From herb-infused sauces to sweet and roasted side dishes, these best catfish side dishes will elevate your seafood dish perfectly.
Deliciously mild and sweet, catfish is a nutritious seafood dish that can be eaten grilled, baked, pan-fried, or deep-fried. And while the natural flavors of catfish are accentuated by light seasonings, adding sauces or side dishes can help make the fish a balanced meal for a hearty dinner or well-rounded lunch.
Usually coated with cornmeal and then lightly fried, catfish is a popular meal in the American South – and the subtle-yet-sweet taste of the fish means it absorbs spices and herbs extremely well. It also suits a range of cooking methods, from pan-seared to air fryer catfish, and poached to smoked fish.
From decadent-yet-punchy sauces to roasted vegetables that add depth of flavor, these delicious catfish sides will take your seafood dinner to the next level. Let’s get cooking!
White Wine Sauce (Beurre Blanc)
Delicious when poured over freshly baked catfish, white wine sauce is luxurious and hearty, transporting you to a French bistro or one of those fine dining restaurants with candlelight and cloth napkins. Apart from being a flavor bomb for your palate, white wine sauce is also known for its signature sheen, which will make your catfish glossy and up the presentation points.
While it may seem complex, white wine sauce is deceptively simple. Mixing cream, wine, white wine vinegar, lemon, sugar, and shallots, results in a slightly tangy, totally creamy sauce that tastes and looks divine.
Try This Recipe: This white wine sauce uses heavy cream and cold butter, resulting in a thick and emulsified sauce.
Balsamic Glazed Roasted Carrots
Tangy yet sweet, something magical happens when you roast carrots with balsamic vinegar. The natural sweetness of carrots is coaxed out, while the balsamic vinegar seems to caramelize around the edges of the carrot, resulting in a perfectly cooked, semi-crispy dish. These carrots will add a nice touch of sweetness to catfish, or in fact, any type of protein.
It’s crucial that raw carrots are used instead of frozen ones, as this ensures an even cook and seasoning distribution—no soggy vegetables here! When combined with honey, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and other spices, you’ll get beautiful browning and perfectly tender carrots.
Try This Recipe: These balsamic glazed carrots are roasted to perfection, and make use of spices like garlic powder and fresh thyme.
Cilantro & Lime Rice
Cilantro and lime rice will bring some much-needed freshness and zing to the meal, especially if you’re serving deep-fried or pan-fried catfish. Best of all, you can make it beforehand and then keep it in your fridge for tacos, burrito bowls, or for Asian-style dishes. This rice dish is one of the most versatile around.
Lime zest and freshly picked cilantro really enhance the plain rice, and there’s always the option to add extras depending on your taste preferences. Jalapenos, scallions, and red pepper flakes are optional but recommended if you feel like bringing the heat.
Try This Recipe: This cilantro and lime rice is bright in flavor and bright in appearance, with the addition of fresh cilantro and red pepper flakes.
Garlic Butter Sauce
Garlic and butter are one of those divine flavor pairings that just make sense. The slightly spicy and aromatic taste of garlic cuts through the richness of butter, and when this sauce is topped on bread, various types of protein, and even seafood (like catfish), each mouthful will keep you coming back for more.
The premise of garlic butter sauce may seem quite simple—surely it’s just an equal parts mix of garlic and butter, right? While you can certainly get away with just those two ingredients, adding in some extras, like a squeeze of lemon, a dash of freshly cut herbs, and a generous dose of salt and pepper, can really make the sauce shine.
Try This Recipe: This easy garlic butter sauce has a generous dose of parsley and finely cut garlic for a deliciously versatile sauce.
An incredibly light and delectable carbohydrate option, cornbread is a Southern delicacy and is usually made from a mixture of regular flour, cornmeal, buttermilk, and shortening. Cornbread can also be served plain or with a bit of sugar (that results in a slightly sweet, slightly salty taste). Either way, it has a distinctly grainy and moreish texture that serves wonderfully next to classic southern dishes, like battered catfish.
