How to Smoke Catfish

by Thomas McNish ; Updated September 28, 2017

Cook your catfish fillets by smoking them.

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Smoking is a process that involves cooking meat at a slower temperature over a relatively long period of time. Wood is traditionally placed on top of burning coals to add a "smoky" flavor to the dish. Many different types of meat and fish are smoked, including catfish. Catfish are fairly common, found on almost every continent of Earth, except for Antarctica. They're so named for their long "whiskers" which make them appear cat-like. Once caught, they can be eaten in a variety of ways, including baked, deep fried, grilled and smoked.

Fillet your catfish into one and a half inch thick steaks.

Add four cups of cold water and 1/4 cup of iodized salt to a bowl. Mix until the salt is no longer visible.

Put two pounds worth of catfish fillets into a freezer bag. Pour your brine mixture into the bag and seal it. Refrigerate this for approximately one hour.

Start your smoker and preheat it to 225 degrees. Light your coals and let them burn for 10 to 15 minutes. Add your smoking wood on top of the coals after the smoker has been preheated.

Remove your catfish from the refrigerator and the brine bag. Rinse the fillets quickly and then pat them dry.

Season both sides of your fillets with ground pepper. Lay the fillets down in your smoker pan and cover the pan with a lid. Insert the pan into the smoker.

Allow the fillets to smoke for 45 minutes to one hour. You can tell the fish is done if the meat can be easily flaked with a fork.


  • Be sure to use an aluminum smoker pan, and not a pan made of glass or acrylic, as these are not designed to withstand direct heat over such lengthy periods of time.

    Side dishes that go well with catfish include cole slaw, corn on the cob, macaroni or potato salad and collared greens.

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About the Author

Thomas McNish has been writing since 2005, contributing to Salon.com and other online publications. He is working toward his Associate of Science in computer information technology from Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Fla.