Can You Eat Catfish Skin?

A catfish skin can be eaten with the skin on if you prepare it properly. Catfish is a very popular seafood item that can be prepared in many ways. It is essential to remove the skin of the catfish before cooking it but doing so can be very hard, which is why some people prefer to eat catfish with the skin on. Catfish skin can also be eaten with it on the fish and separated as it is eaten as another method.

Catfish with skin on

Is catfish skin edible?

Catfish skin is very tough, which is why it is hard to remove before cooking as well. However, once it’s cooked, the skin does peel off very easily. You can choose to eat catfish skin if you want to, but to be safe, it is recommended only to eat the skin of catfish that has been farm raised. This is because a lot of fish in the wild, especially bottom feeders, can absorb chemicals from the water, and these chemicals can be very harmful to people. The skin is where most of these harmful chemicals are stored and cooking the fish does not get rid of them.

It has its own unique taste

Along with the fact that you should eat farm-raised catfish, the taste of the skin is a very distinct flavor. Many catfish recipes involve eating catfish with the skin on after it is fried, as the most normal method, to enable the whole piece of fish to be able to be cooked. Personally, I’ve eaten catfish with the skin on too many times to count and have enjoyed it over and over again. This started many years ago and didn’t think about the chemicals which could have been in the skin.

You need to slow cook the catfish skin, and even then, it will not be mild in taste like other fishes with edible skin. Therefore, although edible, there is no reason for you to prefer to eat catfish skin, except for the convenience of not having to remove the hard skin.

Why is wild caught catfish skin not edible?

If the fish is caught wild by you or by anyone else, it should be cleaned properly from the inside, and only the cleaned skillet should then be consumed. This is to be safe from chemicals like mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and dioxins, which could be harmful to children, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers.

When the fish is wild caught, usually old catfish is avoided because the longer the fish stays in the ocean, the more likely it absorbs the chemicals. It is essential to remove all the skin, dark meat, back strap, and belly flap from the fish as chemicals and pesticides are stored in these parts the most. Even heads, guts, liver, or any reproductive parts such as eggs roe should be thoroughly removed from wild caught catfishes.

The mercury level cannot be brought down in wild caught catfish because it is present throughout the fish body. The bottom line is, if the catfish are caught, remove the skin; if you buy it from a trusted farm-raised source, you can eat the fish skin. On the farm, the catfish are raised in cleaner water that should be free from the harmful chemicals found in the wild.

How to cook catfish with skin?

There are many ways you can cook catfish with the skin on it. Usually, the fish does take longer to cook, and the process is more complicated because you must make sure that the skin is cooked and it does not curl at the sides, which can burn and taste bitter. Here are some ways to make a delicious catfish with skin.

The cooked catfish with skin should also be consumed as soon as possible before it gets even more rubbery and hard to chew. These are just basic recipes; you can follow any normal catfish cooking technique and just adjust the time needed to cook the fish completely.

Baked catfish with skin

This is a baked method that is less in calories than frying fish.


  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Lemon juice (optional)


  • The first step is to preheat the oven to 425 degrees so the fish can cook thoroughly
  • Now take the catfish with skin and score the skin of the fish to prevent it from curling at the sides
  • Brush the fish generously with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste
  • Wrap the fish in parchment paper and make sure all sides are closed so the fish is sealed
  • Cook the fish for at least 8 to 10 minutes in the oven or until the fish is opaque in the middle
  • Squeeze some lemon juice on top and serve

Pan fried catfish with skin

This is a more traditional method of making catfish at home.


  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon (optional)


  • Pour some olive oil into the pan and let it heat
  • Have series of shallow cuts on the skin of the fish to prevent it from curling
  • Lay the fish in the hot pan but cook on low heat for 5 on each side or until it is cooked in the middle
  • Season it with a generous amount of salt and pepper
  • Squeeze lemon juice on the fried fish if preferred


The bottom line is catfish skin is edible if it was raised on a farm in a safe way in chemical-free water. The wild catfish can be high in harmful chemicals, which can cause problems for people. Even when eating the skin of catfish that is considered safe, it will have a unique taste, especially if it is left to get cold.

To cook the catfish with skin, you need to do so slowly and make cuts on the skin of the fish to make sure it does not curl at the sides, which can get burned and bitter. Hopefully, this article helped you determine if you should eat catfish skin or not. Everyone has different tastes in food and if catfish skin is your preference, then lean towards the farm raised kind so you maintain a healthier type.

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