My Cajun baked catfish recipe hits that home-cooked comfort food button in less than 35 minutes, y'all. Two fresh out-of-the-water fillets, drizzled with lemon juice and hot sauce. Then, seasoned with just the right Cajun spices and roasted to super flavorful, perfectly textured yum-deliciousness. Yep and yay...
Sometimes Cajun Food Can Be Quick, Y'all...
Cajun baked catfish is a traditional south Louisiana dish featuring highly seasoned fillets that are roasted until the flesh turns opaque and the fish flakes easily with a fork.
My original version of this beloved classic Cajun catfish recipe layers the ingredients so that you can still taste them individually outside of their collective flavor profile. The result is a winner, y'all! Each bite is flavor-popping perfection and every piece literally melts in your mouth.
Best of all, this Cajun baked catfish is intriguing enough for a stellar weekend dinner, yet simple enough for a well-deserved after-work treat. Indeed.
Ingredient Essentials & Substitutions
- I used fresh catfish from my local fishmonger for this recipe. However, you can also use thawed frozen fish, too. Just use a paper towel to blot out any excess moisture on the fish before proceeding with the recipe. If you don't have any catfish on hand, then substitute any other white fish you have, including snapper or redfish.
- Crystal hot sauce is my go-to brand for most of my recipes. I absolutely love it and can't speak highly enough of it, really. I also adore Louisiana hot sauce, too. Either one of these two sauces will yield the intended taste of this Louisiana Cajun baked catfish recipe. But, if you can't get them in time, just use whatever hot sauce you have on hand. As long as it's plain hot sauce, not flavored, it should work in the dish.
- The dried seasonings work together to create the ultimate Cajun flavor ensemble in this dish. You can substitute a Cajun or Creole spice blend if that's what you have on hand. Just remember to use dried seasonings, as their fresh counterparts can burn in the oven, giving every bite of your finished dish an unpleasant finish.
- I consider fresh lemon juice to be a must in this baked Cajun catfish recipe. So, I would never use the bottled stuff, as it usually has a slight chemical taste that ruins the dish for me. However, if you're 100 percent certain that a brand you have on hand tastes just like fresh juice, then go for it.
The sliced butter in this recipe keeps the catfish moist while baking. It also serves to create a very small amount of sauce that truly enhances the taste and texture of the dish. So, if you're dairy-free, substitute plant butter or olive oil in its place. But, don't add any more butter than listed, because the excess will make the underneath and outer edges of the fillets slimy.
How to Make Cajun Baked Catfish
Start by preheating the oven, and placing the catfish fillets into a well-greased cast iron skillet. Then, pour half of the lemon juice over the top of each fillet. Use the back of a spoon or a basting brush to smooth out the juice over the fillets.
Now, repeat the process using hot sauce instead of lemon juice this time.
Next, sprinkle salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste over the fillets. Then, repeat the process using the rest of the Cajun seasonings.
Finally, use a cheese slicer to slice three tablespoons of cold butter into small slices. Or, just chop them up into small pieces if you don't have a cheese slicer on hand. (Safety first, y'all!!!!)
Then, slide the skillet into the oven, and bake until done.
And that's it, y'all!!
This Cajun baked catfish fills your kitchen with earthy, enticing aromas. And you just can't beat the presentation! Each fillet features eye-popping reds, greens, and oranges that make it the stunning star of the plate.
The taste is where it's at, with a super tender flesh that's home to deep, smoky flavors that all stand out yet interblend harmoniously. I love to serve it with potatoes for optimal comfort food levels. But, this easy fish dish also pairs well with lighter veggies for a lower-carb experience that's anything but boring.
Share this Cajun baked catfish with those who surprise you with something awesome when you least expect it, too. Much food love, and see y'all on the yum side...
Side Dish Pairings
These are the side dishes that I recommend serving with Cajun baked catfish.
Similar Fish Recipes
If you like this Louisiana baked catfish recipe, you will likely enjoy these other fish recipes, as well.
Cajun Baked Catfish
- 2 large raw catfish fillets, about 1 pound
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Crystal hot sauce
- salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest, optional
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Grease a 12-inch cast iron skillet liberally with oil.
- Place the catfish fillets in the skillet.
- Pour half of the lemon juice onto one catfish fillet, then repeat. Use a brush or the back of a spoon to cover the top side of the fillet with the juice.
- Repeat this process, this time using the hot sauce.
- Sprinkle salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste over both catfish fillets.
- Sprinkle one-half of the dried seasonings over each fillet.
- If using lemon zest, sprinkle it over the top the seasoned fillets.
- Slide the skillet into the oven, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork and a digital meat thermometer inserted into both fillets reads at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
The information shown is an estimate provided by a third-party, online computer-generated nutrition calculator, not a registered dietitian or certified nutritionist. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods and individual portion sizes, along with other factors.See our full nutrition disclaimer here.