Foil-Baked Lemon Catfish

Baked catfish
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Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
437 Calories
33g Fat
8g Carbs
27g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 437
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 33g 43%
Saturated Fat 7g 33%
Cholesterol 94mg 31%
Sodium 1252mg 54%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 27g
Vitamin C 30mg 149%
Calcium 45mg 3%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 705mg 15%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Catfish might not be the first type of fish you think of buying, but it should be! Tasty, meaty, and easy to prepare in a variety of manners, catfish is a staple of Southern cuisine. Baked, fried, or stewed, the recipes for this fish are infinite and they all yield a beautiful and succulent result. Our take on this budget-friendly fish comes courtesy of Judy Howle and it's so easy that before you know it dinner will be served without much effort. For this recipe, you need sturdy sheets of foil larger than the length of the fish to make tight packets in which the fish is going to steam and bake. A mixture of cooked green onions, celery, carrots, parsley, margarine, and seasonings sits on top of the raw fillets. Also topped with lemon slices, the fillets go into the oven for 30 minutes. The results are flaky and juicy fillets, with vegetables included, that you can serve with rice or mashed potatoes and a green salad.

Eating catfish is engraved in the traditions of the American South. Being abundantly found in lakes and rivers, catfish was a staple for enslaved West Africans, who could easily find it around the areas where they were forced to work. By force of necessity, catfish was a source of nutrition but became part of the traditions they built in this part of the world. Fast forward many decades and the fish is still a key component in the Black traditions that inherit from those earlier customs. By the time the term Soul Food came into use, eating fried catfish had become codified in the social interactions of Black populations in the South, a tradition that is still very much alive. After 1960, when many cotton fields were flooded to farm catfish, this fish's bond to the American South only became stronger.

This recipe collects much of the attachment Southern cooking has for the beloved fish but makes it easier and mess-free to prepare. Serve with fries for a decadent treat, or with a side of collard greens and cornbread for a truly Southern meal.


  • 4 catfish fillets

  • 1/2 cup margarine

  • 1/3 cup lemon juice

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 teaspoon pepper

  • 1/2 cup diced carrots

  • 1/4 cup diced celery

  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

  • 2 medium lemons, thinly sliced

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place the fillets in foil 4 inches longer than the catfish.

  3. In a saucepan, melt the margarine and add the lemon juice, salt, pepper, carrots, celery, onions, and parsley. Sauté the mixture for a few minutes.

  4. Divide the vegetables among the catfish fillets and top with lemon slices.

  5. Fold the foil around the fish so that the juices are held in. Arrange the foil packets on a baking pan or rimmed baking sheet.

  6. Bake for 30 minutes.

  7. Enjoy!