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Air Fryer Southern Fried Catfish Nuggets

Only three ingredients are needed to make these crispy Air Fried Catfish nuggets.

These yummy Air Fryer Southern Fried Catfish Nuggets are the newest addition to our Weeknight Meal Plan repertoire. Three ingredients are all I used and we were quite pleased with the flavor and texture of these fried catfish nuggets.

This is the first recipe, and I use that term loosely, that I am sharing which was prepared in my Air Fryer. I have cooked a few things in the Air Fryer so far and we have enjoyed all of them.

Air Fryer Southern Catfish Nuggets easy recipe with only two ingredients. Easy weeknight meal prepared in the Air Fryer. #airfryer

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Tools Needed

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. catfish nuggets
  • 1/4 cup Canola oil
  • 1 (10 oz.) box Fish Fry Batter (on Amazon)
Air Fryer Southern Catfish Nuggets easy recipe with only two ingredients. Easy weeknight meal prepared in the Air Fryer. #airfryer

Look how meaty and golden brown these Catfish Nuggets turned out. It is entirely possible that I may have nibbled on a few before I set the table for our meal.

Directions

Step 1

Rinse the fish under cool running water, drain and set aside.

Pour the oil into a small bowl and set it aside.

Step 2

Pour the fish fry batter into a large Ziploc bag. Add the catfish nuggets a few at a time, close the bag, and shake to coat the fish in the batter.

Use tongs to remove the coated nuggets from the bag, shaking off excess batter back into the bag.

Step 3

Add the catfish nuggets to the basket of your Air Fryer. Follow the directions of your Air Fryer for filling the basket. Leave a little room between the fish and don’t overfill the basket.

Step 4

Dip your basting brush into the oil and baste a small amount of oil onto the top of each catfish nugget. No need to baste both sides of the fish. We do not turn the fish over while cooking.

Step 5

Turn the Air Fryer on to 380 and set the timer for 17 minutes. Begin checking at about 12 minutes. (All Air Fryers do not cook the exact same.) I did not shake the basket while cooking.

Remove from the basket when done and drain on paper toweling.

Add the next batch to the basket and repeat the cooking process. Total cooking time will depend on how many batches you do.

How Long To Cook Catfish Nuggets In The Air Fryer

I cooked the Catfish Nuggets at 380° for 17 minutes in my Air Fryer with no preheating.

I use a Gourmia Digital Air Fryer like this one.

Air Fryer Southern Catfish Nuggets easy recipe with only two ingredients. Easy weeknight meal prepared in the Air Fryer. #airfryer
My dinner table on Catfish night!

We rarely ever fry food in our kitchen. I am a lazy cook who doesn’t enjoy cleaning up the mess. When we are in the mood for fish, we usually go out to eat. We know where all of the good local fish restaurants are!

Now that we know how good fish is when ‘fried’ in the Air Fryer, we have created our own Weeknight Fish and Shrimp Menu. Cooking at home is always cheaper on the budget and the Air Fryer makes cooking and cleaning up easy! 

Weeknight Fish and Shrimp Menu

Air Fryer Southern Catfish Nuggets easy recipe with only two ingredients. Easy weeknight meal prepared in the Air Fryer. #airfryer

As you can see the Catfish Nuggets look deep-fried. They are the only thing on the plate that was not deep-fried except of course the Cole Slaw.

We prefer Catfish Nuggets to whole Catfish because they become finger food with much fewer bones to deal with. They are almost boneless but not quite so you still have to be careful. I bought our Catfish Nuggets in the seafood department at the grocery store.

Kitchen Tools Used for this Meal

Printable Recipe Below

How many fish to add at one time?

I did not put too many Catfish Nuggets in the basket at one time to avoid overcrowding.  They shrink while they are cooking so now I do realize that I can add more to shorten cook time for an entire meal.

The amount you add will depend on the size of your basket but it is okay to place them next to each other and get the basket very full because they do shrink while cooking.

Skillet-vs-Air Fryer Basket

The truth of the matter is that a normal 10 to 12-inch skillet won’t really hold more than an Air Fryer Basket. If we were cooking a meal for a crowd, we would still have to cook in multiple batches using a skillet. 

