How to Cook Catfish With the Skin On


Cooking fish with the skin on retains moisture and hold the fish together as it cooks. This is especially important for cooking methods that require the fish to be flipped during cooking. Catfish has a notoriously difficult skin to remove when the fish is raw. Once cooked, the skin slips off the flesh readily, but it will curl during cooking unless your score it first. The only cooking method not advisable for catfish with the skin on is coating it with cornmeal because the cornmeal will not stick to the skin of the fish, as noted by A.D. Livingston in "The Freshwater Fish Cookbook: More Than 200 Ways to Cook Your Catch."

Things You'll Need

  • Paring knife
  • Basting brush
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Baking dish
  • Parchment paper
  • Skillet
  • Spatula
  • Broiling pan
  • Tongs
  • Microwave-safe dish
  • Plastic wrap


  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

  • Score the skin of the catfish steak with a paring knife so the skin remains on the fish but has a shallow cut in it to prevent curling.

  • Brush the fish on both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

  • Wrap the fish in parchment paper, and crimp the paper on all sides to make an enclosed pouch.

  • Set the parchment-wrapped fish into a baking dish and bake for 8 to 10 minutes per inch of thickness or until it is opaque in the center.


  • Preheat the broiler.

  • Score the skin on the fish with a paring knife.

  • Brush the catfish on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper onto the fish to taste.

  • Broil the catfish on a broiler pan for five minutes.

  • Turn the catfish with tongs and broil for four to five minutes or until it becomes firm and opaque in the center.


  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.

  • Cut the skin of the catfish with a series of shallow cuts along the length of the skin.

  • Lay the fish in the heated pan and cook for four minutes.

  • Flip the catfish with a spatula and cook for four to five more minutes or until a knife inserted into the middle of the fish feels warm on the tip when pulled out.


  • Cut the skin of the catfish with a knife, using a shallow cut to avoid slitting the flesh.

  • Brush the fish with olive oil and season it with salt and pepper.

  • Place the catfish into a microwave-safe dish and cover with plastic wrap so the plastic does not touch the fish.

  • Cook the catfish on high power for two to three minutes per inch of thickness or until the fish has cooked throughout and is opaque in the center.

Tips & Warnings

  • Soak wild catfish in buttermilk for 15 minutes to mellow it before cooking if you find the flavor too strong. Farm-raised catfish is mild and does not need this step.

Related Searches


  • Fish on a First-Name Basis: How Fish Is Caught, Bought, Cleaned, Cooked, and Eaten; Rob DeBorde
  • The Freshwater Fish Cookbook: More Than 200 Ways to Cook Your Catch; A. D. Livingston
  • How to Cook Everything: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food; Mark Bittman, et al.
  • The Cook's Book: Techniques and Tips from the World's Master Chefs; Rick Bayless, et al.
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images
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