Unlike other types of bread (we’re looking at you, sourdough) cornbread can be relatively easy to whip up, taking roughly 30 minutes from prep to the final result. When done right, cornbread doesn’t fall apart. Instead, it keeps its signature crumbly and cakey mouthfeel while still having enough structural integrity to stand alone.
Try This Recipe: This easy homemade cornbread recipe has a good mix of sugar, yellow cornmeal for a moist and rich end result.
Garlic Butter Asparagus
Perhaps one of the most underutilized vegetables, asparagus is fresh, lively, and entirely reminiscent of the delicate produce of spring. And while there are many ways to prepare asparagus correctly, nothing makes it taste quite as good as sauteeing them in a pan. You get to control how crunchy or soft you want it, and adding in extra ingredients is as easy as throwing them into the pan.
Sauteeing some garlic in butter before combining it with the asparagus, adds a nice dimension of flavor to the neutral-tasting asparagus. And while it may be easier to cut up the asparagus stems so they sautee nicely, there’s nothing quite like seeing the beautiful full strands of asparagus presented on a plate.
Try This Recipe: These garlic butter asparagus add a dimension of crunch and citrus with crispy almonds and a spritz of lemon.
Raisin & Almond Couscous
Sweet, salty, sour—there’s a reason why including multiple taste profiles in a meal keeps you coming back for more. The magic occurs when there’s a complete balance of flavors in every bite. We’re talking a mix of sweet, salty, and acidic—which occurs when you pair the naturally savory taste of catfish with a side dish like raisin and almond couscous.
Light couscous grains mix thoroughly with sweet and juicy raisins, crunchy almonds, and a variety of different spices. Also known as Moroccan-style couscous, this side dish is a perfect one to include for a summer barbecue or gathering with friends.
Try This Recipe: This easy Moroccan couscous has a delightful (and surprising) blend of spices, including cumin and cinnamon.
Creamy, cheesy, and the ultimate comfort food, it doesn’t get better than potato gratin if you want to up the decadence in your next meal. There’s no need to wait for the next special occasion. In fact, every day can be a special one if this is on the menu! Also known as Dauphinoise potatoes, potato gratin is a classic French dish that is now well-loved in restaurants and homes all over the world.
Made with layers and layers (and more layers) or potatoes, and mixed with cream, butter, and cheese, this dish is then broiled or placed under the grill until the potatoes develop a lovely browning and crust. The creamy taste is a great accompaniment to catfish, especially with the inclusion of a fresh side salad.
Try This Recipe: With two different types of cheeses and special Yukon Gold potatoes, you’re unlikely to stop at one serving with this potato gratin.
Coming away from the cheese and the cream for a moment, gremolata sauce is another sauce worth keeping in your repertoire if you’re looking for a lighter alternative to beurre blanc that boasts just as much flavor. A traditional Italian condiment made from a mix of olive oil, garlic, parsley, and lemon zest, it’s the perfect boost for all types of seafood—and can even be eaten plain with bread or pasta.
Best of all, this sauce is incredibly easy to whip up. No preheating or preparation in a pan needed – simply mix together the ingredients by hand or in a blender, and you’ve got a fresh and zesty sauce that’s ready to share.
Try This Recipe: This gremolata takes just five minutes to prepare and can last for up to a week in the fridge.
Southern Potato Salad
Creamy, and incredibly filling, a southern potato salad is a great side dish option if you’re looking to fill up a large crowd on a budget. You can even make it ahead of time, and the longer it stays in the fridge, the better the flavors get to marinate. Often eaten next to fried meat or other southern delicacies, southern potato salad is often made with egg and a generous dose of mayo.
This is a salad that you won’t want to skimp the dressing on! When mustard, mayo, sweet pickles, and apple cider vinegar combine, it manages to taste equal parts tangy, savory, and sweet.
Try This Recipe: This Southern potato salad only uses simple and cost-effective ingredients but results in a bright and bold flavor.