Air Fryer Southern Catfish Nuggets easy recipe with only two ingredients. Easy weeknight meal prepared in the Air Fryer. #airfryer

Air Fryer Southern Fried Catfish Nuggets

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 17 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes

Only three ingredients are needed to make Southern Fried Catfish Nuggets in the Air Fryer.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. Catfish Nuggets
  • 1/4 Cup Canola Oil
  • 1 (10 oz. ) Box Fish Fry Mix

Instructions

  1. Rinse the fish under cool running water and set aside. Then pour the oil into a small bowl and set it aside.
  2. Pour the fish fry batter into a large Ziploc bag.
  3. Add the Catfish Nuggets a few at a time into the bag with the fish fry mix.
  4. Seal the bag and shake well to coat.
  5. Using the tongs, remove the nuggets one at a time, shaking off excess batter.
  6. Add the catfish nuggets to the basket of the Air Fryer. Follow the directions of your Air Fryer for filling the basket. Most say to leave a little room and don't overfill.
  7. Dip your basting brush into the oil and Baste a small amount of oil onto the top of each catfish nugget. No need to baste both sides of the fish. We do not turn the fish over while cooking.
  8. Turn the Air Fryer on to 380 and set timer for 17 minutes. Begin checking at about 12 minutes. (All Air Fryers do not cook the exact same.) I did not shake while cooking.
  9. Remove the fish from the basket when done and drain on paper toweling.
  10. Add the next batch to the basket and repeat. Total cooking time will depend on how many batches you do.
  11. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

I cooked the Catfish Nuggets at 380° for 17 minutes in my Air Fryer with no preheating.

Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 635Total Fat 38gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 28gCholesterol 189mgSodium 644mgCarbohydrates 18gFiber 1gSugar 1gProtein 53g

Nutrition information is estimated and may not be exact based on uncontrolled variables in home kitchens used by each individual cook.

Did you make this recipe?

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No deep frying needed when you use your Air Fryer for cooking fish nuggets! Tender, meaty and delicious just like fried fish at the seafood restaurant! First batch is ready in about 17 minutes. #airfryer #intellid #easyairfryerrecipe

Updated 1/7/23

Thank you for sharing!

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12 Comments

  1. I loved these! I opted to not brush or spray any oil on them… They came out so light and crispy and delicious!! Family loved them.

    1. Cali, I’m so glad you enjoyed these. I love them. Haven’t tried with brushing on the oil but I need to give it a try. Thanks for saying that.

  2. This is I think a pretty dumb question but I have never made or bought catfish nuggets before. They are frozen at the moment. You don’t bread them and put them in the air fryers still frozen do you? I would never do this in a real fryer of course But people seem to be able to do strange things with air fryers and instant pots when it comes to cooking things from frozen so I figured it was worth asking. It seems like a long time to cook otherwise, given that we usually do 10 minutes an inch for fish in the oven and the frozen hush puppies that I bought only take 7 minutes in the air fryer according to package directions. Please advise! I am trying this tonight for Mardi Gras. Thank you!

    1. Lisa, no questions are dumb as the teacher used to say. Glad you asked. No, don’t cook frozen. The catfish nuggets have to be thawed first. Yes, the downside to using an air fryer is how long it takes to cook a good size batch of anything. Because the manufacturers tell us to leave space between the food in the basket, no much will fit at a time. It just so happens I cooked this meal a few days ago and the fish shrinks so much while cooking, I decided to put mine closer together to get more done at a time.
      How long it takes to get all of your fish done will depend on how much you are cooking. We like how crispy ours are at 17 minutes cook time so making 3 or 4 batches does take a while but they sure are good and not greasy at all. Hope that helps. Happy Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday to ya.

    1. Hi Michele, Thanks for stopping by. I made these again just a few days ago and we loved them as always. Yes, you can use the spray. They may not look exactly like my pictures because I basted with oil but they will be good just the same.

  3. Thank you for your recipe I’m trying it now. This is my first time using the air fryer, so far it smells pretty good in the kitchen

  4. Thank you for this recipe! We made it last night and it tasted amazing – I’ve tried frying catfish the way my grandma did in oil on the stove and never get it right. It was perfect in the air fryer!

    1. Lindsay, I am so glad you enjoyed the recipe. My Mom used to fry fish that were so good too but the Air Fryer makes it a more healthy choice without all the oil. This is actually on our July Meal Plan. I have Catfish nuggets in the freezer!

  5. I’ve been looking forward to seeing this recipe. Pinning for future use. It’s good to know that you can fill the basket to save time. They look delicious!

We enjoying hearing from you!