Fried Fish Dinner Plate view 3 - 610x500

Recipe for Southern Fried Fish

This low oil recipe for Southern fried fish is the absolute best, organized method of fast cooking of flavorful fish filets.

Recipe for Southern Fried Fish Introduction

Knowing how to prepare this Recipe for Southern Fried Fish is important for every cook. The secret to making this delicious is by dipping the filets in the individual bowls of egg, buttermilk, and finish with the seasoned flour & cornmeal mixture before frying it. You can, of course, use all flour or all cornmeal or any combination of the two.

This pan fried fish recipe uses the right amounts of both flour and cornmeal for an authentic Louisiana recipe for you to try. This is the perfect example of how to cook Southern fried fish. We love seafood, and any time we get the chance to make us some fish at home, it’s always special! 

This Southern fried fish recipe is the best method of country cooking in the South. It uses easy, common ingredients, minimal oil, with a well-organized method to cook up quickly. Can be tilapia, swai, flounder, catfish, trout, whiting, or other preferred filet.
Fried Fish Dinner Plate view 3 - 610x500

Fried Fish Dinner Plate view 3 - 610x500

Southern Fried Fish

Jeff Baygents
This Southern fried fish recipe is the best method of country cooking in the South. It uses easy, common ingredients, minimal oil, with a well-organized method to cook up quickly. Can be tilapia, swai, flounder, catfish, trout, whiting, or other preferred filet.
5 from 1 vote
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total Time: 25 mins
Servings 2 servings
Calories 389kcal


  • 1 lb fish filet 6-8 ozs per filet such as tilapia, whiting, flounder, etc.
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk or substitute 1 tsp lemon juice with each cup regular milk
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cornmeal yellow
  • 1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning or ¼ tsp each basil & parsley flakes, ½ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • tsp Ground Black Pepper


  • Put the beaten egg and milk into 2 separate bowls to later drench the fish.
    1 large egg, 1 cup buttermilk
    Egg and Buttermilk individual bowls view 1 - 250x150
  • Add flour, cornmeal, and seasonings to 1 bowl and mix it well. Put onto a saucer/plate.
    ¼ cup all-purpose flour, ½ cup cornmeal, 1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning, ¼ tsp salt, ⅛ tsp Ground Black Pepper
    Fried Fish seasonings view 1 - 200x200
  • Prepare an organized production line of fish, egg bowl, milk bowl, flour w/seasonings plate, and fry pan on cooktop.
    Organized fish fry process view 2 - 100x230
  • Pour a very thin layer of oil into a frying pan and heat to medium.
    Adding oil to frying pan view 1 - 175x225
  • When oil is hot, drench each fish filet into the egg, followed by the milk, and then coat in the seasoned flour mixture. Place into the frying pan.
    1 lb fish filet
    Frying fish in pan view 1 - 200x200
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 5-7 minutes on each side until fish is done.
    Frying fish in pan view 3 - 200x175
  • Place each cooked fish filet onto a paper towel to drain. Serve fish filet with other sides. Can have a bit of lemon juice and tartar sauce available as condiments.
    Fried fish drain on paper towel view 1 - 200x175


The Process Flow to Simplify this Southern Pan Fried Fish Recipe

The recipe describes the prep process workflow but here it is explained and shown in detail. Basically, you will have 4 areas to run the fish filets through in order to end up in the frying pan. As is shown , from left to right, you’ll have these areas prepared in advance to make it a very continuous method.

  1. Fish fillets
  2. Beaten egg(s) in a bowl
  3. Buttermilk in a bowl
  4. Flour-Cornmeal-Spices on a sauce
Organized fish fry process
Organized fish fry process

Frying fish in pan view 1 - 200x200
Frying fish in pan startup
How to Fry Fish in Cornmeal
Frying fish in pan finishing

Types of Fish for Recipe for Fried Fish Filets

You have many choices fish filets to use towards this recipe for fried fish filets. We used tilapia specifically for the recipe ingredients but have also used it for other types of fish. You can use catfish, swai, flounder, trout, and white fish as just a few examples.

Recipe for Pan Frying Fish

When you use any recipe for pan fried fish filet, there will be some common questions regarding cooking. Here are some of those questions with some pretty good responses to guide you.

