Catfish: Is It Good For Eating?

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  June 3, 2022

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Catfishes are a popular fish, but are they good for eating? Some people think they’re DELICIOUS, while others think it’s disgusting.

Catfishes (order Siluriformes) are a diverse group of ray-finned fish. Named for their prominent barbels, which resemble a cat’s whiskers. They don’t have scales and have a milder flavor than other fishes and are a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Plus, they’re low in calories and fat.

As a lover of all things seafood, I decided to research and find out if catfish is good for eating. I looked at all the nutritional benefits and potential health risks.

Is catfish good for eating

What’s the Deal with Catfish?

What Is a Catfish?

If you’re looking for a fish that’s affordable and available in the US, then you’ve come to the right place! Catfish are the perfect choice for you. They’re recognizable by their sensory organs called barbels that look like whiskers. You can find them in lakes, streams, and deep pools. At night, they move into shallower water, which is when fishers usually catch them.

Taste Test

Catfish have a milder flavor than other fishes, making them a great addition to your diet. They’re like sweet whitefish, but better! Here are some delicious recipes you can try:

  • Catfish tacos
  • Catfish po’boy sandwiches
  • Catfish chowder
  • Baked catfish
  • Catfish curry

Nutritional Benefits

Catfish are packed with nutrition! They’re a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Plus, they’re low in calories and fat. So, you can enjoy them guilt-free.

Can You Handle the Tastiness of Catfish?

The Deliciousness of Catfish

For decades, folks around the world have been enjoying the unique flavor of catfish. Whether you fry, bake, broil, or grill it, you can’t go wrong with this whitefish. Plus, it’s great when cooked with garlic or Cajun-style.

Cultivated or Wild?

When it comes to catfish, you have two options: cultivated or wild. Both have their own unique flavor, so it’s really up to you to decide which one you’d prefer.

No Guilt Here

No need to feel guilty about eating catfish. This species is not endangered, so you can enjoy it guilt-free. Here are some of the ways you can enjoy catfish:

  • Fry it up and serve with fresh veggies
  • Bake it with garlic or Cajun-style
  • Grill it for a smoky flavor
  • Broil it for a crispier texture

So, if you’re ready to experience the tastiness of catfish, then what are you waiting for? Go ahead and give it a try!

What’s the Taste of Catfish?

Wild-Caught Catfish

Wild-caught catfish come from rivers and ponds, and they’ve got a taste that’s kinda bland and muddy, but with a sweet aftertaste.

Farmed Catfish

Farmed catfish are raised in commercial farms and fed on grains. When cooked, they’ve got a mild and sweet flavor, with a moist and dense flesh.

If you like whitefish like tilapia, haddock, and flounder, you’ll probably enjoy the taste of catfish too. The difference is that catfish isn’t as flakey. The taste can vary depending on the variety, but the two most common wild varieties eaten by people are blue and channel catfish.

Catfish: A Fishy Treat for Your Health

Nutrition Facts

If you’re looking for a delicious way to get your daily dose of vitamins and minerals, look no further than catfish! This tasty fish is packed with protein, healthy fats, and a whole bunch of other goodies. Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect from a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving:

  • Calories: 105
  • Fat: 2.9 grams
  • Protein: 18 grams
  • Sodium: 50 mg
  • Vitamin B12: 121% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Selenium: 26% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 24% of the DV
  • Thiamine: 15% of the DV
  • Potassium: 19% of the DV
  • Cholesterol: 24% of the DV
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: 237 mg
  • Omega-6 fatty acids: 337 mg

In other words, catfish is a low-calorie, high-protein seafood that’s a great way to get your daily dose of essential vitamins and minerals. Plus, it’s packed with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, so you can feel good about treating yourself to this tasty treat.

Discover the Purr-fect Benefits of Catfish

The Protein-Packed Meal

Catfish is a great way to get your daily dose of protein without packing on the calories. Just one 3.5-ounce serving of this fishy delight can provide up to 39% of your daily protein needs. That’s a lot of bang for your buck! Plus, it’s a leaner fish than some of its fatty counterparts, so you can get all the protein you need without the extra calories.

Omega-3s for Your Health

The USDA recommends eating up to 8 ounces of fish or other seafood each week, and catfish is a great choice. It’s packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which can help with brain health, muscle strength, heart health, and even your gut microbiome. Plus, your body can’t produce omega-3s on its own, so you need to get them through your diet.

Vitamin B12 for the Win

Catfish is also a great source of vitamin B12. Just one serving can provide up to 121% of your daily needs. Vitamin B12 is important for mental health, heart health, and preventing anemia. So, if you’re looking for a way to get your daily dose of B12, catfish is the purr-fect way to do it.

