Smoked Catfish: What Is It and How to Eat It?

This article reviews how to get a perfectly smoked catfish. It also details the ingredients and a step-by-step guide that you can follow.
Jeremy Bivens
Jeremy Bivens
Research Writer
Jeremy Bivens is a passionate writer and grilling enthusiast. He's been working as a freelance journalist for over 15 years now and has a particular interest in food writing read more
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Bruce Williams
Bruce Williams
Expert Consultant
Claims that grilling is the art that he has been learning all his life long and is not planning to stop. Has been grilling for as long as he can remember. Author of numerous read more
Last updated: August 11, 2023
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Ever wondered how to get a perfectly smoked catfish? Well, it’s not rocket science; you just need to know how to go about it and the right recipe to use. In this guide, we’ll b examining the process of smoking catfish. We have also included the ingredients and the instruction to follow to achieve that perfect smoked fish barbeque. Read on for the details here.

What is a catfish?

Smoked Catfish: What Is It and How to Eat It?
Our expert consultant Bruce with his freshly caught catfish.

Catfish Trusted Source Catfish - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics Catfish have enlarged medullary facial lobes which process gustatory information originating from the perioral barbels. are freshwater fish that has head looking like cats because of their whiskers. Hence, the name catfish. There are different types of catfish, some of which include electric catfish, bullhead catfish, and walking catfish. However, the channel catfish, the blue catfish, and the flathead catfish are the most common and most desired in the United States.

These fish are very delicious to eat, whichever way you choose to prepare them. They could be cooked, fried, or smoked. Among the various ways and shapes these fish could take, the smoked type is sure going to delight you. Here is how to marinade and prepare a well-smoked catfish.


Marinating your catfish prepares it for the grill and will make the smoke catfish taste even better. Asides from the taste and look, marinating your fish also reduces the carcinogenic heterocyclic amines (HCA) the fish could produce Trusted Source Is Catfish Healthy? Nutrients, Benefits, and More Catfish is a ubiquitous species eaten worldwide, but you may wonder whether it’s healthy. when it’s on the smoking grill.

To marinate your catfish, you will need some honey, dill, and chili powder to make the marinade. Then, you will soak the fish in the marinade. Make sure the marinade completely coats the whole fish. Put them in a plastic Ziploc and let them sit in the refrigerator for about 3-5 hours.

Which wood to use

Smoked Catfish: What Is It and How to Eat It?
Maple, pecan, or fruit woods are ideal for smoking catfish.

Having a great smoke fish is a combination of everything you use. Your marinade, the fish fillets, the type of wood you use, and the best fish smoker all add flavor to your smoked fish. For a great grill, bake, roast, and smoke experience, it’s essential to always buy a quality smoker like the Camp Chef Smoke Pro Slide and Grill wood pellet grill smoker.

In fact, one of the best decisions you could make when starting your smoked fish journey is to decide which wood you will be using. You can try the alder woods, the Pecan Wood, and the maple wood too. In the absence of any of these woods, you can substitute with any fruit wood around your environments like hickory or applewood.

Using fruitwood will give your smoke that incredible woody aroma.

Preparing the smoker

Before smoking your fish, ensure you have completely and thoroughly cleaned them. Next, you season them. Prepare your seasoning by mixing some oregano, salt, pepper, and, if you like, some lemon peels together. Gently swap the fish fillets with the seasoning, ensuring that it is evenly coated.

Prepare your grill by adding your favorite wood to the grill. Pack all the coals to a side of the grill such that the other side is empty of coals, but it’s pretty heated up. You will then put your seasoned, marinated fish on the other side of the grill. This will protect your catfish from direct coal heat, giving you thoroughly cooked fish from the indirect heat. It will also allow the smoked flavor to be well infused into the fish (there’re special devices – cold smoke generators that can add even more flavor with no much effort). You will know your fish is well cooked when you have a golden-brown color.

This process should take between 40-45minutes. For the best result, you should serve your smoked catfish with a sauce. Read on to find out how to make a nice sauce.

Making a sauce

Smoked Catfish: What Is It and How to Eat It?
It is advised to make the sauce right before serving the meal.

There are different sauces you can make that will be a perfect blend for your smoked fish. However, this article will focus on the dill sauce. To make your creamy dill sauce, add the following ingredients together and enjoy your smoked fish with it:

  • 2/3 cup of plain yogurt
  • Two tablespoons of orange juice
  • ½ clove of garlic (well chopped)
  • One tablespoon of well-chopped onion
  • One tablespoon of well-chopped dill
  • Salt to taste and a dash of hot sauce.

If you still like some pepper, you can add a dash of freshly ground black pepper or cayenne pepper.

Smoked Catfish: What Is It and How to Eat It? 4

Smoked Catfish – The Recipe

The listed ingredients do not take away your choice, as you can review the spices to your own taste.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 4 hours
Cook Time 2 hours
Course Main Course
Servings 4 people
Calories 105 kcal


  • 4 catfish fillets
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup diced butter
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder


  • The first thing is to prepare your wood. Soak your desired fruitwood chunks in water for about 10 minutes.
  • Then, mix your sugar and salt in a small bowl, add your pepper.
  • Marinate your fish fillet with the mixture.
  • Place in a plastic Ziploc, add the rest of the marinate, and make sure your fish is completely covered with the marinade. Then, refrigerate it for four hours.
  • After four hours, remove the catfish from the refrigerator, rinse with cold water, and dry clean with paper towels. Leave it on the cooling rack to dry out further.
  • The next step is to preheat your smoker. Adjust your smoker to about 93 degrees centigrade. Control the temperature with your thermometer. You can also ensure your smoker has a built-in thermometer and save yourself the stress of inserting a thermometer by buying a Cuisinart COS-330 smoker. The ample space in this smoker makes it just perfect for your kitchen.
  • Add your favorite wood to your best smoker when the coals are ready.
  • Place your fish in the smoker, be sure to place it at the other side of the coal to give an indirect heat effect. Close your smoker and let it cook for about 20 minutes.
  • Prepare your glaze as the fish fillets cook, add your honey in a saucepan, and heat it for about 2 minutes till it boils. Add your spices, then your butter. Keep mixing them till you are sure the butter is thoroughly melted.
  • Remove your fish from the smoker and glaze one side with the mixture.
  • Place the fish back in the oven and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes.
  • Remove, and glaze the other side of the fish fillet. Repeat the process, let it sit for 5 minutes.
  • When your fillet becomes flaky when touched, you can be sure it is thoroughly done.
  • Take it out of the smoker and wrap it in foil immediately. Allow it to rest for about ten to fifteen minutes before dishing it. Serve and enjoy with your favorite sauce.


Calories: 105kcal

Final thoughts

Smoking your fish is one of the most delightful ways to eat your catfish. Ensure you follow the process detailed here for a great treat. You can tweak the ingredients to meet your preferences. Enjoy your smoked fish with your desired sauce.


Catfish - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics
Catfish have enlarged medullary facial lobes which process gustatory information originating from the perioral barbels.
Is Catfish Healthy? Nutrients, Benefits, and More
Catfish is a ubiquitous species eaten worldwide, but you may wonder whether it’s healthy.
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