Southern Catfish Nuggets And Grits Recipe

Y'all know shrimp and grits and y'all know fried catfish; but what if we took two great southern specialties and combined them to make one great 30-minute meal? The beauty of shrimp is that it cooks quickly and can be joined with soft and seasoned butter in one skillet for a quick and saucy meal. Catfish is typically fried for similar reasons, being that it is a thin flaky fish that takes very little time to cook. Because they share similar qualities, it's easy enough to swap the recipes. And with catfish nuggets, it's even easier to get it right.

Catfish nuggets are the trimmings of a catfish that offer too much meat to toss away, so are sold at a fraction of the cost. If your supermarket has an ample supply of catfish filets, it's likely they'll have nuggets nearby. They aren't the prettiest pieces of fish, but they cook up and taste the same as a catfish filet. In this recipe written by Michelle McGlinn, the small pieces of catfish are first tossed in a Creole seasoning before being buttered in a skillet and topped on top of spicy pepper jack grits. Not only is this recipe easy enough for a weeknight, but it's also spicy, sweet, and buttery, just like your favorite Southern classics always are.

Everything you need for Southern catfish nuggets and grits

First, grab some catfish nuggets. If they aren't at the fish counter, try the frozen section, where they may be stored in bulk bags during slow seasons. At worst, you can get a few catfish filets and slice them into pieces, or swap the catfish for shrimp for similar results. Once you have your protein, you'll need paprika, chili powder, onion powder, a Cajun or Creole seasoning (we love Tony Chachere's Original), honey, lemon, olive oil, and garlic. To finish off the catfish you'll need butter, and to make the quick grits you'll need instant grits, water, and pepper jack cheese.

Marinate the catfish

To make the marinade, combine the seasonings, lemon, honey, olive oil, and garlic. Because the acid in the lemon has the ability to cook the catfish (or rather, turn it rubbery), we don't recommend marinating the fish for longer than an hour. Ideally, set aside 30 minutes to let the catfish sit in the mixture, then get to cooking. If you don't have 30 minutes, just let the fish sit while you prepare the grits.

Prepare the grits

Instant grits are a really good option when you're low on time. Whisk the grits into the boiling water slowly so that the grits don't clump. Stir occasionally while the grits cook and, once thick, stir in the grated cheese and seasoning. The cheese melts into the grits, making them moist, creamy, and thick. If you'd prefer mild cheesy grits, swap the pepper jack for Monterey Jack cheese.

Cook the catfish

We like using a cast iron skillet for this, but you can use any good skillet here. You won't need a layer of oil since the catfish is marinating in it, so just heat up your skillet and add the catfish, working in batches if needed. If you have a slotted spoon to lift the catfish out of the marinade, use it, so that some marinade and garlic is leftover and avoid burning in the skillet. Cook the catfish until opaque and flaky, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Add the butter and serve

The sauce that deliciously runs down the sides of the grits comes together using the remaining marinade and some butter. Turn the heat down to low to avoid burning the garlic, then pour in whatever is left in the bowl around the catfish. Heat it through until the garlic is fragrant, then add the pats of butter. Melt the butter down and whisk it all together until thick and glossy, then toss to coat the catfish.

Serve the catfish and sauce over a mound of grits. Since there's no veggies in this recipe, serve the catfish with a side of corn, braised greens, or a crunchy salad. You can save leftovers, but we recommend saving the grits and catfish in separate containers. To reheat leftover grits, gently heat on the stove with a few splashes of water to soften.

Southern Catfish Nuggets and Grits Recipe
No Ratings
Enjoy some classic Southern comfort food with a bit of spice, sweetness, and buttery flavors.
Prep Time
Cook Time
catfish nuggets on grits in bowl
Total time: 22 minutes
  • 1 pound catfish nuggets, bones removed
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun or Creole seasoning salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup instant grits
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 ounces grated pepper jack cheese
Optional Ingredients
  • Parsley, for topping
  1. In a bowl, combine the catfish nuggets, paprika, chili powder, onion powder, ½ teaspoon Creole seasoning, honey, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic. Marinate for 30 minutes.
  2. To prepare the grits, bring water to a boil in a saucepan. Once boiling, add grits slowly, whisking into the water constantly. Turn the heat to medium low and cover the saucepan. Cook until thick, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Once grits are thick and water is absorbed, remove from the heat and stir in the cheese until melted and smooth. Season with remaining ½ teaspoon of Creole seasoning.
  4. To make the catfish, heat a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the catfish, reserving the marinade. If needed, work in batches so as not to crowd the skillet.
  5. Once catfish are browned on either side, about 5 to 6 minutes, pour in the remaining marinade and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, turn the heat to low and add the butter. Stir until glossy sauce forms.
  6. Serve catfish and butter sauce over pepper jack grits. If desired, top with parsley.
Calories per Serving 776
Total Fat 57.3 g
Saturated Fat 18.6 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 118.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 39.9 g
Dietary Fiber 2.8 g
Total Sugars 5.1 g
Sodium 871.6 mg
Protein 27.1 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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