut each fillet into two or three pieces just so they’d fit into my air fryer a little easier.

Put 1/2 cup or so of cornmeal (and salt) or your favorite coating mix into a zip-top bag or a plastic food storage container then add fish.

Shake gently to coat the fish.

Fried Catfish and Fries Air Fryer

I use an oil spray bottle to spray my Air Fryer.

I don’t recommend using a commercial non-stick spray like Pam.

Sometimes Pam leaves a film on the Air Fryer basket.

I have this oil spray bottle and it works well and distributes an even layer of oil.

I always spray oil on the bottom of the Air Fryer basket before I add the coated fish so that the fish won’t stick then I spray the fish itself so that it will crisp up.

After cooking for 10 minutes, I use tongs to flip the fish over them spray oil on the other side before cooking another 10 minutes.

If you’d like, you can cook another 2-3 minutes for additional crispness.

For me, 20 minutes of cooking is plenty.

The fish is crisp on the outside and tender and flaky on the inside. Perfectly delicious!

I served my catfish with tartar sauce and homemade Air Fryer French Fries. Coleslaw would also be an excellent side dish.

Pin this image so that you can find it later!

Air Fryer Catfish Infographic
Air Fried Catfish Fillets

Crispy Air Fryer Catfish

Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This Air Fryer Catfish cooks up crispy on the outside and tender and flaky inside. It's just like fried catfish but healthier. And it cooks up in about 20 minutes. 


  • 5 catfish fillets, thawed
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tsp salt or seasoning of your choice
  • olive oil


  1. Preheat Air Fryer at 400 degrees.
  2. Trim catfish fillets and cut into nugget-sized pieces, if desired. Dry catfish thoroughly.
  3. Place cornmeal and salt into a zip-top bag. Add catfish fillets or nuggets and shake gently to coat.
  4. Spray/coat Air Fryer basket with olive oil. Place catfish in a single layer in the basket then spray fish well with olive oil. Cook at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. 
  5. Use tongs to gently flip each piece of fish then spray the other side with olive oil. Cook for another 10 minutes. 
  6. Cook additional 2-3 minutes to desired crispness. 


May use Cajun seasonings, such as Slap Ya Mama, in place of salt. Start with 1 tsp then add more to taste

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 685Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 236mgSodium: 1789mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 2gSugar: 0gProtein: 68g

Nutrition Information Provided For Educational and Informational Purposes Only.

Did you make this?

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Jim Lowe

Saturday 18th of July 2020

Jennifer, I like whole catfish a lot more that fillets. Well this recipe work on whole catfish also?


Sunday 19th of July 2020

Hi Jim! How big is your air fryer? Will a whole catfish fit in the basket? If so, this recipe would work great. You might need to increase the cook time a bit depending on how thick the meat is.

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