Healthy Cooking Options for Catfish

The Facts

Catfish can be a delicious and nutritious part of your diet, but the way you cook it makes a big difference in its health benefits. Here’s the breakdown of a 3.5-ounce serving of catfish (100 grams):

  • Dry heat without oil: 105 calories, 2.9 grams of fat, 50 mg of sodium
  • Baked or broiled with oil: 178 calories, 10.9 grams of fat, 433 mg of sodium
  • Breaded and fried: 229 calories, 13.3 grams of fat, 280 mg of sodium

The Bottom Line

Frying catfish adds a ton of extra calories and fat, so if you’re looking for a healthier option, try one of these dry heat cooking methods: baking, broiling, grilling, roasting, or pan frying. Those will keep your catfish tasty and your waistline trim!

Can You Enjoy Catfish Without Cooking?

The Risks of Eating Raw Catfish

Eating raw catfish can be a risky business. Wild-caught fish can contain parasites and other contaminants that can make you sick. Plus, if the water it came from was polluted with feces or other nasties, you’re in for a nasty surprise.

Cooking Catfish Is Essential

If you want to enjoy catfish, you’ll need to cook it properly. Make sure it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit to kill any parasites and bacteria. Otherwise, you could end up with food poisoning, listeria, giardiasis, and other unpleasant illnesses.

Catfish: Wild-Caught or Farm-Raised?

What’s the Difference?

When it comes to catfish, you’ve got two choices: wild-caught or farm-raised. But what’s the difference between the two? Well, it’s all about the nutrients!

  • Farm-raised catfish are usually fed a high-protein diet that includes grains like soy, corn, and wheat. Plus, they get a bunch of added vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fatty acids, and even probiotics!
  • Wild-caught catfish are bottom feeders, which means they eat things like algae, aquatic plants, fish eggs, and sometimes other fish.

Nutrient Profiles

Studies have compared the nutrient profiles of wild and farm-raised catfish, and they’ve found some interesting differences. For example:

  • Mature farm-raised catfish had the highest levels of amino acids, but the wild catfish had more linoleic acid and less eicosanoic acid.
  • Wild catfish had more protein, fat, fiber, and overall calories than farm-raised catfish.
  • Farm-raised catfish had higher fat content, but the wild fish had higher levels of most minerals except iron, which was significantly higher in the farm-raised fish.


If you want to know for sure whether your catfish is wild-caught or farm-raised, take a look at the label. In the US, Canada, and the EU, all fish must be marked as either farm-raised or wild-caught. But, unfortunately, some countries don’t have such stringent labeling requirements. Plus, there’s always the chance that the fish has been mislabeled on purpose. So, if you want to be sure, try to buy from a trusted source.

What’s Lurking in Catfish?

The Contaminant Concern

When it comes to seafood, it’s only natural to be a bit worried about what’s lurking beneath the surface. Fish can easily absorb toxins from the water they live in, and if you eat them, you’re eating those toxins too. One of the biggest worries is mercury, which can lead to all sorts of neurological problems, especially in kids.

The Catfish Conundrum

It turns out that bigger fish and those that live longer tend to have the highest levels of mercury. Swordfish, for example, can have up to 40 times more mercury than catfish. But the good news is that the FDA has declared catfish one of the safest seafoods when it comes to contaminants. So if you’re looking for a seafood that won’t give you a side of mercury, catfish is your best bet.

The Final Word

When it comes to seafood safety, catfish is the clear winner. The FDA has given it a big thumbs up, so you can rest easy knowing that your catfish dinner won’t come with a side of contaminants. So go ahead, dig in and enjoy!


Catfish Vs Salmon

When it comes to omega-3s, salmon is the clear winner. A 3-ounce serving of salmon contains up to 1,800 mg of omega-3s, while a 3-ounce serving of catfish only contains 200 mg. That’s a whopping nine times more! So if you’re looking for a fish that’s going to give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to omega-3s, salmon is the way to go.

When it comes to other nutrients, the two fish are a bit more evenly matched. Catfish is lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, while salmon is richer in vitamins and minerals. Both are relatively equal in sugar, and have the same glycemic index. So if you’re looking for a fish that’s lower in fat and cholesterol, catfish might be the better choice.

Catfish Vs Tilapia

Tilapia is the clear winner when it comes to protein content, packing a whopping 40g of protein in a single 200 calorie serving. It’s also a great source of vitamins B3 and B12, as well as minerals like selenium and phosphorus. On the other hand, catfish is a more balanced option, with moderate amounts of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Plus, its mild, moist flavor is sure to please the taste buds. But if you’re looking for a fish with a more unique flavor, catfish’s fishy taste might be just what you’re after. So, if you’re looking for a protein-packed meal, go for tilapia. But if you’re after something with a more distinct flavor, catfish might be the way to go!


Catfish is a GREAT way to get your daily dose of protein, omega-3s, and vitamin B12. Plus, it’s low in calories and nutrient-dense, so you can get all the benefits without the extra calories.

But, as we’ve seen, when it comes to catfish, cooking is key. Don’t take any chances – make sure you cook it properly to avoid any nasty surprises.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.