How long should you pan fry fish?

How long should you fry fish is always a very good question that will depend on the thickness and burner temp you use. In our example, each filet is about 1/2 pound and the burner is about medium heat. It takes about 5 to 7 minutes on each side.

What temp for cooked fish?

The best and safest way is to cook it until it’s considered done based on internal temp fish is cooked. You can check the internal temperature with a food probe temp tool. The FDA recommends 145°F for fish.

You can manually check for doneness levels based on the pan fried fish flakiness. Just insert a regular fork about halfway into a thick area and gently twist it. You’ll be able to tell if it separates easily and if it shows strong signs of flakiness. This is another way you know when fried fish is done and ready, based on texture.

Fried Fish Ingredients

So, fried fish ingredients involve the fish filets, seasoning, 3 containers of dunking & dredging items, and a little oil in the fry pan. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. All the ingredients are very common in the kitchen, in addition to the Old Bay Seasoning. It’s setting up and following an organized process that makes it rather simple to prepare for frying in the pan.

Fried Fish Seasoning

Old Bay, salt, and pepper are going to be your classic fried fish seasonings. We use it all the time in the South. Sure, we have our individual, special sets of alternate homemade or branded seasonings. But, most of us also still have and use Old Bay. I have seen some kitchens and restaurants in New Orleans when I worked in foods management there for Morrison’s Cafeterias. Everyone had Old Bay on the shelves, along with some other fancy spice mixtures for all kinds of seafoods.

Frying Fish With Cornmeal and Flour

Fried Fish seasonings with flour and cornmeal
Fried Fish seasonings with flour and cornmeal

There are most recipes for pan fried fish that will use either all flour or all cornmeal as a breading ingredient. So the challenge is making the fried fish cornmeal vs flour decision. So, the big questions is: Can you mix flour and cornmeal to fry fish? The answer is a resounding “Yes”! This recipe of pan fried fish shows you how to fry fish with flour and cornmeal. But, there are those who also want to know: Can you fry fish in flour instead of cornmeal? And others who ask: “Can you fry fish in cornmeal”? We address both in the next sections.

How to Fry Fish in Cornmeal

In response to the question of “Can you fry fish in cornmeal?”, the answer is, Yes. In the shown recipe, you simply substitute all or some of the flour with cornmeal. However, some might ask how to keep cornmeal on fish when frying. Fortunately, due to the dunking that takes place before the cornmeal, it will stay on pretty good. However, to be sure, when dredging the filets in the cornmeal, ensure you apply a bit of downward pressure across the filet while in the cornmeal. This will ensure you experience a successful Southern fried fish with cornmeal.

Fried Fish Using Flour

And there are those that don’t like fish in cornmeal so, you can definitely have your fried fish using flour. Just like it was mentioned in the above cornmeal section, you can reverse it. In other words, you can replace the recipe ingredient of cornmeal to use all flour instead.

Sauce for Fish Filets

Adding homemade tartar sauce to Country fried fish

Adding Tartar Sauce to Fried Fish

Accompany this fish by making one of our homemade tartar sauce recipes.

Or, just use a mixture of 2 tsp lemon juice with 2 tablespoons of melted butter for every 2 fillets. It’s a 1 tsp lemon juice for 1 tablespoon butter ratio. You can also optionally add in 1/4 tsp of dill.

Sides for Fried Fish

There are choice sides with fried fish. Not all random side dishes will pair well with filets so, here are some ideas for fried fish sides.

Fried Fish Dinner with Sides

Southern Fried Fish Dinner with Saffron Rice and Green Beans

Ideas of Hot Sides for Fried Fish

Ideas of Cold Sides for Fried Fish

  • coleslaw
  • jello
  • pineapple with cottage cheese
  • tomato slices
  • cucumber salad
  • potato salad
  • simple green salad

Nutritional Values of Fried Fish

Nutrition Facts
Southern Fried Fish
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition Facts


In conclusion, you can learn more about tilapia, including its health benefits and nutrition. The varieties of ways you can have pan fried fish are numerous. Some options for changing the recipe for experiencing those variations were given. I hope you have a good experience in trying this recipe. I think you will find it can be a quickly prepared main course for dinner. And it does hold some health benefits as it also includes a method of minimal use of oil.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating